It'd been months since anyone had heard from Neil Josten. Not a text, not a sighting outside by the press or paps, not a phone call to the foxes to let them know he's fine. Games came and went, endless practices and classes went by, and everyone had the same question on their mind; Where was Neil?
Kevin knew Riko and the Moriyamas were behind the disappearance. They'd said he'd be gone for Christmas, back at new years. But winter passed, spring began, and nobody had heard from Neil.
The foxes struggled without him. Andrew returned and the team had never been more split. Without Neil, the monsters and the upperclassmen had completely torn apart from each other. Wymack had never been so angry at a player's absence, and threatened the team with at least three marathons if they didn't get to the finals. The anger they all had, the work they'd put in only to have Neil disappear; it gave them the encouragement to persevere and get their chance to play the Ravens again.
Then came the day before those finals; where the media were all over each team. Itching for interviews, wishing to ask a question about Neil and to get an answer that isn't 'no comment'. The practices of the days before the match were being filmed, and what aired that night was news only one of the foxes expected; the ravens had a new player whose jersey read N. JOSTEN.
"This is bullshit!" Dan spat, pushing herself up in the room of the stadium where all the foxes sat, speechless, staring at the TV. She turned to Kevin and Andrew and pointed at Neil as he practiced with Riko Moriyama. "Whatever you know about this, whatever you fucking even think is going on here, spill it now or so help me God I won't show up tomorrow."
"I know as much about this as you do." Kevin's eyes stayed directed at the ground, his fingers tracing the scars on his hand. "I haven't gotten any word from him, just like you. Neil has himself in some shit and clearly they're not letting him leave."
"Clearly?" Dan was now standing over Kevin, with her gaze fixed on Andrew as his hands itched over his black wristbands. "Why is Neil, our damn player who hasn't spoken to us since before Christmas, playing with the fucking Ravens, Kevin? What is Riko doing?"
Nobody had answers. Kevin didn't know, the media didn't know, and Wymack was as pissed as they were to see his player wearing the black colours of the Ravens. He even went as far to say that he felt betrayed, but hoped it wouldn’t be a distraction to his team. They had one job and one job only: To defeat the Ravens at any cost. If that meant completely ignoring the questions about Neil, if that meant pretending that Neil didn’t exist outside of the changing rooms, that’s what they had to do.
And that was easier said than done as they walked onto the court at Castle Evermore. A chorus of cheers and boos from the crowds filling the huge stadium, the words ‘Josten the Traitor’ on a poster in the crowd sticking out like a sore thumb. Wymack promised them drinks regardless of the score if they could all just ignore it all. The chants, the signs, the calls of Neil’s name as they read out the Raven’s players. The team were doing well at that, running drills and warming up, at least until Kevin caught sight of the traitor himself. He found himself wondering which of the Wesninskis was standing across the court, donned in the harsh black and red gear. His blue eyes and auburn hair filled the screens around the stadium, and Kevin only saw the face of a cold-blooded murderer, receiving cheers and assault equally from the crowds.The foxes all caught themselves staring, and it wasn’t until a commentator passed a comment about his cheekbone that Kevin found his feet angrily guiding him towards Neil, Nathaniel, whoever he was.
“It’s not worth it, Day,” Dan put a strong hand on Kevin’s bicep, stopping him in his tracks. The black four etched into the striker’s cheek almost brought tears of frustration to his eyes. The whole situation was surreal. “He’s made his choice clear. Let him see what a mistake he’s made.”
Their warm-up went by without a single word shared between the Foxes, Dan giving a firm ‘no comment’ to every question asked by reporters, Wymack refusing to speak on anyone’s behalf, for the team or for Neil, and eventually came the time they’d worked so hard for. As the captains walked towards the centre of the court to choose the starting side, the commentators babbled on about the most controversial Exy match in seasons; the brilliant Kevin Day / Riko Moriyama reunion once again, and the first sighting of Neil Josten in months and his reunion with the Foxes. The first buzzer and the locking of doors indicated the start of the game.
