Chapter 1: New school, same problems
Disclaimer: I do not own Seton Academy or any of the characters, nor am I profiting from this. This story is simply something that I am doing for fun. As this takes place in a university setting, all the characters here are 18 or older (nothing lewd happens, unless handholding counts).
"New students! Hello everyone and welcome to Seton University! I am Professor Brinkman, the head of the History Department at this place of learning and education."
The Herrerasaurus began his speech as he faced the crowd of freshman students gathered around the podium.
The incoming students had all come to this open space in the middle of campus for their orientation at Seton University, founded decades ago by the same dinosaurs that had established the Seton private academy for high school students.
"Hope the teachers here are as good as the ones at the academy." Jin thought to himself as he zoned out, barely listening to the speech that was being given by Professor Brinkman.
It didn't help that he was surrounded by a whole crowd of animals that were fidgeting, talking and many other types of noises amongst each other, making it impossible for him to focus on the many facts about the University the Herrerasaurus told them, including that it is the largest university of its kind where any and all species are allowed to apply and study here.
"As expected, these animals can't even behave themselves for a few minutes," Jin grumbled to himself quietly.
Despite his brazen dislike for these creatures, he accepted that they will always be around and that he will simply have to learn to deal with them as they are.
Plus, this school was the most prestigious that he could afford to go to, something that he had dreamed of since he started in the academy four years ago. Once he graduated, he would be able to find a job anywhere he pleased, never to worry about money.
His enrolment and excellent marks in Seton Academy meant that he was easily allowed into the school once he applied.
The place was much large than his private academy had been, sprawling on over a hundred acres of land, with buildings reaching up to 8 stories high and built in a gothic fashion with its high archways and ornate sculptures.
The paths were laid down in red bricks and marked the ways to each building and the courtyards, making it easier to navigate through the many wildlife areas the school maintained for the students.
It looks good on a pamphlet and wonderful in real life if only Jin could see the architecture over the heads of all the towering giraffes, lions, bears and other students around him.
It didn't bother him that much since he would have four years to take in the beauty of the place while he worked on his degree.
Speaking of beauty, he glanced around and was disappointed that he could not find the only human outside of his family that he had known closely in his life, Hitomi Hino.
Being the only two human beings in the academy and running the cooking club for four years had allowed them to grow close as friends, but not as close as Jin wanted them to be.
He had always felt attracted to her since he first met her in the lunchroom and her being human only helped his magnetism for her.
But no matter how he tried, there was always something happenings that stopped him from dating her.
No matter what he did, something happened that prevented him from telling her how he felt for Hitomi.
He took it as a sign when they both got accepted to the same University that he should be persistent and not give up on her.
"Start the school year right," he thought to himself as the tour began of the courtyard and the whole crowd began to follow the professor as he talked about the science building behind them. "When you see her, you go right up to her, ask to talk in private and confess to her."
A simple plan, but one that given his luck, will not be so easy to execute.
As the tour went along, he kept glancing around to try and find her in the other groups that they passed by, but no such luck.
It was a school with a lot of students after all, and he could call her afterward to meet up.
She had expressed interest in starting a cooking club again to ensure that they and their friends that had made it would still find time to stick together during this new life of theirs.
Jin sighed at the thought of having to hang out with all the other animals.
They were not objectively bad to be around, compared to other animals that were outright terrible, but they could sometimes be a handful for him to handle.
The stuff that they would get into that he would have to eventually reach in to help out made him feel more like a dad taking care of a bunch of children.
Especially one in particular, that damn pink-haired wolf that has been around him since the very beginning.
In fact, he could almost hear her yelling out his name "JIIIIIIIIIIINNNN!"
His name being called out a second time, he realized that was because Ranka was rushing towards him at full sprint, unable to contain her excitement at seeing him after a summer apart.
"Oh crap, not again!" Jin's mind screamed right before a pink blur plowed into him.
In the split second before her face collided into him, he took one good look at the one creature he was hoping to avoid meeting today, Ranka.
Being a young wolf meant that not only she had the reflexes to surprise him even when he expects to find her, but that she always aimed for his face when she pounced for him to greet him.
Jin remembered this fact with dismay as she rammed right into him, toppling them both down onto the ground.
The professor noticed but did not interrupt the tour, continuing to talk about the history of the art building they were behind.
"Ahh, the rejoining of two lovebirds is a truly wonderful sight." He thought as he watched Ranka proceed to kiss her "partner" and first packmate, further greeting him with slobbery licks all over his face.
The shock of the event caused Jin to stay frozen for a few seconds, his mind processing what had just happened.
"Wait what? What's going on? Ow, the ground hurts my back! Why am I on the ground? Oh right, I was pushed down. Why is my face wet? Ah yes, Ranka. Ranka!?"
And with that final line of thought, he raised his hands and shoved Ranka off him, sending her flying for a few feet.
Grumbling, he picked himself off and tried to wipe the slobber off his face as Ranka came back for round two.
She went up and hugged him around the waist and started to speak rapidly, nuzzling her face up and down against his chest.
"JIIIIINN! I haven't seen you all summer! How are you? What did you do? Did you see my sister here? She went to this same school you know; this was where she found her pack when she came into college a few years ahead of everyone and -"
"Enough! Get off me, you dumb dog!" Jin yelled as he struggled to push Ranka away.
"But Jin!" She whined, still holding on tightly to her prey. "I didn't see you all summer and I missed being with my partner and packmate and husband to be!"
The crowd murmured in amusement as they saw Jin still struggle to push Ranka off.
"Wait, they're getting married?"
"So young and so soon, I think I'm going to cry."
"Lucky human bastard, you know what they say about the female wolves?"
"No, I don't."
"Neither do I, but good for him. They look adorable"
"You've got it all wrong, we're not getting married!" He yelled out to the crowd.
"It's okay to get nervous before you get married, everything will all work out young man," The professor said to the pair as he broke the tour to go up and talk to them.
"If you want my advice from my experience on countless eons of marriage, just know that my door is open for any student, of any species at all reasonable hours. Now," He straightened up and looked at the crowd of the students. "I think we should give them some privacy, why don't we go get some lunch! The cafeteria here serves some divine dishes that should refill our stomachs and minds."
All Jin could do we stand there in embarrassment as the crowd departed and headed for their food.
He sighed, knowing that no matter how he would tell them, that these animals would simply assume that he was a nervous fiancée having a public breakdown after seeing his loved one again.
He looked down and saw that Ranka was still had a tight lock on his chest, not speaking but still happy, as he saw from her tail wagging furiously.
"Wow, she has changed a bit," he observed as he continued to stare down at Ranka.
She had grown up quite a bit physically, finally hitting a growth spurt after training with her older sister.
Being a runt of the family had not stopped her from being a confidant boss, but it had limits how effectively she could fight against others and made herself conscious of how small she was compared to her friends.
So, with her older sister that had the opposite problem, being an absolute unit of a girl that towered over all except the professors, they trained at the Arctic Circle Exercise Resort until Ranka finally grew.
She was now was at the point where standing up normally, she could look directly at Jin's chest.
He imagined that if he wanted to, he could use the top of her head as a rest for his chin as he hugged her tightly. "That would be a nice feeling. Wait a minute, what am I saying?"
Gathering his strength, Jin roughly pushed her away and managed to shove her face away from his chest.
"You dumb mutt, what were you thinking, telling everyone that we are getting married when I never said any such thing?" he growled at her, holding her by the face and barely away from his body, preventing her from latching back onto him.
"MPHMPMHMPHM!" She tried to say something, but on account of Jin's hand in her face, she could only mumble what she wanted to say.
He quickly shuffled his hands and placed both of them into her shoulders, still struggling to keep her from licking his face.
"But we are!" Ranka whined. "That was settled when I made you the male of my pack!"
She still struggled to get closer to him, before finally giving up and just stood there limply, looking down at the ground. "I thought that was why you said yes," she said softly.
"I only said yes to be part of your pack because you looked like you needed friends," Jin explained as he slowly released her from his grasp.
"Wait, so we're friends?!" She looked up excitedly as her tail started to wag again.
Sighing, Jin held up his hand to his forehead and exasperatedly said "Yes! But only as close as I can consider an animal to be a friend."
Ranka smiled innocently as she took a step to get closer to him. "And since you are a boy....."
"Don't try to pull that cliched trick on me, there is a clear difference between what we are and what you want us to be," Jin said stone-faced as he took a step back. "Besides, I will never date an animal."
Any happiness that was present in Ranka's eyes vanished as soon as he said those words.
For years, she had always assumed that he was playing hard to get, making her work hard to attract his attention.
She didn't mind, as it reminded her of a hunt, but instead of a rabbit, her prey was Jin's heart.
She had always known that Jin didn't really like her kind that much but hoped that with enough persistence, he would soon see her as a potential mate.
But at that moment, all her hopes vanished in a single sentence.
"You......would never?" Ranka asked softly, looking up at Jin, her eyes starting to water slightly.
Chapter 2: The (cooking) gang is back together!
"Yes, I would never," JIn confirmed.
Closing her eyes, Ranka turned and slowly walked away as her head drooped downwards, her ears for the first time that day becoming floppy.
The pavement started to get stained with a few of her tears as they rolled down her cheeks and onto the ground.
Sighing, Jin turned and started to make his way to the cafeteria, trying not to look back.
It hurt him that he had to see Ranka in this state, but she had grown too fond of him and he needed to set up clear boundaries.
"Besides," he thought to himself as he walked along the path, guided by the scent of food growing stronger the closer he got to his destination. "I did make it clear that I would never date an animal for years and she still didn't get the message. I needed to be harsh on her for her to understand it. But still....."
"Jin? Is that you?" Looking around, he noticed that he had made it to the cafeteria quicker than he had anticipated.
More importantly to him, he noticed that standing a few feet away from him was the one individual he was trying to see all this time, Hitomi Hino.
One of the very few humans that he ever saw and the only one that he had ever felt an attraction to.
Smiling, he waved to here and approached her. "Yes, it's me Hitomi!" He yelled out as the pair got closer.
He noticed that she was carrying a tray piled with food, human food.
Unlike the private academy that they had attended before, this school was more accommodating to its minority student population and apparently had many different choices for foods that people like Jin and Hitomi could eat and enjoy.
"Not raw leaves or raw meat, real human food. Perfect." He thought to himself as they both sat down next to each other on a cafeteria table.
They began to talk about each other, asking how they enjoyed their summer, which programs they were going into and what teachers they were going to have this semester.
Jin explained that he managed to find a part-time job on the university campus as a gym receptionist to earn a bit of money while he had some free time.
"That's great," Hitomi had said. "But will you have enough time to be able to lead the cooking club?"
"To be honest, I don't think we need the cooking club to be set up here," Jin replied, surprising Hitomi.
"But why?", Hitomi wondered. "He loves to cook for us and hang out with us, doesn't he?"
"Yes, I do still like to cook for you and the others," Jin followed up, reading the concern on her face.
"But I think that it would be too big if we added more people, making it harder to manage and more expensive to get the food. Plus, there are already cooking clubs here, and the administrators didn't want too many clubs of the same topic to be made."
"It's all fine," Jin continued. "We can still meet up at my place to cook and hang out, we can find other things to do."
"God this is so good!" He thought as he took a bite of her meatloaf.
It was fluffy with a delicate meaty flavor, with enough garlic in the sauce to leave a pleasant aftertaste in the mouth for a brief moment.
"Then how about a club on the history of food!" Hitomi exclaimed. "We can talk about old dishes that we found and make them appreciate history in a culinary manner! That way it's not exactly the same thing!"
Jin thought for a moment. It could work, there isn't a club based precisely on that topic at the school at the moment. "True, but even if we can make it, I don't think it would be very popular with the other students."
"Oh, that's fine!" Hitomi waved her hand as if to dismiss Jin's concerns. "I personally prefer the size of the club the way it is. With you, me, Ranka and the others, it feels like a group of friends hanging out and cooking along with doing other things. If we add more people, it would feel like a real club, less personal and more professional."
She turned to look directly into Jin's eyes, causing him to slightly fluster.
Jin took this as a sign to make his move. Adjusting his shirt, he took a deep breath and gently took her left hand. "Hitomi, there is something I have to tell you. I-"
"Hitomi!", a panda cried out before she crashed into Hitomi and gave her a massive bear hug, causing Jin to let go of her hand.
"I haven't seen you all summer! I went to so many different places for my summer tour and tried so many different foods! I have pictures, here let me show you!"
As MeiMei pulled out her phone and tried to show her the many pictures she took over the summer, Jin snapped up her phone. "What do you think you're doing you shitty Panda! You came up and smashed into us! Didn't your manager teach you to have any manners?"
He regretted saying it as soon as the words came out of his mouth. "No, he didn't," MeiMei admitted, looking up at him with bright gleaming heart-shaped eyes.
"But if you think I need to be taught a lesson, then please do whatever you want with me." She shuddered and squirmed while Jin and Hitomi looked at her with stone faces.
"You can scold me out here in public while every one of the students watches me, put me in a cage in my dorm and tell my roommates to not let me out unless you say so, or even-"
MeiMei struggled to say the last thing she had on her mind before her manager waddled up and threatened to execute Jin if he so much as made the precious panda even a little stressed or made her work.
After both had calmed down, the manager left to inspect MeiMei's dorm floor to make sure that it was up to his standards and supplied with all the bamboo she wanted.
MeiMei sat down to join them to eat as Yukari the Koala spotted them and also came over to eat.
She was pushing around Miyubi in a special wheelchair that Jin had built for her two years ago. It allowed her to be able to go places without moving too fast and dying twice a day.
As the rest of the group chatted amongst themselves, saying how much they had missed each other and started to plan a group activity for them to do when they first meet up for the history food club, Jin zoned out and watched them with no particular interest.
Frustrated that his chance to confess to Hitomi had been blocked once again, he focused on the plate of food that she had brought for him.
Chewing silently, his mind wandered to planning his next opportunity with Hitomi. "Maybe I can tell her when we register the group, ask her to talk for a bit and then tell her on one of the benches outside? That could work."
"Where's ........... Ranka ........ ?" Miyubi asked slowly. The others looked around and just noticed her absence from the table.
"I haven't seen her yet," Yukari said as she chewed on a foul-smelling bowl of food. "Jin, have you seen her?" The others all looked right at him.
"Why would you all assume that I would see that mutt?" He snapped coldly at them.
"Well, we pretty much never see the two of you without one another!" MeiMei explained.
"That's because she is a dog."
"Same thing. Anyways, we are always together because she always manages to track me down, nothing more."
"So, you did see her today!" MeiMei exclaimed excitedly.
She pressed her face uncomfortably close to Jin, causing him to lean back until he was on the brink of falling down. "How was she? Will we see her today? Where is she? Can I see her?"
"No idea!" Jin scolded her as he gently but firmly pushed MeiMei back, making her blush. "She went away, and I don't think she will want to talk to me after what I said to her." He said as he looked down on the ground
"Well, what did you tell her?" Hitomi asked.
She rarely saw Jin look regretful, especially when Ranka was involved.
Sighing, Jin looked back up and explained what happened during the tour to the group.
They listened intently to him describing how Ranka had talked to him, kissed him and essentially told the school that they were to be married.
They looked at him with scorn as Jin described how he responded to her intentions.
"Well that sounds too harsh, even for the pair of you," Hitomi observed. "Maybe she took it hard because she didn't see you all summer and missed you, only to be publicly rejected and told that you would never be with her." She sat back up and looked sternly at Jin. "You should have been gentler with her."
"No, I should not have," he flatly stated. "I have told her this for four years that I will never date an animal, especially her." He huffed and folded his arms as the rest of the group gave him death glares.
"Why not?" MeiMei said angrily. "You have been friends with animals of different species for years, why not date one? Give me one good reason!"
"Because wolves and humans are not compatible. They can't have kids." He said smugly.
"They know that I have the most knowledge when it comes to animals and their behaviors, hopefully, they will trust what I have said and no one will-"
"That's......not........true......at.......all........" Miyubi slowly said.
"Huh!?" The rest of the group exclaimed.
"I've.....been....reading...over...the...summer.....that. it's...possible..." Miyubi said before she fell face forward onto the table and died.
The more she talked, the more physically exhausting it is for a sloth like her. Too much talking can kill her kind.
"Miyubi!!!!" The others cried out in unison.
"Why can't you just die once like a normal person!" Jin yelled out in desperation.
Chapter 3: A plot thicker than fur
On a bench in one of the University parks, a small pink-haired wolf sat down. She had been looking for a place to rest for a bit while she digested Jin's words. "Besides, I will never date an animal."
Next to the bench, the was a small pond where some koi fish were hanging about. Looking down at them, she watched as they lazily swam around in circles for a moment before going to the other side. The stillness of the water allowed her to notice her own reflection.
Staring, Ranka noticed the large furry pink ears on top of her head, surrounded by long pink fur. Apart from that, the only other things that physically separated her from a normal human girl like Hitomi were her long pink tail and canine teeth.
She had never really thought about these before, even when she met Jin. She knew of his dislike for animals, but even then, Jin was her partner and packmate, wasn't he supposed to be open to her of all the friends they had? After years of knowing one another, wouldn't he at least give her a chance?
Looking at her reflection, she started to cry again. She had thought that she had run out of tears 10 minutes ago, but she found some more that she didn't even know existed. "Do I give up?" Her mind asked. "I can't become a human, so is it even worth trying?"
"Yes! It Is!" She cried out, choking on her tears. "I can't give up, not on Jin!"
"Give up on what?" A boyish voice asked.
Turning around, with tears still streaming in her eyes, Ranka realized that she wasn't alone. Walking up to her was Yena, a female hyena that the group had met on occasion with, the one that thought she was a boy.
"Nothing." Ranka sniffed as Yena plopped down on the bench next to her. "Yeah, I don't think so. Crying, yelling about Jin? He said that he wouldn't even consider dating you, right?" Yena stated.
"How did you know?" Ranka asked in a low voice, looking down on the ground.
"Well, apart from what you were yelling about him, I've known the guy for a bit. Not too well, but us guys don't need to talk much to get each other." Yena explained.
"But you're a gi-"
"I'm a guy!" Yena yelled. Her outburst didn't even cause Ranka to stiffen her tail or become nervous. Just stayed slouched over in a depressed state.
Taking a deep breath, Yena tried again. "The point I'm making is that I know enough about Jin to figure out what he said to you. He's said to you many times that he won't date a non-human, so what makes this any different?"
Ranka thought for a moment before choosing to respond. "Because I haven't seen him all summer and thought that he would miss me more." She reached into her backpack and pulled out a book. "I also did some summer reading-"
"You can read? For fun?"
After Ranka stopped beating up Yena with the book, she sat back down and continued. "I did some summer reading about love and I was hoping that if I did what the characters of the book did, I would also have Jin as my husband, just like they did." She gave the book to Yena, who started cackling as she flipped through the pages.
"This is complete bull!" She yelled while laughing. "That is not how normal people talk like! That would get you arrested, that would get you killed, oh god I don't even know what punishment that would get you, oh no, you poor baby!" She snapped the book shut and reached over to tightly hug Ranka.
"What you read is F – a – n – t – a -s – y! Fantasy!" She said as she comforted the wolf. "That is not how guys think or how a girl acts to get him. I know humans are odd, but not like what that book says!" Just then, a thought popped into her head. "If Ranka does not date Jin, then ......Hitomi!"
"Ranka?" Yena said innocently as she broke the hug and looked at her in the tear-stained eyes. "How would you like me to help you to get Jin?"
She sniffled. "Like revenge? I can't do that! He is still my packmate." Yena shook her head. "No, I mean to get Jin. As in to make him yours." Ranka looked confused for a few seconds. "To possess him? But does that mean to......have him!"
As she realized exactly what Yena was offering, all thoughts of sadness went away and were replaced by happiness and hope. "Yes! You can make Jin become my husband?!"
"Well that I can't guarantee, but I can help you get a date with him. Which can lead to eventual marriage." Yena clarified, trying not to get the wolf's hopes up too much. "And with Jin out of the way, Hitomi would be saddened at the sight of these two lovebirds together, leaving space for me to comfort her. And when I come in to do that, I can.... I can.."
"Yena, your face is red and lewd and scaring me." The wolf pointed out to her. Yena regained her composure and continued, leaning down to whisper her ideas in her ear. "First, I will try to figure out why he hates animals, then make him doubt that, and drop hints of how great it would be to date you. At the same time, you will do exactly as I say to make yourself look as attractive as possible to him, so when the right time comes, you two can become one."
"hwuhe!?! But wouldn't that be moving too fast? After all, that is only supposed to happen when we get married!"
"I meant two people becoming one as in two people dating! Not that!" Yena quickly clarified. Lanka thought for a moment before accepting the plan. "Yena! You're so smart, let me welcome you to the pack."
"No thanks!" She grunted as she struggled to prevent Ranka's face from reaching hers. "I don't need a pack! But thanks for the offer! Now, let's talk about what you will do." The two began to hatch their plan, which Ranka insisted on naming "Operation J.I.N (Jin Is miNe)".
"That doesn't even make sense." Yena objected.
"Nothing makes sense when love is involved." Lanka passionately replied.
"No wonder, she must be the runt in terms of size and brains in her pack." Lana thought and she began to tell Ranka what to do and what she will do.
"Yena is so smart!" Ranka thought as she listened. Inspired by the plan, she began to daydream her future with Jin. Her loyal partner, best friend and soon to be husband. She can already imagine the pair of them walking down the aisle and her rubbing against his side, talking about the house on the mountains that he had bought for them to start their own pack. In that house, they would raise their pups, Jin would come back home every night with the prey that he had caught, and they would stay there as long as they lived together.
"You got that?" Yena said, interrupting her daydream.
"Huh!? Yes, I did!" Ranka affirmed, somehow managing to still listen to the plan while stuck in her fantasy.
"Good! Now the first week is the hardest since you will be avoiding him for a week, but I will make sure that the time spent apart is worth it! For once that time is up, Jin will be falling in love with you in no time flat!" Yena finished.
Sensing Ranka's apprehension of not seeing him for a week, she placed both of her arms on her shoulders. "It will work out; I will make sure of it! If you feel you need support, call me, okay?" Ranka quickly stood up and quickly nodded. "I will do it, and I will succeed! Jin will be mine!" She yelled out loud on the top of her lungs.
"Good girl! Now I'm hungry, have you tried the food here yet?"
Ranka's growling stomach answered that question. The pair leaped off the bench and started to walk towards the cafeteria, with Yena talking about the many different kinds of meat that this school serves.
Chapter 4: Second thoughts
After the first day of school ended with Miyubi again being revived from the dead, Jin got into the rhythm of the semester. He was grateful that he had fewer classes at the university than when he was still a student at the academy.
This left him with plenty of time to pick up a few shifts at the gym and earn a bit of money to save up. The schoolwork was not as hard as he had expected, leaving him even more pleased.
But for all the good that this had done for him, this left Jin with more time to think about Ranka, especially as he laid down on his bed and stared at his dorm's celling.
Since that day a week ago, he had not been licked in the face by Ranka once. Not that he missed it, but to him, it felt a little bit odd.
After being pounced by her at the start of every single school day, he had grown used to it, like a part of his daily routine, like how some people start the day by drinking coffee. His days started with a face full of wolf spit.
"Maybe she got the message after I scolded her," Jin incorrectly thought. "Maybe she has given up on trying to get with me and just needs some time to accept the idea." This idea brought him no comfort and didn't make sense, even to him.
Ranka was a dog (wolf), a creature renowned for their loyalty to humans to a fault, a trait that she had, from his experience, exemplified the most out of any dog (wolf) that he had ever met.
Giving up and running away didn't seem like a thing she would do.
He shook his head around to shake these thoughts out. "Stop thinking about her," he reprimanded himself. "She is an adult who can take care of herself, hopefully. She is fine, after all, she would never make a bad decision when she is emotionally affected, would -"
He grabbed his jacket and leaped out of the dorm room before he even finished that sentence. He had seen her make terrible decisions, especially after she got badly scolded by him.
"Of course, she would, she even climbed a damn mountain by herself when she was like this!"Jin thought as he ran out the door of his dorm building. Looking to his left, he started to jog to the direction of where he thought Ranka's room was, not knowing that a certain hyena was watching him.
"Perfect!" Yena thought as she watched Jin jog across the pathway. "You see Ranka?" she whispered to the wolf beside her as they crouched down further behind the bushes. "He can't even last a week without you, and he is already running back to you."
Ranka could hardly believe her eyes. The very same man that had very recently said that he will never love an animal, especially her, was now running to her place. Wait for a second, if she wasn't there in her room when he arrived, then he could be even more worried or angry at her! "Now then," Yena began to explain her next steps of her plan. "What we will do next is -".
She saw the massive, hope-filled eyes of Ranka and saw her prepare to leap out. "Ji-" Ranka began to yell out before Yena tackled her down and clapped her hand on her mouth. "Idiot! What are you doing? We are supposed to stay quiet and watch him."
The pair struggled in the bushes until finally the young wolf gave up and stopped struggling. Now that Jin has gone away, Yena felt comfortable in letting her speak up.
"What if Jin doesn't find me and is worried? Or what if he gets mad that I'm not where I'm supposed to be? What if he's running to Hitomi and falls for her because I am not there?" Ranka wailed, once again kicking up a storm trying to get out of Yena's grasp.
"I made sure that he will know that you are fine!" She growled through gritted teeth. "A friend will tell him that you have been in your room crying your eyes out for the past week."
"But I haven't," Ranka said confusingly. "You said not to do that."
"That was for you. Once he finds out that you were missing him so much, he will feel guilty that he treated you this harshly, so when he does see you, he will want to apologize to you. But for that week, you will not speak to him, making him feel even more guilty while I will go down and have a talk with him, guy to guy, and find out what makes him hate us so much."
"You will see next week." Yena proclaimed. Grabbing Ranka's face and pressing it closer to her own, she almost looked manic. "Trust me, in about two weeks, you two will be a pair and he will never want anyone else." She said, almost salivating at the thought. "And Hitomi will have only one other person to date......"
"Two weeks." Ranka thought to herself. She would only have to wait that long until she would have Jin. And yet, after hearing the next stage of the plan, she didn't feel quite as excited about that possibility. She was very happy about it, but something was tugging at her mind.
"Yena, is this plan okay? That we are fooling Jin like this, hurting him by doing these things?" She asked quietly.
"Of course, it's okay!" The hyena confidently assured her. "We are showing him how bad life is without you so that he will be more appreciative when you come back into his life! The fact that you will get Jin makes this worth it, right? Besides, he rejected you so he should have a taste of his own medicine"
"Right," Ranka said unconvincingly. She was still bothered by how the plan was to make Jin vulnerable and hurt him. Did she want Jin as her future mate? "Yes, but do I have to treat him like this?" she asked herself.
She stopped thinking as they saw Jin come back to his dorm. He was calmly walking back to the doorway and was a bit far away from them. But they could tell that he looked a bit relieved, with a hint of worry still etched on his face. "Well, it looks like my friend told him! Now on to stage 2, which we will start tomorrow."
As the pair were about to leave the bush and return to their rooms, Ranka wanted to clear her mind of a worry she had. "What if he only says yes because he feels guilty and not because he loves me?" She asked Yena.
The hyena froze. She hadn't expected this to be a possibility, least of all a concern coming from the wolf. After all, she had relentless in claiming Jin as her mate for the past four years while he never loved her, so why would she be worried about that?
"Pfftt, don't worry!" Yena assured her. "I will make sure that he will love you in no time!"
Ranka nodded and bided her bush buddy a good night as they parted ways. After getting her homework done and preparing herself for the next week, she was still torn about what she was doing. She had imagined that she would naturally make Jin become attracted to her and eventually he would confess to her, not plot in secret on how to manipulate him into loving her.
"I'm doing it for Jin, it's the right thing as his boss and partner." She muttered unconvincingly to herself as she tried to fall asleep. She woke up several times that night, each time for no apparent reason other than an ill sensation poking at her mind.
Chapter 5: Cooking club meets again!
"Oh Jin, that's a great idea!" Hitomi replied as Jin finished explaining his idea for what the club will make for their official first meeting. They had gotten their club approved by the administration, provided that it focused on cooking dishes from history instead of simply general cooking like the other clubs that existed on campus.
He was going to teach them how to make Linzer Torte, an Austrian cake that was over 400 years old. It was basically like a jam pie but more refined and sweeter, so of course MeiMei wanted him to make it immediately.
"Be patient, you shitty panda! We'll make it this Saturday when we get all the ingredients!" He scolded at her. Blushing hard, MeiMei still protested against waiting for the food. She was hoping for another harsh and scolding response from Jin, who wisely ignored her.
"Everyone else agrees?" Hitomi asked the rest of the group, who had all joined them at the cafeteria table while they had time off from their classes. It was difficult to manage to find a time that the whole group would be able to meet up, so it pleased Jin that they could meet up on the weekends.
