The heavy heat of summer was settling in well and truly. It made Shinichi want nothing more than to find the coolest place in the neighborhood where he could lay down and nap away the glaring noonday hours of the day, every day. Which was, actually, exactly what he'd done earlier. Now, however, he sat staring at the back door of the manor. Every single wrinkle of his sagging face was rolled into perfect lines that, despite his rather sorrowful appearance, made it obvious he was doing his best to glare the little flap of plastic that had been installed out of existence.
He couldn't believe his parents!
Shinichi had suspected they knew it was him, though there had been some doubt remaining. It was, after all, one of the most improbable situations he'd ever heard of. He still couldn't fathom how they had made the connection. Giving the door a last, acidic look, Shinichi gingerly stepped forward. He edged across the pavement, paw pads, made rough from use, scraping slightly on the rough surface. The bloodhound eyed the doggy door as if it would spring to life and bite him.
Snorting heavily through his broad snout, Shinichi craned his neck out and snuffled at the door. The action made him feel embarrassed. All he could smell was the scent of new plastic, and, more faintly, the smell of the house seeping through the tiny gaps. He lifted his paw and reached out, pushing the thing open with his claws to peer through. It was obviously large enough for him to fit through, but...
Dropping onto his rump, Shinichi turned his nose up at the door. He might look like a dog, but, damn it, He wasn't one. Shinichi sometimes wondered if telling himself that was the only thing keeping him sane. Giving the door a hard glare, and then pretending the doggy door didn't exist, he parted his jaws and let out a loud bark that petered off into something like a whine.
Shinichi perked his ears forward, and listened hopefully for the sound of one of his parents coming to let him in. He knew they were still here, after all, or he wouldn't have come to see them. Nothing happened, no footsteps approaching, no voices calling, just the distant sound of something even he couldn't make out. He barked a few more times, his final one ending in a rather pathetic woo roo ooo sound.
Still, there was no response. Shinichi gave a small whimper, then gave into the urge to whine completely. He lifted his paw, and set it against the door. His claws slid over the wood again and again. When nothing happened, Shinichi jumped up onto his hind legs, and began to paw and scrabble at the door. The entire time he voiced whiny, high pitched barks.
He relaxed his muscles, and dropped. His claws scraped all the way down the door with a long, drawn out, hollow sound that was oddly satisfying. With renewed vigor, Shinichi began to dig at the base of the door. Inwardly he grimaced at the shudder inducing sound of his claws scratching over the concrete. With his tongue lolling out, and the fact that he looked like he was trying to dig his way to the other side of the globe, Shinichi was pretty sure he looked like an idiot. Giving a final tiny whine, and a great harrumph, Shinichi let all the tension go out of his legs and flopped to the ground. His continued whimpers were more reminiscent of an injured mutt than a perfectly fine bloodhound.
After laying there for several more minutes in the vain hope that one of his parents would finally find the heart to come let him in, Shinichi finally gave into the inevitable. This was obviously another one of their lessons, or punishments, or maybe just their twisted sense of humor at play again. He could never tell which it was, because as far as he could tell all three coincided with each other.
With an air of great sacrifice and wounded dignity, Shinichi stepped forward and pushed his nose against the flap of the doggy door to ease it open. It swung upwards easily, and a moment later he shoved the rest of his body through in a hurry; like tearing a bandage off fast just to get it done and over with. The flap snapped closed behind him, just catching the tip of his tail, and he yelped loudly, though it hadn't hurt. It had really just been surprising. Skittering nervously across the floor, he glanced around hoping no one had played audience to any of that. He wasn't sure he'd never live it down.
No one was there, but he could hear the sound of a piano floating through the quiet halls. Well, at least he knew what his mother was doing, though he knew that she'd been ignoring him on purpose. He'd probably been loud enough to annoy the neighbors, after all. As he crept along he stopped a moment to peek into the library through the open door: No one was in there, but he could see some things that were out of place from where they'd been during his last visit.
Shinichi slunk up the stairs. He hesitated for a moment before wandering over to the doorway into his own room, then shook off the silly feeling and trod on in. It was odd, he couldn't help but think, being surrounded by his own scent. Though, admittedly, the scent of Shinichi-the-human that he could smell, and what he identified as his scent now were different-but-the-same. The stale scent of himself in the room smelled less wild, and animal-like, which was to be expected.