For a while, Neil steered clear of the opposing team. The Ravens had more than one striker, and he was obviously too uncomfortable for confrontation to score himself. He got rid of the ball as soon as he got it, and put almost no strategy into his plays. Unhappy with this, the Moriyama’s called a time out to tell him off, and when play began again, Neil crossed over the centre line for the first time of the game. Not two seconds later was he stopped by Matt Boyd and sent to the ground. An angry hiss from the crowd not only showed their discontent for the tackle, but also for how Matt didn’t offer a hand to help Neil back up. The game continued like so until the Ravens got the upper hand; of course Neil had told the Ravens of the Foxes’ every strategy. He’d had plenty of time to discuss that, regardless of whether he was willingly giving up the information or not. By the fifteen minute halftime break, the Foxes were being obliterated at 12-0 to the Ravens. Andrew Minyard didn’t even seem to be trying, not out of care for the game, not even out of spite. He simply didn’t care to defend himself against the only person he’d trusted with more than a single secret in quite a few years.
At half time, Nicky Hemmick couldn’t bare to stay quiet any longer. He threw his helmet to the ground, his dark, sweaty hair kept off his face with an orange bandana. He pulled the gloves from his hands and threw them alongside the helmet.
“Nicky, don’t.” Kevin, who’d tried earlier to face Neil but had been stopped, tried to stop Nicky doing something he would regret. In vain, of course, as Nicky forcefully pulled out of Kevin’s grip.
There was nothing that could be done to stop him. His fists balled at his sides, his legs taking him as fast as they could carry towards the auburn haired striker. Neil tried to get away, desperate to avoid an argument or fight between him and any of the foxes, let alone Nicky. Erik screamed his name from the stands to get his attention, Wymack yelling for a referee to intervene. Nicky was never one to fight, and nobody was really in the mood to find out how he hit.
“Fuck you!” Quite forcefully, yanking the latches undone, Nicky pulled the helmet from Neil’s head. His curly hair fell over his face, not covering the disgusting tattoo beneath his piercing blue eyes. Before anyone could come between the two, Nicky had already pulled his fist away from punching Neil in the face. “You’re a fucking traitor, that’s what you are! We trusted you, we all trusted you, and you fuck us over just like that? No texts, no calls! Who the fuck do you think you are, huh? Congratu-fuckin’-lations, Neil Josten, you left us with nothing.” He continued screaming hysterically about how the team had fallen apart since his departure, even as the second Minyard twin had his arms wrapped around his body, pulling him away from Neil. Nicky spat at the feet of his black shoes, spitting profanities and swears at Neil. Blood dripped down his face, the metallic taste sneaking past his lips, dripping down his chin. Simply wiping it off, he slouched without word back to the dressing rooms. The foxes followed, only to go to their own.
Minutes of silence filled their half time, some of the team tapping their feet anxiously, some (Andrew) simply standing silent in the corner of the room. Abby sat, tending to Nicky’s knuckles, as he clearly hadn’t thought a punch to someone else could hurt him too. Dan mumbled to herself as she worked out how the Foxes could possibly come back from such a score.
“He didn’t hit back,” Nicky broke the silence. “If that means anything. He stood there and took it. He didn’t even look at me, did you see that?”
“Don’t make excuses for him,” Aaron snorted, shaking his head as he washed his mouth guard beneath the water fountain. “I call that fucking cowardice, Nicky. Were you expecting someone who runs from all his problems to hit back? I’m surprised he didn’t start running the second he saw you start to move.”
“Keep your mouth shut when you don’t know what you’re talking about.” Kevin spat, loosening the straps on his gloves.
“You’re defending him?” Aaron laughed again, receiving glares from Andrew behind him. “He lied to us, he left without telling any of us, signed with the ravens, got a fucking tattoo,” He pointed a finger at the 2 on Kevin’s cheek. “And you’re telling me to keep my mouth shut?”
“Both of you keep your mouth shut.” Wymack pushed through the door. “This isn’t about him. You just got yourself a nice red card, Hemmick, as if we needed any less players. Can’t any of you play the damn game today? This isn’t about Neil. You’re all playing shit.”
“How can this not be about him? How can you stand there and say all of this is fine as if we haven’t lost one of our best players to the best team in the league? As if Neil didn’t just-”
“I swear to god, if any of you so much as mention his name again before the end of the day, I will find myself a new damn team. He isn’t on our team anymore. He’s made that clear.”
“I don’t think he has a choice, coach.” All of the foxes turned then to face Kevin. “I don’t think he wants to be out there, playing with Riko, playing with the Ravens. He knows things about them that none of you do, and so do I.”