While these where still animals, he did like to be with them. The energy that they brought with them, despite being annoying when their instincts acted up, had allowed him to tolerate and somewhat grow fond of them, even if he did feel like a father disciplining his children at times.
"Please please please please make the cake! I'm even saying the magic word that means you have to do what I ask!" MeiMei cried out as she clung onto his head, while her manager FonFon reminded Jin that any kind of rough touching of the panda would result in execution.
There were of course limits to his fondness, especially as he wrestled the crying panda away from his face. "That's odd," he thought as FonFon attacked his legs. "Usually Ranka would be the one on my face."
Peeking out from the small corner of his eye that MeiMei had not managed to cover, he noticed that Ranka was still sitting at the table, giving him a poor attempt at a cold look.
Being a wolf, even when she is trying to give Jin the silent treatment, her sense of loyalty still oozed from her very being. There was also the jealously that she felt from MeiMei being in contact with Jin.
Noticing that he had seen her, Ranka turned her face away and looked out the window, trying to find Lena.
After the two pandas had calmed down and stopped attacking Jin, everyone else agreed that Jin's idea was a good idea and they started to plan which ingredients they would bring.
"And Ranka, you can bring the almonds, right?" Jin asked her as he wrote down the list for each ingredient each member was responsible for.
Looking up, he saw that Ranka's pouting face had quickly turned to face out the window again, not saying a thing to him.
"Can you do it, you dumb mutt?" Jin asked, tired of his so-called pack leader acting like a child. The rest of the table felt awkward as Ranka continued to stay silent.
Still looking out the window, she felt the stare of Jin's eyes on the back of her head. She was almost ready to pounce at him, lick his face and say yes when Yena appeared in her head and reminded her that she had to stay strong.
"You are doing this to get Jin!" Mini-Yena proclaimed in Ranka's mind. "Stay strong and Jin will be yours and Hitomi will be mine!"
"Huh?" Ranka thought.
"N-Never mind that last part!" Mini-Yena said hurriedly, looking flustered. "If you turn your head, Jin will go back to his old self and never love you, you understand?"
"Don't say anything, don't say anything, don't say anything," Ranka repeated in her mind as the temptation to respond to Jin grew. Seconds passed and the temptation grew and rose until –
"Ranka-chan?" the soft voice of Hitomi spoke behind her. "Hmm?" Ranka asked and she turned quickly to face her. "Would you get the almonds?"
Ranka quickly nodded her head, flustered as she noticed the sight of her friend's faces. They looked a bit worried about her, especially since Ranka is usually the enthusiastic one and most of all, the pack leader.
Not the one to sit out and not say anything. Only Jin's face didn't emanate the same concern, only annoyance as he turned and went back to his cookbook.
Ranka sulked as she looked at Jin. She had been told that he would be eager to talk to her, even begging her to say a single word to him by Yena.
Instead, she was practically itching for any sort of attention from Jin, while he went on as if nothing had changed. She was in her heart a wolf after all. Despite the fact that they sometimes wander around on their own, they love attention and become miserable when they feel neglected.
"Koala, can you get the jam?" he asked, moving on to the others of the group.
"I have some special jam that I use for my sandwich's-"
"Strawberry, not poop!"
"It's not poop this time!" she lied as she snatched the jar of a suspicious-looking substance away from Jin.
"It is! Show it to me, you shitty koala! Never mind, keep that away from me, don't put it in my face!"
The strength of the sent that came from her container of "jam" sent both Jin and Miyubi to the nurse's office for the rest of the day.
Chapter 6: Close encounters of the mole kind
"Hey Ranka, can I talk to you for a second?" Jin asked as he approached Ranka. He had spotted her making her way across campus between classes. He had hoped to say a few things to her before they would head off to class and made a detour to say hi.
She excitedly raised up her head, her eyes shining up at him in anticipation as she coiled herself. Bracing for the worst, he accepted his fate as he expected himself to be slobbered all over by a wolf a head shorter than himself.
"At least the ground on this campus is clean, makes it easier to dust my jacket off." He thought to himself.
What he didn't expect to hear was Ranka turning around and running away from him. After hearing a small "Hmph!", he heard her feet rapidly fade away as she ran to her classroom.
Opening his eyes, he saw a small pink blur make her way across the campus, looking away from him as Ranka dashed to her class.
"Odd." Jin thought to himself as he turned back and made his way to his class. It was the first time in a while that he had seen Ranka turn down an offer to lick him.
"Well, I didn't tell her to lick me but going up and saying 'hi' was basically an invitation for that." Jin thought to himself as he sat down in his seat. "Whatever, I'll try to find out what she is on about when I see her next time."
"Damn it, I almost broke!" Ranka cursed herself as she stopped to take a breather. "I saw that you almost said something to him," Yena said as she appeared behind Ranka. "It's hard, right?"
The wolf nodded sadly. "I want to lick his face!" she suddenly wailed out loud, causing some of the students nearby to gaze at Ranka in disgust. It didn't help that tears of loneliness were pouring out her eyes, almost drowning a few mole rats that were spying on the pair.
"I want to hear his voice talk to me and say that everything is fine!"
"There, there," Yena said as she patted Ranka on the head. "I will talk to him, figure out why he hates us so and then you will be with him by Sunday. You gotta stay strong, okay?"
Ranka nodded; her eyes were wet but still hopeful. "Promise that Jin will love me?" she asked the Hyena as she looked up to her with the biggest, saddest eyes that one can imagine.
"Uhhh-s-sure! I promise!" Yena said, gulping nervously as she realized the monumental task that now she must do. She had to deliver that human to this pitiful little wolf in front of her, the one that just flew up, landed on her face and was licking it clean.
As Yena yelled out and was trying to get that pink menace off of her, both were unaware that they were being watched. The naked mole-rats had recovered and were broadcasting live, deep into an underground bunker.
This was one that the school had kindly lent to a certain former head of the student council. Mika watched as she saw Ranka get torn off of Yena by her big sister, who proceeded to threaten the hyena if curses of unimaginable pain if she so much as harmed a single fiber of fur on Ranka's head.
"I see," Mika observed. Standing up, she turned to the rest of the mole rats that had gathered around her. "Do you want us to fetch them, miss president?" One of them asked. "Please don't call me that," she replied coldly, still staring at the scene in front of her.
"I have not been elected the student council president yet, and no. From the footage that I have seen, Jin is very unlikely to even consider dating outside his species, least of all her." Pointing to the trio that had been tasked with watching Jin, she said: "Until Jin even considers the possibility, we simply watch."
Addressing everyone else, she maintained that interspecies friendships are acceptable, "But a relationship between different species is impossible and unhealthy to a society! We must stamp it out wherever we can. Understood?"
"Yes Madam!" came the reply from the rest of the group. They turned to the screen to see the hyena get thrown into the air as Ranka desperately tried to convince her sister that she was not being attacked.
Chapter 7: Jin's backstory
The next couple of days followed an unusual pattern for Jin. He would spot Ranka a couple of times a day and he would try to approach her to talk to her.
She had not spoken to him since the incident on the first day and we wanted to apologize for being too harsh with his words.
"Of course, only because Hitomi forced me to," he thought bitterly to himself. "It's not like I care about that wolf. Hitomi asked me to apologize after hearing what I said to her and that she was worried when she saw how she acted during our meeting."
Of course, whenever he did, she would turn and run away from him. He gave chase the first time that happened, but after the campus security tackled him because they thought he was a pervert about to attack a helpless young wolf, he decided to simply let her go when she ran. The first couple of times, he shrugged it off and let it go, going back to whatever he was doing at the time.
But after the fourth and the fifth rejection, he started to worry a little bit. Even when Ranka was angry at Jin in the past, she never was able to stay that way for more than a couple of days. This was a new record for her. "If she is doing this well at not talking to me, there must be a reason for this." He thought to himself.
Taking a short stroll through the campus. He watched as the other students were walking around and minding her own business. They were all talking amongst themselves, laughing, fighting and moving from class to class. We noticed as all of them were talking with and interacting with other students of their own kind. "No one is alone...." He thought as he saw a male deer encourage another one to go out and ask one of the doe's that were sitting next to the water fountain.
"But she won't talk to me!" the first one whined. "I can't beat any of the other males here, and I look too weak for her!"
"Bro don't worry," the second one whispered, barely loud enough for Jin to hear. "You fight me, I pretend to lose, and you go get her!"
"Y-You would do that?" The first one asked, sniffling and wiping away his tears.
"Anything for you bro! Now let's go train. You gotta look strong enough to beat me, otherwise, they will know that it was all fluff." The second one encouraged his friend as they both headed towards the school gym.
"Of course!" Jin came to a realization. "She couldn't do it on her own! Dogs can't stay away from their humans for that long. She must be motivated by someone to give me this silent treatment, probably for what I said to her."
But who was the animal that was motivating Ranka? Hitomi would be out, Miyubi as well. MeiMei could be selfish enough to do this, but unlikely that she had the patience or brainpower to think of this. Koala and the cat also were out, making it unlikely that any of the group members would do this.
But there were a few acquittances that they made over the years that also came to the school. Grabbing a sandwich out of his backpack, he took a bite and furiously chewed, thinking about the Ranka issue. "But why would she do that? Sometimes dogs ignore their humans for a short while to get their owner's attention. So, if she is looking for my attention, that would mean that the animal who is encouraging Ranka would be someone that wants to get my attention for her."
Swallowing, he looked around at the other students, thinking about all the possible species that had made it into the university that would fit the criteria. "Mika? No, she has accepted interspecies friendships a while back. That zebra? No, she went off to start her career in that stupid card game of hers. King is a possibility, but I don't see how he would benefit. Then there is that hyena-"
He stood up in shock as he realized what was going on. Dropping his sandwich onto the ground, he grabbed his backpack and ran toward the gym, sprinting as fast as he can. "Of course! If I am giving more attention and focusing on Ranka, I will spend less time with Hitomi, and that damned hyena would steal her!"
Careful sprinting to not run into any one of the students, he dashed across the campus to the gym. Looking at his watch, he slowed down to a brisk walk. He still had at least another ten minutes before Yena would leave the gym if she was sticking to her strict schedule today.
A minute later, he was in front of the doors of his workplace. Looking around, he decided to take a bit of time to catch his breath and sat down on a nearby bench.
He waited, focused on the doors and watching those who were coming out of those doors. A hyena popped out that he would have mistaken for Yena, were it not for the skirt that she wore and the neat hairstyle, clean cut that starkly contrasted with the messy tomboyish cut of Yena.
A few minutes passed and a second hyena came out, dressed in a tank top and pants, carrying a large black gym bag. "Found you," Jin muttered to himself as he recognized Yena.
As Yena roughly munched on her post-workout bone, she saw a human approaching her from her left side. Turning, she noticed that Jin was coming up to her. "Perfect." She thought to herself, for she was eager to talk to him and try to figure out his backstory.
As she opened her mouth and started to ask him why he hated animals, he grabbed her by her large ears and dragged her behind the gym.
"Hey! What are you doing?" she yelled out as Jin tossed her onto the ground. Tossing her stuff to the side, she jumped up and got into a fighting pose, her fists raised and waiting for Jin as he stood there with his arms folded. "I want you to answer a simple question." He growled while looking at her. Yena gulped, seeing that Jin was angrier than she can remember him being before.
"Are you conspiring with Ranka?" he asked, his eyes boring right into hers. "H-how does he know?" she thought to herself. "Ranka probably broke down and told him! I knew she wouldn't last." Her confusion and frustration were visible on her face, all but confirming Jin's suspicions.
"I knew it," Jin said coldly. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath and sighed. "Tell me, was it because I was too harsh on her?" Yena nodded, relaxing her stance and picking up her bag. "Yes, she was hurt and wanted my help to teach you a lesson, so being a good friend that I am, I told her to stay away from you." Picking up the bone, she took a bite and tried to brush past Jin.
"That way," she continued, "maybe would be less of a cold-hearted human and give her more patience and attention." He grabbed her by the arm and made her stay back. "And if I did give her the attention," Jin said. "That would leave Hitomi to you, was that not your intention?"
"Damn it!" Yena thought to herself. Gulping, she turned and was about to deny it before she found his face almost touching hers. Looking at him, she knew that she was terrible when it came to lying.
"Yes." She admitted softly, looking down at the ground in shame. Her plan was done. Now in ruins, she thought that all her hard work had been tossed down the trash with that single word, the admittance of guilt.
"Thought so," Jin muttered. He was about to turn and leave when Yena stopped him. "Wait!" she said. "Please don't be mad at Ranka. She did have some doubts, but I made her keep on going since I thought that...." She faltered as Yena realized what she was about to say.
"That what?" Jin asked.
"Might as well get it out." Yena thought to herself. Taking a deep breath, she spoke rapidly to get the message over with. "The reason why she accepted my advice was that she wanted to be with you, I had to find out why you hate us and what she could do to understand you so that she could make you fall in love with her!"
The awkward silence that followed was only broken by the sound of the track team running on a nearby field. Jin stood there in shocked silence. Of course, he knew that Ranka loved him and had been trying desperately for years to make him her mate. "But to go as far as to try to understand me? That's impossible, animals and humans can't understand each other!"
Not expecting Jin to look so shocked, Yena took this opportunity to ask her question. "Jin," she began. He looked at her as she placed both of her hands on his shoulder and looked him in the eyes. "why do you hate us?"
"I don't." He said quickly, looking uncomfortable with the situation. "I am friends with you, aren't I. Ranka, MeiMei and the others are all my friends."
"Then why won't you consider dating Ranka? I know that you two do get along well most of the time, plus from the way you act, you do like her."
"I don't!" he said abruptly, pushing her away.
"Then why did you climb up the mountain to help her out? Why did you build those hot springs to help with her welcome party? Why, after all the times she jumped on you and licked you, do you still hang out with her? You even went down into the underground mazes to find her when she went missing. You were worried sick for her!" Yena pointed out, counting down the events with her fingers, one by one.
"How do you know about that stuff? You weren't even there for most of them!" Jin asked confused.
"Hitomi told me," Yena replied. "We hung out a few times and she told me about all the times that she saw how much you cared for her. It seems like you care for her more than a normal friend would." Placing a hand on her hip and looked at him in an accusatory manner. "Almost like you two have a history together. So, I will ask again: why do you hate us?"
Sighing in defeat, Jin gestured to a nearby bench for the pair to sit down at. They watched as they saw the track team race the 400-meter relay run. They noticed King in the crowd that was cheering for them and they finished up their practice.
After a minute, Jin resigned himself and began to tell Yena his story. "Back when I was younger, around 3 years old, I went to a daycare center that my folks had arranged for me to play and start going to meet new kids. They were also busy with their careers and wanted to focus on that. I was pretty sheltered until then, didn't have much contact with individuals outside my parents and the occasional cousin that came to visit."
"When I came to that daycare, I was excited! I had seen all the different types of animals that lived around us and now I wanted to make friends with them."
Smiling slightly, he looked up to face Yena. "On that first day, I met one animal in particular that caught my eye. A small wolf girl that came into the place with a stuffed animal."
Yena nodded, keeping that piece of information in her head for later.
"Anyways, I went over and I said hi, but she bit me. It hurt, but my dad told me that different animals have different ways of speaking through body language and got me a book on how different species communicate. That's why I studied the behaviors of different animals to figure out how to let them know that I wanted to simply be friends. So, after a couple of days, I went over and laid down and exposed my belly to her."
" It wasn't like that at all! I read that was a submission pose, to show that I wasn't a threat and just wanted to befriend her. She didn't bite me, but she was still a bit shy."
"Sounds good so far," Yena commented, surprised at how determined that little Jin was back then to make friends with animals. "Was this even the same guy in front of me?" she thought to herself. "How did he go from that wholesome happy little boy to the Jin I met?"
"Yeah, well it didn't go well." He spat bitterly. "Three bears came along and took her stuffed wolf, then when she tried to get I back, they shoved her down. I came up and tried to stop them, but they ended up beating me and I grazed my knee."
"Jin, defending an animal? Who was this boy you are talking about?" Yena asked incredulously. She was now intently focused on the story that Jin was telling her. Jin blushed and smiled while looking out at the track and field. King and his girlfriend were now embracing together as he was congratulating on another successful practice. He had bought her a patch of alfalfa grass that she loved. She smiled and gave him a little kiss on the cheek, causing him to almost lose his mane again.
"I don't know, he seems almost like a stranger, to be honest." He said wistfully. They both sat in silence for a minute, before Yena realized that the story was not complete. "So, the bears attacked you, but what happened between you and the girl? Surely after that, you would have been friends with her. Even if some of the animals were terrible to you, the one good one would make you see that we aren't all bad."
"Yeah, you would think that," Jin said as he got up and stretched his arms. "But after that, she tried to lick my wounds after the fight. At the time I didn't know that was how wolves helped heal, so I thought that she was simply another animal that was either going to bite me or hurt me in some way or another. I then realized at the time that animals and humans cannot understand each other and can't be friends."
"Heh." Yena gave out a little chuckle. "I never thought that you would be wrong."
"Hmm?" Jin asked quizzically.
"You always were acting like you were the smartest of us, even when you said things that I thought were wrong, they would usually turn out to be correct, in some form or another. But," Yena said as she got up and faced Jin. "I never thought that you would ever have an opinion that would be as dead wrong as that one. I mean, come one, admit it! You said that humans and animals can never be friends, and yet, here we are, having a little guy talk."
"Well, you're half right about that part." Jin remarked, unimpressed.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Yena yelled out as Jin turned around and started to walk away. "Hey! Get back here!" She ran up to catch him as he was about to enter the gym.
"I have work to do." He replied, pointing inside the building. "I'm on the clock in a few minutes, so I have to go."
"One last thing!" Yena quickly said as he pulled him back out onto the outside. "What will you do to Ranka?"
Jin sighed. "On the one hand, what she did was immature." He declared harshly. "On the other hand, she calls herself a pack leader and yet she acted like a petulant child when she wanted attention from me, in front of the rest of the group no less. She will need to learn a lesson to not do that again. And yet," he continued, lowering his voice to a softer tone. "she did want to try and understand me, right?"
Yena nodded in confirmation. "She did. She wanted to understand why you hated us so she could, um, figure out how she could make you like her."
"Ah, I see." He replied. "An animal? Try to understand a human? I guess it was possible, but I never thought of it that way."
"Trust me," Yena continued. "There were times when she did want to break, but I told her to go against her instincts and stick to the plan that I made."
"I understand why you did that," Jin said, causing Yena's face to be lit up in happiness.
"I'm not saying that I agree with it, or that it was right-" He quickly clarified.
"It wasn't," Yena said. Her face contorted and her cheeks puffed up a little, as she struggled to say what was on her mind. "Well, do you have something else to say?" Jin asked, eager not to be late for his shift. Yena's face grew redder and redder. "Don't say it!" her mind screamed at her, "You are a proud male, and they never ap-"
"I'm sorry!" she yelled out, breaking her train of thought. She inhaled and exhaled very quickly, unable to believe what she had just said. Neither could Jin. "Did she just apologize? Of all the arrogant animals that I know of, she was one that I would never expect to say those words."
"I only did it because I thought that it would be best for everyone if I helped you two get together!" Yena continued on her rant, more calms than her initial outburst.
"And Hitomi?" Jin pointed out.
"And her too! I'm sorry that I was selfish!" She dropped down on her knees and began to dry heave, the toll of such an apology weighing heavily on her. "Hey, you good?" Jin asked, dropping down on one knee and checking on Yena.
"Yeah! Yeah! I'm always good!" She immediately got up and patted herself on the chest proudly. "No reason to worry."
"Good," Jin said as he turned. He was about to enter the building when he stopped and turned back to face her. "Thank you." He spoke to Yena.
"Eh? For what?" The hyena asked.
"For being man enough to apologize." He simply said. "Of course! You can only expect the manliest things to come from me!" Yena proclaimed.
"Of course." Jin sarcastically agreed. "We have to talk after work, I have a plan for Ranka, and I need you in it."
"Oh okay! We talk after work?" Yena asked, nervously thinking about what Jin was going to think up of. "Sounds good. Cafeteria, our group table." Jin confirmed as he finally walked through the gym doors.
"Hope that Jin will go easy on Ranka." The hyena thought as she made her way back to her dorm. "Nah, it's fine. He would never be harsh on her after all that. Would he?"
Chapter 8: Reconciliation
"Stop eating the raw dough, you stupid panda!" Jin yelled as MeiMei took another spoonful of the dough and quickly swallowed it. "You keep this up and there won't be a cake by the time we're done!"
"But it's so good!" MeiMei wailed and took another bite. Jin took the spoon from her and tossed her out the empty kitchen and locked the door.
The panda scratched and clawed at the door while her manager came in and helped to try to knock the door down.
Adding additional ingredients to make up for what the spoiled girl had taken, Jin continued to mix the ingredients while the rest of the group either prepared the filling or watched and took notes on the creation.
So far, the first official meeting of the Seton University cooking history club had been going well. All the regular members had appeared and had not made that much of a mess compared to what they had done in their academy years. "These animals are finally learning to behave." Jin thought as he spread out the batter into the pan.
While the atmosphere was somewhat pleasant, it was still not the normal mood that they had come to expect from these meetings.
The blame lay with Ranka and Jin. Ranka, who was usually an exciting ball of happiness that was constantly on Jin, was simply sitting a bit to the side of the rest of the group and watched them.
Neither of them had spoken to one another since they entered the classroom. Every time that Jin glanced at her, she caught Ranka looking at him for a split second before she quickly turned her head and looked out the window.
She didn't look angry, instead, it was more of a look of restraint, as if she really did want to give in to her wolf instincts and lick Jin, as if the past two weeks had not happened.
Jin hadn't tried to go up and talk to Ranka, as per the plan she had laid out with Yena. "Just a few more minutes." he thought to himself, as he supervised the koala to spread out the jam into the half-baked cake shell.
"Right on time." He thought to himself as he looked out the other window and saw Yena waiting outside the building.
Once the cake slid in, he got the oven set up and the desert started to bake. All of them gathered around and watched it for a minute or two, even MeiMei, who Jin had finally let in after securing the cake. "Hey, guys!" Yena shouted as she burst through the door. "Jin! Can I take them!"
Jin nodded and the hyena grabbed everyone except Ranka and Miyubi. "Wait, where are you taking them! I demand an explanation for this outrageous behavior!" the manager yelled as the precious panda wailed.
"We need extra ingredients for the cake when it's done," Jin explained. "She knows where they are and needs help to get them in time before the cake is done."
"Oh, also Ranka, here you go!" Yena shouted as she used her foot to toss a small crumpled up note to the wolf, who caught it with ease. "Bye!" she yelled out while carrying the rest of the cooking club.
The door was closed, there was a click of a lock and a shuffling of a chair being placed against the door to prevent it from opening. Jin, Ranka, and Miyubi were stuck.
Ranka unfurled the note and read it. All it read was, "I told Jin and he knows, you can stop avoiding him now." Her entire body became pale white as she realized what had happened.
She could feel the eyes of Jin behind her, staring right into the back of her head as he sat down in a chair and folded his arms.
Miyubi simply slept, too tired to do much else after carrying the almonds from the pantry to the cutting board. Any more work would have killed her.
They both stood in silence for a moment, Ranka froze in shock. She had relied on Yena's plan and did not expect a moment like this to happen so soon.
As much as she wanted to yelp out in joy and run to Jin, she didn't turn around. She feared what he would say, now that he knows what she had done.
"Ranka." Jin began to say. His tone was neutral and steady, careful not to give any emotions to her. "I am not angry at you. I am disappointed. You are supposed to be our pack leader, and yet you acted like a child for the past two weeks."
He looked down at the ground and lowered his head a little. "I was too harsh on you on that day. I should have chosen my words more carefully when I lashed out at you. That was why I was trying to find you and talk to you this week. I wanted to apologize."
Ranka's eyes began to well up. She knew that giving Jin the silent treatment was going to have an effect on him, but not like this. Of course, she did want an apology from Jin, but it was nothing like how she had imagined it!
Instead of feeling triumphant as Jin begged for forgiveness, she was feeling absolutely terrible for pushing him away.
"But I couldn't since you had the idea that by 'punishing' by staying away from me, it would make things better and that I would come back to you, at least that was what Yena said you had imagined. I want to hear it from you, was that why you did it?"
Her face started to flood with even more tears, some of them escaping her eyes and dripping down to the ground as she nodded vigorously. Every single word stung her mind, especially since they were all true.
Sighing, Jin looked out the window and gave out a little chuckle. "She also told me that you were hoping that you would try to understand me better and try to figure out how you could make me fall for you. That surprised me, that you would try to understand a human. I did not expect that at all."
He stood up and slowly walked up until he was just right behind Ranka. He noticed that the floor was soaked with a small puddle of tears right below her face. "If you want to try and understand me, there are better ways than ignoring me. Many in fact." Jin said, feeling pity for Ranka.
"I was thinking of punishing you, but the fact that you stayed away from me for two weeks would be punishment enough. Yena said you needed to be reminded several times just to simply not talk to me or stay away." Jin reached out and gently lowered his hand onto the head of the wolf, who began to quietly sob.
"If you want to try and understand me, I promise that I will be as open as I could. I just didn't think an animal would understand." Jin smirked as he head-patted her. "But then again, I used to think that I could never be friends with an animal, yet here we are."
As those words left his mouth, Jin felt a crushing wet sensation on his chest as Ranka turned and tightly hugged him, her sobs now loud and heavy. They simply stood there for a minute as Ranka let out her tears fall on Jin. He gingerly hugged her back, resisting the urge to tear her off him.
"On a brand-new shirt of all things. How clichéd is that?" he thought to himself. "Well, it's not too bad. This actually feels a bit nice."
Ranka stopped crying after a while and managed to lift her head to look up at Jin. Her eyes were still red and wet. "D-Does that mean you don't hate me?" She asked, sniffling a little bit.
"I never hated you, you just had the wrong idea from some stupid romance novel."
"Hey! It's not stupid, I actually learned some things from it." She defended herself.
"A lot of wrong things," Jin replied coldly. Ranka reluctantly nodded in agreement. "I'm sorry," She said, her eyes looking as if they were ready to tear up again.
"It's okay," Jin said quietly. "The first thing to understand about humans is that if you want something or learn about them: talk to them. Don't run off and ignore me when you want attention, promise you shitty wolf?"
"I promise!" Ranka replied happily as she leaped up and started to lick Jin's face. After two weeks, she had missed this taste and gave out even more slobber than usual. Even Jin just stood there and let it happen.
"I'm already soaked with my shirt, might as well sit here and take it. Huh, this isn't so bad." He thought, recalling that he had actually missed this treatment. To a certain extent.
"Okay, can you get off of me now?" He asked after several moments had passed with non-stop licking. His appreciation of this attention had worn down to his usual annoyance at Ranka for doing it. She stopped and got off him, returning to the hug that she had given to him.
"Does that mean that you love me?" she asked innocently while looking up at him in a smug manner.
"No," Jin replied flatly.
"Whyyyyy??" she wailed, finally making Miyubi to wake up and look at them.
"Life is not a manga where a person can fall in love in seconds." He replied.
"I did!" she protested.
Jin sighed, reminding himself to be patient. "Humans take their time. We want to know the person that we want to date, understand who they are to fall in love with them." Jin explained. Ranka thought hard for a moment before looking up and nodding at him. "I understand." She affirmed.
"Do you really?" he asked, raising an eyebrow in doubt.
"Yes! I really do!" she eagerly said. "I did fall in love with you the first time we met, but I learned so many new things about you since then. Humans just want to learn those things first before falling in love, right?"
"Damn, she's actually learning?" Jin was shocked. "Ranka not only wants to try to understand a human but actually does?" Looking into Ranka's happy eyes, he realized that he had underestimated the ability that these animals had to learn. When he looked at Ranka, he didn't see just an animal.
He saw a young girl that just happened to have wolf ears and tail and act like one. "Okay, so she is a wolf," he conceded. "but she still looks just like a human girl, wait what the hell I am thinking? This is not normal!"
"Oh, I see you got busy once we left, ey Jin?" Yena asked as she opened the door and allowed the rest of the group to enter the room. Jin looked down and saw that Ranka was still hugging him tightly, looking the happiest that she has been in two weeks.
"Yay! You guys made up!" MeiMei cried out as she dashed up and hugged the pair. The others also proceeded to come into a group hug while expressing their joy of seeing Jin and Ranka back to normal.
Even the manager joined in, saying that the stress that MeiMei would have felt from the emotional drift would have warranted an execution and that he was glad Jin ended it for the sake of the panda.
"Of course, it would," Jin muttered under his breath. The oven then dinged, signaling that the cake was ready. He left the group hug and went over to the oven to take the cake out as the others set up the table and toppings that they had brought with them.
"There, does it taste batter after its baked, panda?" he asked MeiMei as they dug into their slices. She couldn't reply, as she was too bust eating it up and could only nod eagerly.
"Here, you guys can have some," Jin said as he took a couple slices and bent down to the floor next to the window where the naked mole's rats were hiding.
