… I see…
He blinked as a breeze of wind brushed his face. He took a deep breath through his nostrils and breathed out through his mouth, his tongue rolling out afterwards.
So this is how they'll punish me…
He panted lightly as his body began to heat up; the action was automatic to him. His ears twitched, feeling annoyed.
… What an idea…
He stretched his tiny body, his long white fur separated slightly before he sat back down. He glanced at his furry white paws and seeing tiny droplets of drool in between them, how disgusting, he thought.
Joshua, Yoshiya Kiryu, the composer of Shibuya was ready to take on any punishment that the higher ups would give him. A week in the RG didn't seem so bad, but when they mentioned that he would return in a different form, he was not expecting this.
In the early morning on Sunday, the day his punishment begins, he went to visit his best and only friend, Sanae Hanekoma, the owner of Wildkat Café and a well known graffiti artist known as CAT. He was also his producer in the UG and has helped him through many tough trials in both UG and RG. Back then, almost nobody wanted to be his friend because of his gift. Being able to see the dead is quite unusual and strange to others. Because of that, he was often picked on, and that is where Sanae came in, on that one rainy day.
Joshua had a lot to thank him for. Without Sanae, he wouldn't have known about the UG and the rise to become composer of Shibuya. He wouldn't have had anyone to talk to about his problems, or anyone to talk too about his sight, and despite knowing him for years, today was the first day he learned about his allergic reaction to dogs.
Sanae whistled as he rubbed the wet towel all over the tops of the tables, sweeping any leftover crumbs or dirt that he missed last night. After a long while, he was glad to have the café up and running again, adding something new here and there. However, with the new improvements, he still had little to no customers.
Having cleared all of the tables, he began to observe his surroundings, grinning as he did so. It was until something rather small and puffy caught his eye as he looked at the entrance of the café. Just outside was a white long haired dog, staring back at him. He tilted his head in confusion then sighed. Walking towards the door, he snatched a handkerchief from his pocket and placed it over his nose and mouth, then opened the door and glared down at the dog, "hey! Get outta here!" he growled as he kicked some dirt on him. The dog growled back, its ears flat against its head, "really Sanae?" it spoke, "is that anyway to treat your reoccurring customers?"
Sanae blinked in surprise, "you can talk?" he said as he kneeled to take a closer look at it, "good, you can understand me," said the dog.
Sanae stared at it for awhile longer, then suddenly realizing who it was, he threw his head back and laughed. The only thing that gave it away was it's violet eyes, a very unusual eye color for this kind of species, let alone breed, "Josh!... is that you?!" he said between laughs.
He glared angrily at the bean loving man until Sanae let out a huge sneeze. Joshua jumped back slightly as he began laughing and sneezing all over. He growled in annoyance, causing Sanae to calm himself down. He took off his sunglasses to wipe the streams of tears from his eyes from laughing too much, "I'm sorry J. it's just… I didn't think, the big boss would do this to ya," he said, covering his mouth and nose with the handkerchief again, "and it looks like you're getting the hang of walking on all fours,"
"I hate the way how it feels," said Joshua as he looked down at his tiny paws, "but listen, if you don't mind, I need a place to stay for the week that I'm in this form."
Sanae sneezed again and grabbed onto the door handle for support, "sorry kid," he snivled, "but there's a reason why I prefer cats over dogs. I'm allergic to em'"
"… You've never told me that before,"
"heh, you never asked," Sanae chuckled and stood up, "you're going to have to find a different place to stay."
Joshua let out a dog whine and glanced at the ground, "I see. Then I guess it can't be helped."
"I'm really sorry J. but hey! It's only going to be for a week right? It'll go fast and soon you won't have to be walkin' around and lookin' like that."
