Characters: Ryo, Bikky, OCs.
Setting: Somewhere around Vol. 3 or 4.
Summary: Ryo comes home from work exhausted to face unanticipated problems.
Word Count: 2091
Content Notes: None needed.
Written For: Challenge 179: Dog at fan_flashworks.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
Ryo stares at the small dog that’s busily chewing on one of his slippers. He’s only just got home from work and the whole scene seems surreal, like it can’t be happening. Perhaps he’s just dreaming, dozed off at his desk because he hasn’t been getting enough sleep recently. He and Dee have been pulling double shifts, just like everyone else in the precinct, trying to solve a series of homicides.
The Police Commissioner won’t come right out and say it, but it seems increasingly likely that all four murders are the work of one person, that there’s a serial killer at work in the Big Apple. If that’s true then they need to find the killer fast, before the press connect the dots and start a citywide panic. Facts about the investigation are whirling around in his head, combining with his exhaustion to give everything a hallucinatory edge. Maybe he really is just seeing things.
“Bikky, what is this dog doing here?”
“It’s not my fault; it followed me home! All I did was accidentally drop a bit of my hotdog and now the stupid thing thinks I’ll feed it! It’s not like I brought it home on purpose.”
“Really?” Ryo sounds sceptical. “Weren’t you the one who was saying only a few weeks ago that you’d really like to have a dog?”
“Well yeah, but I meant a real dog, not something like that!” Bikky says scathingly, pointing at the dog.
Ryo shakes his head, bemused, and rubs tiredly at his eyes; they feel dry and gritty, and now he’s starting to get a headache. He knows he’s having trouble concentrating right now, but something about Bikky’s statement is just not making sense. He forces his eyes to focus on the dog. “It looks real enough to me. It’s eating my slipper.”
“Oops, sorry!” Bikky grabs for the already tattered item of footwear, snatching it up to get it out of the dog’s reach. It doesn’t help, since the dog follows, lifted clear off the floor, its teeth tightly clamped into the fuzzy fabric of the toe.
Silently, Ryo mourns his slipper. He liked that pair; they were warm and comfy for cold nights in front of the TV. Still, he watches dazedly as Bikky makes repeated attempts to detach the dog from the slipper. The dog clearly believes it to be a game, growling and tugging but not releasing its grip, so eventually Bikky gives up and dumps slipper and dog back on the floor. The dog still doesn’t let go.
“I’ll buy you a new pair out of my allowance, I promise.”
Ryo just nods in reply.
Wandering into the kitchen, he puts the kettle on. Maybe a cup of tea will help. Coffee would be better for clearing his head, but the caffeine would keep him up and he needs to sleep. Not that it looks like he’ll be getting to bed anytime soon.
Sipping his tea, he watches Bikky, who’s now sitting at the kitchen table doing his homework instead of lying on the living room floor like he usually does.
“Why are you at the table?”
“That thing tried to eat my homework!” Bikky points towards the dog, which is still worrying at Ryo’s slipper. The slipper is bigger than the dog, but the dog seems to be winning the battle anyway. “It ruined a whole page so I had to start again, but it can’t reach my books up here.”
That was obvious; it was a very small dog. “I guess having a dog isn’t as much fun as you thought it would be.”
“It’s not mine and I don’t want it!” Bikky insists. “It just followed me is all. I tried to make it go away, I even ran as fast as I could, but it kept on followin’ me.” He looks helplessly at Ryo. “Now I don’t know what to do with it. It slipped past me when I opened the door and when I tried to catch it to put it outside again, it hid under the cupboard where I couldn’t get at it. In the end I had to stop chasing it because I’ve got a pile of homework to do. Me and Carol have plans for the weekend so I have to get all this out of the way tonight.”
‘Of course,’ Ryo thinks, ‘it’s Friday.’ It gets hard to keep track of what day it is when he’s working so much overtime; days blend into each other. Something tugs at his pants leg and he looks down. It’s the dog. It looks up at him, wagging its little tail, and he scoops it up, one handed. It tries to lick his face, but can’t reach so just licks at the air, tail wagging furiously now.
Putting his empty teacup down, Ryo holds the dog away from him in both hands so he can take a good look at it. It’s one of the miniature breeds, and it doesn’t seem to be a stray; its claws look like they’re kept trimmed, and its coat has every appearance of being regularly groomed, but it’s not wearing a collar. Still, everything about it says that it’s somebody’s pet, so the best thing to do is take it to the nearest vet and find out if it’s microchipped. If it is, then finding its owner should be fairly straightforward. He doesn’t even know whether it’s a boy or a girl so he holds the dog up higher to check. Boy. Somehow that figures.
He hasn’t even had time to take his coat or shoes off, and maybe that’s just as well since he’s got to go out again. Thankfully, he knows there’s a vet’s surgery only a couple of blocks away; at least that’s not far to walk. He tucks the dog inside his coat and heads for the door. “I won’t be long,” he tells Bikky in passing, adding under his breath, “At least I hope not.”