"Wait, there are no mole rats here!" one yelled from behind the curtain. There was a smack and a yelp from the mole-rat. "We know you are here," Jin said exasperated. "Here, take the cake and will you please leave us alone? We don't like being spied on. If you continue, we'll get the cat back."
The mole rate squealed and ran with their cake. Jin returned back to the table and served out second helpings.
Hitomi suggested that they go outside to eat the next time they met, since it may be the last time the weather would be nice before fall truly came. "Sure, I'll think of something good for the occasion. Something savory and light."
As the whole table continued to chat and marvel over Jin's cake, he breathed a sigh of relaxation. He looked over at Ranka and saw her tail wagging wildly as she took another bite of her portion.
Only after looking closely at her did he notice just how much she had changed from the last time they "talked" on that first day.
Ranka noticed him looking at him and gave him a warm smile. Not one of the large ear to ear grins that he was used to from her, but a small genuine one that he would expect from Hitomi."Did she always smile like this?" he thought.
"Are you okay Jin?" Ranka asked him, still smiling.
He nodded as he reached out and gave her a small pat on the head. "I'm much better now." He returned the smile as he scratched her head right behind her ears.
"Gu-ya!" Ranka yelped as she seized up and fell, sprawled out on his lap so that her head was hanging over his right thigh. The perfect petting position. He continued to eat while gently petting Ranka with his left hand.
Mika felt her blood pressure rise as she reviewed the footage that her scouts had brought back. They had found another place to hide immediately after Jin had tried to bribe them with the cake. She took another bite of said cake as she watched her target pet Ranka on the head.
"S-Such a filthy man! Doing that before he's married! And to an outside species no less!" The cries of her other mole rats reached her ears, saying out loud what she had been thinking. "President! Should we go in and stop them?" One of them asked her.
"Not yet," she replied, turning off the tv. "I will talk to the student council once we convene and I will, as president, propose a list of harsh regulations on interspecies relationships for the good of the student society. Effectively a ban without outright doing so."
"This man," she said, pointing to a picture of Jin that they had framed up on a wall. "You must keep an eye on him. Apparently, I was wrong in thinking he will stay the same way for the next four years at this school. If he shows any more signs that he is willing to date outside his species, then we will act on them. Until then, you watch them and try to hide better. Understood?"
"Yes, madam president!"
Chapter 9: A long-overdue confession
"Finally!" Jin excitedly thought as he exited his class. He had just completed his last midterm exam of the semester. Nothing too difficult, as he had given himself plenty of time to prepare for his tests.
He whistled quietly as he walked out of the building and onto one of the many campus paths. He quickly looked around and went to his right, making a straight path towards the school fountain.
The weather outside had become more notably colder. The animals lucky enough with fur didn't seem bothered much, but others had resorted to wearing additional layers of clothing just to keep warm. Jin counted himself lucky as one of the few that managed to get a layered jacket, to not look bulky while still being warm.
Leaves crunching as he walked all over them, Jin's eyes were darting around a little bit. There were far fewer students than normal, probably still in their classes taking the tests. He was looking only for one student in particular. Looking at the fountain in front of him, he found her.
"Hitomi!" He called out and waved as he spotted her. She turned and gave a little wave as well. "Sorry that I'm late, my test took longer than expected."
"Oh, don't worry!" she replied. "I was only here for a couple minutes, so I'm not that cold." The pair continued to chat about their tests, the teachers and how they made their tests different than what the reviews covered. It was a pleasant little talk, but one that Jin wanted to change to something more meaningful.
"And I also found this one recipe that came from the Roman times called Moretum, it takes some time but I think we can plan it. We can even make some bread to go with it!"
As Hitomi continued on about the two recipes that she found and a little bit of the history surrounding Roman foods, Jin nodded and followed the conversation, but his mind was still nudging him to simply go for it and say it. "She has to go soon, do it now!" his mind whispered.
After Jin agreed to the idea that she had brought up. A small silence fell between the pair. Jin was thinking about the dozen or so ways that he would start off.
"' Hey, I was wondering how you felt about me?' No, that's too strong, should be something softer. 'Hitomi, I was wondering who you are interested in?' It could work but doesn't sound right. 'Hey, are you interested in dating me?' No, that's also too forward."
"Uh, Jin?" Hitomi asked, breaking his train of thought.
"Hmm?" Jin asked, looking at her. He noticed that her carefree expression was now replaced with one of a more serious nature. If he knew better, he would see that she was nervous. "You said that you had something that you wanted to talk to me about. Something that you had to say in person?" Jin nodded. "Sorry, I was just trying to think about how to best put it."
She giggled softly. "Jin, I've known you for four years and you may be cold, but I know that you mean well when you speak your mind." She reached over and placed her hand on his shoulder, making him even more flustered. "Just say what you are thinking. You're my best friend and I will understand what you mean."
Jin gulped, slightly sweating underneath his jacket. Now it felt too hot for him, and the longer he waited, the more nervous he got. "Any minute longer and I will screw up by saying something stupid. Do it now!" Looking away from Hitomi, he took a deep breath and exhaled, calming himself down.
Composed, he turned to look back at Hitomi, her eyes looking right up at him. From the moment that he saw her, he knew that she would be perfect for him. Human, kind, gentle and sweet, he saw nothing short of perfection in her.
"Hitomi," he began. "I have known you for the last four years. We have spent many wonderful times together as friends, and I appreciate all that you have done for me."
"Thank you, being with you and all our other friends means a lot to me!" Hitomi nodded and smiled. "Jin had never talked about his feelings like this, the university has changed him a lot so quickly!" Hitomi thought to herself.
Jin took his hand up and placed it on top of her hand that rested on his shoulder. "But the truth is, I've always wanted us to be more than friends."
"eh? W-what do you mean Jin?" she asked as her face became red, fully knowing exactly what Jin was meaning.
"What I mean," Jin said, doing everything he can to remain controlled, "Is that I love you, Hitomi."
The silence was deafening. The only sound that was available between the pair was the wind blowing softly.
Even some nearby students recognized what was going on. Some got up and walked away to give them privacy, others looked more intensely into their books, ears perked up to hear what was going on.
Hitomi just sat there in stunned silence. Deep down, she had always known that Jin had these feelings for her. After all, it was natural considering that, as far as she knew, she was the only non-related human woman that he had met. Sure, others existed, but the rarity of humans meant that people could go on for years without laying eyes on another one of their own kind.
She looked down into the fountain next to them as she slipped her hand away from his shoulder. She took a moment of contemplation to think about what she wanted to say. "Jin," she began speaking softly, staring into her reflection on the surface of the water. "I have known for a little while, years, that you have felt this way for me."
Looking back up at him, her sad expression became clearer to him. "And I'm happy that you worked up the courage to tell this to me. But there is a reason why I didn't say anything about it after all these years."
Before she spoke any further, Jin felt like he had been punched in the stomach. He had known that this was a possibility but hadn't taken it seriously. "It doesn't make logical sense for her to say no!" his brain explained. "Don't fret about it!" And yet, the illogical thing that he feared was about to come to life.
"It's because," Hitomi continued, her voice quivering a little. "I love you as a friend."
Jin could have sworn that he heard his heart pop and deflate. Doing all he can to control himself, he continued to make absolutely sure that she was saying exactly what he thought she meant. "And.....only as a friend....right? Nothing more?" He asked, every word slowly and carefully coming out.
She shook her head. "No, as my best friend, you have been at my side for four years. You have helped me through many different problems that I don't think I could have handled without your help, and I know you as well as I can hope to know. You have been one of the greatest things that have happened in my life!"
A single tear emerged and gently dripped down her face. "But, I only feel for you as a best friend, but not as anything beyond that. I'm sorry, but I can't control if I love you or not." She turned awkwardly and the pair stared at the ground for a few moments.
Hitomi was worried about Jin, she had known that the day would come when he would confess his obvious love for her, but she had hoped that it would be in the far distant future. Most of all, she feared to lose him as a friend.
Jin, on the other hand, thought nothing. For four years, he had pinned all of his hopes for love on this one woman, the one person that he could imagine himself walking down the aisle and taking home as his wife. Now, it was clear to him that it could only remain on his head.
Recovering ever so slightly from the shock, Jin suddenly felt a concoction of emotions boiling up inside him. Anger, fear, worry, sadness, and many others all blew up in his mind and swirled around, making it harder for him to think. All wanted him to say something, anything, to respond to the slap in the heart that he had received from Hitomi.
Anger, in particular, wanted him to speak a few choice words with Hitomi, but as strong as they were, he gritted his teeth and fought to control himself. "Nothing good can come from saying these things!" he mentally yelled at himself. The thoughts continued to persist, but he remained strong, holding his tongue and not saying a word.
After a moment of this, he had managed to retain enough self-control to think and speak rationally. Looking at Hitomi with a sadness that made her feel guilty, he nodded. "Thank you," he said quietly. "For answering truthfully."
The pair sat in silence as both tried to think of something to say. Jin broke the silence. "Is there a certain person that you would like to be your partner?" he asked. "No! Not at all!" Hitomi denied quickly. "If I did, I would have told the group and you would have known."
Jin nodded. "True, you don't hide that many secrets." He remarked. "I'm sorry, I know it must be painful-" Hitomi began to speak, but Jin raised his hand. "Don't apologize." He spoke, more in control of himself, but still watching his words with careful attention. "I would be even more hurt if you had lied."
Hitomi nodded, looking awkwardly around them. All the animals appeared to focus among themselves, but a closer look would have revealed, many computers turned off, books upside down or ears pointed right at where the two humans were.
All were listening intently, with the sole exception of the mole rats, who were watching this unfold. Mika the school council president was watching intently, forgetting to sign her paperwork and focusing on Jin and Hitomi.
"I know this may not be a good time to ask," Hitomi said, now fearing what Jin might say. "But, does this mean we can't be friends anymore?"
Considering the question for a long time, Jin thought more carefully then he had ever done with any other that he had encountered. He thought about all the things that they went through, all the friends that they had made, and how close that they had gotten to know each other. Could he live with himself if he decided to break contact with Hitomi?
Finally, Jin spoke up. "No.," he said simply. "I would still like us to remain friends."
"Huh?" Hitomi asked. It was the answer she wanted but was not expecting it.
Jin gave a small chuckle that sounded as awkward as he feared it would be. "Well, I will still need someone to keep me sane with all these animals around." Said animals stared menacingly at him.
"Besides," he continued, in a more serious tone. "You're the best friend that I've had in a long time. I won't let that change so easily even after a little thing like that." Jin said, trying to play off what he had just said a few moments ago and wave it away.
"It wasn't small Jin," Hitomi countered. "It was a huge thing for you."
Jin sighed. "Yes, it was. It was something that I have felt for a while and wanted to tell you, but somehow, I wasn't able to get the opportunity to confess in person."
"I'm sorry that it didn't turn out how you wanted," Hitomi said, saddened by the state of Jin. "Do you need some time to think?" she offered. Jin nodded. "Yes," he affirmed. "I need some time to clear my head. Too many things going on inside it." As he got up and was about to walk away, he sensed that something felt incomplete.
Turning, he saw that Hitomi's face looked worried and concerned for him. "What would she worried about- ah, I see." "Look," he said, going back and sitting down next to her. "I just need some time to clear my head. You won't see me for a bit or hear from me much. But I don't hate you and I won't hold what you said against you. I don't do that to friends." As he said those last words, Hitomi's face lightened up a little bit.
Getting up again, he straightened up and coughed a bit. "I'll send you a shopping list for those ingredients that we will need for next time our group meets up and where they can get them," he spoke a little too loudly. Hitomi nodded as Jin turned and made his way back to his dorm room, his head still spinning with what had happened.
"Why?!? He was the only good human here!" Mika wailed as she watched Jin walk away on the TV. "Madam president, your tears are staining your proposals!" her assistant yelled as she covered her suggested relationship school rules in tears. She yelped and tried to dry them off by flapping them around in the air.
After researching the recipes that Hitomi had suggested, he compiled a shopping list and sent it out to her. She replied with a short thanks. He put down his phone and laid down on the bed, not bothering to change out of his clothes, his mind still occupied by the events at the fountain.
It hurt; he had pinned all his romantic goals around Hitomi. "Sure, it made sense since she was the only human woman around," He thought to himself. "But I didn't consider the possibility that she would not be interested that way. My fault." Strangely, he felt a strange calm after that train of thought.
He was still down, but at the same time, he felt relieved. A question that had been on his mind for more than four years had now been answered. It didn't go his way, and now the next question was, now what? "Too much," he grumbled to himself. "one thing at a time"
He fell asleep, vowing to first clear his mind and recover from this revelation before he thought of the future. "Thank god I asked after the midterms," He thought before falling asleep.
That night, he dreamed that he was caught in a huge rainstorm on a choppy lake in nothing but a rickety rowboat. For the longest time, he struggled to move anywhere at all, doing all he can to wrestle with the water, fighting with it. Finally, he gave up and laid down in the boat, accepting whatever fate the deep waters held for him.
Instead of drowning, he felt a bright light sensation as the clouds parted to reveal the sun. The surface of the lake slowly followed suit, going from raging around him, to slightly choppy, finally calming down to a beautiful, crystal clear surface. Looking up at the sky, Jin smiled and accepted its warmth.
Chapter 10: Not the end, but a new beginning
"Good, now gently knead the bread," Jin ordered as the others watched on.
"Okay!" The koala exclaimed as she raised her hands and propelled them towards the innocent loaf of dough. "No!" Jin yelled as her fists came in contact with the dough.
The rest of the group had gathered in closer to watch the process of kneading the bread that they had planned to eat, now all over their faces and aprons. MeiMei was too close to the center of impact and the force of the dough colliding with her body made her thrown out of the classroom door.
As she lay there panting with happiness and blushing in the face, Jin was yelling at the Koala, and Ranka was busy trying to lick everyone's faces clean. As the pack boss, it was her job to make sure that everyone was as clean as possible, and the best solution just so happened to be the one that she liked to perform the most.
At a glance, this seemed like a perfectly normal meeting for the history cooking club. But past the surface, there was a small hint of a difference in the group, something that all felt, but no one except Jin and Hitomi knew exactly what.
As Jin brought up a second batch of dough that he had made in case of this event that he fully expected would happen, he motioned for MeiMei to do the kneading instead.
Grumbling at having to do something, she only got to it when Jin scolded her to do so. Against the protests of her manager, she went ahead and eagerly kneaded the dough.
"You okay?" Jin asked Hitomi as she tried to wipe off the mess for her face.
A muffled sound that appeared to be a yes, came out. Jin took up two of the many different kitchen towels, giving one to Hitomi's free hands.
With the other, he gently started to wipe her face off with the towel. Using his other hand, he tossed the dough into the trash can and continued to clean up the mess.
Hitomi blushed as soon as she saw Jin's face so close to hers. It had been the first time since Wednesday that she had seen him. When she had entered the room that day and saw him again, he was stretching out Ranka's mouth with his hands as he pinned her to the wall.
He immediately noticed her enter and abruptly stopped, exclaiming that he was simply training her to stop licking him so much and that she had simply lost control.
Apart from that outburst, he had been his usual self. Still, she couldn't help but feel that there was still something wrong.
Even though he acted as nothing had happened, there were little moments that made her notice a certain change. His occasional glances at her, him smiling a bit too much as if he was compensating or covering up something on his mind.
"Uh Jin?" she said nervously, gently pushing him away. "Can I have the other towel?"
"Oh sure!" he said quickly and handed her a fresh one, before turning away and getting to clean up Miyubi, who had come back to life again after feeling overwhelmed by the dough on her face. Brushing the remaining dough from herself, Hitomi watched as Jin carefully made sure to remove every last bit from the sloth.
After the clean-up concluded and the bread was in the oven, the group got bored with waiting, so Meimei had brought along a few games for them to play. They all started to play Monopoly, with Jin declining to join, as he had homework to finish ahead of time.
"I want to have a clear mind for the sports festival." He cited as his excuse. Hitomi glanced over occasionally as the game continued.
Distracted by the constant nagging in the mind, she was the first one to run out of money. Giving her properties to the manager, who agreed to the role of a banker, she went over and sat in a chair a few feet away from Jin.
He continued to focus on his homework, intensely writing out equations that his professor had hinted would be vital for the final exam. Several minutes passed and not once did he look up from his work. Knowing that she had only a few minutes to speak her mind, Hitomi got up and prepared herself.
"Jin, can I talk to you for a moment?" She asked quietly.
"Sure! What's up!" Jin asked cheerfully. "Too cheerfully," she thought.
"I wanted to know if you were okay. I haven't seen you since, you know, that day and you were acting a little weird." She spilled out as much as she could that was on her mind. She made sure to keep her voice down enough to prevent the others from hearing them.
"What do you mean you won't pay the taxes?! You have to!" MeiMei yelled at Ranka, who had landed on a luxury tax spot.
"Government is not the boss, I am and I say I don't have to pay it!" Ranka declared. "You will do as we say, or we will execute you!" the manager yelled in his best banker voice, a rich and pompous accent with an air of contempt. Maybe they were too focused to notice how Jin and Hitomi were speaking.
Jin sighed and put down his pen. Motioning to Hitomi, she sat down in a chair next to him that was overlooking the window. Being on the second story gave them a beautiful view of the campus on the left and forest edge on the right.
Somehow, Jin had managed to pick one of the most scenic classrooms that the school had, with a view that one would look at and feel tranquility. Even Hitomi was slightly less nervous as she saw the contrast between wild and civilized, school and forest. It was a pretty sight in her eyes.
"You have nothing to worry about," Jin affirmed. He gave a serious look like the thought carefully about his next words. "Should I be soft and simply tell her to stop worrying or be honest and detailed?" he considered. Going with honesty, he looked up at Hitomi.
"It's just that, it was a bit of a shock to me. I had loved you for four years and the answer of no was not a pleasant thing to put it simply."
"Jin," Hitomi said sternly. "If you think that making me feel guilty will somehow get me to fall for you or that-"
"Oh no, I didn't mean it that way!" Jin scrambled to clear up the mistake.
"I have accepted your answer," he continued. "I cannot force you to change your mind and I don't want to do it. I was only saying how I felt to explain why I am acting this way."
He gave her a small smile. "Just give me some time to process and get over it. You can't forget four years of feelings in a few days. But," he said as he gingerly reached over and placed a hand on her shoulder. "We will still be friends, and things will go back to normal. I only need some patience."
Hitomi suddenly threw herself at him and hugged him tightly, catching Jin by surprise. His words had made her fears crumble into small particles of their former selves. Now, she was deeply relieved that she hadn't lost Jin. "Well, as normal at this group can get," she chuckled.
"Jin! How can you cheat on me so brazenly!" Ranka yelled as she turned and noticed the two humans in a close hug, too close for her own tastes. "I am not! It is only me hugging Hitomi in a friendly way! Besides, we are not together that way!"
Jin yelled back. "I know! That's the joke!" Ranka smiled at him and turned back to the game. It was not between herself and Miyubi, who had somehow gotten all the green, red, purple and railroad properties of the board.
"Huh, that mutt is learning?" Jin wondered to himself. "Only a couple weeks and she already knows to restrain herself."
"Don't lick him, don't lick him, don't lick him." Ranka's mind repeated, over and over again. It took all her focus to look at the gameboard and not at Jin. "Wonder why they were hugging and acting so weird today?" she thought, as Miyubi bankrupted the young wolf.
The oven rang out and the bread was carried out on a sheet to cool for an hour, another round of Monopoly was started. This time, it was all down between Jin and Miyubi.
Everyone except Ranka was cheering for Miyubi, as the pair duked it out for bankrupt one another. Properties switched hands one by one, and the game was no closer to finishing.
"Send a hurricane to take down her hotels Jin!" Ranka yelled out.
"That's not how this game works!" he yelled as Ranka leaped up and dove onto the board, sending everyone and the game pieces flying.
"Well, I guess that's a tie!" the manager declared as the others recovered from the pink hurricane. "Now, who's ready to eat?"
Chapter 11: Ranka finds out the truth
"I'm hungry!" MeiMei whined aloud. "You ate more food than the rest of us though," Ranka pointed out. "How can you still be hungry?"
"Because I ran from my dorm floor to the bottom of the stairs to get ready for the sports festival tomorrow!" MeiMei proclaimed proudly, puffing up her chest. "The building is only 4 floors." Ranka thought to herself.
MeiMei's whining notwithstanding, it was still nice for Ranka to have someone to walk with back to the dorm. She and Jin lived in dorms in the opposite directions, making it hard to find an excuse to follow him back to his room.
She had tried, but Jin had said that it was not safe for her to be out alone so close to dark. "But I can stay the night with you. Just smuggle me in your bag!" She had tried to argue, but still, Jin was firm on having her and MeiMei walk back home after the group was done with their activities.
"Oh, did you also notice how weird Jin and Hitomi were today?" MeiMei asked Ranka. She lowered her voice slightly. "They were hugging too close I think," She said in a little teasing voice. "Maybe they are going out and not telling us!"
"N-No they're not!" Ranka said quickly, flustered at the thought. "They were just hugging! They've hugged before, have they?" The pair stopped as Ranka began to panic and pace back and forth. "Besides, Jin would tell me, wouldn't he? I mean, I am his boss after all!"
"Yes, he would!" A strong voice agreed behind them, causing the pair to scream and jump into the nearby bushes. After instinct took over, they recognized the voice. "Oh, hi Yena!" Ranka called out as she came out of her bush to greet the Hyena. MeiMei peered out of the bushes and she too recognized their friend.
"Now, what's this talk about Jin? I thought we agreed that you would now try to understand him and wait." Yena asked the young wolf. Ranka gave a small whine and looked downwards. "But it's so hard! How can humans do this for a long time?"
"Dunno, beats me but it works." Yena shrugged, stretching her arms out. "And you don't have to worry about Hitomi. Jin confessed to her on Wednesday." Ranka froze as she heard what the hyena had said.
"So casually too, does that mean that everyone knows? That's why they were so weird today." She simply stood there in shock, unable to process what she just heard. It was as if she was a black and white shell of her former self.
"Jin confessed.....and Hitomi said yes." She got down on all fours and started to whine and pace around in circles, unable to get that thought out of her mind.
Stressed that all of her efforts were down the drain, and now she had no future with Jin, she could do nothing but panic.
Noticing this, Yena realized she forgot an important detail. "Oh, don't worry, Hitomi said they should only be friends." No reaction from Ranka, she just kept on going in circles. "Oh, don't worry," MeiMei assured Yena. "Just give her a few more seconds.....and there she is!"
"Why didn't you tell me that part first!" Ranka yelled at Yena, getting back up on her two feet. "And besides," she continued, narrowing her eyes at the hyena. "How did you find out? Did you spy on them?"
"Actually, Hitomi told me," Yena replied matter of factly.
"Oh. I guess that also makes sense."
"Anyways, that's not the most interesting part," Yena said, grinning from ear to ear. Motioning the two to come closer, she bent down and whispered, "I know why Jin hates us."
She spent the next few minutes explaining what Jin had told her, from his start in the daycare when he was three, to his desire to be friends with everyone there and how it ended when he left the school.
Finishing the story, Yena noticed two very surprising reactions in front of her. Ranka's was one of utter ecstasy, the wolf being happier than any other time that Yena had seen her. She was usually happy and hyper, but this face suggested happiness, unlike anything she had ever seen.
On MeiMei's face, she saw a more toned-down reaction, one of a realization. It was like a schoolgirl who had discovered a secret about one of her friends and was ready to tell the others. "Huh, are you okay Ranka?" Yena asked nervously, unsure of what to expect.
"N-no," Ranka said, her voice quivering slightly. "I....am......happy!" she screamed out loud that last word, jumping up for joy and practically flying around the small street that they had stopped at. Some students upstairs yelled at her to calm down, but to no avail.
MeiMei smugly gestured her hand to Yena, who came closer to her to hear what she had to say. Quickly, she explained the story of Ranka's first love from when she was three, on a human boy in her daycare that had saved her from three bears. It took her a moment for Yena to make the connection.
"No way!" she exclaimed, suddenly understanding why Ranka was climbing the dorm building and yelping in happiness. "This is exactly like the book that you were reading!"
"You know what that means!"
"Jin and I are destined to be together!"
"Yes!" Yena and MeiMei yelled, nodding their head up and down.
"Will you all please shut up!" A group of horses on the second floor yelled as they threw down a bunch of used horseshoes at them. The three ducked into the building to avoid getting concussions.
The sound of the horseshoes falling on the ground stopped and was replaced by the screams of the horses. Carefully going back out, the three saw that a group of wolves had scaled the second floor. One of them carried the manager, who was berating the horses for almost killing MeiMei and promising death if they tried to do so again.
"So, what now? Are we going to have a plan where we make Jin fall for you?" MeiMei asked excitedly. Ranka shook her head.
"No, we tried that before and it almost did the opposite," Ranka said in a solemn tone. Clenching her fist, she looked up to the pair, a proud and determined smile on her face.
"If we are to be together, I will do this on my own. No sneaky tricks, just be with him and let fate guide the way for my love!" Ranka declared.
"That's a line from your book." Yena pointed out flatly.
"Ha! So, you did read the whole thing, that line doesn't appear until about halfway into it." Ranka said in a 'gotcha' tone. ''You actually like that book, don't you?"
Startled by the (not baseless) accusation, Yena stuttered. "W-what? No, I didn't, I only read it to research how you might have thought and what lies it sold you." She lied unconvincingly.
Both Ranka and MeiMei smiled at each other. "Was it because the main girl looks like Hitomi?" MeiMei asked in an overly sweet and innocent tone. "No! That is not the reason at all!" Yena denied; her face as red as a strawberry.
"Okay, whatever you say!" the pair said as they went into their dorm, leaving Yena behind. The hyena tried to say something but failed, grumbling as the turned around and stormed off to her and her father's apartment.
"So, any ideas?" MeiMei asked her as they waited in the lobby area. "You will have to give him some time to handle the rejection, about a week or so before you get close to him."
She gasped and grabbed Ranka by the shoulders. "Imagine how surprised he will be when he finds out that it was you all those years ago!"
"He will be!" Ranka agreed. "When he finds out tomorrow during the sports day! I will partner with him and we will do the races together. When the time is right, I will tell him!" Skipping along the hallway, she started to imagine the many different scenarios that would be perfect for her to tell him.
"Um, are you sure? He was only rejected this week." MeiMei pointed out, but Ranka brushed that aside. "A few days should be enough, and I will do everything I can to comfort my partner! The longer I wait, the more sad he will be that he has no one, and I can't let that happen!"
MeiMei nodded, suddenly uneasy about the wolf's idea of what to do next. "Well, in that case, I gotta go back and sleep. I have a very important event I am going to compete in, so I need to be rested up!"
"Aren't you going to be in a bamboo eating contest?" Ranka asked.
"Yep! Only the fittest animals can even stand to win against me!" MeiMei said proudly as Ranka looked unimpressed with her friend.
Chapter 12: A sports day theft
"University life is hard, and the stress of being a student can mean some students become unhealthy, especially if they are first years. That is why at Seton University, we have a schoolwide fitness day! Where students are paired up and compete with each other or against each other to have fun after the midterms and to have a healthy balance between training the body and the mind."
The head dean continued to excitably start off the event to the crowd of students. Of course, it was still hard to hear him over the bubbling that the coelacanth made in his aquarium water.
"Over 400 million years of living, these animals are set in their ways and have changed little, so even if we all know this, he will speak the same thing the same way," Jin grumbled as he waited for the dean to finish the speech.
"When I become the boss of this school, I will never give a boring speech like this!" Ranka declared, excitedly looking at Jin. "I thought that you wanted to be the boss of the world first." Jin pointed out.
"I have decided that I need to start small, so I might as well start with you, then the school and then the world!"
"But you're already my boss."
"Exactly! Step one complete, now I will take over the school. Now do these fishies fight to be boss? I think I can take him, Jin? Hey Jin, you aren't listening!"
"Why did I agree to get paired up with this her." He thought to himself. "Oh right, Hitomi was already taken by Yena, Miyubi would die, that shitty panda would make me carry her around, and the koala is volunteering."
"Of course," he muttered as he looked back and looked into the bushes behind them. He saw a small sea of red eyes looking at them, with a specific pair floating high above the others. "It helps when a massive wolf threatens to throw you if I made her cry by saying no."
"Oh, sister is still there?" Ranka asked coldly, looking at the same spot that Jin was. They both stared for a few seconds before their eyes panicked and floated away quickly.
"So, uh Jin?" Ranka asked, looking up at him.
"We don't race until afternoon, so can just hang out and uh rest, right?" she asked nervously. "I read that humans first get to know more by hanging out." She thought to herself "It sounds boring, but I can show Jin that I want to understand him. Plus, more licking time and food!"
"I thought you would want to run around and play fetch with the others," Jin answered.
