Moving boxes littered the living room. Papers and bubble wrap accompanied the disorganized mess as the raccoons began to disassemble the lives they had known for the entirety of Lukan’s adolescence. February the 24th was Lukan’s last day of work, and the raccoon rejoiced at the fact Klaus Richtors stayed absent for the nearly four weeks that followed their previous encounter at the store. Lukan was suspicious that Klaus would fight claw and fang to see Lukan one last time before there would be no more chances to see each other ever again. Lukan intended to reciprocate. He at least had the advantage of knowing the last day of his job. And after that, Lukan did not want to leave their apartment until the fated day were to arrive. Lukan frequented the emails that Fidel sent to him. Fidel of course, expressed excitement that the wait was at long last just about over. The stress of evading the creatures Lukan hated most. The depression of not seeing Fidel. The loneliness. Everything. It felt like all of that was about to vanish forevermore.
Sarah let out an exhausted sigh as she set down a moving box full of heavy looking papers. “Got to shred all of this.”
Lukan flicked his ear in confusion. “Holy… And how are you going to do that within a week, let alone a few days?”
“I’m not. I am going to the office store and see if they can do that.”
Lukan flicked his ear again. “They can do that?”
“Yes, and while we’re out, we’re going to need to get a hitch on my car, so we can tow a trailer with all our stuff. No way in any universe that is going to fit in the car alone!” Sarah replied.
“You did not do that yet? Sounds pretty important to have all that ready earlier on don’t you think?” Lukan seemed skeptical. Lukan had noticed that his apprehension for the move was off the charts as the days wore on. His paranoia and desire for everything to go as rightly as possible were comparable to all his others: to get away from Klaus. And to see Fidel.
“I did call ahead, Lukey. Today was the only day they could go ahead and do it within reason.”
Lukan’s ears would not stop twitching. “I-I see.”
“You sure about all this, Lukey? I mean, this is the last chance we could turn back. I just got off the phone with the landlord a few minutes ago and-”
Lukan nodded firmly. “I am. I just want to make sure everything goes okay.”
“You have short shift at work today, right?” Sarah asked somewhat abruptly.
Lukan nodded. “It’s weird for it to be so early on, but yeah. I guess it’s because of me leaving, you know?”
“Maybe. But after you go, we’ll go ahead and take care of all of this, alright?”
“Yes. Anything and everything we have to do to get to Sun Plateau.”
Sarah’s face fell. “Still really wanting to go there specifically are you?”
Lukan nodded firmly. “I am.”
Sarah sighed. “Well I don’t know what to tell you, Lukey. There’s nowhere in Sun Plateau that’s cheap enough and not filled with crime. It looks like it’s the most dangerous part in the entire state! And the heat gets just a little too ridiculous!” The mother raccoon went on to ramble about the negatives of Sun Plateau, and Lukan already knew where this was going before she said it, much to his greatest dismay. “We’ll have to settle in Lobos.”
It took every effort for Lukan not to swear in front of his dear old mother, but that revelation was a large enough blow to nearly break that will. “Are you--?” he sighed to stymie his expletives. “Alright. Fine. As long as we can get to and from there fine enough.”
“Lukey, why do you want to go to Sun Plateau this badly?”
A large part of Lukan wanted to confess to Sarah his true intentions for such a thing. He wondered if it was the only thing that could get the explanation out effectively, but he also knew how Sarah was with creatures she did not know. She trusted them even less than Lukan ever did! Lukan feared the possibility of his explanation coming off as a justification for her reasoning instead. Factoring in that Sun Plateau was apparently a dangerous city amplified this fear, so in the end, Lukan stood there stuttering.
Sarah sat there with a confused scowl on her face. A familiar one. An impatient one that she always gave whenever Lukan got into trouble as a cub and was unable to explain his side of the story. Lukan hated this look. It only pressured him more, and the raccoon wanted nothing more than to escape the rapidly deteriorating conversation.
But just when Lukan felt as though he were about to panic on the spot, Sarah’s gaze softened up again and the mother raccoon sighed. “Well, whatever those reasons are, I just hope going to Lobos is not going to be… that bad for you.” She turned back to her immense pile of papers stacked untidily next to her. “We’ll take care of this soon as you’re done with work, okay, Lukey?”
Lukan just nodded firmly, feeling like there was a rock blocking his throat. He turned tail without even saying goodbye to his mother and strut to the front door to where his final day at work awaits.
Lukan took note of the weather that day. It was surprisingly pleasant for a late February day. It was mild, with remarkably still air, which is legendary and unheard of in Lilac Grove. Was the weather itself trying its own last ditch effort to get the raccoons to stay in the polarizing small city? The snow on the ground was quickly melting, leaving the sidewalks soaked and caked with mud and slush. The sounds of flowing water can be heard rushing through the gutters and storm drains. Cars caused water to splash into the sidewalks where any unsuspecting creatures may become soaked should there have been any.