“Okay.” Bikky doesn’t look up from his homework. He’s probably relieved the dog isn’t his problem anymore.
Down three flights of stairs, out into the cold of the late winter afternoon, Ryo strides purposefully along the sidewalk, one arm across his body so the dog stays put. Wouldn’t do for it to fall out and get lost again. He arrives at the vet’s almost before he realises, only having a hazy recollection of the walk, and lets himself into the warmth of the waiting room. There are a few other people there, three of them have cats in carriers, one has what looks like a rabbit, and a fifth sits quietly with an elderly dog on a lead sprawled beside his chair. The receptionist looks up and smiles as Ryo approaches.
“Hello, do you have an appointment for your dog?”
Ryo frowns, puzzled by the question. “I don’t have a dog.” The receptionist gives him an odd look and he remembers why he’s here. Lack of sleep is affecting him more than he realised. “Or more accurately, this isn’t my dog,” he adds quickly, pulling the dog out of his coat. “It followed my son home, but from the look of it, someone must be wondering what’s happened to their pet. He looks well cared for, I was hoping you might be able to check him for a microchip so I can find out who he belongs to.”
The odd expression on the receptionist’s face is gone, replaced by a warm smile. “Of course, I’ll just have a quick word with one of the vets. Why don’t you take a seat for a minute, Mister…?”
It’s a nice idea, but the warmth is making him sleepy. “Detective Maclean,” he corrects her. “Better not, I’d probably fall asleep,” he tells the young woman with a smile. “It’s been a long shift.”
“Well, you just wait here then, Detective, and I’ll be right back.” She goes through a door off to the side and is back a couple of minutes later with one of the senior veterinary nurses, who leads him into a room with an examination table, where he can put the dog down. It’s shivering now, tail tucked between its legs; clearly it’s not a fan of vets.
Quickly scanning the dog, the nurse smiles in satisfaction at the beep as a chip is located and read. She jots down the number and goes to the computer, pulling up a database and typing in the number from the chip. Within moments she has the name, address, and telephone number of the owner, as well as the dog’s name and breed: Scrap, a miniature Yorkshire Terrier. Looking at the small creature, Ryo decides the name suits him, although it crosses his mind that Scrap is more of a terror than a terrier, judging by the way it shredded his slipper.
He must have zoned out for a minute; the nurse is speaking on the phone, apparently to Scrap’s owner, giving whoever is on the other end of the line the address of the surgery. She turns to Ryo as she hangs up. “His owner is on her way. Apparently Scrap was scared by a loud car horn when he was being walked late last night, slipped his leash and ran off. Mrs Harris has been frantic with worry ever since, looking everywhere for him. Even reported him missing to her local precinct, although it doesn’t sound like they were very helpful.”
“That’s good,” Ryo smiles. “I mean I’m glad his owner was looking for him and he’ll get back to where he belongs. At least he succeeded in changing my son’s mind about wanting a dog. I think he realises now he’s just not ready for that kind of responsibility. Is it okay if I leave him with you? The dog, not my son,” he adds quickly, just to be clear. He’s starting to confuse himself now, which is easier than it should be.
“Of course, but don’t you want to stay? I’m sure his owner will want to thank you.”
“To be honest, all I want to do is go home and get some sleep,” Ryo admits. “I’ve been awake for nearly thirty-six hours and I have to be back at work at nine tomorrow.” He strokes Scrap’s tiny head, and the little tail starts wagging again. “Stay out of trouble,” he tells the dog. “I don’t want to have to arrest you again.” Scrap doesn’t seem concerned; he just wags his tail even harder, wagging most of his body along with it. “Thank you for everything,” he tells the nurse as he straightens up, offering his hand, which she shakes. He’s sure she told him her name, but he doesn’t remember it.
“I should be thanking you,” the nurse says. “Most people would have just dumped this poor little fellow back out on the street again.”
With a final goodbye to the dog, Ryo leaves, heading back along the sidewalk towards home and bed. Even the chill in the air as the sky darkens towards night fails to clear his head. It’s all he can do to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Home at last, Ryo doesn’t bother with anything to eat, or even a shower, just brushes his teeth and goes straight to bed. He’s asleep almost before his head hits the pillows, and that’s all he’s aware of until he’s woken by his alarm clock at seven the following morning. More than twelve hours’ sleep has done him the world of good, he feels almost refreshed as he gets out of bed and makes sure Bikky is stirring.
As he showers, he remembers the weird dream he had the night before, but he shoves it out of his mind; there are more important things to think about, like food. He must have been too tired to eat last night but he’s ravenous now.
Showered, shaved, and dressed, he makes his way to the kitchen to fix a hearty breakfast while Bikky takes over the bathroom. That’s when he spots one of his slippers lying on the floor by the wall. What’s it doing there? Bending to pick it up, he finds it sadly shredded by small teeth, and he sighs; seems the bizarre events of the previous night were real and not the dream he’d thought them to be. Looks like he’s going to have to buy new slippers. Perhaps if he hurries he’ll have time to stop by the store before he’s due at work.