"Hey!" She retorted. "I am a proud wolf, one that has grown by being in negative 20 degrees for my vacations to be as big as my sister. I am not a mere dog that lays down and goes on walks like a domesticated-"
"Fetch!" Jin yelled out as he pulled out a bone from his small sports backpack, winding up and throwing it as far across as he could. Ranka sniffed, faintly smelling that the bone still had some tasty meat on it and ran for it, racing on all fours across the grass to retrieve the bone.
"We have to cancel the festival!" The Yukari yelled out at the concession stand. She was standing behind a large folding table that was set up to give out food to the students that she and her teacher.
The only problem was that the food boxes were empty. "Oh, no worries!" her teacher replied calmly. "We have extras right over-wait, where did they go!" As one might deduce, the extra boxes of food were also gone.
The others scrambled around and looked around for the boxes, finding out that at least half of them were gone. Mika ordered her naked mole rats to go out and find more food.
"Don't worry, as the school council resident, I will make sure that all the students of this school will be fed, and the festival will go on!" A cheer erupted from the crowd as already a few of the mole rats were coming back with assortments of different foods.
"But who stole the food?" Ranka asked as she came back with her bone. "I have a few ideas, but it doesn't matter," Jin replied. "It's not our problem, we should let the school handle it."
"Don't say that!" Ranka barked at him. "We will find out who stole the boxes! They can't steal food from my pack and not get away with it."
"This is not another way for you to be alone with me, is it?" Jin asked, arching his eyes questioningly. "No, it's not!" Ranka lied to him.
"You two!" a small voice called next to Jin's shoe. "The president wants you to come along and meet her, she wants you to help find the boxes and return them if possible!" Another mole rat explained.
"Jin, can we please help them?" Ranka begged, looking up and slightly whining.
Looking into her orange-yellow eyes, Jin saw that she was using the puppy eyes at him. She had unsuccessfully used these many times before on him to get him into some trouble, but then Hitomi would somehow get him involved afterward.
This time was different for some reason. As Jin looked, he tried to say no, but something in his throat stopped the word from coming out.
There was, simply put, a feeling that he got when those wide eyes were looking at him, begging him to help out. "Wait, what is this?" he thought to himself. It was a feeling that felt feeing and yet somehow, he remembered feeling it once before, long ago.
He felt it when he looked into those eyes 15 years ago. At the daycare. "Oh no, not again!" Jin internally screamed at himself to find a way to break the contact.
"Okay, we will do it!" he said, sharply snapping to place his gaze upon the small pink rats in their underwear.
"Wonderful! Let's go!" Ranka cried out happily as she bounded for the president, the others following closely behind her. "I knew he couldn't resist my charms." She thought smugly to herself.
"Jin, you have an incredible knowledge of all these wonderful different types of students," Mika explained to him. "I would like you and Ranka to help us find out who stole the food, so I can make sure that as President, the students are in line and are responsible for their actions!"
"Isn't that a job for the faculty?" Jin asked, causing Mika to blush and start to babble a little bit, trying to explain how yes, but that she was still helpful. "Either way, I guess we will do it."
He went over to one of the boxes that had been opened and peered inside. He found a couple of the stacks of leaves were covered in brown fur. Plucking a clump up by two of his fingers, he brought it out and gestured Ranka over. "Here, smell this." He ordered.
Ranka sniffed, once, twice and on the third time, her face lit up. "I have a scent!" she yelled excitedly and began sniffing in the air. She darted from the table and ran towards the campus, before stopping and yelling out for Jin to follow her.
"Might as well." Jin thought as he got into a jogging pace and followed the pink wolf, still sniffing the ground as she led the way.
Chapter 13: A den of thieves
"Sniff sniff, sniff sniff," Ranka went as she stopped yet again to catch the scent in the air.
They had been running for the past few minutes trying to follow the culprits. So far, they had managed to run only halfway across the massive campus in search of the mystery fur.
"Need another taste?" Jin asked her, holding up the small bundle of fur in his hand. She shook her head, then went off again, apparently rediscovering the path.
This went on for quite a while, occasionally stopping to find the faint scent again and returning to the chase. At long last, they stopped in front of a rather small building, no larger than a shed.
"It's strong, food must be here!" Ranka said happily, wagging her tail and smiling up at Jin.
"Good job Ranka." He praised her, hoping to finish this search as soon as possible.
His mind was still drifting towards his feelings that he had long since thought had been suppressed. She jumped up and began to hug him tightly, nuzzling right up his sides.
"What are you doing, get off me!" he yelled out as he tried to push Ranka off himself. She immediately let go and looked up and him smiling. "You said my name!" she squealed, positively delighted. "Not a dog or stupid wolf, but you said my real name!"
"Wait, I did? Damn it, what was I thinking?" Jin cursed himself. "Only because you did a good job." He tried to brush it off.
"And I never did a good job until today?" Ranka asked innocently with a sweet tone.
"Correct," he replied harshly, causing her to pout. "Now let's wait for the teachers to came and then we-"
Ranka opened the door and went inside before he could finish. He swore and made a dash after her. You see, under normal circumstances, he would have let Ranka go on her own to deal with any other creature.
But in this case, with the fall weather, the large brown fur they found and the massive quantity of food that was stolen, Jin had suspected that they were dealing with a very powerful animal, one that they had encountered before. The mighty –
"Bears!" Ranka whispered and Jin caught up to her. The small shack had led to an underground bunker with spacious rooms and hallways that were too dark for normal humans to see in, but just fine for the wolf.
In those rooms, they saw groups of grizzly bears huddled around. Looking closely, Jin saw that each group had a couple bears with a food box in each group. They were gorging on the food that they had stolen, anything that they had found.
"It's because they hibernate," he whispered to Ranka, pulling her closer by pulling her arm.
"The grizzlies need the calories for the winter when they sleep and eat nothing until March."
"Oooohh!" Ranka whispered back, fascinated by this tidbit.
Still grasping her arm, Jin slowly began to walk to the door. "Now will go back and let the teachers handle it." He said.
Ranka nodded, responding bitterly, "Only because we can't take all of them. For now." She then noticed that Jin was holding her by the forearm and suddenly all her feelings of bitterness vanished. Maybe they shouldn't leave so quickly, they should slowly take their time creeping out the doo -
"I don't think so."
The door in front of them slammed shut and three bears appeared in front of them. Standing menacingly, they folded their arms and began to walk towards the pair. Ranka immediately stood in front of Jin, baring her fangs while on all fours.
"You stole all this food when we were going to have a racing day, what did you expect no one to try and find it?" Jin said. He tried to maintain a calm demeanor, but the sight of the three bears made him slightly nervous.
Taking off his backpack, he came prepared. As they came closer, he pulled out his can of bear spray and pointed at them. "Now if you let us go, I won't – huh?!" he exclaimed at the bears placed on gas masks.
"We remember you from back at the academy, you didn't think that we would come unprepared for this school." The lead bear sounded muffled through his gas mask.
"Damn it, now what?" Jin thought as the other bears started to come up behind them. Luckily, they had not encountered Jin and had no convenient gasmasks with them. "There's still so many of them and the ones in the front I can't handle!"
"Get away from Jin!" Ranka yelled as leaped towards the three. "Get back!" Jin yelled out, remembering how she couldn't handle even three bears when they met on their first school day at Seton Academy, much less a whole den of them.
As he watched, Ranka managed to tackle the main bear head-on, landing her head squarely in his massive belly and knocking him over. Turning, she went for the one on the left and dodged his attacks, landing a few hits and avoiding as many of his wild swings as she could.
"Huh. She really grew stronger as well as taller." Jin admired. He turned and sprayed the rear bears with his spray, catching them by surprise. Falling back a few feet, he stopped and sprayed, repeating this step and getting closer to the door.
After the fourth round, he ran out of the spray. Throwing the can down, he made a dash to the door and was about to open it when a large paw grabbed his pack back and threw him back, smashing his head and back against the concrete wall.
He swore that he saw stars as his vision blurred a little bit. It was just enough that he could see that the bear was about to take another swipe at him.
The bear was suddenly shoved to the side as Ranka barreled in and caused him to take a tumble down.
"Get away from him!" She yelled, and Jin swore that there was a bright golden aura around her as she growled and prepared to launch again at the bear.
The main bear came up from behind and swatted her aside, landing her right at Jin's chest and knocking the wind out of him. The three bears gathered around; their fists balled up. "We were only going to play around, but now, playtime's over."
The lead bear growled, raising his paw as he prepared to strike down upon the pair. Seeing no way that they could get out, Jin hugged Ranka as he braced himself for the pain.
Flipping over, he made his back face the bears and covered Ranka with his body, trying to protect her. Ranka whined as she returned the hug, afraid of what was going to happen.
Chapter 14: An open past
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.
Chapter 15: A new beginning
Nom nom, nom nom.
Except for Ranka, she was gently gnawing on Jin's forearm for his attention. Turning his head, he looked over at the wolf as she stopped and beamed at him.
"I made sure to say your name every few minutes after you left the scanning thing so you could wake up sooner. It was scary, the doctor thought you could have been in a coma."
"How long was I out for?" he asked, adjusting himself into a sitting position, his back placed against the pillow. "A couple of hours. The others came and left behind some food and cards for you. They had to return to their races, which they could do all because of our teamwork!" she proclaimed that last bit pridefully, puffing up her chest. "Our work? She actually shares credit now. Like a real boss." Jin marveled.
As Ranka continued to go on about how Mika and the other teachers were thankful for their help in finding the food, Jin zoned out as he looked at Ranka speak, the enthusiastic happy girl. After all these years, he looked at her and, try as he might, he just could not see her as an animal that he despised
Not only was she loyal and stood by him, patiently waiting for him to wake up, but she even went to great lengths to go against her own instinct just for a small chance to get him. "She even tries to understand me. Not always successfully, but she tries."
With this in mind, he reached out his left hand and held it up, hovering it as it gestured at Ranka. She stopped talking and stared at Jin, not sure what he wanted. He pointed downwards towards her and reached out for her hands, indicating what he wanted.
She eagerly reacted and reached outwards to hold his hand, their fingers interlacing with one another's. As they touched, a sense of calm and tenderness spread through the pair. It was a nice feeling, a gentle warmth that neither had felt in their lives up until that very moment.
Gazing at Ranka's bright eyes, Jin took the moment to think very carefully before he uttered even a single word. "Am I sure about this?"
There was a reason why he had been so careful to block his mind from these thoughts, constantly making up excuses for why he was constantly helping her out when in the same breath he would utter that he absolutely hated animals, every single one of them. Was it a smart decision to think that maybe, he should turn a new leaf and instead embrace the idea, to give it at least a try?
Slightly squeezing her hand, he pulled on it a little, moving her towards his bed. He gave her a small smile. "How about we can start this slowly? A good boss knows to take their time with these things."
Ranka, her eyes almost ready to burst into tears of happiness, eagerly nodded. He pulled her in closer, causing her to give Jin a massive hug as she rubbed herself against his side for a moment. "Wolves do this to show affection to others, especially those they consider themselves to be close to." Jin thought, gently separating Ranka from himself as he faced her.
"And this is how humans show affection," he muttered as he brought her close to him, pressing his lips onto hers. Instead of Ranka erupting into a licking frenzy and Jin trying to pull her off, both stood there, lips locked in place and eyes closed, enjoying the moment.
The sunlight that came in through the window warmed their faces, making them feel even more affectionate towards one another. A picture-perfect moment.
A perfect moment for the rest of the group to enter the room and witness the new couple. Seeing Jin enjoy this scene, no one assumed that this was one of the usual Ranka licking sessions. They stood there for a moment, their minds processing what was going on. Ranka and Jin didn't even notice their presence, as they were too focused on one another.
It was only when MeiMei screamed like a fangirl that the kiss was broken, the pair startled at their interruption.
"I knew it!" the Panda gave a high-pitched squeal, causing Miyubi to slump on the floor, dead again. "I knew you would end up with Ranka! You pretended that you never liked her but deep down you liked her, you tsundere!"
"Umm, maybe we should give them some privacy first," Hitomi said, smiling as she and Yena held MeiMei by her shoulders and inched her back out into the hallway as she continued to rant about the new couple. Yena gave Ranka a thumbs up before closing the door.
Ranka turned to look back at Jin, giggling a little. "Can we let them in?" she asked, her tail wagging as she gave him her best wide eyes. "Sure," Jin said shrugging. "But we will pick up where left off later tonight." He said, giving her a little wink.
Ranka gasped, blushing a deep red around her cheeks. "I-if you want that I am okay," she stammered, looking down and poking her two forefingers together. "B-but you said that we should take it slow and I am not in heat right now, so-"
"No no, that's not what I meant! I was talking about starting slow and talking about what we should do!" Jin denied quickly, shaking his hands around.
"You guys are making babies already!?" MeiMei yelled as she burst in through the door again, finally released from the grasp of Hitomi and Yena. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"We are not! It was a misunderstanding." Jin quickly cleared up, his red face showing how much he wanted the panda to stop screaming this nonsense, especially with the hospital staff outside hearing the commotion.
"Oh," MeiMei said, her enthusiastic manner dampened. But only for a moment.
"But when you do, let me know! I want to be a nature documentarian and an interspecies couple would make a good topic to study."
"No! Never!" The pair yelled at Meimei as she was dragged out again by the others.
Chapter 16: The naked mole-rat plot
"Madam president!" A mole-rat screamed as he ran down one of the schools many long and narrow tunnels. Rushing past a group of the warrior rats, he burst into the main room where their queen, Mika was sitting and chatting with the other rats, dictating out a memo to the school dean.
"Thanks to the funds raised from the charity games, we have more than enough to cover for the amount of food that was lost, making this event yet another successful one." She concluded.
She gestured and the secretary rat hopped off the typewriter, peeling the letter off and dashing out the hallway. He nodded as he dashed past the others, letter tucked underneath his arm.
"Put on some clothes before you leave!" Mika reminded him as he faded away from view. Turning back, the mole rat found that his camera crew had managed to catch up to him. Checking the tape, he was satisfied that it was undamaged. It was vital that what he was about to tell Mika was supported by evidence, no space could be left for any doubt.
"Madam president!" He said again, bowing before her.
"Oh, you're back already? I thought that you still had a couple more hours of daylight to follow Jin?" She asked curiously.
"We did have those orders and we apologize for breaking them." He began as the other rolled in the tv and player. He handed them the tape and continued. "But what we recorded was so shocking that we had to come here as soon as we could!"
The tv turned on as the tape began to play. Images of Jin and Ranka came up on the screen. Scenes of them running across campus flashed as Mika's eyes were glued to the screen.
"For the last few months, we have tracked them to make sure that their interspecies friendship would only remain that." He spoke aloud as the others gathered around the screen.
"The female, Ranka, has made many times advance on Jin and has made clear her intentions for him to be her mate." He continued as countless scenes of her jumping on Jin's face and licking him. Upon her first time seeing these images years ago, Mika had nearly passed out by all the lewd imagery that she misunderstood the gesture to mean before she found out that was how she greeted others.
Still, it was uncomfortable for her to watch an animal and a human to be so close. "Due to the male's hatred of animal's we thought it was an unlikely development." he pointed as a compilation of Jin throwing Ranka, pushing her off or other ways of getting her off played across the screen.
"But, with Hitomi's rejection-"
"We know all this," Mika said, already bored by the presentation. "We have seen all of these clips from the weekly updates. Can you get to the point already?"
The mole rat sighed and turned to the tv crew. "Skip to the news." He said, and the mole rats skipped to a scene in the bear cave. There were countless massive brown bears scattered around, all bruised or beaten.
Wolves supervised them and made sure that they didn't move until school security had arrived. Amid the grey and brown, there was a small pink wolf on the side of the screen. Bent over and clearly seen licking Jin's legs.
Mika's face blushed. "What is the meaning of this?" she squeaked. "Oh, nothing much, just trying to heal his wounds." He assured her. "But this is the good part."
The scene changed and Ranka was now on Jin's lap looking directly at him. The audio was not perfect, but Mika could quietly but clearly hear Jin say, "I guess that there is something there that one may consider a feeling of affection beyond simply friends."
"oh no. Oh, No. OH NO!" Mika mentally screamed as she watched the scene unfold. She saw MeiMei barge in and tell Ranka what his message meant and prayed that Jin would shake his head tell her that it was all a big misunderstanding.
She swore that her throat closed up as she saw Jin nod his head, affirming her worst fears. As she was about to speak, the final scene came in. Jin laying in a bed in the hospital, Ranka at his side.
The pair were looking into each other's eyes, Jin laying his hand on her hip and pulled her close to him. "And this is how humans show affection." He muttered as he leaned in for a kiss. The moment their lips touched; Mika's stomach dropped. The scene stopped, the screen froze at the couple exchanging their first real kiss and the other rats turned to face her.
"Madam president, what are-" he stopped speaking as he saw her face. Frozen in shock, her eyes seemed to be barely focused on anything. One next to her waved his arms in front of her to no effect. The other became worried, not knowing what to do. As they were about to prepare to take her to the nurse's office, she finally spoke.
After all these years of watching the pair, her worst fears were finally confirmed. When she first arrived at Seton Academy, she was determined to ensure that there were no interspecies relations of any kind.
Rabbits were meant to be friends with only rabbits, wolves only with wolves and so on, a rather simple concept. A wolf and a human? Friends? It was a ridiculous idea, one that would upset the delicate balance of the school ecosystem.
And yet, she had managed to realize that while hard, these kinds of friendships could work and even be stronger than regular ones that she had advocated for exclusively. In those years since, she had come to even encourage such types of mingling between the species, as long as they were the appropriate kind.
But an interspecies relationship? That was out of the question. It was disgustingly unnatural and completely different from a mere friendship. Besides, any human that pursued an animal would only do so for their exotic nature and be fueled by lust, not love. Especially when it came to humans since they were in heat all year round and couldn't contain themselves.
"Love is impossible between a human and a wolf." She declared, slowly rising up from her chair. Facing the group of mole rats, she knew what she had to do. "As school president, it is my job to ensure that the ecosystem of the school is maintained at a happy balance between all the different species that study here."
"This!" She yelled as she pointed at the kiss still on the tv screen. "This will upset the balance and needs to be stamped out!"
"This cannot last because a human cannot love a wolf!" she screamed as she slammed her fist on the table. "He is playing with her emotions for his own perverted desires!"
"To prove it, we will focus on recording every single moment of their lives. We will throw some tests in their lives, simple ones that any normal couple should pass. Once they break up, we will use the footage as evidence that an unnatural relationship like this is harmful to the harmony of the environment and we will outlaw them from this school!" She finished her speech to great applause from her mole rats.
"We will start tomorrow. For now, we will plan." They all gathered up on the table and started to build a strategy on what they would do. Little did they know that a pair of bright green eyes shone down the hallway, large pink ears intently listening to what the mole rats were scheming.
Chapter 17: The calm before the storm
"Okay Meimei, you slowly stir the soup for about half an hour, making sure that the bottom doesn't burn the vegetable bits," Jin said, stirring the pot in front of him.
The theme this week was a middle ages feast, with each member responsible for a single dish that day. The least the panda could do was stir the pot for a while without complaining.
"Half an hour!" MeiMei whined. "But that's so much time, why can't we eat it now?"
"Because," Jin said happily, pointing to the soup. "It needs to reduce and become more flavorful when more water gets evaporated, and you will be responsible for making this soup taste fantastic!"
Cheerfully, he gave the wooden spoon to the panda and walked over to Ranka, who was busy with deboning the salmon and mashing the peas. She had insisted on making two dishes so that Jin could supervise the others.
"Hey," Yukari whispered to MeiMei as she leaned over. "Doesn't he seem a little bit too happy?"
"Hmm!" MeiMei grunted, pouting that Jin had been nice to her. Since the pair had started dating a couple of weeks ago, he had not once admonished for anything she did. He had even taken to calling the others by their names instead of calling her a shitty panda or shitty koala. And of course, now that they were practically inseparable.......
"Gross," MeiMei muttered as Ranka gently licked Jin's face in happiness. He had his limits on how long she could lick in in public, but for now, a few seconds to say hi was perfectly acceptable. "That's the 6th time today that they've said hi." Yukari noticed.
She looked at the panda and noticed that she was still growling, angrily stirring the soup. "You know, maybe you should look at it this way: he is denying you what you like the most. Isn't that a form of punishment for you?" MeiMei stopped and stared at Yukari, her eyes shining as if a light bulb had turned on in her head.
She tried to say something but couldn't think of the right words to say, so she returned back to her soup, smiling and blushing, enjoying her "punishment", even if it was unintentional. "You hopeless perv," Yukari commented as she went back to her bread, sliding the dough into the oven.
The happy couple had now switched roles, with Jin focused on preparing the food while Ranka had climbed on his back and was nibbling at his ear. Any other time he would have found the whole ordeal to be an annoyance, a way for Ranka to get attention that he would respond to by throwing her away.
But now, after all that had happened in the past few weeks, this felt nice. The weight of her body on his back now was comforting to him, like a large warm blanket. But it was more than just a physical feeling of warmth and comfort for Jin. It was a reminder of love, of a special individual that only now he had dared to face how he truly felt about.
Once they had left the hospital, Ranka came to his dorm every morning to make sure that his head and back were still fine and that his legs were healing up. Instead of licking them, she helped him change the bandages and used antiseptic wipes to make sure nothing worse would happen to them.
It was during those moments they had before their classes that they would talk about what was next. Now that they were a couple, now what? Ranka had voiced her eagerness to get married and start their pack, but Jin had convinced her to slow down and date for a couple of years before they would get to that point in their lives.
At one point, Hitomi was brought up during their evening meetups, Ranka worried that Jin would leave her for the only human that he knew. "I won't," he had promised as he embraced her, burying his face in her hair. "She only sees me as a friend, and I only went for her because she was human and not because I felt something for her. Besides, I have found someone that I can truly love."
"Even if I am a wolf?" she had whimpered. Jin responded by gently patting her head, comforting Ranka. "That fact will take a bit for me to get used to, but yes, even if you are a wolf." He felt his neck get a little wet as he felt her happy tears fall on him. Not letting go, they ended up falling asleep in that position, rudely awakened by the dorm supervisor in the morning.
It was the only time in those weeks that Jin had felt grumpy as Ranka had hurriedly said goodbye and rushed back to get to her class. For the rest, it felt as if his soul was free and light whenever he saw Ranka.
Every time they even lightly touched, his spirit grew even higher and happier when he felt the warmth of Ranka's body against his own, heard her laugh as she predictably turned that light touch into a full-blown hug or a piggyback ride.
"It was what the girl from my book did to show how close they were, can we?" she had explained to him after the first couple instances. Feeling her lay on his back as he prepped the salmon, Jin smiled, thankful that he had agreed to her idea. While the romance book that she had read was trash, at least this was one of the few good pieces of advice it gave.
Still clinging onto his back, Ranka gave Jin a small kiss on the side of his right cheek as he started to fry the salmon. "What is it?" Jin asked. "Nothing," Ranka replied. "Just trying to make sure that I practice my kissing and lick less. I like it." She said with a small smile as she gave him another peck, nuzzling up to his face. In all his life, there was no moment where Jin ever felt happier than now.
"Keep it rolling," the lead mole rat whispered to the crew. "This is exactly what the queen wants." They had managed to find a perfect spot on top of the cupboards, a single one that had a few inches of space between the top and the ceiling. A small crevice where most of the others would not even think to look up to, but from there, the rats could see everything.
"Is it?" one of the others whispered back. "I thought madam president wanted us to catch them try to be in a relationship and break up, proving that man can only lust, not love outside his species."
He gestured towards the pair as Jin brought the peas and salmon over to the table set out. Ranka still latched to his back like a baby gorilla and watched as the others brought their dishes as well.
Only when it was time to eat did she let go and landed lightly on the ground, helping to serve the others their portions of the medieval feast. "They seem to be very much in love from my perspective." The other mole continued.
"She did say that." The lead mole affirmed. "But by getting this first, we can set up how happy they look, making their eventual breakup more bitter. And what you see now," he snarled, pointing at Jin, "Is all an act for him to indulge his perverted human desires before getting rid of her when he gets bored and looks for a new plaything."
"So, for now," he stated quietly, looking at the group table. "We document their high points for now and we will be there to tape their low points that will inevitably happen."
They focused on taping the dinner in silence, considering the matter settled. Not knowing that they were being watched, the group enjoyed their last meal together before final's week. They were all chatting about what they would do for their winter vacations when they got back home, planning to visit one another if they lived close enough.
"I'm going to be staying here at the campus, my parents will be visiting next week, and I want to show them around the campus. My dad really wanted to go here when he applied when he was my age, but he didn't make the cut." Jin told the group.
"Aw, that means you will be the only one not coming home for the winter." Hitomi pointed out.
"Nope! I will also be staying here! Sister is also visiting soon when vacation starts." Ranka proudly proclaimed.
"Oh my," MeiMei teased. "The two of you, alone and without us to barge in and interfere. I wonder what you will do with all that time? I hope that you will be able to make me a godmother when we return."
The rest of the group immediately blushed and looked down in embarrassment at the panda's insinuation. Meanwhile, Jin started to angrily blabber and deny her suggestion, finally scolding MeiMei after weeks of nothing but polite things to say to her. Needless to say, the masochist was happy with the flow of verbal lashings directed at her.
Chapter 18: A parent's visit
A white blanket of snow has descended on upon Seton University. When the semester had started, it was a wide array of red bricks, grey rooftops and green trees that made up the colors of the school.
But that was back in September when snow was a long way from anyone's mind. Now, it was everywhere, covering all it could, piling up to two feet in some of the open spots. Most of the mammals were completely fine, as they had been shedding their summer coat and replaced it with their winter fur.
However, there are a couple of mammals that don't have this luxury, one of them being humans. They deal with the change of temperature by wearing clothing to keep themselves warm, like this lovely couple that is snowshoeing to the school ground, trudging along the street from the town.
The first was a middle-aged man with neatly combed long black hair, slicked back with a small amount of hair gel to keep it in place. Where it not for the age lines on his face or the grey streaks on his head, most would have mistaken this man for his son. He was wearing a long black overcoat, keeping his style in mind as well as his comfort.
On his right, he was using his arm to support his wife, who also was wearing an overcoat, but a light tan color. Her long black hair was tied up and placed inside her red winter cap, keeping her head warm and protected against the slight winter breeze that nipped at whatever skin they had exposed. Carefully taking a single step at a time as to not fall over in the deep snow, they continued the short trek from the bus stop to the dorms where their son was.
"You did make sure that Jin had his winter coats with him when he packed up, right?" Akihiro huffed, taking another step in the campus square near where the fountain lay frozen and quiet.
"Of course, I did." His wife chuckled. "He's just like you when we were young, always saying that he will be fine and that he doesn't need the coat." Her brown eyes gleaming as she recalled her husband's behavior when they first met all those years ago.
"Well I was warm, the cold hardly bothered me back then." Akihiro defended himself.
"Except for all those times that you did come back with a cold and had to be bedridden for a couple of days." Fumiko gently reminded him. "Funny, the more stubborn you were, the worse the cold would seem to be afterward."
Akihiro chuckled. "In any case, Jin didn't sound like he was sick over the phone, so maybe he actually did wear the coast without us having to remind him."
"Really?" Fumiko asked excitedly. "Maybe he has a certain someone that is telling him to wear his coats!"
Akihiro shook his head. "I don't think so; he is too focused on his studies to be wasting his time chasing girls for a fling that will last a week like the ones my friends chased back in college."
"Oh really?" Fumiko teasingly asked. "If so, then we have been married for a very long week unless my calendar is defective."
Akihiro blushed and sternly looked ahead at the path, getting closer to the dorm building that he could almost see. "Y-you were the exception to my rule of course." He quickly mumbled, picking up speed and starting to jog. "But because you were one of a kind, the only one that made me forget my assignments back then!"
Fumiko smiled and she leaped up to catch up with her husband, now both breaking into a jog. "Well if the boy has any of your luck," she gasped out, getting closer. "Perhaps he found the one for himself!"
With that, she took a massive leap and landed squarely on her husband's back, send the pair of them to crash into the snow. Fumiko giggled as she embraced her husband from behind, giving him a hug around his waist.
"Perhaps the reason why he sounded a bit nervous was that we will meet this girl today." She whispered in Akihiro's ear.
He gave a muffled response, having a face full of snow making it difficult to speak clearly. The couple got back up and brushed off the snow off their coats, looking around to find the dorm a few meters away from where they stood.
Akihiro smiled and placed his left arm on his hip. "Well then, if we are to meet this girl today, let's try to make a good impression on her."
Fumiko linked up her arm with her husbands as they trudged forward, the remaining snow falling off their bodies. "Of course, I will dear." She replied happily. "I do hope he didn't pick her out of desperation, there aren't that many human girls around here for him to choose from."
"True," Akihiro said as they approached the double doors of the dorm building and knocked. "Maybe he decided to go to one of the animal girls. They look human enough for most guys."