“What are you saying, Day?” Coach spat, throwing his hands into the air. “That he was kidnapped by the Moriyamas? That he’s being held captive here against his will? You know this team better than anyone here, but don’t bullshit me, son. What do you know?” Kevin quietened down.
“You leave everything behind in this room, all of you. He isn’t our striker anymore. He’s theirs. I am praying for some sort of miracle and you are going to come back from this but so help me lord, if that blue eyed little bitch ends up costing us this final, I’ll personally ask the stadium staff to make sure you all get nice, cold showers afterwards.” With a groan from the team, Wymack turned to Andrew in the corner and waved a finger at him. “Get your fucking act together, Minyard. Don’t dare let me see another red light behind you, is that clear?” Andrew didn’t even acknowledge that coach had been talking to him. The Foxes continued to work out strategies in a room that felt so big with such a small team.
“Absolutely unbelievable to see this happening…” Kevin tightened his gloves, pulling the strings of his racquet to make sure they were secure. “A hero of sorts… changed a team… gave a new lease on life for the Foxes…” Nicky sat, pale, almost shaking with anger and frustration, both for himself and the betrayal he felt. Allison paced the room with a water bottle in her hand. “So changed… So unlike the Neil Josten we knew before…” Matt ran his hands lightly over Dan’s hair as she discussed ways for them to at least try and score before the final buzzer. “The tattoo, the physical change… almost uncharacteristic for someone so new to the league…” Andrew sat silent, far from the others. The anger he felt was concealed by a nearly manic smile, one his brother hadn’t really seen since thanksgiving. Renee occasionally peered over her shoulder to look at him, but with an ear towards the open door as she listened to the commentary during half time. “The foxes are suffering without him… No hope for Palmetto State… What could they have up their sleeves?”
Neil sat alone on a bench of the now empty Raven’s changing rooms. Tetsuji and Riko Moriyama both made it very clear that if Neil didn’t score more than a handful of times, there would be consequences unimaginable to the boy they knew as Nathaniel. Riko, more specifically, stressed the fact that poor little Andrew was out of hospital and playing again, and how much of a shame it would be if he’d have to stop playing because of his boyfriend. Neil knew there was no point arguing this. His hands were tied. Play and score for the Ravens, or any of the Foxes would feel the force of the Moriyama’s in the same way Seth Gordon did. Neil couldn’t risk that for the people he still cared for, the people who all hated him now for his unspoken betrayal. Riko wanted him to do his first ever press conference after the game, too. Neil hated his situation.
Nicky was boiling with rage as the referees called for the teams to get in position and he was still sat on a bench next to Abby. She shook her head gently, more in disgust than anything else, as she caught Neil looking her way. Neil ran a hand through his hair, itching to run over and explain everything that happened to his old team. But the pain in his side as he bent down too quickly to pick up his helmet reminded him of the damage the Moriyama’s could do. With a snap of the visor over his eyes, the buzzer rang and he started for the ball.
He stopped in his tracks about two feet short.
Of course, Kevin was quickest to take the ball from so close to Neil’s feet,and within a few seconds the crowd roared to indicate the first score to the away team.
“Nathaniel,” Neil heard the low tut, tut, tut from beside him. “Think about the Foxes, and what I could do to them with my bare hands.” Riko had his chin almost resting on Neil’s shoulder as he walked around him, whispering. “Get your head in the fucking game, Wesninski.”
“Don’t,” Neil growled through gritted teeth. “Call me that. That isn’t me anymore.” Forcefully pulling away from Riko’s grip, he began to jog back into place until he heard ‘think of your manic little boyfriend, Nathaniel’. Neil froze in the spot and pointed a finger angrily at Riko.
“He’s not my boyfriend, but don’t you dare lay a single one of your filthy fucking fingers on him. I’ll do whatever you want. Just don’t hurt them, okay?”
The game started again, and when Neil received the ball on the Foxes side of the court, he took a quick deep breath and went for it. He took his ten steps, dodging his old team mates and looked Andrew right in the eye before shooting. Andrew didn’t even look away from Neil’s blue eyes as he stopped the ball in it’s tracks. He sent the ball to the other side of the court and broke the gaze between them. With a whistle from Kevin Day’s adoptive brother, Neil knew he had to do something. He had to do what he was told, he had to protect the others. He had to get that ball past the sober, off-meds Andrew more than once or twice before he knew he could keep them safe. He had to do what was right.