He gave a heavy sigh, and walked listlessly over to his bed. It was easy enough to jump up onto it, and Shinichi let his legs fold under him as he settled down. There was a wistfulness, and for the first time in a good while he felt truly bothered by his condition. True, it never left his mind that he'd been turned into a dog, how could it? He couldn't do anything like he used to, was far gone from his normal life, but he'd been getting used to it. Sort of.
I doubt I'll ever 'get used to' being a dog. It would be a great deal easier if I could just go back to being a human.
"Finally decided to come inside, did you?" an amused voice asked from near the door. Shinichi lifted his head and gave his mother a doleful stare, then let his head fall back onto the mattress. His mother gave a little laugh, then wandered over to perch on the bed beside him. Her hand settled on his ribs. "Don't be like that, Shin-chan, or I'll have to cuddle you again! You're just so cute and sad looking..."
It's not like I can help it. My face looks like this naturally!
Groaning loudly to make sure she understood his sentiments on that, Shinichi rolled over onto his back, and proceeded to do his best impression of a dead dog. His mother reached over and caught hold of his forepaws, which were curled above his chest. Yukiko idly pulled his paws from side to side. She was giving him a contemplative look. Finally, she said, "Don't be so melodramatic, Shin-chan. Now come on, stop moping."
Shinichi sent her a glare when she preceded to tickle between his pads. It made his toes spread open automatically, and tickled. Damn it, were dogs supposed to be that ticklish? When he continued to ignore her, Yukiko set her nails at the base of his ribcage and started scratching. Shinichi was horrified to feel his leg starting to kick in the air of its own accord.
Feeling thoroughly betrayed by his own body, Shinichi twisted away and rolled right off the bed. He landed on the floor with a thump, and a yelp that set his mother to laughing. His parent's weren't just insane, they were evil. "Oh, Shin-chan, you silly puppy..." His mother crooned. She reached down and started scratching around his ears, which was worse than the stomach, because that just made him melt.
Oh...Kaasan's got the perfect nails for scratches...Gah!
Shinichi swatted angrily at her hands, and scrambled across the floor before he turned around and gave her an indignant look. Yukiko grinned at him. He thought she looked like cheerful evil. Crouched there, the dog sent his mother a baleful stare, which Yukiko returned with growing amusement. Their staring contest lasted for several seconds, while Shinichi mentally dared her to try that again, and he would show her his new teeth. Of course, he wouldn't hurt her, but he could still get a little of his own back. Why did his mother enjoy humiliating him?!
Yukiko pouted, and stood up with a huff. "You're no fun, Shin-chan!" She crouched down in front of him, content to ignore him as Shinichi tried to edge away from her, to waggle a finger in front of his snout. "Dogs are supposed to be playful, and cheerful. Do we need to take you out and teach you how to be a real dog?"
With a loud huff, Shinichi turned his back on her and tipped his snout in the air. He didn't need to learn to be a dog. Things were perfectly fine as they were, thank you. Most people just accepted the fact that he was an extremely weird dog, and were done with. Why was his mother making such a fuss about it anyway?
"Yukiko?" At the sound of his father's voice, both Shinichi and his mother turned toward the doorway. Yuusaku was standing in it, watching them both with a faint look of amusement. "Ran-chan, is in the entryway."
"Did you hear that, Shin-chan? Your owner's here to get you!"
Since that didn't warrant anything but his utmost disdain, Shinichi pranced passed his father and into the hall, tail and nose in the air to showcase his dignity. Or, at least he tried to until someone grabbed his tail and yanked on it. With a yelp of surprise, Shinichi whirled around and gave his snickering mother a dirty look. Yukiko breezed by him cheerfully.
Yuusaku stared down at his son-turned-dog and shrugged, "I believe that was a reprimand for not acting like a gentleman."
Shinichi gave a low, rueful whuff of agreement, then ambled after his mother.
Just as his father had said, Ran was waiting in the foyer, absently twisting his leash between her fingers. It was obvious that she was worried about something, he could smell it all over her, as well as read it in her body posture. "Yukiko-san!" Ran gasped, relief thick in her voice. "And Sherlock. Oh, thank goodness."
"Ran-chan?" Yukiko's voice had lost a great deal of her earlier energy. She obviously realized something was wrong as well. "What's the matter?"
"I... Sonoko's gone missing, and I was hoping Sherlock would be here because I couldn't find him. We're hoping that maybe he can find her, because he's found missing people before..."