"Jin? Of all people, he would never do that." Fumiko whispered as they were let in by the dorm supervisors, a pair of chimpanzees that signed them in. "Do you remember how he was after I brought him from the daycare? The poor boy tossed out all his stuffed animals into the garbage and would never accept them back, even after all these years."
Akihiro smirked as they started on the flight of stairs towards the third floor. "You're right, but stranger things have happened. After all, he made friends with some of them at the academy. Why not take it a step further?"
His wife shook her head as they made their way past the second floor. "I just don't think the boy would do something like that so suddenly unless something was already there. Still, if the girl is one of them, I hope that she is at least decent."
"Well," Akihiro remarked as they found themselves on the third floor. "If she cares enough to remind him to put on his coat and keep him healthy, how bad could she be?"
Making their way across the silent hallway, they looked around for their son's room number, 329. Looking at all of the identical wooden doors that they passed by, they finally found it. Fumiko raised her hand and knocked on the door, tapping loudly four times quickly, paused and two slow knocks.
A shuffling was heard on the other side, followed by a rustling of blankets being stashed away underneath the bed. "One second!" Jin called out as he adjusted his bed cover to hide the red blanket underneath from view. Once he was satisfied that they couldn't see it, Jin turned around and reached out, opening the door to the view of his parents.
"Jin!" His mother cried out when she saw him, immediately reaching out and hugging him tightly. His father joined in and gave the pair an even bigger hug, all three smiling.
They eventually broke up and sat down on the chairs that jin had set up ahead of time and caught up with one another over a pot of tea.
Chapter 19: Meet the parent(s)!
His parents told him that little had changed in their lives except the house was much quieter without him, the neighborhood was getting busier with more people moving in and that his father got a partnership for his company. Overall some good things, but nothing too much.
Jin talked about the school, how much he liked it so far and the cooking history club that he and the others had set up, much to his mother's delight. "See. I told you teaching him to cook was a good idea." She smugly said to Akihiro as soon as Jin mentioned the friends he made back in the old cooking club and how they were all here at the school.
"Well, having friends is all well and good," his father said, putting down his empty cup of tea. "But we were wondering about something a bit more...closer than a friend that maybe you have at the moment?"
"Crap!" Jin thought, his body frozen as he immediately thought of Ranka. "How do I explain her to my parents? What will they think, will they like her? Will they hate her? Should I even tell them about her?"
"He's blushing!" His mother squealed, pressing her face too close to Jin's. "So, you do finally have a girlfriend now, can we meet her?"
"Not so fast now," Akihiro replied quietly, placing his glasses on. He solemnly looked at Jin, bracing himself for the talk he had wanted to give to his son for a long time but never found the opportunity to do so until now.
"I know that when it comes to you and me Jin," he began slowly." I haven't exactly spent as much time with you that I should have and there are a lot of things that I want to talk to you about, especially now that you are in college."
Jin immediately panicked and tried to stop his father before he could go any further. "I-it's okay, I know about sex if that's what you're talking about-"
"No, that's not it." His father interrupted him, his eyes suddenly focused and sharp. "You may know about that, but not about love! Come with me Jin, I have made many mistakes that I don't want you to do, and only a father-son talk can make you fully understand!"
He quickly grabbed his son and the pair rushed out the door, led by Akihiro. "I heard that they have a good café around here, it should be close by if I recall correctly, we have a lot to talk about."
Jin gave out one last look at his mother that begged of help but to no avail. She just smiled and wished them a good talk as the door closed.
With only her in the room, she looked around and took a careful look at Jin's living space. It was nice and tidy, no clothes strewn around, all his books in an orderly fashion, nothing that would look out of place at first glance.
But a first glance is not enough for any mother. "Especially when my little boy might be with a girl! Finally, now I can meet her and talk about Jin, I knew I should have brought my baby photos of him with me in case."
Fumiko looked more closely at his books and notice that, in addition to the titles that he had brought with him from home, there were a few others that seemed new. Standing up and walking over to his bookshelf, she read the titles of the unfamiliar books.
"The domestication of the wolf? Dogs: Man's best friend? Scientific analysis of human-animal hybrid genetic compatibility? What is all this?" Fumiko looked at these titles carefully, her mind slowly drawing to one single conclusion.
"Jin is interested in dating a wolf girl? Wait but no, Jin? That can't be right, maybe he is doing research for his school, he is taking animal biology after all. Yes, Yes that must be it. Plus, these all look like library materials that the teacher might have told him to use."
From the corner of her eyes, she stopped a small pink speck on the carpet floor, poking out from under Jin's bed. Turning to look, she crouched down to inspect it, lifting the cover of Jin's bed.
Stuffed underneath his bed was Jin's winter blanket. A deep red colored thing that she had gotten from him for his 16th birthday, she had insisted that he would take it with her to make sure that he didn't catch a cold while sleeping.
But that was not the strange part. Here and there, she noticed that there were more pink specks sparsely populating the blanket. Gathering up a few of them, Fumiko held them up and took a close look at them. Long and thin, they were a bright pink color, not unlike one of the wolves that lived in their neighborhood.
The books, the fur, the shuffling they heard to hide this blanket, it all came flooding to Fumiko's head. Heavily breathing as her mind raced to fit all these discoveries together, her expression was one of shock and surprise as she came to the only possible reason for all these things. "I-is he dating a-"
"Jin! I'm back and I hope you're hungry!" Ranka called out as she burst through the door, carrying a basket with her. Despite his insistence that he was not sick, Ranka had still made it her personal responsibility to feed him chicken soup to make sure he stayed warm.
"What kind of a pack leader and wife would I be if I let you get sick?" she had asked him every time the issue was raised.
"You're not my wife though."
"Not yet! And if I can't take care of you now, how can I do so when we get married?"
And repeat that every day for a couple of days until Jin finally gave up and accepted her soup. "At least it's good now, I don't get sodium poisoning like the first time I taught her this recipe." Jin had thought has he downed another bowl of soup.
"Huh?" Ranka looked around, realizing that Jin wasn't around. But someone else was. A human woman in her forties, with long black hair that reached her shoulders. To Ranka, this woman looked strangely a lot like Jin. "Wait, were his parents were going to visit soon?"
Meanwhile, Fumiko was having the shock of her life. In front of her was a wolf girl, almost as tall as her, wearing a set of bright blue pajamas and carrying a basket, calling out for her son. But her ears, her bright pink fur, that was got her attention the most.
Holding up her hand, she saw that the stands of fur she held in her hand were an identical shade of the girl in front of her. "M-maybe this is all a misunderstanding, would Jin ever date h-"
"Ah, hi there!" Ranka said cheerfully, reaching out her free hand and using it to shake Fumiko's outstretched hand. "It is very nice to meet you, Mrs. Jin! I am Jin's wife!"
"No, she's not!" Jin called out as he and his dad rushed down the hallway, having turned back upon realizing that the café was closed for the snow day.
"His.........Wife?" Fumiko thought as she collapsed, fainting on the floor.
"She's dead!" Ranka screamed out, horrified that she had just killed her future mother in law in front of Jin.
"She's not a sloth, she's completely fine!" Jin yelled out at her as he checked her pulse.
Chapter 20: Mission: Acquire parental approval
"Relax Ranka, she's not dead," Jin said as he crouched down and checked his mother's pulse. "She just fainted, thanks to you."
Akihiro also knelt down and propped his wife's limb body into a sitting position, her head lolling around. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a lemon cough drop, peeling away the wrapper.
Gently, he placed the sweet into his wife's mouth and pushed it in. A moment, later, Fumiko groaned as she regained consciousness, her eyes slowly opening.
"Careful dear, you've just had quite a fall," Akihiro mumbled as he picked up his wife, bridal style and carried her to Jin's bed. Letting her rest, he retook his seat and only just now noticed Ranka's presence.
"Heh." Akihiro chuckled softly, turning to his son after he took a moment to admire Ranka. "I didn't know that you would change so much as to get married without telling me and your mother about it."
"We didn't. We are just dating" Jin grumbled as Ranka took his arm, a bit worried about how his parents might view her. She had expected a warmer welcome, similar to how a wolf would greet a new member of the family. "But what if they are like Jin before or worse?" Her worried mind thought, tightly gripping his arm.
"Really?" Akihiro said inquisitively, raising one of his eyebrows. He had not expected his son of all people to be the one to consider a girl that wasn't human as his partner. "I was under the impression that you were always, let's say, less than fond of animals from a young age." Leaning forward and getting closer to the pair, he asked one simple question. "What happened?"
Taking a seat, Jin took a deep breath before he explained the story from the very beginning, from the time that he first met Ranka at the daycare, how his disdain for animals began on that last day after the bear attack.
He went on about how he had met Ranka again at the academy and (reluctantly) became the male of her pack, all the while trying to get close to Hitomi. "I tried to confess but something always happened that would make it impossible for me to do so."
He continued by noting how, after all these years, he finally had his chance and told her about how he had felt for her since he first met her. "She said that she only saw me as a friend, which at the time made me feel depressed." He said with a little gloomy look in his face as he remembered the rejection.
While that did result in him falling for Ranka, it was still a painful memory for him. Ranka comforted him by giving Jin a gentle head pat while resting her other hand on his shoulder. Akihiro noticed this gesture.
"But," Jin smiled softly as the happiness returned to his voice. "It did lead me back to her after all those years," he said as he placed his hand on Ranka's the one that she rested on his shoulder. As he explained how he managed to accept Hitomi's rejection, he came to face what he felt about Ranka and ultimately acknowledged that he loved her, both of his parents become enthralled with the story Jin was saying.
During the entire time, Ranka stood by his side and excitedly wagged her tail when Jin told them about the hospital. "And after that, we started dating." He finished, briefly looking up at Ranka to flash her a warm smile.
"He smiled at an animal?" Akihiro and Fumiko's minds raced, taking minutes to process this. All these years, Jin had never once said anything nice about non-humans that they knew of. The highest praise they could remember him saying were remarks about how some of them could act civilized. "For an animal." He would always follow up those comments with that one little caveat.
And yet, in front of them, he had given this girl a genuine smile. "He is even dating her!" they both thought in amazement. Jin turned to face them and bowed. "I'm sorry that I didn't tell you earlier, I just thought that it would be better if you would see her and get to know her rather than me telling you who I was dating and - "
He stopped as he noticed Fumiko slowly sat up, swinging her legs over onto the floor. Standing up, she walked over and placed a hand on her son's cheek. "It wouldn't matter either way," she spoke, smiling as she looked at Jin's confused face. "Any girl that would win your heart is one that I like, even if she may not be entirely human."
"I can assume," she continued, looking over towards Ranka. "That you are the one that makes sure that my son stays warm?"
The question brought Ranka out of her worried state and into one of excitement as she proudly explained how well she took care of her partner. "Yes! I make him chicken soup all the time that I feed him, I make sure he always wears his coat even indoors sometimes and when we are alone, we even cuddle up with a very furry blanket that's warm!"
"Well well, It seems that he is in good hands, miss...."
"Ranka? Well, that sounds like a pretty name for a daughter in law."
The hours flew by as the parents got to know Ranka better, slurping down her chicken soup and chatting. Apart from the occasional outburst from Jin about how they were not husband and wife ("Not yet!" Ranka always pointed out), the afternoon was a very pleasant time for the four. They learned more about the misunderstanding between the pair when they were 3 and how Fumiko recognized Ranka when she first saw her at the door.
"Of all the ones who could have caught his attention, the fact that it's you show that there is some kind of fate between you two!" Fumiko clapped her hand together as she happily shared this theory with the others.
The conversation continued for a while before Ranka excused herself to go to the bathroom, leaving Jin and his parents alone.
Fumiko leaned in towards the pair and whispered. "She's such a nice girl! I can see why you fell for her after all this time."
"She can be a bit of a handful sometimes," Jin responded, remembering all the times that she had slobbered his face, nearly poisoned him with her cooking and got him into trouble for trying to help out too much. "But I think that's just part of her charm, and the reason why I love her" his voice lowered down to barely a whisper at the end.
Akihiro smiled and patted his son on the back. "One of the things I wanted to tell you was that in real life, you don't really choose the person that you fall in love with and that they may not even fall in love with you. But when you do find the right one and they feel the same way, make sure to never let them go, no matter what kind of hurdles life throws at you."
He pointed to the door as Ranka walked through. "She made you into a better man Jin, make sure to never let her go." He then looked at Ranka and gave her a thumbs-up of approval with Fumiko also giving one.
There are a few moments in his life that Jin will never forget. One of them was the day where he tried to defend Ranka when they were children, seeding his hatred of animals and yet, still leaving a mark in his heart for her. There also was the day where Ranka kissed her, making him the alpha male of her pack that she had recently started upon arrival at the academy.
Then there was the look of absolute bliss that he saw on Ranka's face. Any worries that she had about Jin's parents approving her evaporated and were replaced by feelings of happiness. And when a wolf likes a person, you know what they love to do to express that love.......
"Now hold on! They don't know what that means!" Jin yelled as he grabbed Ranka by the waist in midair as she had lunged at his parents. Her tongue was out inches away from his parent's faces.
"I assume that it means she likes us?" Fumiko asked.
Jin nodded as Ranka stopped struggling and he lowered her back on the ground. "You could just hug them, that would send the same message."
"Aww. Okay." Ranka walked over and gave both of Jin's parents a warm hug, looking calm on the outside but her tail waved around enough to blow wind into Jin's face. "Welcome to the family Ranka," Fumiko said as she received her massive hug. "I'm so happy that you and Jin found each other."
Chapter 21: A plot and a promise
Meanwhile, on the other side of campus, a certain mole rat was cursing the weather. As much as she hated wearing clothes, she also despised freezing to death. This left her no choice but to wear the biggest winter jacket that her colony could find and snow pants to add to her humiliation.
Trekking along the snow-covered pathway that led to her desired dorm, she hurried along, eager to strip as soon as she went inside the warm heated buildings. The doors opened as her rats went ahead and rushed to minimize their president's suffering.
Leaping inside the lobby, she stripped off all her outer clothes and rushed down the hallways, a sight that would have stopped any students in their tracks if they were out at this time at night. Mika found her destination and knocked, hoping that at least this individual was still awake.
To her delight, the door opened, revealing inside the ghost member of the cooking club. "Yesss?" Kurumi purred; her green eyes wide open in curiosity. The other rats cowered behind their president, remembering how this cat used to terrorize them at the academy.
"Are you a member of this Universities' history cooking club, the one with the human, Jin?" She wanted to ensure that there were no mistakes at all in her plan, and getting the wrong person involved would be the biggest possible blunder.
"Yes, I am! How can I help you, madam president?" Kurumi replied, her ears perking up in interest. "I have a favor that I need to ask of you, a secret mission if you will. I need to first make sure that you can keep this a secret." She leaned in and whispered, "It's for the good of the school and involves that human."
Smirking, Kurumi gave a Cheshire cat smile as she leaned back against the doorframe. "Of course, you can trust me about that! Come in and let's talk." The pair entered the room and closed the door behind them, with the other rats opting to guard the door against possible intruders.
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"Jin?" Ranka spoke softly as she glanced up at her partner. Cuddled up with him underneath the blanket, she was so comfortable that it took all her energy just to even move. But to even look at Jin, that was energy well spent. "Yes? Do you want to move up to rest on the bed?" he asked as he looked down at Ranka.
His heart fluttered as he looked into her half-closed sleepy eyes, the orange and yellow tint barely visible. "There's always something new about her," he thought to himself. "Is this what love is? Finding new things to love about her?"
"No, it's not that," Ranka replied, yawning and snuggling up closer to Jin's furnace of a body. "I was worried that your parents wouldn't like me since I'm not human. I'm glad that they like me."
"Same here," Jin affirmed, adjusting his arms to completely encircle Ranka's body. "My mom was always telling me what to look for in a girl, to get the best one possible or else it would not turn out well for me. So, I did and found you." He rested his chin on the top of her head, drawing her closer to his chest so the two looked like one massive being.
"What if they didn't like me?"
Jin paused. This was a question that he'd been racking his mind for the last week. His parent's stance on animals had been a bit more moderate than his until recently, but they were still wary of them.
It was possible that they would even reject Ranka as his partner, urging him to break up and get rid of her. If they told him that and the choice was between Ranka and his parents, all of them being people that he truly loved, what would he have chosen?
"If they didn't, I would do all I can to explain why I feel this way for you. All the books, information and literature that they have, I would give to them and never stop. I do all I can to please my parents and be the best son that I can be. But even for them," Jin pulled back and looked deep into Ranka's eyes, almost quivering and on the brink of tears.
"I would never give you up," He leaned in close, their noses almost touching. "Because I love you. Never doubt that." Closing the gap between them, Jin pressed his lips onto Ranka's in a deep embrace. Laying on the floor, the pair said nothing except the occasional gasp of breath as they briefly broke for oxygen.
The night wore on with them eventually falling asleep, and still, not a single word was uttered after the kiss. Not that either one needed to say anything else, what Jin did comfort Ranka more than words could ever express.
The only thought Jin had before falling into the void of dreams was his dad's advice. As he closed his eyes and took one last fleeting glance at Ranka, he knew that no matter what, he will never let her go. Gently squeezing her, he joined Ranka in the dream world, the pair sound asleep in each other's arms.
Chapter 22: Quiet as a wolf
"She still hasn't left that chimpanzee's place," Ferryl muttered under her breath, her eyes focused on nothing but the door to Jin's dorm building. It had been difficult for her to accept that her little sister Ranka would choose this thing of all potential mates, and even more so to keep her distance.
"B-boss, can we find someplace warmer to hide in?" her second in command Kuromori suggested, his teeth chattering from the cold wind blowing against him and the others of the pack.
Even wolves have their limits on the low temperatures that they can handle, especially at night. Which made it even more miserable when the pack had stayed up all night outdoors to keep watch. "Ah, giving up easily I see?" Ferryl growled under her breath.
Not wanting to look weak in front of his massive boss, Kuromori sputtered, "No of course not! I was just worried that you would catch a cold and then you would not be able to see your little sister and risk giving her the flu."
"You're right!" Ferryl gasped, her eyes widening, completely forgetting Kuromori's whining of how freezing the outside was. "I should go inside with my sister and stay healthy! That way she won't have a good reason to kick me out again!"
"Speaking of which, there she is!" Kuromori pointing out.
Crouched behind the bushes across the street, the pack watched in silence as they saw Ranka emerge from the building wearing Jin's only puffy coat. "I'll be back in a little bit! See ya!" She yelled out behind her as Jin waved. Ranka dashed off to her dorm to collect her books and whatever else she needed to stay as long as she could at Jin's.
Overwhelmed at the sight of her little sister, Ferryl began to weep in happiness as she pointed out Ranka to the others in the pack. "There she goes, off all on her own!
And she-" The tears stopped as she sniffed, her nose picking up something. The scent of her sister was there but mixed in with something else. That jacket that she wore, it gave over another type of smell.
"That damned chimpanzee! He has defiled my little sister!" Ferryl snarled, frightening the rest of the pack with her outburst. "His scent is all over her as if he has already claimed her all for his own! What kind of a monster would do that?"
"W-well they are dating, boss." Kuromori nervously pointed out. "And besides, Ranka does look much happier than usual. Maybe somehow that human, as hard as it seems, is the perfect mate for her?"
As those words left his mouth, he instantly regretted it as Ferryl took his suggestion poorly by punching him across campus. The others kept their mouths shut and waited in fear as Ferryl breathed heavily, contemplating her underling's suggestion.
"How could Jin of all being's make my Ranka happy? He isn't even a wolf, why would she love him at all? He can't hunt, he isn't proud like a proper wolf, he doesn't even have a tail! He did at least try to protect her many times, which makes him better than the average chimp, but that alone does not explain why she would love him."
As Ferryl scratched her head and racked her mind over why Lanka would pick such a weak mate, something else caught her eye. A pink blur dashing across the snow towards the dorm door.
Happily, Ferryl looked up eagerly and tried to look for her sister. Has she returned early with her things? Why would she do so, unless she was planning something with Jin? Was it......"No, no, she's not in heat yet! She would not go out in that condition at all." Ferryl watched the creature in question and was disappointed to see that it was only a cat that was making her way across the campus street.
"Oh, it's just another one of the cooking club members." Ferryl thought, then grew interested as she saw Kurumi approach the dorm door. The cat suspiciously looked around to see if anyone was watching before she quickly snuck in and closed the door behind her.
"Odd." Ferryl thought. "Wonder what she is here for?" As she continued to think, a sudden possibility struck her. Humans sometimes have multiple partners that they keep secret from one another. In those cases, she read, they have often picked mates that looked similar to one another. Could it be....
"That stupid chimpanzee!" Ferryl screamed, blasting way the rest of her pack with her cry of frustration. "No one will break my sisters' heart and live!" With that, she stormed into the building and through the doors. As she was a bit too tall, she smashed through the walls and left an imprint where she broke the bricks.
She could just envision Ranka's face when she finds out the truth. She would have to be the one to break it to her. She imagined sitting down with her little sister, as she looked up and asked what was wrong.
As Ferryl told her that Jin, the packmate that she had loved for years, had broken her trust and she had found him with another mate. Ranka would, of course, deny it, say that Jin would never do such a thing, before seeing the undeniable proof in the form of the pair together.
The poor girl's heart would be forever broken, never trusting another soul and dying a lone wolf. "All because of that damned human!" Reaching into her pocket, she took out her phone and prepared the camera, knowing that only these images would be enough to show Ranka the painful truth of the human's infidelity. "And with another member of her group no less. How dare he hurt my little sister!"
She did an unusual thing and decided to be quiet, creeping carefully up the stair onto the floor of Jin's room. Looking around, she noticed that the door to the target was slightly cracked open as Kurumi had hurriedly rushed in.
Thankful that the ground was carpet, Ferryl took one carefully placed step at a time, doing her best to make sure that the pair would have no idea what was coming. No noise was uttered as she made it and was right outside the dorm room.
The crack was only a couple inches, but more than enough for a phone to capture what was inside. Ferryl placed the phone camera in position, about to take pictures of the act, but thought against it. "Video is better, might even hear them say enough to leave no doubt!" She fumbled with her phone, not made for animals with paws as large as hers.
Finally, she managed to get the video recording and shoved the camera into the room, pointing directly into the middle of the room, where Jin and Kurumi were just standing there.
Ferryl's anger flared up as she saw that the cat was hugging Jin, nuzzling up next to his face and purring. Of course, cats do this to simply say hi, but for wolves, it is something much more intimate. As Ferryl thought of the many ways that she would discard of Jin's remains after she was done with him, she noticed that he had moved back and away from the cat.
"I know that is how you say hi," Jin stammered, eagerly getting away from Kurumi and backing up. "But I would like it if you didn't do that."
"Oh? Why is that?" Kurumi purred as she lay down on Jin's bed, tired from all the meters of exercise she did that day.
Jin simply leaned back against the window and folding his arms. "That is a bit too close for my persona taste, and besides, I prefer Ranka."
Kurumi glared at him, feeling a bit insulted by Jin.
Oh well, she had almost gotten used to it after years being around a guy who hates animals. "Anyway, why did you come here today?" Jin asked. Kurumi was a ghost member of the club and showed up infrequently.
"I have a little secret that you may want to know," Kurumi said in a sweet sing-song voice, her tail lazily flicking from side to side.
"The mole rats that are watching us right now, up in the corner of the bookshelf."
There was a small scurrying noise as said mole rats made their way back into the hole in the wall and escaped, leaving a confused and frustrated Jin.
"Wait, what the hell were they doing here, in my dorm room?" He yelled out at the hole. "Isn't this a violation of my privacy as a student?"
Kurumi smirked. "Well, they needed proof of your cheating."
"Wait, but that never happened! I would never cheat on Ranka. And besides, why would they be interested in that stuff?" Jin sputtered, now furious at the naked mole rats.
Kurumi chuckled as she explained. "You see, Mika wanted me to seduce you. I look very similar to Ranka and thought that with my irresistible qualities as a cat, you would easily fall for me, even for only a day. She said that as school president, she would make sure that I would have a penthouse room with all the accommodations, very similar to what MeiMei has. Living in the lap of luxury and all the napping areas that I want? It all sounded very tempting."
"I'm sorry, but I only have eyes for Ranka, and I will not go for anyone else," Jin said coldly as he stared at the cat, who had turned to lay down on her back and yawn.
"I know," Kurumi said sleepily. "especially since you hate most of us. Even for Ranka, it took years for her to finally get you."
"And," she lowered her voice quietly in a dramatic fashion. "I know why she wanted me to do it?"
"Wait, Mika? The perverted mole rat?" Jin said. He knew that when it came to interspecies relations, she was almost as restrictive as him, to be limited to only what she deemed to be healthy for the ecosystem of the school.
He never knew the exact details of what would be unhealthy, but he was dead certain that if anything, having a romantic relationship between a human and a cat-girl would not be healthy from her standpoint. So why order Kurumi to try this?
Chapter 23: Hitching a ride
Ferryl's interest was raised quite a bit, to say the least. When she had hidden and started to record the meeting between Kurumi and her sister's mate, she only thought that she would be getting the final proof that Jin was cheating on Ranka.
"Disappointing." She had thought as her phone was pointed into the room. She had grown a bit of what she imagined was a soft side for Jin, especially after what happened in the bear cave. A human, being so selfless that they would try to protect the ones they cared about at risk of their own lives?
After seeing that side of Jin that Ferryl had not expected, she had warmed up to the idea of Ranka choosing him as a partner. Not completely, since that would mean that she would have less time to see her sister, but enough to be tolerable if she didn't think about it too much. That is until her mind connected the dots and assumed his infidelity.
For the last few minutes, she had been sitting there, thinking of all the different ways that she would make Jin disappear from the campus. Her pack hadn't had a good chase in a while, and death from a heart attack would be a case where they can claim it as an accident.
Those thoughts dissipated and were replaced by confusion as Jin had backed off and rejected Kurumi's show of affection. She was now confused, to say the least, knowing nothing about what was going on. The only thing she could do was to sit still, watching Jin and Kurumi talk.
"Why?" Jin asked Kurumi, staring at her as she snuggled around in his bed.
"Well," she began, speaking in a soft low voice. "Imagine for a moment if a pair of different species were trying to-"
"Too long, give me the abridged version." Jin snapped impatiently. He could not stop furiously thinking about what Mika was on about and the last thing he needed was a long-winded explanation from a tsundere cat.
"By you cheating and them recording us, it will show that love between different species is not possible and should be banned from the school for the student's wellbeing." Kurumi bluntly explained; any hint of playfulness gone from her voice.
"Fine," Jin said, gaining a shocked expression from Kurumi, the mole rats, and Ferryl at the same time. "We will simply go to another school."
"Eh?" was all that they said in unison.
One of the things that they could count on Jin was that no matter what the circumstances were, that he would always put his studies as his first and foremost priority. His parents had made sure that from a young age he would go to the best schools that they could afford, all to ensure that he would be successful in life. He applied the same mindset as well, studying, volunteering and working towards getting into the best schools in the country.
And yet, here Jin was, saying he was willing in a heartbeat's notice to walk from the most prestigious school that money can buy.
Kurumi was the first to recover from the collective shock in the room, now looking at him with an interested gaze. "My my," she purred, keenly looking at Jin. "This is quite unexpected for you, Jin."
In the mirror on Jin's desk, she noticed a pink blob in the crack of the dorm room, reaching almost all the way to the top of the ceiling. A small black phone could be seen in one of her hands, pointed into the room. Immediately deducing it to Ranka's oversized sister spying, she suddenly got a brilliant idea. A recording that would, at the very least, make the debate more even-sided in terms of evidence.
"May I ask you a personal question?" Kurumi asked innocently, her legs swaying back and forth independently. Jin nodded, his mind still focused on what Mika was about to do. Sure, he could theoretically break with her until they both graduated, but his mind rejected that thought outright before it was even finished. He just couldn't bring himself to do that to her.
"Why? Is she worth giving up this school?" The answer to both was obvious, but Jin's answering wasn't for them.
Jin nodded, feeling a bit odd that she would ask this question and looked up. All that he saw was a massive pink wolf that blasted through his wall, sending plaster all over them. Kurumi screamed and leaped up, somehow attaching herself upside down to the ceiling, her fur standing up straight in terror.
"If there is one thing that wolves can't stand, it is a male that gives up easily!" Ferryl roared out, grabbing Jin by his shoulders and hoisting him up so the pair can see eye to eye. "If she is worth giving up the school for, then she is worth fighting the school. You have nothing to lose, so why not fight?"
Jin thought. As much as he didn't like Ferryl, she did have a good point. He did have nothing to lose at this point, so why not fight and see what will happen. That way, at least his side of the story will be out there. Looking straight at Ferryl's face with determination, he nodded vigorously. "The school has no right to dictate what we can do, and they won't!"
"The student council is having a meeting in 10 minutes; we can make it there if I run fast enough!" Ferryl yelled, gathering Jin under her arm like a football and sprinted out the window, leaving behind a traumatized Kurumi, still hanging on the ceiling. Landing on the snow-covered path, Ferryl began dashing towards the council building across the campus.
