RAW: “Doggy Style,” by Sol Crafter – Chapter 02

Title: Doggy Style
Author: Sol Crafter
Genre: mm, supernatural romance, urban fantasy, magical realism
Rating: Mature
Warning: Raw Feed
Summary: One minute Zack was uncrating the new shipment. The next minute he’s a dog. At least Sean seems to be a dog person. Now he just has to get Sean to be a a Zack person.

CHAPTER TWO

After discovering Zack’s phone abandoned on a table, Faraday wasn’t thinking it was a joke anymore. There was no way Zack would ever willingly go anywhere without his phone. This was a case of missing persons.

Freaking out, he called the police. He emphasized the fact that their shop contained lots of expensive things that someone might decide to kidnap someone over. He only relaxed a little when they said they would send someone around to investigate.

Then he drew in a deep breath and took the plunge. He called Angela Branagh, Zack’s mother.

He’d known the woman since he was a child, so he was intimately acquainted with just how crazily overprotective she was. He’d barely got the words “I think Zack’s been kidnapped” out before he was talking to empty air and he knew she was already gone.

He went out front to tell Lily to close the store and brace for impact. Hurricane Angela was on the way.

Lily was so shaken at the idea of one of her bosses being taken without her noticing, that she just quietly walked to the door and flipped the sign to CLOSED. She looked pale and scared, her fingers twisting and twisting the little pendant on her necklace.

“Do you think Mr. Branagh’s okay?” she asked. Her raccoon eyeshadow was looking a bit more raccoony and tear-streaked than usual.

Faraday shook his head. “I don’t know.” He wasn’t going to lie to her; not when he didn’t even have the freedom to lie to himself.

Fear churned in his guts and he couldn’t help imagining all the terrible things that could be happening to Zack. It made him want to throw up. And that wasn’t even counting the guilt he felt.

Zack had been his best friend since they were kids. They were closer than brothers. They’d made the decision to go into business together because it seemed like the thing to do, and they were good at the antique business. But Faraday had always been a free-spirit, and he had used that against Zack. He’d taken to slacking off and leaving Zack to pick up the pieces and he’d kind of talked himself out of feeling guilty about it, except now it was all coming back on him.

Zack was missing and it was his fault. Because if he’d been here like he’d promised, helping to sort through the new shipment, there was no way anyone could have broken in through the back and gotten Zack away.

Zack had always been quiet and bookish. He occasionally practiced yoga, but he’d never focused much on strength training and Faraday had always been there if anyone wanted to cause a fight. He’d taken on the mantle of protector, and all through school he’d taken the role pretty seriously, making sure that any bullies quickly learned to leave Zack alone.

Only when Zack really needed him, he’d been fucking some chick whose name he could barely remember.

Bile burned the back of his throat and he leaned against the counter, waiting.

He figured he only had a couple of minutes before Angela would make her appearance. And there was no way she was going to be any kind of calm and reasonable, not where her “baby boy” was concerned.

* * *

After dinner, Sean rinsed his dishes and set them in the sink for later. He usually washed them immediately, but he felt kind of lazy and just looking at the dog snoring away had made him a bit sleepy.

He figured he’d watch TV for a little while, then go to bed.

“Come on, boy,” he said, gently nudging the dog’s side with his foot.

The black dog woke with a start, jerking upright and blinking around rapidly. It made Sean laugh to see it. “You’re so silly.”

The dog gave him a reproving look, but followed him into the living room. He looked like he wanted to jump up on the couch for a second, but instead he just curled up on the floor next to Sean’s feet.

Sean reached down and stroked the dog’s head, liking the softness of his fur. “You sure are a good looking dog,” he said. “I bet someone’s really missing you right now.” He kept saying it because he knew he needed the reminder that he couldn’t keep the dog, no matter how much he wanted to.

The dog snuffed, then laid his chin on the floor. Sean leaned down to scratch at his neck, then reached further to scratch around his ribs. The dog sighed and uncurled, rolling on his side to expose a bit of his belly. His back legs spread a little and he stuck out his chest, his head falling back against the floor in bliss.

Sean laughed. “Well, I can see what you want.” He rubbed the dog’s belly for a while, making him jerk his leg spasmodically. He looked so happy lying there.

When Sean finally stopped scratching him and sat back on the couch, the dog still lay on his back with his feet in the air. He’d fallen asleep in that ridiculous pose.

Sean shook his head and turned the TV on, lowering the volume so as not to wake him. He relaxed back on the couch and felt more content than he had in a long time.