~end of flashback~
Easy for you to say, Joshua looked up at the blue sky, wishing that time would fast forward. He blinked in surprise as his stomach started rumbling. This was also a big concern to him, knowing that if he was taken to a home, he'd be fed dog kibble and canned food for dogs instead of cooked meals like curry and ramen, ESPECIALLY ramen. But then again, he thought, I bet kibble isn't as bad as consuming food found in the garbage.
His ears drooped down at the thought of foraging in waste cans and tried thinking of another way to fill himself during his time in this form. Suddenly, a lone beetle fluttered in front of him, making a tiny thud as it landed. Surprised, Joshua moved his head a little closer to it and sniffed it lightly, maybe… I could live off bugs.
He shivered at the thought of eating such a thing, making him shake his fur in the process and startling the bug. He gasped as the beetle took to the sky and flew away. He stood up from his spot, as if to chase after it, but knew it would be impossible. So instead, Joshua watched it fly off in the distance towards something that caught his eyes. He stared wide at the person, just a few feet away, walking towards Hachiko. It appeared to be a girl, about fifteen, with short black hair and a pin on one of the sides, glasses, and a green long sleeve that covered her white tank top, complete with a short white skirt and black Mary janes. She held a small white bag in her hands, and many people who walk around with small white bags often contain a sort of snack in them.
Shiki stared at her white bag as she made her way towards Hachiko, I hope Neku likes these, she thought. Unlike her talkative friend, Eri, Shiki was rather shier and quieter, unless it's about clothes, fashion and shopping.
She lifted her glasses up the bridge of her nose as she looked straight forward. Her eyes widened and paused in place as she caught sight of a small dog sitting next to the statue. Shiki tilted her head to the side, and then looked around to find the possible owner. Then again, if it had an owner, it would have been wearing a collar. She proceeded, walking closer to it, then smiled and knelt in front of the dog, "well hello there," said Shiki, "what are you doing here little fella? Where's your owners?" she looked from side to side and still, nobody approached her or even spared a glance. None of the people here were its owner.
"You look a little hungry," she said as she patted Joshua's white fluffy head. He perked up as he heard those words, his curly tail, waving side by side, "well… I was saving these for a special friend,"
You mean Neku? Joshua thought.
"But I guess…" Shiki opened the bag delicately, then reached in and pulled out a round disc shaped snack, "here! It's a cracker, made with a variety of spices and seasonings. It's really good," she handed the cracker to Joshua and he automatically began sniffing at it. He paused realizing what he was doing, then shook his head, ugh, I need to teach myself to resist such dog-like actions..
He took the cracker in his mouth and wolfed it down. He licked his chops afterwards, savoring the taste, hmm… not bad. It actually tastes, pretty good!
"Did you like it?" asked Shiki. Joshua nodded and found himself yapping then stopped, mentally cursing himself.
"Great! Here, you can have the whole bag!" she said, placing it down for him. Joshua looked at Shiki, and then back to the crackers, is this really okay? Shiki, you are truly a life saver, and with that, he stuck his muzzle in and chewed away like there was no tomorrow.
Shiki couldn't help but smile, unaware of who this dog really is. She stood up and patted the dust from her skirt until she heard her name being called. Joshua haulted for a moment, his ears listening in to that familiar voice, "hey! You're early this time Shiki,"
"Oh come on, I'm not late all the time, Neku."
Joshua shook the bag off his head and glanced up at the spiky orange haired teen, his fuzzy white face full of crumbs. Even without the headphones, Neku still looked the same since the games, with the same sleeveless shirt and shorts. Nekus eyes wandered down towards him, and Joshua couldn't help but stare back, "oh! Is this yours?" said Neku. Shiki shook her head, "nope, I found the dog just sitting here all alone,"
"I wonder who the dog belongs too," said Shiki as they both stared down at him. She giggled and knelt back down to scratch him behind the ears. Joshua suddenly felt his whole body grow weak, what… is going… on? His legs gave in and found himself lying on the ground, closing his eyes and letting his tongue flap about.