Chapter 24: Sisterly approval (sort of)
Jin shivered furiously as his face was blasted by the winter wind. If he had even a moment to put on one of the other jackets that he had before going outside, he would have done so quickly, knowing just how low the temperature was. Sadly, that was not a luxury that Ferryl had afforded him as she had quickly grabbed him and bolted out the building.
Heading towards the student council building, the only comfort that he could enjoy was the mass of fur for her head that barely prevented him from freezing to death. While denser than the mane that Ranka had, it didn't provide the same amount of comfort that Jin liked.
After what seemed like an eternity to him, they finally arrived. The massive wide marble steps led to a beautiful building that seemed out of place in comparison to its surroundings, even on a campus as prestigious as Seton University. Pure white with tall columns that rivaled that of the white house, it suddenly seemed very intimidating to the pair, as if they should not be here.
And yet, at this moment, Jin knew that this was the only place that he had to be.
He never really cared much for what the student councils usually did, pretending to be more important than they actually were. A bunch of stuck up students that played pretend politics while most of the school barely acknowledge its existence, Jin included. But with what they were doing, he had no choice but to get involved.
"If they are going to lie about me as a case for their rules, I might as well go be there myself and let them know the truth," Jin muttered to himself, as he and Ferryl walked solemnly side by side up the stairs.
With his intense focus on the doors in front of them, Jin didn't even register the fact that his bare feet were pressing into the snow, step by step.
Approaching the door, he turned to Ferryl. "You don't have to be here if you don't want to, but thanks for the ride here."
Ferryl scoffed. "I am not here only to carry you around like a dog. I need to see just how well my sister's mate can fight."
Jin sighed. "Knowing these animals, my loss is all but guaranteed, so there won't be much for you to watch and be proud of."
Ferryl got down on one knee and looked directly in his eyes, her face strangely calm and warm. This was not a look that Jin was used to, especially from her.
"Listen," she began, looking around to see if anyone as watching. Satisfied that it was just the pair of them, she continued, lowering her voice to barely a whisper. "I don't care if you win or not."
"When I first met you, you were a bit on the cowardly side, even for a chimpanzee. How you managed to catch my sister's eye, I will never know. She has a bit of an odd taste that we don't exactly understand. But even with that, I still didn't think that you were right for her, not by a long shot. When danger approached, you would run to protect that other human and abandon my sister. When she showed affection, you would reject it because she was an animal and, in your mind, to be treated like trash."
Jin hung his head down as Ferryl listed the things she found to be wrong with him. Ever since the day that he had accepted what he felt for Ranka and embraced it, there had been times where he looked back on how he acted with regret. Sure, Ranka could have been less enthusiastic, but it was not an excuse for what he did. There were times when he unconsciously overcompensated and treated Ranka even more than he usually did. But no matter what he did, his guilty conscience still nibbled at his mind about what he did.
Ferryl suddenly grinned. "But when I came into that cave and saw you and my sister, do you know what I saw? A man putting himself at risk to protect her, even after he was quite injured in the fight. Even I didn't expect you to do that for anyone, especially for someone that in your eyes had been a bane of your existence. And yet, you fought for her and protected her. You have come a long way from when I first met you."
Ferryl stood up and slammed the doors open. This sent a few of the students inside flying from the force of her lightly punching the wooden doors.
"Even if you lose, I can be satisfied that my sister has a mate who will fight regardless." She swiftly turned to face inside the council room. "That doesn't mean I like you that much, but I can tolerate you. If you treat her right, that is."
"Thank you Ferryl," Jin replied, causing her to blush that he actually remembered her name. "Now it's getting a bit cold. Let's go inside."
"No, I'm fine watching from out here."
"It's going to take a while, are you sure?"
Ferryl nodded, gently pushing Jin inside the room and waiting outside. As he straightened himself up, Jin looked up and towards the eyes of a very surprised and cold naked mole-rat.
Chapter 25: A rat-faced lie
"W-What are you doing h-here?" Mika demanded, shivering vigorously. The fact that she came to the meeting wearing only her underwear did not help her stay warm. The other mole rats immediately covered her to protect their queen from the blast of cold wind coming in from the outside.
Jin didn't reply at first, taking his time to look around the council room. While open to the entire school while in session, most students rarely took the time to attend the meetings and witness the debates and see how their representatives would pass the school rules. For such a grand outdoor design, the inside was rather simple looking.
The main room that Jin had entered resembled more of a large classroom, with plain light brown walls that were plastered with generic school motivational posters all over. The student council members sat in school chairs behind white foldable tables that were arranged in a half-circle. The design made it so that all would be able to see the person that came up to the podium placed on the flat end of the half-circle.
It just so happened that the speaker would be facing away from the door, leaving Mika's nude back to be exposed to the harsh winter wind when Ferryl had "gently" opened the doors. Still covered by her nestmates, Mika grabbed a set of clothing from her bag and embarrassingly put on her school clothes. As much as she didn't like this, she would not be able to be a good student council president if she caught a cold.
After she dressed up, Jin finally looked straight at her, thankful that she was no longer semi-nude. "I thought that the student council was transparent and even encouraged students to come in and watch these proceedings." He pointed out, much to Mika's frustration.
He walked over to a set of chairs placed behind the council that was set out for students like him. Given that they were all empty except for a couple filled solely by naked mole, rats, he had a choice of any seat he wanted.
Ferryl closed the door behind her as she also entered, forced by the others to close the door or leave. She insisted on standing next to the door, saying she expected another to come along soon.
Jin picked a seat that made him directly in front of Mika, giving him a perfect view of the presentation on the wall. The still image on the PowerPoint raised his blood pressure. He realized it was one of him and Ranka when they were preparing their last group meal of the semester, with her laying on his back as he passed out the food.
What made it even more infuriating for Jin was that it was a very intimate moment, where Ranka was gently nibbling on his ear. He distinctly remembered that exact moment, for it was then where she had said whispered to him, "No matter how long I have to wait for when we marry, it will be worth it." It was that day when Jin realized that she had finally accepted that he will need his time to get to know her enough before marriage was on his mind.
"And from the looks of it, that picture came from a video, meaning that they heard what she said," Jin thought, his fists tightly clenched. While he knew that Mika was not exactly a shining beacon when it came to respecting student's privacy, the fact that she would go this far made Jin mad.
He metaphorically bit his tongue as Mika leaped back onto the podium and faced the student council again. Before any new rules are passed, it is customary for the council to allow students to speak their minds and perhaps give different perspectives before the vote is counted.
It took all his strength to wait his turn to speak, as Mika began by painting a portrait of Jin and Ranka. "This type of couple, while exceedingly rare in this school is something that should interest the student council and persuade them to take action to ensure that the school environment remains safe and secure for all animals here. While it looks like love and seems harmless, it can bring disruption to the school order."
"What the hell is she talking about?" Jin screamed mentally. "We are in love, and she is in no position to say otherwise. Can she read our minds and see something that even we can't see? I don't think the mole rats have any kind of ability like that."
Mika continued, briefly showing intimate images of the pair together. Nothing lewd mind you, simply moments where they were close, exchanging signs of affections, kissing in the park, Jin petting Ranka as she slept in his room. Some of the student representatives looked at Jin and gave him a thumbs-up, nodding as if to congratulate him and Ranka. Others glanced at him in disgust, barely hiding their contempt of the type of relationship he was engaged in.
"They seem like a nice happy couple even though they are different species. It is even more strange since the human was infamously not a fan of animals and would never have engaged in a relationship with them until recently." Mika went on, the slideshow continuing to show various images of Jin and Ranka. But these were earlier ones back at the academy when he would visibly reject any advances that the wolf would make.
As he saw the images of him harshly telling Ranka to get away and sometimes forcefully pushing her away from him, Jin lowered his head in shame. While Ranka had repeatedly told him that she was fine and didn't hold that against him, he still felt a strong sense of guilt whenever he would look at Ranka. "I can't do anything about what I have done, I only have control over what I do from now on."
"Strangely, he had only engaged in this supposed relationship with Ranka after the only human that he knew of rejected his advance." Mika went on, showing images of the day where Jin had confessed to Hitomi. If Jin had bitten down any harder, he was sure that he would have cracked a tooth from the anger that he felt.
"And as we all know, humans are one of the rare species that are in heat year-round, meaning that this student was fueled by lust rather than love when it came to his decision to focus his sights on Ranka. This type of behavior will be detrimental to the school and must be curtailed. That is why my proposal will ban any interspecies relationships since Jin has a habit of spreading his dangerous ideas to other species. I now leave the council to discuss the matter." Mika finally stepped down from her podium and took her seat at one of the tables as the representatives erupted in debate.
"This is ridiculous! The school has no right to regulate these kinds of things!"
"Oh please, it will save more than it harms."
"Well if the human is here, why don't we get his side of the story while we can?"
"He will lie obviously! That's why we shouldn't debate and get this bill up to a vote now."
"And we don't? That is a terrible reason to rush such a rule."
The animals all continued to "debate" as Jin simmered in a swirl of emotions. His gut had felt as if it had gotten punched, not just from how the rats had spied on him and Ranka. Not just on how they were used to push a rule that Jin hates.
What angered him the most was how Mika had stood there and dared to paint him as a liar, that he didn't actually love Ranka and was only using her. "It's all lies." He muttered quietly to himself. "I can't let this go without a fight."
He stood up and slowly walked through the idle of the council room, approaching the podium. The other animals quieted down as he closed the distance between himself and it. Other students attending the meeting was rare, having one of them go up and actually speak their objections or opinions was even less common.
"If the stupid mole rat could use the stand to lie," Jin thought as he turned to face the council. "I will use it to spread the truth. "
Chapter 26: Love reveals the truth
"Given the lack of other students in the council present, you will have 5 full minutes to make your opinion known." The hedgehog Charles mentioned to Jin as he took the podium. As the student council secretary, it was his duty to make sure that all meetings that took place were conducted in an orderly fashion.
"Is there a timer that you start to track me?" Jin asked, taking a small sip of water from the bottle in front of him. Mika had opted to not go for the unopened water bottle that the secretary had brought in for her, with Jin claiming it as his own. Charles shook his head.
"We will watch the clock and give you around 5 minutes, we don't really care if you go over by a few seconds here and there."
"Understood, thank you, Charles," Jin remarked, causing the hedgehog to smile. "Finally, someone thanked me for my work here!" His mind said, bathing in the praise that he had just received.
Jin didn't notice this, as he was too busy overlooking the council. From the looks of it, around half were pleased to see him up on the podium, and the other half would not have lifted a finger to save him from a pack of ravenous wolves. At least from Jin's point of view.
They occupied only a small fraction of his focus as he stared at the one that he truly wanted to fight against, the naked mole-rat that sat straight in front of him. Her face had a stone-cold, looking at him with menacing narrow eyes. She had made her disgust with him clear, but this expression only confirmed what she truly thought.
"She doesn't believe that I can love Ranka. I doubt that anything I say can change her mind. In that case, all I can do is show how much of a lie her presentation was." Clearing his throat, Jin looked at the council and gave a forced, polite smile to the audience.
"I thank the student council for granting me an audience today. My name is Jin Mazama, a first-year student here at this university. I have recently become aware of spying that was going on that went into my own private form room, taking pictures and images of me and my girlfriend without us knowing about it. You saw those images today in the presentation from the school student president."
There was a small amount of murmuring going on among the representatives, but not as many as Jin had hoped. Some species had very little regard to privacy and even consider openness to be a virtue. It didn't matter, for that was not the main focus of Jin's frustrations.
"The president had also mentioned how I have appeared to have pursued a relationship with Ranka not because I love her, but only for lewd reasons, that I would dump her as soon as I got bored and move on to the next one, as I can see from her notes that she left on the table and on the pamphlet that she passed out to you. That this is the kind of behavior that needs to be stamped out of the school and should be banned by the school council."
Jin sighed and placed his hands together, leaning forward a bit more to get a bit closer to the microphone. "I have heard these accusations and my only wish is to speak up against them and say that these are false. Maybe the school president misunderstands some things and-"
"You dare say the president is wrong, you hairless ape?" A small clump of pink naked mole rats chattered angrily, gathering next to the podium.
"I'm certainly not saying that she is right!" Jin said menacingly at the group, causing them to cower back a bit, still hurling threats at him. Facing the council again, he recomposed himself and continued.
"I admit that, on the surface, it may seem impossible for a human like me, especially one that has hated animals for so long, would fall in love with a wolf girl and coincidently around the same time when the only other human rejected me. But the truth is stranger and more complicated than the narrative that Mika sees or has told you, let me explain."
Jin went on to explain how he first fell in love with Ranka when they were kids, how he grew to hate all animals. He recalled how they reunited at the Academy and became friends over the years, all while he wanted to be with Hitomi. He went on about how he got rejected and realized that he didn't love Hitomi because she was Hitomi, but because she was human.
"That was why the rejection didn't sting as much or as long as I thought it would," Jin explained, the council now leaning in to catch every detail of his story. "I was only thinking that I loved her because she was human. But turns out, there was another girl that I knew, one that I actually have loved, and still to this day, I did. I had just denied it until I couldn't anymore."
There was a small whine of happiness that Jin heard behind him. Turning back to the doorway, he was surprised to see standing beside Ferryl was Ranka and Kurumi. Ranka was still wearing his black coat that he had lent her before she left his dorm. Even though she was clearly too big for it, she looked very comfortable wearing it.
Her smile that she wore was only enhanced by her tail swishing from side to side, her large pink ears tuned in and hearing every last word that Jin had said. Her wide eyes glistened with joy as she heard how Jin had fallen in love with her. "Leave no doubt in their minds." Jin thought to himself as he smiled and turned back to face the council.
"Regardless of all the other things that Mika had said, there is only one thing that I need to clear up: from the moment that I saw her all those years ago, I have loved Ranka. Even when I tried to push her away from me and deny what my mind was saying, that feeling never went away." Mika made a conspicuous coughing sound as Jin said this, intensifying his determination.
"As time has gone on, I have found only more reasons to love her. She tried to understand me the best that she can, even though it goes against her nature. She is one of the most loyal friends that I have ever had and will never give anything less than her all in taking care of you, even if you don't deserve it. She actively finds ways to help even complete strangers when they are in need."
Jin once again turned back to the door and looked at Ranka, her eyes were now glistening with tears of happiness. Even during the times that they had spent together, Jin was rarely this open with what was on his mind and heart. Hearing him say all these things about her, listing why he loved her, overwhelmed her with joy.
"I may not know everything about you Ranka, but I want to know more, to find even more things to love about you." This was too much for her, as she leaped from the doorway and smashed right into him, crying out his name. Her face was a blur as she went on to cover his face with kisses, casing some of the council members to look away. Mika, of course, fainted, since she had not actually seen this affection firsthand.
"Uh, Jin, I hate to be a bother, but your time is up. Any final words for the council that you may have?" Charles asked, hesitant to interrupt the couple on the floor. Jin nodded as Ranka stopped and got off, still smiling as she looked up at his face. Cleaning it off with a small rag he kept with him, Jin stared directly at Mika. None of the council members mattered as much in his mind as her.
"Whatever you may think or believe, the only thing that I wanted to say today was that these accusations that I don't love her are wrong. What was shown as proof for this rule to pass is false. And whatever school rules you pass that says I can't be with her because we are different species are immoral and should be discarded." Jin turned and was about to walk down from the podium.
Mika was a bit intrigued after Jin finished his speech. "Could he really be in love?" She shook her head, flinging the thought out. "Of course not! He made up that story just to make it seem like he loved her and not that he is only driven by lust. Although, he did seem sincere when he was telling it to that hyena."
Frustrated, she stood up and marched over to the podium, causing Jin to halt his descent. Ranka glared at her but used all her strength to stay back. "That was a very interesting story that you have spun Jin." Mika began, carefully thinking about the question she was about to pose. She wanted to make sure that what she was asking would show the council for sure that despite what Jin said, he didn't love Ranka. "If he did, he would stay with her even when this would happen."
"If the council allows this rule to be voted in, this will mean that as long as you continue your relationship you will not be allowed to continue studying at this university after your first year. You can, however, still be a student here and complete your education. The only thing to do would be to end your relationship with Ranka."
Chapter 27: Forgiveness
Jin began to laugh as soon as his mind processed what Mika had just said. Everyone else in the room looked at him with worry as he continued, clutching onto the podium so that he wouldn't fall over. Ranka came over and put his arm around her shoulders as he slipped. He was barely standing upright as his laughing subsided after a while.
"What's so funny?" Mika asked, not expecting this kind of reaction from him.
"Oh, not much." He replied, still chuckling as he struggled to regain his footing. "I was expecting a really serious choice that you would give me, not an easy one like this."
"W-what do you mean?" the role rat asked, still confused by how Jin was acting.
He had finally composed himself and stood up straight, still holding into Ranka's shoulders. Jin smiled, taking one of his hands and gently started to pet her. "Obviously, I would choose to be with her over this school if that is the case."
Jin could swear that Ranka's eyes had hearts in them as she looked up at him. She grabbed him tightly by the waist and started to nuzzle up against him. The pair turned around and started to walk back towards the door, leaving behind a confused council, none more at a loss than Mika.
"But why?" Mika cried out, her mind still spinning. Why would he reject this school so quickly? He had barely taken a second to make his answer known to the council, too quick for a man to be with her and not driven by love. "Seton University is one of the most prestigious schools that you can ever hope to attend. Any job, any career that you can imagine, would be yours once you graduate. Is Ranka really worth giving up on success?"
Jin turned his head around to take a quick look at Mika, giving her a small smile. "What is the point of that kind of success if I can't be with Ranka? And if I am with the one that I love, am I not successful?" He turned back and continued on his way, arm around Ranka as Ferryl opened the door for the pair.
Mika was in a state of shock. All this time, every single step of her plan, she was always seeing Jin as a man that was driven purely by lust, to have his own interspecies harem. "But to choose her over the school?" Her mind racked itself, but there was only one reason why he would choose Ranka so quickly.
"Is that what love is?" Mika asked herself. Although never experienced it with another before, she did see it many times between other couples, with one doing whatever they could to stay with the other, even if it meant sacrificing something else that they enjoyed or cherished. "If that's the case, then Jin would give up this school only for love."
The door closed quickly, leaving the council alone with a very important decision to make. Mika looked down at her bill, now certain about what to do. The whole reason for its existence was gone, leaving her with only one real choice. "After all, a good student council president recognizes when they are wrong and does what she can to make it right."
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Jin! Ranka! Where are the babies?" MeiMei yelled as she burst into the cooking room. Being the last one to return from her winter trip, she hadn't seen anyone else from the cooking club until this very moment.
"We didn't do anything like that. So, get your mind out of the gutter you perverted panda!" Jin scolded her as he kneaded the eighth batch of cookie dough. January had made the school a complete winter wonderland with the many feet of snow that flooded the streets. Ranka had come up with the idea to welcome the others when they came back with many different sweets to celebrate.
"That's disappointing. I'd thought that you would at least do something to celebrate the president getting rid of the rule." MeiMei glared suspiciously at Jin. "Maybe you don't have the manhood to-"
Her opinion was cut short by Jin picking her up and throwing her out the window and into the pile of snow. Her figure made a panda-shaped crater in the snow, making it easier for her manager to find and rescue her. The others were worried for a second before seeing her bright red face as she panted in happiness. "Thank you, I've missed that!" She cried out as Hitomi closed the window.
"I almost missed that pervert." Yukari sighed as she turned back to her box of chocolates that she had brought from home. "Anyone want to try these? They are delicious!"
"Sure!" Hitomi replied and took one piece out of the box. As she was about to pop one in her mouth, she paused, noticing that the koala was watching her a bit too eagerly. "Is there anything 'special' in these chocolates, Yukari?" She asked, raising her eyebrow in suspicion.
Yukari grabbed a couple more and moved too close to Hitomi. "Try it, I put in lots of work into making these and you will love them!" Yukari tried to stuff the chocolates into Hitomi's mouth, causing them both to fall over to the floor.
"Hey guys! What's going on he-" Yena froze as she saw Hitomi and Yukari together on the floor. By sheer coincidence, they had fallen to the floor together in a way that their faces were only inches apart. The hyena's face was contorted with rage, seeing someone who would dare to try and steal Hitomi from her. "No wait, this is not what it looks like!" Yukari cried out before Yena launched herself at the koala.
"Hey Ranka, I think we should leave while they are distracted," Jin suggested, lightly tugging at her shirt as he carried a batch of cookies towards the door. Ranka nodded, knowing that Yena would not hurt her packmates. Hopefully.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Are you sure that you want to see her?" Jin asked as they made their way across the campus, careful not to step in a snow patch that would swallow them whole. Their destination was a little while away, making the trip a little more unpleasant for Jin. Ranka was humming as she skipped along the path, being used to spending months in feet of snow.
"Yep!" She replied enthusiastically. "Oh look, here we are!" Looking up, Jin's stomach sunk down tot eh floor as he gazed as the school student council building. Ever since that day, he hadn't been looking forward to coming back to this place. It was only because Ranka had insisted on it that he even seriously considered it.
Ranka leaped forward and knocked on the door. It creaked open and a small mole rat poked out to see the pair. He nodded and let them in, leading them to the basement of the building. Knocking on another door, the other mole rats allowed them to enter the dark room. Nothing was in here expect a tv on a stand, a table and a few chairs. In one of them, sitting in the furthest chair possible was president Mika.
"Could you please put some clothes on first when you have visitors?" Ranka asked as she covered Jin's eyes with her hands.
Slightly blushing, Mika quickly put on her clothes. "Any sense of hesitation would get me on her bad side," Mika thought as she finished dressing up.
"T-Thank you for coming over." Mika stammered as she began. She had spent the past 2 weeks thinking about what she should say to the pair, repeatedly writing letters and throwing them away, constantly self-doubting what she wanted to say was enough.
Mika bowed her head at the pair and began to speak very fast, not wanting to overthink her words. "I can't apologize enough for what I did to you two, I was only thinking about the wellbeing of the school. But I let my mind assume the worst and didn't think that what I imagined would be wrong. That was why after you left, I took the rule off the table and didn't bring it up to a vote."
She continued. "I understand if you want to cut any ties with me and part paths. That way I won't be able to cause you any trou-".
"That's okay, I forgive you!" Ranka exclaimed as she walked over to Mika. She held up her container of cookies, offering them to the school president. For a moment, Jin and Mika were both frozen in place, processing what Ranka had just said.
"But why?" They both asked. Ranka just smiled at them, her tail swishing from side to side slightly. "Because a good boss knows that we all mess up sometimes, for our own reasons. And if they know that they have messed up, it is my job to help them be better packmates!"
"B-But I'm not your packmate. Why would you do this for me, we barely know each other." Mika asked.
"It doesn't matter if you are in my pack or not, or if I know you at all!" Ranka placed the cookies on the table in front of Mika. "A boss like me helps everyone that I can, especially ones that I know I can be good friends with."
Mika had seen Ranka's extreme kindness and forgiveness only from the other side of a screen but never thought that she would ever receive it, even after all that she had done. "I don't know what I did to deserve a friend like you but thank you!" Mika blurted out as she hugged Ranka tightly, weeping into the young wolf girl's shoulder.
Chapter 28: A simple promise
"You know, I never saw Mika cry that much before," Jin said as he and Ranka walked out of the building. Ranka was still drying herself from the salty tears that had poured from the school president. "Ugh, wish that she didn't have to apologize while using me as a towel," Ranka muttered.
"I was surprised, but I'm still not sure if I would be able to forgive her for what she tried to do to us," Jin said, still understandably holding a grudge against her due to the rule that the mole-rat had tried to push through.
"You think I should have not forgiven her?" Ranka asked, looking up at Jin.
He smiled at her as they sat down on one of the benches. The brightness of the sun made it so that the pair had a beautiful view of the fountain. It had been frozen as the water had erupted from its many spouts, creating a beautiful spiraling ice statue for the student's enjoyment.
"No, I know that it would be impossible for you to be angry at her forever. It's just not a part of you." Jin chuckled. "Probably another reason why I fell for you in the first place, you always try to help out others, even if they don't deserve it."
Ranka blushed and quickly looked down, trying to hide her happy face from Jin. The pair sat quietly for a few moments, enjoying the view that they managed to find. A slight wind made Ranka cuddle up with Jin, warming them up. There was still one more thing that rested on her mind, something she had been thinking about since the council meeting.
"Jin," Ranka said quietly. "I was wondering something. If the rule was passed, would you really have given up the school for me?"
Jin nodded. This was a scenario that he had considered many times, even before he knew about the proposed rule. In the beginning, he was torn. After all, he had spent most of his life focusing on nothing but his school. All the cramming for exams, extra time spent on mastering different subjects that he would learn in the future and even a couple of tutors to help him out with a few particularly difficult topics. To give up all that hard work would be difficult for him, unless....
"I had worked all his life in school so that I could have a happy life with no regrets. If I can't be with the one I love, then what was the whole point of it?" He turned to look at Ranka and placed his hand under her chin. He could feel her face heating up from that touch.
"As long as we are together, everything will be okay. I don't need prestige from a school if I have you." Closing the gap between the two, Jin gently kissed Ranka. The pair had made out enough times that Ranka was able to not explode into another licking frenzy most of the time. But still, these little moments were still special to them, no matter how often it happened.
After a few minutes, their lips broke for breath. Breathing a bit heavier, Ranka climbed onto his side and hugged him tightly. "Jin," she said softly, her eyes shining as she gazed into his eyes. "I love you." Jin's chest tightened slightly as he heard what she said.
It was still a strange thing to hear those words from a girl that he at one time swore he would try to stay away from at all costs. Something that might take a while for him to get used to. "Oh well," Jin thought as he reached into his pocket. "I have a lifetime to get used to it."
When MeiMei and the others finally reached the fountain, they looked around for Jin and Ranka. "I could have sworn that they would be here," Yena stated, closely looking at the surrounding benches.
"There! I found them." Hitomi exclaimed, pointed at the pair rolling around in the snow. From their point of view, it was as if Ranka's face had merged with Jin's.
"Hey guys, are you okay?" Yukari called out as the group walked over. Ranka finally separated herself and waved at the rest of the cooking club, Jin still catching his breath and lying flat on his back.
"We are doing great!" Ranka yelled out, maybe causing some minor ear problems for the animals too close to her. "I am going to start a new pack with Jin!" Smiling from ear to ear, she pointed to her neck, where Jin had placed a small shiny silver and amethyst necklace.
"Ranka," Jin had said as he pulled out the jewelry from his pocket. Ranka's eyes darted down to his hand, where a small box was in the palm of his hand. "I love you too." Pulling the necklace out of the box, he gently placed it onto her neck. "And I want to love for as long as I can."
"That means you're getting married! Congrats!" MeiMei cried out upon seeing the necklace. The rest of the group knew that wasn't the case but simply played along, quite enjoying the scene the pair were causing. All the others gathered to admire Ranka's new necklace and cheer her for such a wonderful gift.
Jin opened his mouth to correct the misunderstanding but thought for a second and closed it. He would explain the necklace to her later. He could stand to watch her smile for a few moments. "It may just a necklace for now, but someday, maybe...."
He sat back up and gently wrapped his arms around her, catching the others by surprise from such an open gesture. Ranka smiled and turned around to return the hug. "Jin, will you stay with me forever?" She whispered into his ear.
Smiling, Jin gently kissed her on the forehead. "As long as I live, I will be with no one else but you." He promised. The warmth the pair generated caused the others to also join in, cuddling with each other in the snow like a flock of penguins. At that moment, Jin and Ranka in each other's arms felt peaceful. "I love you," Jin whispered into her ears, "And I always will."
Chapter 29: Author's notes
I would like to thank everyone that has read this fanfiction of mine. It is the first one that I have done, so your feedback has meant a lot to me. I originally posted this story on my Wattpad account, but not everyone can read it there, so I also uploaded the story here.
I was motivated to finish the story since over the next several months, I will be focusing on school and work. I will post an epilogue chapter within 2 weeks to add to the story, but apart from that, I will be solely thinking and imagining what kind of story I would write next. If you have any suggestions, I would love your feedback on that.
Once again, I thank you all for your support and feedback and hope to see you soon for my next story.
Stay healthy and safe,
Chapter 30: An Unexpected Proposal
Author's note: I know I promised to write only an epilogue to properly end the story, but I think I went a bit overboard and wrote a couple of chapters in addition to the epilogue. I had tons of fun giving my all to truly end this fanfiction in the best way possible. I hope you enjoy!
"Next up we have Miss MeiMei, graduating with a bachelor's in documentary filmmaking!" Professor Brinkman announced to the crowd of cheering students. On the stage, the panda girl gracefully walked over to the university dean, keeping in mind what her manager said to act as if the whole world was watching. "An idol like you needs to look good when everyone watched her, especially at a graduation ceremony," Fonfon had told her.
