Two years ago...
"A lot of thanks to our salutatorian, Chief Strong, for his speech!" said the principal of the School for Firefighters. "And now, the last but not the least, the first-ever Ani-man firefighter in the world, our valedictorian, Brit Dallus!"
Everyone applauded as Brit stood up. He listened to the music. He was the first - the FIRST - of his kind to be a firefighter. No one else from his kind - his race - could do it. His race, the Ani-man, is an animal mixed with human characteristics. Their appearances and skills are more animal-like, but they can talk, walk, and do what humans can do.
No one knows the previous history of the Ani-mans. From historical records, they appeared during the Medieval era. They themselves deny any knowledge of where they came from.
The fact that he reached his dream and he was going to be what he dreamed of ever since he was a child; Brit was amazed. All his hard work paid out. He was finally satisfied. Years and years of training was not in vain.
He looked at the podium as everyone applauded. He turned around and to look at his best friend, Chief. He was his best friend; his partner-in-crime. Chief was like a brother to him. He stuck to him through thick and thin.
"Do your speech! I'm bored! Wrap it up!" Chief mouthed to him. Brit giggled for a bit. He finally walked to the podium and started his speech.
"To my batch mates and friends who I got to work with, to our teachers who taught us the lessons we needed, to the principal who let me enter this school to make my dream come true, and to all the parents who are here that watched the whole graduation and gave endless support to their children who studied here: a pleasant evening.
"Ever since I was little, I dreamed of fighting fires and saving people. I know I'm the first of my kind here. Yes, that is true. But today, it's not just about me. It's about all of us. I knew I am not the only one who wanted to be a firefighter. There are tons of us all around the world who wants to be one. There are different reasons why but all these reasons lead to one goal: to protect. From here on out, we will be firefighters. We are here to protect our friends, our families. We will not use our status to scare people. We will use our status so that people will find us for refuge. We will not use our strength to hurt people but to help others during times of need. We will use our knowledge to fight any crime, not to join it.
"Let us remember our sacrifices towards this moment. Let us not let it go to waste. From here on out, we are firefighters! We will serve our country wherever we are!"
Everyone cheered and applauded. Brit stepped down the podium. The Principal then took the stage. Everything fell into complete silence. Then, a drum roll can be heard. "AND NOW, THE MOMENT YOU HAVE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR, TOSS YOUR HATS INTO THE AIR! CELEBRATE! YOU ARE NOW FIREFIGHTERS!"
Everyone cheered more than before. They tossed their hats in the air and each gave a hug to the one beside him.
Later that day in the evening, Brit and Chief hung out on an ice cream shop. "So... I guess... look at you..." Chief said. Brit stared at him and giggled. "W-what?" Brit asked.
"Ever since we got here, everyone's been staring at you," Chief said.
"Are they really?"
"Yeah. But I mean, when you're the first firefighting Ani-man to exist, well, of course, you'd be the center of attention."
"That's true. But, of course, I knew all the risks. I could get burnt, or might die from heavy falling debris, or suffocate..."
"Yeah, I know. All of us do. But there's that certain something, y' know? It's-"
"No... just- never mind it."
"Speaking of the fur, you know Pan?"
"Hold up. Pan? The Pangaea? Pangaea Fraulein? The beautiful high school scientist?"
"Yeah. I had her made me a little something," Brit said. Chief had a huge crush on Pangaea Fraulein. She was the most beautiful and the smartest one on the campus. Chief would stare at her from a distance when he sees her.
Brit pulled out a small spray. "This is like an anti-fire spray for fur. I'll probably be spraying this on my tail. It's the one part that always sticks out, remember? It holds for a few minutes before evaporating. It's kinda like water but enhanced."
"What if it was water?"
"Yeah -- no. I tried it a few times. It lasts for fifteen minutes then I have to spray again. I experimented with Alaska, the Ani-man paramedic trainee. With Pan's supervision of course."
"Wow. Did she make that just for you? You're lucky."
"It came at a price."
"What's the price?"
"She wanted to send a little something to someone."
Brit took out a heart-shaped letter from his pants. "Here," he said. "A little lovey-dovey letter from the beautiful scientist to the newly graduated firefighter," Brit smiled.
Chief fell silent. He took the letter wide-eyed. He couldn't speak. It was a big turn of events. He always thought that she would turn him down so the thought of her liking him was out of view. "Uh... I... uh... what- well..." Chief stuttered for words. Brit laughed. "I knew you'd be like that. Well. I guess...I'll see you in the field. I have to leave. I kinda read the letter if you don't mind. Good luck on your date!"
"WAIT WHERE?" Chief asked. Brit chuckled exiting the ice cream shop while Chief scoured the letter for answers.
"Grab the child and bring her down!" Brit said to Chief as he gave him an unconscious girl from a burning apartment. Chief grabbed the child.
Before going down, Chief noticed the roof that was about to collapse."Brit! Look out!" shouted Chief. The firefighter looked up. In the nick of time, he was able to dodge the falling debris from the burning building. "Get out of there, man!" Chief shouted. "I'm going to climb down. Hurry up!"
"Let's get out of this hell hole," Brit said to himself. He rushed to the uncovered balcony and gets out to reach the ladder with Chief on the bottom. He saw Chief giving the child to a paramedic. He hurriedly climbed down the firetruck's ladder. As he reached the bottom, the apartment building exploded. "WHOA!" Brit said. "That was lucky. Good thing I got here on time," Brit said,
"Yeah. Or else you would've been dragon's lunch!" Chief said along with a soft friendly teasing punch.
"Ow! Hey!" Brit said. He then looked up to the burning building. "The others will take care of that huh?" Brit said to Chief.
"Yeah," Chief replied. "Hey, you don't smell bad!"
"Uh... what?" Brit asked.
"No... like I mean you don't smell like smoke! What soap or fabric conditioner are you using?"
"Yeah! Smell yourself!"
Brit smelled his armpits while walking to attach the fire hose to the fire hydrant. "But I still smell like sweat!"
"And look at your tail! Not a singed fur! Your tail was hanging out, y' know?"
"Again? I hate when that happens. Good thing I still have that spray."
"After all these years you still have the spray?"
"Yeah. I still keep in touch with her since y' know -- I'm the one who put the spark on your relationship. Speaking of, how are you two?"
"Well, it's been great! She's good," Chief said with a wink. Brit immediately realized what he meant. "So," Chief continued. "Care to talk after this mission?"
"Yeah. Sure," Brit replied. "Where?"
"How about my place?" Chief suggested.
"I'll be there."
Later that day, Brit went to Chief's address. He walked up to the door and knocked. A voice boomed behind the door. "There's a doorbell, y' know?" the voice boomed. Brit giggled. "Just open the door!" Brit shouted.
The door did open. "Come in!" Chief said. "Make yourself at home," he said while walking Brit to the living room. "So, what's this all about?" Brit asked.
"Well, not much. It's just that ever since we graduated we don't have any time to... hang out like the old days."
"That's what's up?"
"Not just that. For the past few days at the station, you've been... grumpy. Are you okay? You getting enough sleep?"
Brit immediately knew what Chief meant. For the past few days, something bothered him. It was something odd and something he doesn't want to talk about. "Brit, are you all right?" Chief asked. "You're spacing out. Is there something bothering you? Come on. You can tell me."
Brit snapped back to reality. "S-Sorry, I've got to go," he said.
"What? But you just got here!"
"I'm really sorry but I just... have to go. I'll make it up to you next time, okay?" Brit said while he rushed to the door. Chief sighed. "Hopefully he's alright."