"Well, that's it then!" Shinichi's mother announced, clapping her hands together pointedly. "We'll all go! Come on, Yuusaku!"
Shinichi submitted to being leashed with as good a grace as he ever would. Stupid leash. Then, Shinichi turned his head and gave a sly look to his father. At least this time he had an advantage on the old man! With that in mind there was just a little extra strut in his prancing step as they left.
With half his attention Shinichi listened to his father, and Mouri Kogoro question Suzuzki Shirou and his wife, Tomoko, about their daughter's disappearance. For his part he was restless, half straining at his leash, and ready to get this case underway. He'd been pretty damn bored lately, because, he had to face it, the life of a dog really was dull. His day tended to consist of seeing what would happen when Kogoro eventually fell asleep: Would he sag back into his chair, or fall face first into his desk. (Followed by, would the face plant wake him up or not?)
It was about as entertaining as it sounded, which, was to say, not very.
So, there he sat, at Ran's side, tail wagging furiously enough that the concrete was likely to be cleaner than ever in that spot, while he shifted his forepaws restlessly. He was whining too, Shinichi knew. He could hear himself, but didn't really care.
Comeoncomeoncomeon! Let's work already!
"This is where she disappeared from?" His father was asking.
"Yes, this is the general area. She called us and mentioned she was on this street, and when her sister came to meet her she was gone."
Tired of the continued talking, because it was obvious that Sonoko had been here recently (he could smell her) Shinichi gave vent to a couple little urff urff barks to gain attention. Once he knew he had everyone's eyes on him, he stood up. His tail flopped back and forth in furious eagerness.
"Well," Yukiko said, drawing the word out. "It seems Sherlock's pretty eager to work, so why not let him?"
That sounded like an insult. Shinichi decided to ignore her in favor of taking a sniff of the sweater they were offering him accommodatingly. He might as well take the chance to reacquaint himself with her scent, though he was around her often enough that he was pretty sure he could pick her out from any crowd by now.
Shinichi didn't need Ran's quiet 'Find her, boy' command before he bolted, and jerked his leash right out of her hand. His nose hit the ground within seconds, snuffling over the pavement before he tore off along the trail, barreling passed unaware pedestrians fast enough to leave them squawking.
Behind him he could hear them scrambling after him, and would have found it amusing if his entire world hadn't focused down to picking Sonoko's scent out of the hundreds of thousands of others that wanted to overwhelm him. When he reached the corner of the street, Shinichi skidded to a halt. Dropping his nose to the ground he began to snuffle over the sidewalk again. He snorted heavily, a deep, almost cough-like sound from the back of his throat, to clear his nose of dirt and useless smells.
The smell of other things, of people was heavier here, due to the traffic, and pauses the space required, but he was able to find a trace of Sonoko's scent leading off in one direction. He darted that way, ignoring the shocked blare of a car horn, and the screech of tires.
"Control your dog!"
Shinichi's tongue hung from his mouth when he next came to a stop. His paws lead him out onto the street a few steps, and he found himself searching furiously among the smells of tire rubber, gasoline, oil, and metal. The scents of the city were overpowering the small trace scents Sonoko had been leaving, and it was easily obvious to him that she'd gotten into a car, or been forced to.
From the sounds behind him, Shinichi could deduce that everyone else had caught up with him. Shinichi paused for a moment, and barked sharply to alert them. He'd found Sonoko's cellphone, left abandoned on the side of the street. Kogoro came over, crouched down, and picked it up with his handkerchief. While his father and Ran's were embroiled in the phone, and Shinichi had a moment of annoyance that he no longer had the thumbs and fingers necessary to check it himself, but let that be washed away by the fact that he had a sense of smell they couldn't even imagine.
And, he'd just hit on the tiny particles of Sonoko's scent that were managing to escape from the car, mixed in with the certain blend of smells from that vehicle itself.
Involuntarily, Shinichi gave a sharp bark, and took off at a run again.
Yuusaku straightened to watch the dog dart away, and commented, matter-of-fact, "He's really onto something now."
From where she stood beside Ran, Yukiko covered a smile and slipped over to her husbands side. "Think he's going to beat you this time?"
"He might beat us there, that's certain."
"Oh? You've figured it out."
Yuusaku turned to look at her with a smile on his face, and took out his own phone. "It's elementary, my dear Yukiko. Moshi Moshi Megure-keibu, it's been awhile since we last spoke..."