As Lukan approached the infamous neighborhood where the traitorous infidels lived, the raccoon did not feel any urge to hide himself. He did not want to evade Klaus and Platt like he had for many months. If they found him so be it. Lukan knew what he would say to both of them. A simple goodbye. As it was time to move on. And the pair of them were holding him back from doing just that. Lukan already knew he was going to run into them. He knew Klaus at this point. That otter must have been eavesdropping on his conversation with Domin the day Lukan put in his notice of resignation. Today was the day.
Lukan smirked when he saw the silver fur around the last bend before the highway that separated the neighborhood from the plaza where he worked. “Wolf.” was the one word he let out with complete calmness in his voice. Devoid of any strong emotions in any direction.
“Raccoon.” the wolf returned nonchalantly.
“So. I know you’ve come here to talk to me one last time?” Lukan assumed.
Lukan sighed as he signaled the wolf to follow him. They walked slowly through the neighborhood, not looking once at each other. “Let it out then.” It felt almost surreal that Lukan was letting the words he was saying out the way he did. Gone were the moments Lukan was a shy and reclusive raccoon. At least, for the time being.
“I know that apologizing to you won’t work. I know that even breaking up with Klaus now won’t work either. But I want to at least let you know why I wanted him back.” Platt stated.
Lukan sighed. Lukan already knew why. “It’s because of WIll, isn’t it?”
For a moment, it appeared that the wolf’s eyes flashed with surprise as they glanced at Lukan for only a brief second before they turned away, looking straight ahead. “Yes. That’s right. Will showed me how shitty a boyfriend I was to Klaus in the past few years. By being even shittier to me in the same ways. Klaus… did say I broke up with him the first time because I wasn’t taking his emotions seriously, I hope?”
Lukan nodded firmly as he walked, the water soaking into his paws causing him to shudder. “Yes, yes he did.”
“Well you know how Will was. Always going on about how bad emotions are and the shitty things it can cause a creature to say and do. For a while, I did believe him. I believed that we were a good match but… The longer I stayed with him, the more cold it felt to be with him. There was no warmth in his soul at all. It was bitterly cold. Apathetic. He did not seem to actually care about me at all.”
When Platt paused, Lukan automatically filled in the gap. “Because if you refuse to feel, or at least show, any emotion, how could anyone?”
Platt nodded. “Yes. That’s exactly it. It was at that point I began to realize that this was how I was treating Klaus. Granted, not to that unforgivable level of cold. I started to feel more and more depressed. The longer I was with him…” Platt shivered a little bit. It seemed like the wolf was struggling to control his thoughts and emotions. Lukan remembered how apathetic the wolf always seemed to be. But Platt seemed to no longer be fettered by any of Will’s ill intentions. Like a dam was about to burst in Platt Rivers’ mind.
Lukan stopped in his tracks and looked at the wolf. Even though Platt stopped too, he did not return the raccoon’s gaze. “You okay, Platt?”
Platt took a deep breath. “What do you care? I’m responsible for breaking your heart. You know?”
Lukan shook his head. “No Platt. As much as I want to blame you for this, it’s more on Klaus than any one of us.”
“And Will too? He’s the one that’s been scheming this whole time, trying to keep you down. Didn’t he also send that Nate cat to try and cheat on you or something like that?”
Lukan sighed. “I really have no fucking idea what that snep’s intentions were. If it was to break my heart, then yeah. He succeeded. Not through Nate, but through you and Klaus instead. Nate might have been what some people might call, a red herring. Tell me more about what happened with Will… if you want.”
Platt took yet another deep breath. “Okay… Well, one day, I went to confront Will on what he was doing, trying to poison my mind with such bullshit. But guess what? Damn snep didn’t seem to give a fuck as always. Maybe he truly didn’t. Or maybe he’s repressing so many emotions like I used to. Who the fuck knows, right? Well, since he didn’t seem to want to reevaluate his loyalties, I saw no point in wanting to go on with him anymore, so yeah, I broke up with him. Again though, the bastard showed nothing. Whereas Klaus did. And somehow, that just made me feel so much worse. Especially for Klaus. I wanted to show him how sorry I was. How much that otter meant to me now. But obviously, seeing as he was with you, it was too late. But when you and Klaus broke up, I saw a chance. Maybe Klaus still had feelings for me. But no… He ignored me at every turn, seeming determined to keep apart from me. O-on the Fourth of July, I followed you both to the riverbank, nearly had a full panic attack when I saw you two fucking there. I knew you were there. I wanted you both to see me throw that bracelet Klaus gave to me--”
“Of course! I remember that night!” Lukan exclaimed, unable to keep from interrupting the wolf.