Amongst the line of students that were waiting to receive their diploma, Jin politely clapped along with them. "It's a miracle all that tutoring helped her out," he thought as he saw MeiMei receive her piece of paper. She violently shook the fin of the dean, nearly launching his out of his aquarium. MeiMei turned and waved to the rest of the school, much to the delight of everyone in the crowd.
"Up next we welcome Ranka Ookami, graduating with a bachelor's in Conservationism and a minor in Marine Biology!" The crowd became more polite in its clapping, with two obvious exceptions: her big sister Ferryl, who cheered and cried that her little sister was finally graduating.
There was also the cooking club, who all cheered and clapped wildly for her. Jin smiled widely as Ranka skipped across the podium to the professor.
Jin suddenly was struck by a terrifying thought and quickly patted his side. He felt the small box in his right pants pocket and breathed a sigh of relief. "I wouldn't know what to do if I lost it."
He had spent so much time planning for this day that he constantly double-checked certain things to make sure that it was all in place, ready for that one moment that was quickly approaching.
"Let me introduce to you Jin Mazama, who will be graduating with honors in business!" Again, there was a polite level of clapping with a few exceptions. As he walked onto the stage to accept his degree, he heard one voice rise up from the crowd. He looked out and smiled as he saw Ranka, giddily jumping and cheering for him.
"It feels great to finally finish school!" Ranka stated as the ceremony ended, the group heading towards their dorms. They were going to leave in a couple of days and wanted to make sure that they were packed up and ready to go.
"Yeah, but I'm gonna miss being with y'all, Yena stated, placing one of her arms around a blushing Hitomi. "We can still meet up and hang out though, just make sure that we stay in contact!" Hitomi said, pulling out her phone. "Here, I can make a group chat for us to stay together and plan meetups."
"Speaking of planning, Jin, would you be able to take Ranka? The rest of us have something in mind for her that we need to talk about." Yukari asked, suspiciously separating the rest of the group from Ranka and Jin. "Huh? Sure, I needed to talk to her anyway." Jin replied, pretending not to notice the thumbs up between Ranka and Yukari.
"Okay, see you later!"
MeiMei called out as she helped Yukari to drag away Hitomi, Yena, Miyubi, and Kurumi. Left alone, Jin turned to Ranka, suddenly nervous to say anything.
"Okay, just stick to the plan and get her to the park."
"Hey, uh Ranka, could we go to-"
"Jin! Can we please go to the park? I know a great place to visit and hang out for a bit while we wait for the rest of the pack." Ranka interrupted, pointing to the very same spot that Jin had planned in mind. "Oh, sure! That looks great." Jin said, still taken aback by the convenience of it.
They sat down and talked about school, thankful that it was finally over. "Now I only have to worry about work!" Jin chuckled. Ranka faintly smiled, suddenly looking a bit serious. "There is something else that I want to think about for the future." She said, reaching out to hold onto Jin's hand.
He gulped trying to find an opening for his plan. "So do I. And this is something that I have been thinking about for a while, much longer than you can imagine." Ranka blushed at his words. "Same here, I also have something to say that I have wanted to say for a very long time."
Jin reached out and gently held both of her hands, the couple's face to face merely inches apart.
For a brief moment, both minds raced, trying to put the words together that they both wanted to say. Blushing, Jin opened his mouth to finally pop the question, determined that it was now or never. The place, the moment, it was all too perfect for him not to take it.
"Ranka, will you marry me?!"
"Jin, will you marry me?!"
At the exact same time, both had reached into their pockets and whipped out their proposal rings. Jin had brought for Ranka a beautiful silver ring studded with amethyst gems. Ranka, a simple but elegant engraved gold ring that she thought would perfectly fit the man she loves. The couple paused in shock, not quite expecting this to happen to either of them.
"Why yes, of course, I will," Jin replied, finally finding his voice. "But why-"
"He said yes!" MeiMei shouted as the cooking club popped out of the bushes, throwing confetti flowers at the pair. "Told ya he won't be able to say no to that cute face of yours!" Yena exclaimed as she gave Ranka a big hug, gently squishing the wolf.
Jin sat there in silence as his mind processed what had just happened, blowing away a piece of confetti that had landed on his eyes. "I never expected that she would propose to me. But now that I think about it, that is something that she would do."
Yena finally let go of Ranka, who could finally breathe again. "Psst, this is the part where you exchange the rings," MeiMei whispered into Ranka's ears. "Oh yeah, that right!" She said, but as she was about to pull the ring out of the box, she paused for a second.
"I almost forgot to answer your proposal," Ranka said.
She then leaned in towards him, their faces almost touching. Looking into his eyes, her smile said all that Jin needed to know. "Yes, I would love to be your mate," Ranka whispered as she softly kissed him, much to the delight of the rest of the group.
As they broke their embrace, they finally took the rings out of their respective boxes. At the same time, they both placed the rings on each other's left ring finger, where it is believed that the vein leads directly into one's heart. While not exactly scientific, Jin believed it as he could have sworn that as he placed his ring onto Ranka's finger, he could faintly feel her heartbeat. Maybe it was his own heart that he felt as he looked upon the face of his fiancée.
"Either way, it feels quite nice." He thought as the couple locked lips again, sealing their promise to each other.
"Yay! Now when will you guys have the bai-?" MeiMei's face was clasped shut by Hitomi's and Yena's hands.
"Shhh," Hitomi whispered into the Panda's ear. "Let them have their moment. You can ask them later."
"Thank you, Hitomi," Was all Jin thought before his mind went back to Ranka. Embracing each other, neither wanted to let go or stop what they were doing.
For now, they focused on staying at this moment, embracing each other, and one step closer to starting their lives together. As packmates and as husband and wife.
Chapter 31: A good day to get married
"Are you sure that you're okay Jin? You seem to be a bit nervous today." King muttered in Jin's ear. He had taken his duty as the best man of the wedding seriously, watching Jin and making sure that the day would go off without a hitch.
"I'm fine, not worried at all." Jin lied unconvincingly.
King lightly chuckled.
"Yes, you are. You look exactly like me when I was up here, waiting for Shino to appear from those doors."
"I remember that look on your face pretty clearly. You were having a panic attack, worrying that she was going to say no and run away. Is my fear really that obvious?"
King nodded. "Yes, which I would never expect from someone like you. Regardless, just wait and it will be fine."
Pointed at the large doors down the aisle, King whispered, "When you see her come through, all your worries will melt away. You will remember why you fell for her, and that you will have a full life with her to love her even more."
As Jin was about to reply, said doors opened, and the whole audience turned to look. Jin looked down the aisle and whatever he was about to say to King vanished from his mind. All he could do was stare as Ranka smiled from across the room.
Arm in arm with her father (who was clothed for the event), Ranka began to walk across the room. The rest of the room was, like Jin, enamored with who was walking towards the alter. MeiMei was filming the event, carefully making sure to capture the bride walking down with every angle she could get. The rest of the cooking club was waiting for her as the bridesmaids, with Hitomi as the maid of honor. Wearing strapless simple purple dresses, up until now they were the focus of the crowd for their beauty.
But now, even their charm was outshined by Ranka. She had gone for a more is less approach, wearing a simple white dress that reached down to her ankles. Her train and veil were attached by a flower crown that was entwined with white and purple flowers.
To Jin, it didn't matter much for him, as she would look good in anything. But this dress, and those flowers, combined with that smile?
There was nothing more his mind could think except one simple thought.
"No matter what happens, I am always going to love you."
He smiled to himself, realizing that this was exactly what he had been working for all these years, all the time and effort put into school. Looking back, it seemed that all he could remember were the times that he spent with Ranka and the cooking club. As Ranka stood by next to him on the alter, he realized that this was what was most important for him, school or work suddenly didn't seem as significant as he would imagine.
"Jin Mazama, will you take Ranka Ookami as your lawfully wedded wife, in sickness, and in health, until death will do you part?" The minister asked Jin.
"Yes, I do," Jin replied, without hesitation. If there was one person that he was going to spend the rest of his life with, she was right there, standing beside him.
"Ranka Ookami, will you take Jin Mazama as your lawfully wedded husband, in sickness, and in health, until death will do you part?" The minister asked Ranka.
She turned to Jin and gave him a toothy smile, her fangs showing more than usual. Her tail, while retrained, was still itching to move in anticipation of what was to come next. "Yes, I do!" She replied, barely holding herself back.
"I now pronounce you, husband and wife. You may now-"
The pair didn't wait for the minister to finish and went for the kiss. The church erupted in applause from the crowd of animals with some humans mixed in. Ranka's big sister cried tears of happiness, finally seeing her little sister all grown up and starting her own pack. The bridesmaids swooned over the couple, finally married after all this time. Hitomi struggled to keep Miyubi in her feet, as the sloth had died again, overwhelmed from feelings of excitement and happiness.
Yena was in the crowd, collecting her winnings that she had made with some of the guests. Some had thought that one of them would be too scared to make their vows and run or say no, but Yena knew that was not going to happen and she was all too glad to profit from their mistakes.
As MeiMei raced down to get her camera in place to get the shot of the couple exiting the church, Ranka and Jin linked each other's arms and prepared to walk down the aisle. Looking at each other, they drew in closer to briefly rub their noses together. It was their little sign that everything was going to be all right, as long as they were together.
Chapter 32: Welcome the newest members of the pack!
Pacing back and forth across the living room, Jin was anxious. With every minute that passed, his thoughts still lingered on his wife Ranka. She had been taken to the hospital a couple of days ago since she went into labor, and he hadn't seen her since. He had called her to make sure she was okay, with Ranka assuring that it had gone well. It was just his luck that he had been on a business trip when it happened.
"Calm down Jin, you'll make a path in the carpet if you keep it up." Kurumi purred as she lay on the couch, lazily watching Jin panic.
The rest of the cooking club, Jin's parents, and Ranka's parents had kept themselves entertained while watching him slowly losing his mind in a sea of worry and anxiety about his wife giving birth. "I knew I should've stayed home." He muttered to himself, ignoring Kurumi. "I would have been here to help her when the labor started. I should have helped her!"
"Oh come now, don't blame yourself," Hitomi assured Jin, petting Kurumi all the while. "They arrived a full week earlier than expected, you couldn't have known that was going to happen." "Yeah! And besides," Meimei piped up, having arrived a couple of hours ago from the hospital. "The delivery went well. You will see any minute now when Ranka and Ferryl arrive."
"I hope so, we have been waiting to finally say hi to our grandkids for a long time," Akihiro said, smiling at Jin. "That is of course once you and Ranka name them. Have you decided what they will be called?"
As Jin was about to answer, the doorbell rang. Everyone else scrambled from their seats to try to reach the door, but Jin managed to get there before the others. Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes and opened the door.
He could still feel the sunlight directed at his eyes, but not enough to blind him. He wanted to make sure that when he would first see his children, it would be with a clear view.
Still closed, he smiled as he heard Ranka happily whine as she saw him. "Jin! You came back.""Of course I did, I am not going to miss my wife bringing home our kids for the first time." She said, stepping aside to let the wheelchair that Ranka was sitting in. She had insisted on trying to walk after giving birth, but after almost falling on her face, she had reluctantly accepted her sister's offer to being pushed around in the wheelchair home.
Hearing Ferryl's head brush against the doorframe, Jin closed the door behind them and turned as he finally opened his eyes. Even after the many months of pregnancy that he had watched slowly progress, he was still caught breathless as he gazed upon his wife. Sitting comfortably in the wheelchair, she was wearing a blue maternity dress that they bought for her months ago.
The rest of the group gathered around Ranka and started to melt over the sight of the babies. "Please be quiet, they need their sleep." She said, quieting down the ruckus. Jin leaned in and saw his children for the first time.
From that moment on, he knew that his life had changed for the better.
In her arms, sleeping quietly and wrapped in soft purple blankets were their two children. Their faces were still red from the crying that they had produced when they first arrived in the world. In one of her arms was a girl, already with a small mane of pink fur on her head that had some streaks of black hair that came from her father. In the other was a boy, with small pointy wolf ears and a mass of dark fur that was almost as large as his sister's that barely covered said ears.
Ranka saw the enamored look on Jin's face and giggled a bit. He had sounded so regretful when he called for missing the delivery that she had worried that the first thing Jin would do is launch into a lengthy apology for something that wasn't his fault. But looking at the life that they together had created had made him briefly cast aside all thoughts of the past. All he could think of now was just how much these little bundles meant to them.
Now, their whole lives will be dedicated to taking care and raising these precious little children, and Jin couldn't be happier.
"Jin, do you want to tell them what their names are?" Ranka asked, finally breaking Jin's focus on their children. "What? You already decided their names?" The rest of the group cried out in surprise. Ranka nodded.
"Yes, but we wanted to share the names with you when you saw them." Jin smiled and pointed to the girl, who shuffled a little bit in her mother's arms. "Everybody, this little one is Lanka."
"And this one," he continued, pointing to the boy, "is Riku." The next few minutes were spent with the rest of the group cooing and saying hi to the babies. Jin's parents congratulated the pair on finally giving them grandchildren and admiring how cute they were. "They even each have tiny fangs showing already!" Akihiro pointed out.
"They are cute, but they will make fine strong wolves someday, that will lead their own packs!" Ranka's father had declared excitedly. "Dear, they were just born yesterday, it is a bit too early to think about such things," His wife had gently pointed out to him.
As the party continued, Jin took this time to kiss Ranka on her forehead. "You did a good job," he said, gently brushing the hair on their children's head. "Sorry I wasn't there to say hi to them earlier."
Ranka looked straight up and kissed him on the edge of his chin. "Don't worry, it wasn't your fault." She looked down at their bundles and smiled. "What matters is that you arrived here to say hi to these little pups. And as long as we are here for them, they will turn out to be more than we could ever imagine. I just hope that I can be good enough for them."
"Yeah, that is true," Jin said as he gently draped himself around Ranka's neck. "And don't worry, you are going to be a great mom for them. As long as we work together, we are going to give them the best life that they need."
He kissed the side of Ranka's ear. The pair of them just sat there, watching their children snore quietly as they drifted off, playing around in the dream world.
Chapter 33: Epilogue
The day was kind to the new students at Seton Academy. It was one of the fall days when the last vestiges of summer appeared, giving them one last warm embrace before autumn truly arrived. The crowd of students all chattered amongst themselves, eagerly waiting for their dean to arrive and welcome them officially. With such a diverse student body with so many animals, there were practically no humans to be seen.
Well, except for one, who was waving goodbye to his children.
"Bye, dad! See you during the winter break!" Lanka called out as she dashed towards the crowd of students that had started to gather around the dean. Except for her long streaks of black hair that she had received from her father Jin, she was a spitting image of her mother Ranka, down to her personality. Slightly smaller than average girl her age, she more than made up for it with her massive presence. Bubbly, always smiling and high energy, she was the first person that you would notice in a crowd, helped by her unique pink and black-streaked head of hair.
Her brother Riku simply waved back at their parents as he followed his sister. Tall with fluffy dark hair that barely covered his small wolf ears, it would have been easy to mistake father and son, were it not for the tail and ears. Turning, his orange and yellow eyes shone as he gazed for the first time upon the school his parents went to. Aunt Hitomi had told them countless stories about the cooking club and the many friends they made at the school.
Jin and Ranka gazed longingly at the crowd, watching their children mingle with the mass of students. They knew that they would see them in a few months, but those months would drag on with their eldest children out of the home. Jin was looking suspiciously at the other animals, especially the bears that were just entering the school.
Sensing his apprehension, Ranka shuffled right up next to him and wrapped her arm around his, entwining their fingers together. "Don't worry Jin, I heard that the school has become much stricter on students being rough. And if they cause any trouble, Lanka will protect Riku!" Jin smiled at his wife's optimism. "I don't doubt that; I just hope that they will be fine."
The couple watched as the bears approached Riku.
Lanka tensed up and dashed up to shield her brother, remembering her parents telling her about the fights that they had with these animals. But Riku just patted her, easing her tension. He then likewise approached them, confidently pulling out one of the manga books that he had brought with him. The bears pulled out their copies of the same series and let out a cheer, finally meeting their friend in real life. The group then started to chatter about the lastest chapter that had released, with Lanka joining in the discussion.
"See? They will be just fine." Ranka smugly said, nuzzling up her cheek against his shoulder. Jin breathed a sigh of relief, happy that he was proven wrong.
"Maybe they will be." Jin smiled and look down at his wife's face. All these years and he never quite got used to the fact that of all the mates she could have chosen, Jin was always her first choice, while it had taken him years just to see her as a girlfriend. But now, he could not imagine himself with anyone else right here, at his side, and watching their children go off to school.
"What's wrong? Is there something you see in my fur?" Ranka asked, seeing how Jin's eyes had glazed a bit as he was mesmerized by his wife. Coming back to earth, Jin shook his head and chuckled. "Nothing, I was just thinking about how lucky I am that I found you." Ranka laughed. "And it only took you 15 years to admit you love me," she replied, as the pair began walking towards the downtown.
"Better late than never," Jin said, gently squeezing her hand. "But now that I did, I will never let go." Ranka laughed. "And neither will I!" She squealed, leaping up and giving him a small licking session. Jin just smiled and held her up by the waist, the couple walking off towards their home. "No matter what happens Ranka, I will always hold you up."
Chapter 34: Final words
Once again, I am thankful for each and every one of you that has read my story. I started it simply for the fun of it and wanted to write something creative that would also entertain others. I initially thought that only a simple epilogue would do to wrap up the story, but that proved to be wrong very quickly.
So now that the story has been completed, I will be working on figuring out my next project in the future. I am open to suggestions and ideas on what I could do once I finish school and have my work settled, which should be in the fall.
I hope that you enjoyed reading this as I had writing this story. If you also want to write fanfiction or stories for others to enjoy, go for it. The whole purpose of this is to have fun while writing and entertaining others in the fandom, not to be the best author for the New York Times list. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and this is only one of many different ways to enjoy it.
Until next time, I hope you will all stay safe and healthy, and I will see you next time when I pop back in. Bye!
Chapter 35: Bonus chapter! Part 1
The main story has been wrapped up and I felt satisfied with the way it ended. However, some of you wanted more from this story, to be with the Seton Academy characters and see them again, and I happily decided to write a little bit more (to be honest, I also missed them, so this was an excellent excuse to do so and visit this world once again). Someone suggested that they would like to see a little story involving Miyubi and Yena, and also involving swimming. So, after a lot more time than it should have, I finally completed it! Credit to ThePitt for coming up with the story concept. I hope you all enjoy this, as I had plenty of fun writing this story.
Yena sighed as she entered the gym. After the incident where she practically laid bare all her plans in a matter of moments to Jin, she felt strangely lighter, with less of a burden on her shoulders. “Life’s much better without hiding these secrets from him.” Yena thought, swiping her card and entering the gym lobby.
It also helped that Ranka has decided that she will no longer use plots or sneaky maneuvers to make Jin fall in love, especially after finding out that he was the little boy that saved her from the bears all those years ago. And also, because overly complex plots and schemes usually don’t work out well, but a minor detail. And yet, while Yena felt relieved, she was also a bit ……. empty.
“While not the manly thing to do to sneak around like that, it was nice to have someone to help out,” Yena recalled as her mind went back to the hours of plotting that she and Ranka had done, all so that Jin would finally look at Lanka as the mate that he would be best with. “And with him out of the way, Hitomi would be open, and with no one else to comfort her, I would, I would…..”
“Uh, miss, can you stop salivating on the floor? It’s disgusting.” One of the kangaroo gym assistants asked her. Yena immediately complied, being used to this regular occurrence which happened whenever she stopped to think about the human girl.
“Argh! Gotta think of something else do to or else Hitomi will always be on my mind!” She mentally punched herself as she passed the pool section. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed a swimmer splashing around in the lap lane.
Almost as if they were drowning and struggling to get up above the water.
“Miyubi!” Yena cried out as soon as she saw the green moss on the top of the swimmer’s head before she went under for the last time. Like dogs, hyenas love to swim and are quite capable, even witnessed diving to the bottom of a watering hole to feast on a corpse. So, when Yena dove right into the pool, she went straight for Miyubi, whose body was slowly sinking to the floor.
Grabbing her by the waist, Yena turned and went straight back up to the surface. Gasping for breath, she focused on getting Miyubi up on the edge of the pool, laying her down on her side. She took a few seconds to catch her breath, looking up as the sloth stirred.
“Oh…..hi…..there.” Miyubi greeted Yena as her eyes slowly opened. “Damn it she’s adorable!” Yena inadvertently thought as she blushed and turned her face to the side.
“Sorry, was…..I drowning…..again?” Miyubi asked as she sat up.
“Yeah, you were so I had to jump in and-” Yena stopped as she processed what she just heard. “Wait, what do you mean again? Do you drown every time you swim here?” The hyena asked, hoping the water in her ears made her mishear Miyubi’s words.
“No not all ……the time. There was one time……. I swam for a bit ……and didn’t drown.”
“Ah, and out of how many times you did drown?” Yena asked suspiciously.
“Probably….” Miyubi ran the numbers in her head.
Despite her slow physical speed, she was able to calculate any type of number or formula as quickly as a calculator.
“85 this quarter……86 if I count ……today.” She keeled over and died again, as thinking too much takes up a lot of energy, and when sloths use more energy than they have, they usually die!
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Miyubi woke up again, having recovered from her death once again. Looking around, she noticed that she was in the school hospital. “Oh, how nice. But how did I get here?” Feeling a weight on her legs, she looked down and noticed that Yena was fast asleep and sprawled on top of her bed, right where her legs were. Even if she was fit, she was still exhausted after having to run all the way from the gym to the hospital after Miyubi died.
Miyubi gently raised her hand and patted Yena right between her pointed ears, a silent thank you for helping her out. The ruffling of her hair caused Yena to stir. Opening her eyes slowly, Yena looked to the side and up the face of her companion. Suddenly realizing where she was, she bolted upwards and stood up, hoping that her “unmanly behavior” went unnoticed.
“Ah, my….savior has……finally awakened!” Miyubi cheerfully thanked Yena, causing another blush on the hyena’s face. “Yeah, I was a little bit tired, needed to rest up my muscles,” Yena said, trying to excuse her sleepiness. “You better?”
The sloth nodded slowly, “The doctor said …….I should be fine…...I can go now.” She got out of bed and slightly hobbled, balancing herself upright. “Now, about what you said earlier,” Yena asked, hoping to change the topic, “you did say that you died every time you swam, right?”
“Usually yes,” Miyubi answered, pulling a shirt and short pants over her dried-out swimsuit. “But I think I am getting better,”
“But why?” Yena asked. “It must be painful dying so often, so why do you keep swimming?”
Miyubi gave a sad sigh and her eyes gazed outside the window. “I have always loved ……… to swim ever since………. that day at the sports…… festival back at the academy,” Miyubi said wistfully, her mind nostalgically looking back at the past to her first swimming race. “I loved how everyone…… was cheering me on, …..even if I was not very good at it. I felt really motivated to…. keep going, even when I almost died.“
“But we still almost lost, if …….I had been faster and died less often, I would …… have given Ranka more time to race. So if I can get better……. at swimming, I will be able to…. help my teammates more.”
Miyubi turned from the window and smiled at Yena, a single tear coming down her right eye. “That is why I was practicing……. all this time, so that when I go out……… and race tomorrow, I can…. swim without drowning, giving all of you…… a real reason to be proud of me.”
Yena felt a pang of familiarity in her chest. “Pushing herself so much that it hurts to make us proud. Feels like déjà vu.” She thought to recall herself when she was younger. Yena smiled as she knew in an instant what to do.
She went over and enveloped Miyubi in a gentle hug, catching the sloth a bit off guard. “We’re your friends. As long as you try your hardest, we will always be proud of you.” Gently patting the moss that Miyubi grew, Yena continued.
“But that doesn’t mean you should hurt yourself to try and make us proud, especially if there are better ways to do it.”
Miyubi’s eyes shone as the pair broke the hug.
“Wait, what do……you mean better?”
Miyubi asked. She had tried every technique that the swimmers at the gym knew, but still had the same issue of drowning once in a while. “Well, my memory is fuzzy, but I remember that you drowned every time that you stopped, usually to wave at the crowd and look at us.”
Miyubi nodded. “Yes, but I can’t help it. I want to see everyone …...who is cheering me on and …….let them know that I heard them.” Yena shook her head. “I get it, but that’s a no-no. We don’t have much time, so I can’t train you to ignore the crowd.”
Yena flashed a toothy smile. “I have an idea that will stop this problem for now, but we will need to train you afterward, so you don’t rely on it. The gym is open 24/7, so we can try out my idea now if you are up to it!“
Chapter 36: Bonus story! Part 2
“Ok, the pool is empty,” Yena said as the pair entered the swimming area. She grunted as she dragged Miyubi's body along. She ran too much for the poor sloth’s body to handle, causing her to die once again that day. This mildly inconvenienced Yena, who had just sighed and continued to drag her along.
“Huh……. Oh, we…...are here!” Miyubi spoke happily as she stirred, finally arriving back from the land of the dead. Yena dug into her gym bag and rummaged through it, eagerly looking for the tool that will help her friend. “Here it is!” She cried out as she probably showed off her secret weapon to Miyubi.
She just stared at the hyena. “Those are…..just goggles.” Miyubi pointed out. “Ah that is what you think but look closer!” Yena smiled, bringing herself closer to the sloth. “See the sides and how they are blacked out?” Miyubi nodded, suddenly getting an idea of what Yena was getting at.
“If you can’t see the crowds from the sides, you won’t stop to wave and then die! This is perfect for your race tomorrow, and I even asked the coaches, who said that it is allowed.” Yena started rapidly talking about the goggles and how she found them from her friends that had trained to avoid distraction during a competitive swim meet.
“So,” Yena finally stopped talking about her swimmer friends. “Are you ready to try it out?” Miyubi smiled as she reached out to grab the googles, her hands gently brushing against Yena’s. Yena quickly pushed the goggles into her friends’ hands and turned away, looking at the pool. “Okay, so now you can just put those on and hop in so we can test them out!” Yena said hurriedly, eager to focus on getting ready for the race.
After about 5 minutes, Miyubi finally managed to walk over to the entrance of the pool, Yena waiting impatiently. Relaxing in the water, Miyubi placed the goggles on her face and gave Yena a thumbs up. “Okay!” Yena called out from the stands. “Focus on the wall in front of you and just keep swimming. I will try to distract you!”
Yena stood up and made sure that the bright flags that she brought with her were unfurled. “If she can focus while I wave these things, she will be all set for the race.” Taking a few deep breaths, she got up and shouted, “Ready, set, and go!”
- - - - - - - - - - - -
The crowd cheered as the swimmers flipped around at the turn. Hitomi, Yena, and the others watched intently as Miyubi kept on swimming. Despite being prone to dying from moving too much, it seems as if this was one of the areas where a sloth excels in moving. They don't specialize in speed even in this sport but in endurance. “And they have completed the 4th lap with 16 more to go in the 1,000-meter swimming race!” The announcers cried out.
Despite having finished the first lap behind all the other competitors, Miyubi was slowly catching up, taking her time as the others began to feel tired. Her goggles, combined with swimming plugs stopped her from hearing or seeing the crowds, as Yena had repeatedly tested the night before with her. Right now, in this race, all she could think about was focusing on what was in front of her.
“That’s strange, I wonder where Jin and Ranka are?” Hitomi asked, looking around the stands. “They promised that they would watch Miyubi race today.”
“Maybe they are too busy looking for the guys that stole the food to come back!” Yena offered, excitedly watching the swimmers. She didn't get that much sleep last night and was focusing all she could on cheering on Miyubi. She turned and saw the look of concern on Hitomi’s face. “It’s Jin and Ranka, I am pretty sure that nothing bad will happen to them.”
“Still,” Hitomi said, thinking about the pair. “What if something happened and they got injured?”
“In that case, we can go and try to look for them.” Kurumi purred. “We could split up into groups to cover more ground.” The others agreed, leaped off the benches, and were ready to head off. “Perfect, I can pair up with Hitomi and leave the others! It will almost be like we are on a date.”
Yena was about to join but froze up. “If I do leave, who will be here to cheer on Miyubi?” She looked over the swimmers and shook her head. “Nah, the last thing she needs is more distractions. But still….”
“Yena, you could come along with me if you want, I don't know too much about this pace and only a couple of the others do.” Hitomi offered as the others argued about where to go. “We should go here! This is where they would be most likely to be at to catch those guys!” MeiMei argued as she pointed at the school map. “You just want to go there to taste the food at the stands over there!” Kurumi countered. “That's not true at all!” MeiMei lied.
Hitomi rushed over to calm down the pair. Yena was almost ready to go with the others but paused for a second. “Still, if Miyubi wins and none of us are here to see, how would she feel?” Yena thought as she imagined Miyubi winning and climbing out of the water. Looking around and seeing none of her friends were there to see her win, Yena’s heart sank as the Miyubi in her head sniffled, her eyes welling up as if she were about to cry.