With the feeling of guilt mixed with fire in his stomach, Neil ran for the ball every time he knew he could try to score. Each time, Andrew deflected it with ease, but let in several goals from other Ravens players. Wymack was about to pop as he watched the goal light up each time, his hat gripped between his hands with such force that Neil swore he was about to tear it. Neil remembered back to when he started with Palmetto State, and how Andrew wore him down, trying over and over to get him to score at least once. Neil had gotten better since then, and with dozens upon dozens of shots being fired at him, Andrew was running low. His chest rose blatantly with his deep breaths, his usually pale cheeks becoming pink. He rotated his racquet in his hands and tried to compose himself as he caught Neil staring. Neil was going to have to wear him down, the only way he could; just keep shooting.
He did that. Over and over and over again. Eventually it came to a point where the foxes were barely gaining possession at all. The ball went between Andrew, some of the ravens, and Neil as he shot towards the goal. The foxes were becoming shaky with anger and exhaustion. Neil had been put under too much agonising pain and pressure between Christmas and then to even be able to think about being tired. But he was emotionally drained.
Every shot towards that goal was another betrayal to the people he called friends.
Every shot towards that goal was another betrayal to the boy he trusted enough to share his life with when he’d never opened up to anyone before. To the boy who trusted him enough to share some secrets right back.
Every shot was dissolving his slim chance of getting back on any of the foxes’ good sides. Every shot bore down on his shoulders, his intrusive thoughts begging him to scream that he loved Andrew and the foxes and that all of this was an act. The last thing Neil wanted was for the Ravens to humiliate and beat the Foxes. It was just what he had to do.
Every shot weighed down on him like a pile of bricks until he scored and the bricks shattered into his back. His fingers numb, tears already welling in his eyes, he stood as close to Andrew as he’d been in months. The red light shone through his fair hair, his hazel eyes squinted at Neil, as if he was trying to read his expression beneath the visors. Neil knew the cameras were pining to see his reaction, but he stood at such a position where he knew they wouldn’t be able to see his face. Still, standing, watching. He didn’t take his eyes off Andrew until the red light dimmed and the foxes goalkeeper turned to pick up the ball and send it back out. Neil’s tearless sobs had been drowned out by the crowd cheering and the Ravens celebrating, their chants covering up his pathetic whimper. He bit his lip and headed back into position. Trying to regain his composure, Neil simply thought of what the Moriyamas would do if they knew he’d been even close to crying on the court, with cameras and thousands of people watching.
The thin smirk Riko shot him across the court that could even be visible beneath his visor filled Neil with even more guilt. He knew he’d have to do it again. Plus, with Nicky out and Neil gone, and Matt benched for some reason that Neil hadn’t noticed, and Renee filling in for him, the Foxes had no more players to replace Andrew with. Of course, Renee and Andrew could swap, but Wymack knew better than to put Andrew on the court, even completely off his meds. Matt was clearly exhausted as Abby tended to him, and Nicky had been taken off entirely. The Foxes had lost, regardless of the points, still with 20 minutes left. They had no hope, and Neil had to still go as hard as he could against them.
He managed to get further and further back with each score, trying not to face Andrew again, his eyes still watery. Six red lights later, the Foxes called a time out to get water and Riko pulled Neil aside again. Neil didn’t take his eyes off Andrew as Riko gripped his shoulder and whispered into his ear.
“Get nice and close for your last score, traitor, I want to see you squirm.”
The scoreboard now read a staggering 27-3 to the Ravens. Tetsuji wanted them to win by 32, but he’d greatly underestimated the resistance of the Palmetto State Foxes, and Neil decided right there that he’d settle for 28.
Again, Neil pushed Riko off with force. Tetsuji looked pleased in the sidelines, not ready for murder as he often looked when it came to Neil. 5 points less than expected surely didn’t seem that big when they won by 25 points against one of the top Class I Exy teams, but one of the best goalkeepers in Exy, ever. The foxes, in this match, rarely got close enough to the goals to try out the Ravens’ keeper’s skills.