“Yeah. That night I told Klaus the truth. I threw that bracelet into the river to show that otter that I was going to try and move on.”
“But the truth is that…”
“I wanted nothing to do with moving on without him. And that I told him that night.”
A torrent of revelation washed over Lukan’s head so fast that it made his head spin. “Klaus did say a lot about what you talked about that night. But that was not one of those things. He definitely talked about how you were a hypocrite and that he had no feelings left for you at all.”
“That too was a lie, Lukan.”
“Well. Thank you Captain Obvious; I definitely know that now.” Lukan’s sarcasm sliced even him like a freshly forged sword, still hot from the fire.
Platt sighed. “I had really hoped that Klaus was going to begin to let go of you as time went on but he wasn’t. That otter was determined to make all three of us as happy as possible while being with the both of us at the same time. He couldn’t bear the thought of hurting either one of us and in the end, he was forced to make a choice.”
“And he chose you.” Lukan replied, the rock returning to his throat.
“Klaus did his best. He did not want to choose between us and did not make any choices in time to avoid, well, you finding out about it all. Yes, most of the blame lies with him, but, he did not do any of this to hurt you. Quite the opposite in fact. He just didn’t fully grasp the gravity of the situation at all. And in the end, he did the one thing he did not want to do the most.”
Lukan shook his head and sighed. “That does not account for why neither of you would compromise with me! You know, try and do something to make up for it. Polygamy? Being open at least? Anything?”
Platt sighed. “We just don’t believe in those types of relationships, Lukan. Simple as that. And honestly… I could already see where something like that was going to go. We knew that you absolutely could not stand what we did. We knew that you were thinking that we were out to get you when we weren’t. What do you think would have happened if we let a boy who was that hostile towards us into a relationship? We knew that at that point, the possibility, if there ever was one, was dashed the second you saw me in Klaus’ house that day in October. I’m really sorry Lukan. But at that point it was just simply too late. We thought it would be best for us to move on from it all. And to help you do that, we wanted to try and explain our side of the story. We wanted to tell you why things happened the way they did. But you chose to stay angry the entire time, chose to chase us away and avoid us at any and every chance you got. You seemed adamantly against moving on. We sure as hell did not want that for you, so we kept trying and trying and trying.”
Lukan stayed completely silent, trying to soak up all the words that were being said. So Platt went on.
“Do you think that abandoning your life in Lilac Grove is going to fix everything, Lukan? Do you honestly believe that?”
“...Do you think being with Klaus is the way for you to move on? You said to yourself that you did not want to move on without him. And now you are telling me to do that? What about you?! You fucked me over because you did not want to do that!” Lukan exclaimed, struggling to keep his cool. “At least I am trying to do that now!”
Platt’s ears twitched. “I know,” he whispered, barely audible at all. “I know, Lukan. It’s because I know I am too weak to go on without Klaus in my life. And it’s because of how weak I am, I stripped any choice you had away from you. And I know that I could never apologize for it. Because I know you won’t ever accept it. Klaus and I are weak. You though, Lukan. You’re so much stronger than the both of us. You refused to give in to Will’s beliefs. You tried to salvage what you could between us, even when we backed down. You’re trying to find your way to move on! And you know what? Because of this, it’s probably best that you don’t have Klaus in your life, whether it’s because of me, Will, or whoever the hell. You two just don’t… match.”
Lukan shook his head. “Maybe I could have taught him to be stronger. If he had let me…”
“No Lukan. This is something he must realize for himself. I know I need to get stronger. But Klaus? I don’t know if he knows how weak he probably is yet. And that is not good for him. I don’t know what I can do for him, honestly. I love him to bits. More than anything. I know you feel the same way. But I can’t help him. Neither of us can. He can only help himself. Do you get what I’m saying, Lukan?”
Lukan bit his lip and nodded, knowing exactly what Platt was saying.
“Do you think… that this is what Will wanted? Do you think he deliberately set all this up between us on purpose to show us the evils of emotions or some shit?” Platt asked, abruptly switching subjects.
Lukan blinked. “No way. This is way too elaborate for anyone to concoct like that.”
“Then why? Why did he get involved at all in any of this? Why couldn’t he just leave us all alone? I feel like none of this would have happened if it weren’t for him!” Platt grinded his teeth in anger.
“No. Platt. Hold up for a second.”
“If Will hadn’t gotten involved, you would not have learned exactly how Klaus felt towards the end of the first time you two were together. If he was here to cause nothing but trouble, then well, there is the one time he failed to. I-if he did set all this up deliberately, that is,” Lukan explained.
“Fuuuuuuuck. I mean true, but… I am never going to get the thoughts that he just used us all as fucking pawns in his shitty, shitty game out of my head though. Like what he did with me was just a ‘necessary’ sacrifice.”