Yena immediately rushed back to her seat as the 5th lap began. Hitomi gave each of the bickering children a hug after stopping them from arguing. She turned back and saw that Yena was intensely looking at the swimmers, her eyes sharply focused on Miyubi. Hitomi smiled and ran back to Yena, pulling a bottle from her bag. “Here, make sure to cheer on for her, but please don't get burned,” Hitomi asked as she gave the bottle of sunscreen.
Yena smiled as she accepted the bottle. “But I don't even need sunscreen.” She thought as she waved the rest of the group goodbye. “Lap 7 and already the race has tightened up, with one of the racers having caught up with the others!” The announcers called out, bringing Yena’s attention back to the race.
As the minutes passed, the swimmers grew more and more exhausted from the race, yet Miyubi kept on swimming at a steady pace. One by one, she calmly yet determinedly overtook each simmer until only one more was left. A Bengal tiger, who is known as one of the greatest swimmers for a land mammal. With their speed and muscle mass, they are very hard to beat in the water, but not impossible.
“Go Miyubi!” Yena cried out as the 16th lap started, with the sloth only slightly behind the tiger. Miyubi was at the point where they were almost neck and neck, but any progress was slow, with the pair fighting for every inch. Flipping at the turn, Miyubi briefly got ahead before the tiger retook first place, not going to give up her spot so easily.
Yena was on the edge of her seat, her eyes fixed on Miyubi as she watched the sloth gracefully take one stroke after another. “She is so close; she can do this!” She thought as the swimmers finished another lap. She barely blinked in the time it took for the final lap to start, with the tiger still barely leading. Yena watched with anticipation as Miyubi still struggled to catch up to the tiger as they made the final turn.
Everyone yelled as loud as they could for their swimmer as the lap was almost done. “Come on Miyubi!” Yena cried out on the top of her lungs. “And the winner of the 1,000-meter breaststroke is.........
Chapter 37: Bonus Story! Part 3
Imani the tiger!” A massive cheer erupted from the crowd as the tiger plopped herself over the edge of the pool, gasping for breath.
Yena sighed as she dropped down to her seat. Usually, a friend not winning isn't that big of a deal to her, since her sport-minded friends would simply use that loss as a motivation to work harder and do better next time. But in this case, this friend was different. “She will think that she has failed us. She wanted so hard to win for us today. Poor Miyubi, she was training so much for today.”
Yena decided that she might as well comfort the sloth and leaped off the benches to the pool area. As she did, she looked around to find her in the crowd of other animals that had come down to congratulate their teammates. Yena spotted Miyubi, but despite all their friends had left to find Jin and Ranka, she was not alone. Nor was she upset as Yena had expected. In fact, she was actually smiling as she shook the hands of the tiger that she had just raced against.
Miyubi saw Yena and smiled as the hyena approached, a little bit confused at what she was seeing. “Yena! I am….so glad you…. came. Imani here…...taught me how…...to swim better…..when I….was a kid!” Imani smiled a bit embarrassingly as Miyubi praised her. “You were already pretty decent, I only taught you how to be better back then.” She explained humbly.
“Ah, and you must be Yena!” Imani said, eagerly shaking Yena’s hand. “Miyubi has told me so much about you and how you helped her out yesterday. Good thinking with the narrow vision goggles, I never would have thought of that!” Imani was interrupted when the rest of her group came along and swept her away, to celebrate her victory. “Good job today Miyuibi! Talk to you later!” She faintly cried out as the crowd made a mad dash to the tent they had set up.
Yena turned to look at Miyubi, who was still smiling as she returned the wave for her friend. “Well, it looks like my googles did work pretty well since you got second place,” Yena said awkwardly, trying to find the right words to say. She had expected her to be more let down after her defeat, but there was no sign of sadness on the sloth’s face.
Miyubi turned to reply, but Yena smelled something. A faint iron smell, with a hint of sweetness to it. It smelled like blood, not surprising given that hyenas have an excellent sense of smell to track down their food. In fact, it smelled a bit like it came from a person like it came from…… “Jin!” Yena cried out, grabbing Miyubi's hand as she started sprinting across the campus.
“I was going to dry myself off with a towel, but this also works.” Miyubi thought as she flew behind Yena. With the pair’s hands together, she almost resembled a kite that the hyena was trying to get as high as possible. “This is not a bad way to go.” She thought as she died yet again, due to the stress of being dragged along.
Yena turned around a corner and saw Hitomi with the rest of the group, sprinting to the same general direction that her nose was leading her. “I know where Jin is!” Hitomi yelled out as Yena caught up with the group. “One of the wolves told us that they are this way and to be careful, he is getting the first responders that are nearby!”
“They are apparently there.” She continued, short of breath as she pointed to the shack. MeiMei had taken the opportunity to sprint as fast as she could, hoping that she would be able to catch Ranka caring for Jin. For once, her hopes were realized, as she had blurted out that what Jin meant was that he also liked Ranka.
The others were within earshot when she said this, and all gathered at the door frame as Jin passed out. Barely a second had passed before the first responders appeared, forcing their way into to help Jin. It was then that Yena realized that Miyubi had died once again.
Despite it being a regular occurrence, she felt a twinge of guilt for it happening again. She placed the sloth on her back and began to walk with the others to the hospital.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Meimei continued to rant about Rana and Jin as Yena and Hitomi dragged the love crazed Panda out of the hospital room. They couldn't blame her since this was a ship that she had been obsessed with for years and it had finally come true. “I knew it, they were kissing! I knew that Jin only acted like he hated us; he really is a softie!” As Hitomi managed to calm down MeiMei a little bit, Yena turned her attention to a more mellow animal.
Miyubi had finally woken up after sleeping off her death once again, yawning a little bit and stretching. Sitting up on the coach that Yena had laid her down, she looked around and saw the rest of the club gathered around the door to Jin’s room. Yena noticed her awakening and rushed over. “Miyubi, are you okay? I know dying is no big deal, but you just swam for so long that I thought you would be more dead!” This was only the start of a long panicky rant from Yena, as, try as she might deny, came from someone that cared about her and was worried.
Miyubi wanted to thank her for caring, but didn't want to interrupt, she was enjoying seeing Yena talking passionately. After Yena finally grew tired of speaking, she stopped and caught her breath. Miyubi walked over and hugged her before she could start speaking again, Yena’s face turning a bright red.
“Thank you, for….all this help,” Miyubi spoke softly, turning Yena’s face even redder. “I was worried about…...disappointing all of you.” She continued, looking at the others as she continued to hug Yena. “But after the…..practice yesterday…..I knew that….as long as I try...my best, you would…..be happy, no….matter what happened.”
“Miyubi,” Kurumi said, walking over to the pair. “We would never be disappointed in you even if you got last place! You always tried your best and had fun, we couldn't ask more from you.” She then embraced the pair in a group hug. The others followed suit, all coming together to hug the now even more oxygen-deprived hyena.
“Can’t…..breath.” She thought before she realized she was being hugged by Hitomi along with the others. “Nevermind, I can still breath for a bit.” She strangely changed her mind for no obvious reason.
“Hey, maybe you should talk to Ranka as well!” MeiMei pipped up. “She will be so happy to hear how you did! Let’s get back in there!” She immediately made a run for it and tried to break into Jin’s room, barely being held back by everyone else. Yena finally breathed, free from the restraints of the many arms that had hugged the pair.
Miyubi smiled and gently placed her hand on Yena’s shoulder. “I think that’s a good idea from MeiMei,...... but I can’t talk about how good I did ……..without you being there, …...it would not be very fair.” Yena returned the smile, glad that Miyubi was happy after her race. “Well, if you insist. After all, I cannot say no to a woman’s request!”
“But you are…. also one.”
“Ah...”. Yena wanted to say no and insist on her manhood, but for once, she decided to drop the matter. “Regardless, I’ll come along. And when we are done, we will start making plans for next year on how you will race for first place! You will also train on focusing without the googles.”
“Yena,” Miyubi spoke, gently squeezing her hand that was on Yena’s shoulder. “I’m happy with whatever ……. plans you make, but only one…….. thing cannot change.”
“Hmmm?” Yena asked, slightly confused.
“You must be my coach for the swimming sessions, if you can that is.” Miyubi rapidly stated her request, a little nervous blush coming across her cheeks. “The others are also good at teaching, but when I was being coached, I felt like no matter what I did, even when I felt tired and felt like giving up, I would always find the energy to keep on working. So, will you please make me your student for swimming?” She gasped, the effort it took to speak at normal speed threatened to make her die once again.
Yena had the biggest grin on her face that she had ever felt in years. “Of course!” She exclaimed enthusiastically. “We will be training every day for hours at a time and swimming like our lives depend on it!”
“If we did that kind….. of training, I wouldn't have….. any more life to depend on.” Miyubi reminded Yena of her condition. “Ah, right. No point in dying at practice!” Yena replied, still smiling. “But you will be working hard for first place, that I can guarantee for my student!”
“Understood. I’m ready Yena!” Miyubi responded, determination and happiness beaming from her face. “I will not ……let you down.”
Yena laughed. “As long as you try, you will never let any of us down. Ever.” Yena’s stomach growled, rudely interrupting the pair. “Ah, you must be hungry after the race! Let's go down to the stands and get us something to eat, you can't build muscle without eating.” The pair continued to chat as they walked down the hallway towards the stands, the day feeling a lot lighter. The sun shined brightly upon the pair as they exited the hospital and into a new future, one where both will find unexpected happiness in themselves, each other, and the other members of the Seton University cooking club.
Chapter 38: Yena & Miyubi oneshot, part 1
Quick recap: All of the main characters in this side story have graduated and went to the creatively named Seton University. Over the 4 years there, Miyubi has cultivated her love for swimming and has joined the competitive swim team. Yena had helped her out in her journey, but as the years went by, the two became even closer as they swam, studied, and lived together at the school. *Spoiler alert! To give you a heads up, this is a yuri story between the two characters Miyubi and Yena.*
“And the winner of the 100-meter butterfly is Miyubi!” The announcer cried out as the whistle shrieked, signaling the conclusion of the final race of the swim meet. Miyubi plopped herself over the edge of the pool, gasping for breath. “This would have killed me last year.” She thought to herself as she closed her eyes, resting her body after an intense swim.
After years of training, she had slowly gotten herself to the point where death was not certainly for every workout session. In fact, it had become rarer, allowing her to train even harder than before and making her proud with how much she had improved over time. And as Miyubi slowly climbed out of the pool, the reason for her great improvement bounded from the stands with a towel and shake for her.
“Are you alright? Are you dead? Please say something if you’re not dead. Or say something if you did die. Miyubi?” Yena spoke rapidly, worried about the condition of the sloth, even though she had died countless times in the past. While a bit tiresome to the others, Miyubi strangely did not mind her doting after each swim meet.
“I’m okay, just….a bit tired.” Miyubi replied faintly, smiling as she stood up and dried herself off with the towel Yena brought for her. Even in the warm spring days, the air still had some of its chilly moments, making her wrap the towel around herself tightly to stay warm. She suddenly leaned a bit on Yena, catching the hyena by surprise. “A-are you okay?” Yena stammered, embarrassed that Miyubi was so close to her.
The sloth smiled and gently nodded her head, rubbing slightly against the hyena’s side. “I am ok. Just….trying to stay warm.” She stopped and looked up into Yena’s face, her wide eyes gazing upon her friend. “Is it bothering….you?”
“A-no, not at all!” Yena replied, slightly flustered. The truth was that she did not mind these moments after Miyubi’s practice, but lately, she has been asking her all the time if she was bothering or otherwise being troublesome. “I told her many times that this is fine, but she keeps asking me if it’s okay. Why?” Yena thought as the pair wandered over to the gym.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
The swim team had rented one of the large rooms in the gymnasium for their post-meet celebration. While most of the food there was meat, since many of the swimmers were carnivorous, there was a nice selection of herbivore friendly options. And of course, being a college, some of the students brought along something for the party that all can enjoy.
“Who wants a can? You want 2? Here, take 3, you earned them today!” One of the students cheerfully exclaimed as he and a few other friends handed out beer to the other swimmers. While most of the others went and grabbed a few for themselves, Yena was content sipping her protein shake and relaxing. “Had it, not my kind of thing. Too bitter.” She said after Miyubi asked why she didn’t want to take a beer for herself. “I prefer sweet things like ya!” She laughed, nudging her a bit in the side. Miyubi’s face blushed a bright red as Yena sipped her drink.
“I want to say it, but I can’t.” Miyubi thought, desperately trying to sum up her courage. “If I don’t say it now, I will never know how she feels. I may never see her again after we graduate.” But try as she might, the meek sloth could not bring the words to her mouth.
“It also makes you say embarrassing things that you would normally not say, so I try to avoid that stuff.” Yena continued as they observed their teammates laughing and drinking. “You have embarrassing stuff you don’t want to say?” Miyubi asked curiously. “Like what?”
Yena laughed. “I’m not drunk so I can’t say it. Besides, there are a lot of guys around, so I won’t want to make it even more awkward.” She finished off her shake and left to wash it up. Miyubi sat alone, thinking about what could Yena possibly could say that would be embarrassing to her. “Probably a confession.” She thought sadly, looking at some of the male swimmers that Yena had gestured a moment ago. “Despite appearances, she is a girl, so of course she would go for them.”
Her teammate Kenna noticed Miyubi and bounded over to her. “Congrats on your races, you have gotten so much better since last year!” She said, offering her a can. Miyubi was about to say no, but in her mind, a small voice in her head stopped the sloth. “Take it, it can make you say anything you want without thinking about it. Anything at all.”
“Thanks, Kenna!” Miyubi said quietly, taking the can offered to her. Slightly cold to the touch, she gingerly lifted the beverage up and looked at it. She had heard about this drink but never drank anything stronger than decaf tea. Coffee was right out, as the caffeine would probably kill her.
Cracking it open, she took a deep breath and a light sip. Her face contorted, the bitter taste hitting her brain in an instant. “Not good. Not the worst thing, but not very good.” She persisted and continued to drink the can, determined to confess no matter what.
A few moments later, Yena finally returned. “Hey Miyubi, sorry for the long wai…”. She stopped momentarily as Miyubi slept in the seat, the empty can in her lap. The sloth snored gently, bringing relief to Yena. “OK, so she is not dead. But why is she sleeping?”
She went over to Miyubi and picked up the can, palming it and discovering it was empty. “Oh, she was probably curious after we talked about it and drank some.” Yena looked around as she noticed that some of the other swimmers were getting a bit too rowdy, fueled by more than a single can. “Probably should leave.” She thought as she dodged one of the wolves being thrown around, having volunteered to be used as a life-sized lawn dart.
She picked up her jacket from the seat, ready to leave the party before she would become involved. She looked down upon Miyubi’s sleeping face as she continued to snore. Her mouth slightly curled up into a smile, dreaming about things only sloths would find interesting. Yena smiled and gently patted the moss hat on her head. “Well I can’t leave you alone here, let’s go back home,” Yena said, and picked up the sloth, carrying on her back.
Chapter 39: Yena & Miyubi oneshot, part 2
“And here we go!” Yena quietly expressed her joy as she entered into Miyubi’s dorm room. Having been given the key last year, she had grown quite used to entering the sloth’s room frequently. Carefully stepping over the towels that were strewn across the room, the cursed herself for leaving such a mess that day. “I should probably get this cleaned up before she wakes up,” Yena muttered as she placed Miyubi onto the bed.
The light of the full moon flowed through the windows and onto the bed where the sloth lay strewn, sleeping blissfully. Taking a moment to catch her breath, Yena for the first time took a long look at Miyubi. Her long blonde hair had fanned out over the bed in a messy manner, giving her the appearance of an angel. Snoring quietly, she winced a little bit as the moonlight hit her eyes, curling up to her side and towards Yena. Still standing there, the hyena felt her heart race just a little bit more, even after she rested from the hike up the stairs. “She looks so adorable like this.” Yena thought, smiling a little as Miyubi mumbled in her sleep, too quiet to make out what she said.
Yena’s smile disappeared and she solely left the bedside, picking up the towels from the floor. “If only she was attracted in me.” She sadly thought to herself. “But even if she was one of us, I don’t think she would be interested in a tomboy.” Stacking the towels back in their lace, she breathed out and relaxed, still thinking about Miyubi.
“Yena.” A faint voice called out from the bed as Miyubi stirred back into the waking world, followed by a giggle. “Where are you?” She asked playfully, the alcohol still in her head. She stumbled around a little bit and almost fell down, causing Yena to rush in and grab her. “Miyubi! You can’t walk around, you’ll hurt yourself or die again. Here, let’s go back to bed and sit down.” Miyubi giggled a little harder, nodding, and mumbling about the bed.
“Yena.” She said, still smiling at the hyena, her drunk and blushing face barely visible in a moonlit room. “There is” -hic- “something I” -hic- “have to tell you.” She managed to speak, somehow stringing a whole sentence together. “Can you keep” -hic- “a secret?” She asked, lowering her voice to barely a whisper. Yena blushed even harder than before. “What is this? This kind of thing only happens in the romance novels that Ranka lent to me…. for research purposes only! But, could this mean that….?”
Yena nodded eagerly. “Yep, you can trust me!” She spoke up, her voice slightly cracking from the nerves. Miyubi scooted a little closer to Yena, bringing her face up to her friends’ ear. Pausing for a moment, Miyubi hesitated, overthinking what she was about to do. “Now or never, let her know how you feel.” Her inner voice encouraged her. And at that moment, she mustered up the courage to do what she wanted for the past 4 years, ever since that day where they trained for the university swimming race.
Miyubi gently leaned in and kissed Yena on the cheek, a gentle peck that was enough to get the message across. The hyena froze in shock, processing what could this mean. As her mind raced to a thousand different possible conclusions, Miyubi rose her face back up to Yena’s ear. “I have” – hic- “liked you since” -hic- that first race…. together,” confirming to Yena what she had secretly hope for all this time.
The sloth yawned and, overwhelmed by the strength of her mind needed to say those eight words in addition to her first drink in her life, slumped over, and fell asleep. It just so happened that she did so face-first onto the bed and was now laying over Yena’s legs, another sign to the hyena of the sloth’s affection towards her.
Yena’s mind was short-circuiting, to put it mildly. In a matter of seconds, the girl that she had a crush on for years had just kissed her, confessed to her, and is now sleeping on her lap. The happiness of this moment was so overwhelming that all she could do was lie down and pass out. Before her mind faded to black, she took one last look at the sleeping face of Miyubi. As the sloth snored lightly, Yena smiled softly and brushed her hand against the soft cheek of the sloth. “So do I.” She mumbled softly, as her mind went dark.
Chapter 40: Yena & Miyubi oneshot, part 3
The sunlight poured into the room, bringing life and warmth to the pair on the bed. Yena’s eyes slowly opened, squinting to not be blinded by the light. As her sight adjusted to the world, she yawned and stretched out her back and arms, feeling a little bit sore from lifting the prior night. “Damn that feels weird, what did I lift yesterday? And why do I feel heavy?” She grumbled to herself as she felt a weight on her legs. Instinctively, she tried to push the weight off, but it barely budged.
Sitting up, she blinked as she looked down to see a sleeping Miyubi laying down. “Oh, I see!” She thought, her mind rushing back to the memories of last night. Yena instantly laid back down, suddenly deciding that this was not such a bad position to be stuck in. “I’m so glad she confessed last night; it wasn’t a dream but real!” She thought giving a silent prayer to up above for the evening before. “All I have to do is tell her how I feel and….” Words cannot express accurately how happy Yena felt as she imagined her future life being together with Miyubi as she ran her fingers through her long blonde hair. At some point she imagined them with their children (though how that is possible is unknown, anything is possible in this weird universe. It is a world with anthropomorphic animals after all.), her brain once again froze up due to pure bliss and happiness.
As her mind went to the countless potential happy moments that they could have as a couple, her hand continued to gently pet Miyubi, assuring her that this was not a dream. There are only so many times that once can be petted before they are awakened by it. As the sloth stirred, wondering where the source of warmth and comfort was coming from, she felt the fingers of her crush play a bit with her long blonde hair.
Confused and barely recalling the night before, she wondered who was this person that was touching her. She froze up in fear, remembering the many stories she heard from her friends of people drinking too much and ending up in bed with complete strangers. As she considered how to get out, she heard a soft voice lightly humming as the fingers caressed her. It sounded quite familiar as if she had heard it once before. “But no, it couldn’t be her, could it?”
“Yena?” Miyubi softly called out, not believing that this was really happening. As she heard Yena lean over her and reply with a “yep”, her face broke into a smile. She vaguely recalled the evening before, her face getting closer to Yena’s cheek. As her mind finally recalled her confession, she blushed and smiled softly to herself.
“Since you are like this, do you remember what I said last night?” Miyubi asked, wanting to make sure that she did not get anything confused for something else. Yena grinned from ear to ear, barely able to contain her joy. She leaned over with her face inches from Miyubi’s ear, her warm breath tickling the side of the sloth’s face. “After you kissed me, you said you have liked me for a while. You passed out before I could tell you something else as well.”
Yena pecked Miyubi on the cheek, a bit more aggressive than what she had received the night before. “I also have liked you for a while. Probably even before that first race here at the university, although I didn’t understand what I was feeling at the time.” Yena’s smile faded a little as she recalled the many times, she had struggled with herself, wondering if she should tell Miyubi how she truly felt.
“I wanted to tell you for a while, but I thought that you were, ya know, into guys. I liked being friends with you and even though I wanted to tell you for a long time how I felt. I was worried that if you didn’t feel the same way, it would make things awkward and ruin what we had.” Yena mumbled. Miyubi softly chucked. “I think this is….the first time you….have opened up like this…to me.” The hyena blushed a little bit. “Also,” Miyubi continued, “it is a bit funny. I also thought…you were into guys…despite you acting…like one.”
Yena took a couple of seconds to piece together what Miyubi hinted at. “Oh, you mean what I said at the party yesterday? About confessing?” She laughed and kissed Miyubi again, this time on the nape of her neck. Miyubi squirmed a bit in happiness. “I was not lying, but that was about me confessing to you in front of all those people. That was the embarrassing secret I was talking about!”
As Yena leaned in for another peck, Miyubi, in a quick movement that was unexpected for a sloth, sharply turned upwards to face Yena. Their lips met as Miyubi wrapped her arms around Yena, pulling their bodies closer together. For all the years that they had both looked at each other and wondered what it would be like to embrace each other, nothing in their minds could prepare them for this. The kiss itself was nothing special, but the fact that it was with each other was what made their minds mind race.
They remembered the first day that they met at seton academy all those years ago. Yena’s mind went to the sports festival when she saw Yena swim for the first time, how determined she was to finish no matter what, even if she was not the fastest swimmer. How they trained for her first race at this university, when they first started to know more about each other, how Miyubi had hoped to achieve her dream of becoming a world-class swimmer.
Miyubi remembered how they had trained over the years for that goal, growing ever closer together. How she had dropped sublet hints for Yena to pick up, how Yena had been afraid to even respond to them, thinking it was only signs of Miyubi liking her as a friend. How lonely Miyubi must have been, as she had few friends that she hung out with outside of the swim club. Except for Yena, who was always there for her.
Yena’s arms slithered around Miyubi and gripped her tighter, bringing the pair even closer in their embrace, their lips locked and letting go only after a couple more minutes. Panting heavily, the pair separated a few feet apart to breathe for a moment. Yena looked into Miyubi’s eyes, and almost cried in happiness. After all these years, she could now cup the cheeks of the one she loved as they laid together in her bed. “If I had not been afraid, we would have been together sooner,” Yena said in an apologetic tone to Miyubi.
The sloth grinned, flashing her bright smile to Yena, another feature that made her fall for Miyubi in the first place. “But we are together now, forget about what could have been.” She raised her hands and wrapped them around Yena’s upper back. “Focus on what we can do now to make up for all those lost years.” Yena’s eyes gleamed as she gave a toothy grin.
“Oh, I agree. Let me make up for that.” The hyena said, gazing lustfully at Miyubi as she went for another kiss, her hands reaching underneath Miyubi’s shirt. “Ah. That was what she meant by making up for the lost time.” Miyubi realized as her bra came undone. “Well, two can play at that game,” she thought as her hands made their way underneath Yena’s shirt.
“Umm, Yena,” Miyubi said as Yena was about to pull off her shirt. “Yena?” The hyena asked, stopping with the sloth’s shirt halfway up her waist, exposing her pale bare stomach. “This is my first time, so please be gentle.” Yena laughed as she slowly pulled off Miyubi’s shirt. “Actually, I am also in the same boat as you. So please bear with me as I try to figure this out.”
Miyubi sighed a breath of relief, know knowing she was in good hands. “Hey, why am I the only one shirtless, no fair!” She cried out and grabbed Yena’s shirt. Yena smirked. “Then make it fair.” She said playfully as she raised her arms up. “Go for it, if you dare.” Miyubi gave Yena a determined-looking smirk as she started to pull up Yena’s shirt.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
The afternoon sun started to slowly set and give way to the evening. The moon started to peek out from the tree’s ready to shine its eerie light onto the campus of the university. In one of those rooms where its light would flow through, Yena, having woken up just moments ago from a nap, was cuddling with her girlfriend. Miyubi’s soft and gentle breathing filled her ears and gave her comfort as she shifted their bodies closer together. Seeing that both of them have shivered a little bit, she hiked the blanket up to fully cover their nude bodies.
“If you want to…get warmer, just…. come closer.” Miyubi said, stirring and waking up from the movement of the blanket. Yena blushed and sheepishly apologized, nuzzling up right next to her, their bodies matching each other like two pieces of a puzzle meant to fit together. There was practically no way for them to get any closer even if they tried, and as they giggled a little bit, that was the way they liked it. Just Yena and Miyubi, the two at long last, enjoying each other’s company in the way they had until yesterday could have only imagined.
“Hey, Miyubi!” MeiMei yelled as she barged into the dorm room. “I need your permission to have you in my videos for my class, and the professor said if I don’t get your consent, I have to redo…all of….it.” Her voice trailed away as her eyes caught two things, one was the fact that the sloth, despite being underneath the blankets, was clearly naked, as evidenced by the fact that she grabbed the blanket and pulled it even tighter around her body. The second was that a less bashful Yena, showing off all her glory from the waist up and smiling and waving, was also in the bed. For MeiMei, this could only mean one thing.
“You guys finally got together after all this time!” She cried out in excited exasperation. “After all these years of being obviously in love with each other but not making the move, you suddenly went all the way with each other. Talk about uneven character development, can I interview you about this, I’m sure my class will be interested in that kind of interspecies relationship and how it works, especially with a female hyena and her thing, that will get me an A for sure, let me get my camera! Be back in a second!” After she spilled out all that information in a matter of seconds she burst out as quickly as she had entered the room, leaving a very confused couple.
As Yena was shaking her head and processing what the panda has just said, she noticed that Miyubi appeared a bit shaken up as well. She was looking down at the floor and seemed a little bit nervous. “Hey, what’s wrong?” Yena asked, worried about the sloth. Miyubi turned to face Yena and hugged her, gripping even tighter than before. She seemed a bit frightened.
“I’m just a bit…worried about what…will the others think…of….us.” She said, tears forming in her eyes. “What if they don’t want to be with us anymore?” Yena smiled and gave her a comforting hug, resting her chin on Miyubi’s shoulder. “I wouldn’t worry,” Yena spoke softly, comforting the sloth.
Kissing her on the cheek where her tears ran, she hugged her even tighter. “You can’t control what other people think, so there is no good reason to stress about that. And while the friends we have a few, they are some of the greatest people that I have met. Sure, they may be a bit odd, but their hearts are in the right place.”
She placed her hands on Yena’s shoulders and separated their embrace, looking into Miyubi’s teary eyes. “Besides,” she continued, wiping the tears from her eyes. “As long as we have each other, we will be fine, ok?” The sloth happily nodded, smiling at Yena. Unable to resist that look of happiness on her face, Yena went on for another kiss, merging their bodies once again. As the seconds went by, they became more aggressive, falling down to lay on the bed as they went for one another.
“Hey, guys I’m back! Oh, you are already getting to it, can I tape you guys as I interview you?” MeiMei asked as she barged back into the room. “Get out, wait till we change at least!” Yena screamed, scaring the panda to jump backwards out the room. Breathing heavily, Yena turned back to face Miyubi. “Maybe we should tell this to our friends later, instead of having her blab to everyone she meets.”
“That sounds like a good idea.” Miyubi agreed before they embraced in another long and passionate kiss, one of the countless that they would share over a lifetime together. Once revealed, all their friends baked countless treats in celebration of their new relationship.
Miyubi would graduate and go on to have a fruitful career as a competitive swimmer, gathering a few sponsorships along the way until she retired and became a coach, teaching generations of future swimmers. Yena would open her own interspecies gym, one of the largest of its kind and catering to every animal species. But perhaps the most important conclusion was that no matter what path life would nudge them down, it was one that they would take together.