The other Ravens didn’t acknowledge Neil’s presence until he was just about outside the goal line. Aaron made a half-assed attempt to mark Neil, and didn’t even try to get possession of the ball once it was in Neil’s racquet. Neil took the shot over Andrew’s head and didn’t wait to see the red light illuminate the Foxes side of the court before he closed his eyes. The screams from the crowd indicated a score, and this time Neil couldn’t control the tears. The pools in his eyes overflowed onto his cheeks, his feelings spilling from his eyes and streaming down his face. And Neil Josten wasn’t one to cry. Not one of the foxes moved around him, simply staring as the other team ran in celebration, even with 60 seconds left, ticking down, on the clock. None of the Foxes tried to score either. They’d given up. Neil’s voice cracked as he tried to utter a sorry, and even though all cameras were on him, he didn’t tried to walk away and fix himself. He simply stared at the ground in hopes the cameras couldn’t zoom in far enough to see the damp on his cheeks. Andrew dropped his racquet and took a step forward.
Neil expected a punch, expected a stab with the weapons concealed beneath the black wristbands, expected abuse to be yelled at him for being a traitor. He didn’t expect Andrew Minyard to only push him so hard that he fell to the ground. Andrew took his helmet off, ruffled his hair, and looked down at Neil with a look of distrust and disdain that only a Fox could manage. His eyes glared, a look of murder and heartbreak passing through for a split second. His eyes twitched as he looked down at Neil. He wanted answers.
Interrupted by even louder screams and a deafening buzzer, the foxes filed off the field and Riko Moriyama came to offer Neil a hand up, snaking an arm around his shoulder as he waved to the crowd. The ravens did their whole ‘we wish the Foxes best, but may the best team win’ act, collecting their prize and posing for press photos. Neil was pretty sure he dissociated during the whole thing. He smiled and waved only when he felt Riko’s strong grip tightening around his arm. Whilst their coach stayed back to speak to the press, Neil went back and deliberated what to do then with his old team merely yards away.
In the other changing room, fury filled the air. The Foxes had all showered and changed, but they sat in such strangling silence and anger that they could have all developed claustrophobia, even in such a large room. Though, they’d all heard Neil was doing a press conference, and through their team division and such asphyxiating anger, they all agreed to see what he had to say.
Neil was sat beside the Moriyama’s, and two other Ravens players, but of course all questions were directed to Neil. Most he brushed off with a forced smile and a look at the others, but when a reporter asked why he left, a pin could’ve been heard in the silence. Neil straightened himself and sat forward toward the microphone, feeling the burning gaze of Riko and Tetsuji on his back.
“I did what I had to do, for me and the team.” His voice felt like it wasn’t his own, he felt fake. He felt ashamed, speaking for the first time about his situation. “I’ve always, since I joined Palmetto State, known that I wanted what was best for them. They proved their skill out there today and I know they are a team capable of better, capable of winning without a player like me.” Not a single person even attempted to interrupt him, but the camera flashes on him were almost blinding, the cameras off-putting. “As someone who wants to grow and learn as an Exy player, and someone who wants to go pro, my best chance,” Neil looked down at his hands and then back up into the camera, his eyes pleading for a Fox to be watching, to understand what he was really saying. “Was to be here at Castle Evermore. When approached with an offer from someone like Tetsuji and Riko Moriyama, there’s almost no way you can refuse. You just can’t pass up an opportunity like that. I couldn’t not come here when they had such compelling arguments. I hope there isn’t bad blood between myself and the foxes. They’re still family to me.” A word like that coming from Neil’s mouth made him feel physically sick. He hadn’t referred to anyone as his true family since he was very little. He meant it, though. He loved the foxes greatly, and he felt at home with them. His answer was sufficient, and the reporters sensed the tension and moved on from the subject. Only, Neil could only hoped that Kevin or Andrew were listening and understood. He didn’t have very much hope left.
“Family?” Back in the rooms where the Foxes sat, the force of that word caused each and every one of the players to tense up. “Neil has never used that word before. Not with us, not like that.”
“Listen to what he’s saying!” Kevin stood up in front of the screen that showed the press conference ending, switching back to the studio where commentators showed replays of each of the scores. Andrew paced the room behind them, his fingers laced together behind his neck. “I can’t explain perfectly what’s going on there, but Neil doesn’t want to be on that team. Neil is being kept there by the Moriyamas and there is nothing he can do about it. He wouldn’t be there if they hadn’t threatened our safety, he doesn’t care about his own.”
“You think coach was right?” Nicky was on the verge of tears in the corner at how stressful the day's events had been, just itching to go outside and greet his boyfriend. “That they kidnapped him?”