Lukan shook his head. “Platt, do you really think that a singular creature would be able to do something like this to three creatures that he did not know anything about? I just don’t understand how he could have done something like this.”
“You know what, Lukan, maybe you’re right. Maybe this is just some stupid conspiracy theory. But you know what? The fact that it all lines up so perfectly does not set well with me at all. It makes me feel physically ill. And frankly, makes being with Klaus feel even more wrong than before. Fuck, maybe you two do belong together. But…”
“But now it’s too late for that, regardless of whether Will is to blame or not. I’m quitting my job today and moving to the southwest just at the end of the week. It’s too late to go back now, I’m afraid, whether Klaus and I really are meant to be or not. Guess we’ll never know for sure, huh?” Lukan replied somberly.
“Maybe not, but Lukan… Please consider me one favor, if you will, when you move away?”
Lukan’s nose twitched. Curiosity hit him lightly. “Oh? What favor?”
“Could you please find it in your heart to forgive us both for the shit we did? Even more so if it does turn out that Will was pulling the strings and manipulating all of us the whole time? Please?”
Lukan had a feeling that one of those two were going to ask him for that as a last ditch effort before he left. But after having listened to what Platt had to say, Lukan was no longer as certain of if he should persist in his lack of forgiveness to the two who had hurt him most. In fact, the raccoon began to think more and more about the possibility that Will was stringing them along this entire time. Lukan still held onto his doubts since he could not begin to fathom how or why the snep would do something so cruel to three random creatures just trying to live their lives in a crappy small town. Regardless of how much influence Will may have had on the entire situation, Lukan could not deny that the snep did still play his role in the fiasco. And it was indeed sizably negative. So who was to blame for this? Who was responsible for how things turned out to be? Lukan did not know anymore and now he feared he may never. But if there was any chance that Klaus and Platt weren’t intentionally hurting him… and since Lukan did not want to hold onto any grudges as strongly as that. Then was forgiveness the right play today? Lukan even knew this was the last time he’d ever talk to Platt or even Klaus for that matter. Lukan had reached an ultimatum. But Lukan could feel his words straining from his throat as he voiced his true thoughts that he did not even realize he had until he said them aloud.
“I think.. I think I can only forgive you two once I have found the boy of my dreams. Once I have found what I am looking for, only then can I forgive you. Every day that I am alone brings me so much pain. And it was caused by all of this. Whether you intended it to or not. This is my reality. And I have to live with it. And you have to live with the knowledge that you aided its creation. But once I find him, that is when we will all be at peace.”
Platt seemed hurt and taken aback as his tail and ears drooped. “Oh… I see.”
“Guess I am not quite as good at moving on as you thought, huh?” Lukan almost seemed to sneer with that rhetorical question.
“No, I do understand, it just… it sucks is all.”
“I know Platt. But that is how it is I am afraid.”
“Hey! Think of it this way though. If things go real well with me in Lobos and Sun Plateau, then it won’t be like this for very long, now will it?”
Platt did not seem very well cheered up. “I guess so, haha.”
“You know what though, Platt? I think I do understand now. You know. A good chunk of all of what happened now. I think I understand you as well. You and I want the same thing- to be loved by someone that we love back. Klaus wants that too, I am sure. But everything’s gone to shit, so all three of us simply have to move on. It doesn't matter whose fault it is. All we can do… is move on to the future. I know that is probably going to be hard to do. But who said it was ever going to be easy? Come on Platt. Let’s go our separate ways and find that future. It’s waiting for us. Let’s not sit here and hope it’ll come soon,” Lukan said confidently.
“L-Lukan. I knew you were the strongest between us,” Platt said quietly. “But you’re right. There’s no time for being weak. I’ll be sure to tell Klaus this when I…” Platt trailed off.
Lukan only nodded in understanding. “Good luck Platt. Good luck to you both.”
“It looks like you might need it more than we do,” Platt replied.
“Maybe. Who knows?” Lukan shrugged.
“So… Is this goodbye then?”
Lukan turned to find the wolf looking right at him with the same blue eyes that he had. He saw a lot of mixed emotions inside the wolf’s eyes, as he expected. Above all of them, though, Lukan saw hope. “Yeah. I think this is it, Platt.”
The wolf extended his arm to Lukan. Lukan, for the first time, did not hesitate. Instead of taking the wolf’s paw into his own, Lukan embraced him in a modestly warm hug. The wolf, taken aback, returns it, hugging Lukan harder than the raccoon intended. The hug lasted for only a handful of seconds, but it conveyed all the meaning that Lukan had intended. So when the two of them broke it off, they merely nodded at each other, turned tail, and slowly began to walk away.