Feeling his cell phone vibrate in his pocket, Neku reached in for it and flipped it open, revealing a message, "who is it?" asked Shiki looking up from the dog to Neku. He replied, "It's from Beat,"
Just then, Rhyme had arrived, running towards them with her hands waving in the air. She stopped next to Shiki, and bent over to catch her breath, "hey guys," she said between breaths, "sorry, but, my big brother isn't coming today,"
"Yeah, I just got his message. Big fight with his parents again?"
Rhyme stared at the ground and nodded her head slowly. Shiki stood up from her spot and placed a hand on her shoulder. Rhyme looked at her, seeing Shiki smile and reassuring her that everything between them is going to be okay, "don't you worry, I'm sure Beat's been in this kind of trouble before, it's going fine,"
"I… I hope so," said Rhyme softly.
Shiki then became concerned, "was it really bad?"
"Not so much. But, I think Beat's finally learning some self control. At the end, he stopped talking back to them and stormed out of the living room and into his room. I just really hope he's okay though," Rhyme said.
Joshua sighed and somehow pulled on a doggy smile. He hardly heard a thing as his mind seemed to be focused on the rubbing behind his doggy ears from before. Dazed as he is, he half whispered, "Do… do that again."
Shiki and the others blinked upon hearing his voice, and started turning heads to find the source. Joshua, who quickly came back to reality, folded his paws on top of his mouth and clamped it shut. He looked from Shiki to Neku, and feeling a slight relief that they still hadn't found out it was him, that was close, I better watch it next time.
The gang gave it up after a short while and continued on with their small talk. Rhyme had also asked about his doggy self and got the same answer as Neku.
As they were holding up a conversation, Shiki and Rhyme started moving inches away from the Hachiko statue. Neku, on the other hand, stood in place. The two girls looked back at him and wondered if he was coming along, "we're suppose to go to the park today, that was the plan remember?" said Rhyme. Neku glanced away as he placed a hand on his shoulder, rubbing it, "I remember, but… I'll catch up with you guys in a sec, I feel like staying here for awhile longer."
The two girls looked at each other, then back at Neku, "alright," said Shiki, "catch up with us soon okay?"
He stared, and just kept staring as people walked by, at an empty spot in the distance. He shifted his body a little as he was leaning against the Hachiko statue and continued staring. Joshua sat alongside him, shifting his gaze from the crowd of people to Neku and back. It was obvious to Joshua what Neku was doing, in fact, every day since the week the gang got together, Joshua would stand atop his building, watching them gather, and after that day, the same pattern would repeat, over and over again. The group would leave, but Neku would stay behind and wait for his appearance.
Neku… why do you insist on waiting for me? He closed his eyes again and took a deep breath.
"… I'm, waiting for someone," Joshua heard Neku say, and turned to look up at him.
Neku stayed quiet for a short while, then looked down at him, "to me, the group just isn't the same without him." Neku then sighed and turned away.
This was as close to Neku as Joshua got since week 2 of the games, and for the first time, Joshua could see just how empty he seemed. Those eyes that were full of life when he was with Shiki and Rhyme, had suddenly vanished, "I don't know," Neku continued, "maybe it's just because… I miss him."
He checked the time on his cell phone and pushed himself off the statue, "… he didn't show up again…"
A whine came from Joshua's throat as he watched Neku turn his back to him. for some reason, he had the feeling to desperately call out and to tell him that he's always been there, "but… I'll keep waiting, until he does," Neku said and turned back around to face him, smiling, "he's my friend after all and whenever he needs me, then I'll be waiting, right here," he then stared out in the distance, still keeping that smile on his face, "he'll come, I just need to keep telling myself that," Neku whispered but loud enough for Joshua to hear.
His ears drooped down again as he watched Neku blend into the crowd. A small whine came from him again, now having a sudden urge to run after the teen. His little paws moved on its own; walking slowly at first, and then picking up the pace, his tongue flapping out again in an up and down motion.
But Neku… I'm here.