“Kidnapped, no. Forcefully kept under their control and threatened to kill him or us if he tried to leave? More likely.” He held up his hand, stubborn to prove Neil’s innocence. “This didn’t happen by accident. Good things don’t come to people who cross that family. He went there willingly before Christmas. They just didn’t let him leave.”
“How can you be so sure?” Aaron spat, already dismissing Kevin’s excuse.
“I knew that family. Riko is my adopted brother, Aaron. They are a family of violence and obsession. They’d hurt anyone-”
Kevin was interrupted by the sound of metal crushing and a huff from Andrew who’d just dented one of the lockers with his fist. Renee tried to stop him in his place as he reached beneath his wristbands. His eyes were distant and furious, his manic smile completely gone and replaced with a frown, his lips pursed as he pushed past Renee with ease. The knives glistened beneath the white lights, and, as much as all the team tried to stop Andrew from killing either Neil or one or more of the Moriyama family, he’d already left the room as quick as they could say no.
But his angry stomping was short lived.
With the Foxes all standing then, after seconds of waiting, the space between the door frame was filled with the short striker still dressed in black and red gear. His eyes were red, his skin pale. He walked into the silent room, Andrew, calm, following not far behind, stopping at the door.
Silence followed for several minutes. Neil tried to look at some of his old team mates, but looked away after a quick glance. The dull sound of reporters excitedly airing Neil’s response played quietly in the background, everyone only paying attention to the Raven standing in the centre of the room.
“I’m sorry,” Neil whispered after the silence, his voice cracking as he began to cry again. The temperature felt as if it had dropped to freezing. The silence then became awkward, nobody knowing what to do as Neil stood, crying.
“Why’d you really go?” Nicky piped up. “Why ignore us? You pulled our team together and left us. We couldn’t train properly for weeks. We were - are - split as a team again. Why’d you go?”
Neil simply shook his head and turned to face Nicky. His nose was still slightly bloody, and bruises had already began to form. He took a quick look at Kevin, who was staring at the tattoo on his cheek.
“I can’t. Understand that.” He walked over to Andrew, all eyes on him. Andrew flinched but did not pull away as Neil cupped his head with one hand. “They’d find out.” Neil glanced at Andrew’s lips before dragging his dead eyes away from his face. “Understand.” He took a step back, his arms by his side. He would’ve said please if the whole point of what he was doing wasn’t to protect Andrew. If he didn’t care so much about him he would’ve begged the team to understand with all the ‘please’s and ‘family’s he could muster. He brought his hands to his face to wipe his tears. “I want to stay.”
Wymack’s cold voice broke the focus from Neil. He stood in the doorway with Abby at his heels. Neil faced his body towards him. The black in the sea of orange stood out as Wymack eyed Neil from head to toe.
“You can have all the excuses you want. You aren’t welcome here.”
The only thing David Wymack hated more than doubt was traitors. He respected Neil’s fear of men his age and took a step back to allow the crying boy out of the room. He didn’t look him in the eye. He’d placed the team in Neil’s hands, he’d given him the chance to fix himself; fix the team.
And he left.
Coach David Wymack didn’t look back as he slammed the door in his face. Neil couldn’t tear his eyes from the reflection in the glossy door. Argument roared from behind that door, but Neil looked back as the face of a murdered in the shiny door. He felt lost as Neil Josten. His body urged him to run. Neil Josten wasn’t a member of the ravens. Neil Josten didn’t have the tattoo he’d always despised on Kevin Day and Riko Moriyama.
Neil Josten was talking shit about Riko and not caring about the consequences. Neil Josten was sitting on the roof of The Fox Tower smoking with the boy he might have loved and feeling alive and free as he stood over the edge. Neil Josten was waking up early, happy to practice with Kevin and Andrew. Neil Josten was memorising keys and sharing secrets with only one person. Neil Josten was #10 of the Palmetto State Foxes. Neil Josten was content and unafraid, almost happy. Happy with the way things sorted themselves out.
Nathaniel Wesninski was the boy who ran. He was the trapped feeling of being with the ravens. He was the dead eyes and auburn hair. Nathaniel Wesninski was the son of a killer, the boy who was alone. No shoulder to cry on, no family, no emotion as everyone he loved left or was forced away.
Looking at his father’s eyes in that reflection, looking at his father’s hair; he knew three things:
The foxes were no longer home.
Neil Josten was dead.
And he was Alone. Very alone.