Balto stared down at the sight before him, unable to take it any longer. He had to know.
Slowly, gently, he worked his left paw underneath his siblings chest, and with a powerful jerk of said limb, Jet was rolled onto his other side. Balto's heart went up into his throat. He was forced to turn his head away lest he vomit on his brother's corpse.
That's all it was now, a corpse.
The flesh on this side's shoulder was completely gone, leaving muscle and bone completely visible. At such a close range the shotgun would no doubt kill anyone. Balto raised his gaze in time to see Nova bolt off. Though he didn't know it at the time, that was the last anyone would ever see of her.
Balto felt so weak, weaker than he had ever felt in his life. But despite this, he moved a few yards away and began digging. He didn't stop. The moon was high in the sky by the time his pit was deep enough, and he eased Jet's body into the pit. Though his siblings fur was stained with his own blood, Balto gave him one last nuzzle.
Jet was so cold to touch. He felt strange. It was strange, how different the mere body was when its life-force, or spirit as some called it, was present inside the body. Now it was nothing but a used shell, devoid of life or reason to be.
"I'm sorry…"he whispered into Jet's ear. Balto then climbed from the pit, and proceeded to cover the ground again. He packed the dirt tightly down as he could, before searching out and finding a large piece of wood that would serve as a grave marker.
In time he would find something better, but for now the scrap would do. Balto angled his head and stuck it into the dirt, before stepping back to take a look. The monstrous amount of blood from Jet was finally beginning to be absorbed into the ground.
The pale moon shining down from above gave the place a serene look, and Balto guessed that by the end of summer one would never even be able to tell what had happened. He would find a new, more permanent grave marker for Jet, even if he had to steal something. His brother deserved it.
Balto spent the night beside Jet's grave, and returned early the next morning to Jenna. He got no sleep at all. When he arrived, he found that the husky was already out front, waiting for him. She looked exhausted. Balto guessed that she hadn't gotten very much sleep the previous night either.
"He's dead… isn't he?" By the tone of her voice, Jenna already knew. However like him, she still couldn't quite believe it.
Balto nodded once. "Yes. I buried him."
Jenna bowed her head, speaking in a low voice. "What will we tell the pups? They, especially Kodi, liked him so much…"
Balto clinched his eyes shut, trying to suppress the moisture that was beginning to pool at the corners of his vision. "I… I don't know."
Jenna was silent a few moments. "It's so unfair," she stated finally. "I know he had his wrongdoings… but what they did to him was even worse."
Balto could only nod. Even speaking now seemed to require a great amount of energy. Energy he didn't have.
"I hope he finds his peace." Balto said finally. Jenna stepped closer to him, and pressed her body against him in a reassuring and pleasing way.
"I know he will." She said confidently. "The ones who did this to him, they'll pay, in the end."
Balto yawned. Though his desire to find the three and hurt them was strong, his love was stronger. He knew Jenna was right. Jet, by accepting his fate, had proved who was the stronger of the opposing parties.
The wolf dog knew it would take a long time for him to heal from this, and that part of him would always be hurt. It was easy to think about how much time and life was wasted by killing someone like his sibling.
But Balto was thankful for the time he did have with Jet. A canine that, in many ways, was much stronger than Balto felt he could ever be. A small smile crossed his face, as he recalled some of the last words Jet had spoken to him. And how true they were.
'The ending is what you make of it.'
God, how it hurt to write this. Even though these characters only exist in our imaginations, it felt like I really lost someone. And in a way, I did.
On another note, I wanna thank everyone that's read and reviewed this story, and anyone that continues to do so. I'm honored that you take the time to read this work, let alone leave comments. It means a lot. So believe me when I say it's a true thank you. I hope this was a worthy read for everyone.
PS - There may be one last chapter after this, so be on the lookout.