He was panting when he got there, and his paws and legs were a sore from the long run, but he ignored both of those facts in favor of checking out his location. The building Shinichi's nose lead him to was a small out of the way building on a street lined with small shops. Most of them were family businesses that edged into a few convenience stores, and other businesses on one end, and faded into apartment buildings and walled residences on the other. This building was on the former end, and currently appeared to be for sale. The vehicle he'd been following was half wedged into the narrow alleyway behind the building itself. The passenger door was open when Shinichi prowled up to it.
Hefting his forepaws up onto the front seat Shinichi nosed the expensive looking purse that had been dropped there. He slid back onto all fours, then crept around the car. The back door of the building was open a crack, and it was easy enough to slither through the opening and into the shady interior.
Shinichi noted that he appeared to be in some sort of tiny break room if the small counter and set of cabinets were anything to go by. It was, however, devoid of any appliances or supplies. While the building itself still possessed scents of humanity, the smells of recent occupation were growling stale and dissipating. There were only two scents that stood out as fresh. As Shinichi moved slowly forward his claws clicked lightly against the scuffed tile with every step.
He never noticed the loop of his leash catch on the lower corner of the open door until he felt the slight tug at his collar. Shinichi curled his lips in a silent growl, and gave his head a jerk in an effort to tug the leash free. Instead it stuck, and on his next, sharper, tug the door slammed closed. The loud sound made him cringe.
In the following moments he heard a scream for help, obviously Sonoko's voice, and a loud thud. Shinichi jumped forward, coming up short due to his stuck leash. He gave a snarl of frustration, and twisted around. The bloodhound tossed his head from side to side, paws pressing into the floor as he strained and scrambled. His teeth gnashed against the strong material of his leash as it slid against his gums.
Shinichi ducked his head down, felt the collar giving as it slid and bunched his loose skin up around his ears. Then, like a cork popping from a wine bottle, the collar came over his head and clattered against the door. He fell over backward with a yelp s he hit the tiles on his side and back, paws kicking and flailing. Immediately Shinichi twisted around and forced himself back to his paws.
He darted into the main room which was still occupied by a few desks and chairs. He ignored them and bolted for the mostly hidden stairwell nearby. He skipped up the steps two at a time, his long legs made it easy to leap up them. The upstairs of the building proved to have what amounted to a file room, and what he figured were two small offices. Soft sounds, and the scents, lead him to one of the offices. The door was open a crack.
Sticking his nose through the gap, Shinichi nudged it open a bit farther and peered inside. An old electric light that dangled from the ceiling illuminated the scene: Sonoko lay on the floor, her hands bound behind her back and a bruise slowly blossoming on her cheek. However, the look on her face wasn't exactly fear, though that was there, it was defiance. Standing over her, his every breathe heaving in his chest, was a man he didn't recognize. He was sloppily dressed in a rumbled business suit, and had the look of a man at the end of his rope about him.
The man sent Sonoko another hard glare, then stepped around her toward the door. Shinichi edged back to the side of the door that lead toward the other rooms rather than the stairwell. The door swung open, and the man peered out toward the stairs before he stepped out. His fingers were fidgeting nervously with the frayed cuff of his suit jacket. It was obvious that he intended to check for the source of the earlier noises.
Shinichi watched him, crouched low to the ground on braced paws. His lips curled slowly back from his teeth, wrinkles deepening around his eyes and nose. Once Sonoko's captor was a few steps away from the door, Shinichi let loose the snarl that had been building in his chest. He slunk forward, belly nearly dragging against the floor, and the hair along his spine standing on end. Shinichi placed himself in front of the door as the man whirled around. Behind him he could hear Sonoko's startled gasp.
The wail of police sirens shattered the quiet. The kidnapper turned away, took two steps, and Shinichi found the urge to chase kicking in so hard and fast it was like he'd been slugged in the chest. He let the instinct take hold, and jumped. His teeth found the fabric of the man's sleeve, and sliced into it easily. With relentless force he clung on, and gave great wrenching shakes of his head as he bore the man to the floor. The sound of ripping fabric was in his ears as well as the shocked, and terrified cries of the kidnapper. Then, the sound of feet thumping against the floor, and up the stairs.
"Someone get that dog off him!"
Shinichi released his grip without complaint, and drifted placidly back to the room where Sonoko was being held. He sat down beside her, as the police, his father, and Ran's, swarmed the room.
Everything would be alright now, in this case, at least.
Even if it was still demeaning to be patted on the head and told he was a good boy.