His stomach was full, he didn’t have anywhere to be, and he had a dog at his feet. All was right in the world.

*

At some point the dog started making a whining sound and his left back leg started jerking wildly. He rolled on his side and whimpered.

Sean looked at him concernedly, realizing that he was having some kind of nightmare. The sound he was making was so pitiful that Sean couldn’t stand it anymore and he slid down onto the floor next to him, carefully laying his hand on the dog’s side. The last thing he wanted was to scare him and get bitten.

He shook the dog gently. “Come on, it’s all right,” he soothed.

The dog woke with startling abruptness, staring at him. Then it whined and crawled close against his side, pressing its face into his stomach.

Sean sighed and gently stroked the dog’s head. “It’s all right. I don’t know what you were dreaming about, but it’s all right.”

The dog burrowed in closer, rising up on his back legs so he could put his front paws across Sean’s legs. He was trying to crawl into Sean’s lap, which was kind of cute, except he was big enough that Sean was unbalanced and fell on his butt on the floor.

The dog seemed to take that as permission and Sean found himself with a lapful of black mutt.

“You are the silliest dog,” Sean said, hugging him close. He laughed a little at the way the dog nuzzled his head up under his chin. “You really need a name if we’re going to be this intimate.”

The dog didn’t answer, of course, just snuggled close against him, practically forcing Sean to wrap his arms around him to keep him from falling over.

“You know, I’m glad I met you,” Sean said. The dog glanced at him, seeming to listen. He snorted a laugh. “I was feeling kind of down in the dumps, and then there you were. There’s always something so nice about having a dog around.”

He leaned his back against the edge of the couch. “You know, he came into the cafe again today. I tried to talk to him, but as usual he was in his own little world. I don’t think he even knows I exist.” He sighed sadly. “I thought crushes were something you outgrew once you stopped being a teenager, but I actually think it’s worse now then when I was younger.” He pressed his cheek against the dog’s head. “He makes me feel like a fifteen year old girl. I want to write in my diary about him and wallow in angst whenever I think about him. It’s kind of stupid.”

He stroked the dog’s ears. He could tell that the animal was starting to relax from whatever fright it’d had, soothed by the sound of his voice. And it was actually kind of nice to tell someone about what he was feeling, since there was no one else in his life he had even trusted the information of his crush too. And who would a dog tell anyway?

“He wears sweater vests and glasses. He should look like a total nerd, but he’s just too cute. He always orders the same thing, and the way he closes his eyes as he takes a big breath of the steam…” Sean shook his head ruefully. “Sometimes I use that for my fantasies when I beat off. He just… he looks like he’s having an orgasm or something when he breathes in my coffee, and I know it’s stupid to be jealous of a hot beverage, but I totally am jealous.

“He always orders the same thing, but he never just says ‘Give me the usual.’ And I think that it’s because he doesn’t even realize that I’m the same guy that serves him every day. He doesn’t even realize that I exist. And I just don’t have the balls to tell him that I’ve got a teenaged crush on him and I’d really like to carry his books to class please and maybe make out behind the bleachers later.”

Sean scrubbed a hand through his hair and looked into the dog’s eyes. He thought he saw understanding there, which was ridiculous. Though it was nice to pretend. “He’s my girl in a red dress. I see him, I want him, but he’s never going to even notice that I exist at all. So what do you think about that, huh?” He roughly scratched the dog’s neck ruff. “Huh? What do you think?”

There was no answer, not that he expected one, and the dog seemed to have completely relaxed against him. It must be nice to simply live in the moment and just be able to let go of all worries like that.

“I’d forget all about him if I could,” Sean said. “You’re one lucky dog.”

* * *

He hadn’t even realized that Sean was talking about him at first. Not until the sweater vest and glasses thing.

It was weird to realize that someone had been watching him every day, and he felt like kind of a jerk that he hadn’t even noticed he had an admirer. Though he really felt guilty that he’d made Sean feel as though he hadn’t noticed that the same guy was making his coffee every day. He had.

He’d also noticed that Sean was very good looking, and thus totally out of his league. So he’d kept his head down and tried not to show exactly how affected he was by the guy. Which must have come off as him being a jerk. But there was nothing he could do about any of that now since he was currently a dog, which he was still freaking out about, in an emotionally distant way.

It was incredibly hard to be bothered by anything. He would start to get into a real panic mode, then something would just kind of derail the whole emotion and he would find himself distracted by something.

Like how good Sean smelled.

Zack buried his nose against Sean’s shirt and snuffled loudly. Sean smelled like comfort and safety and home somehow.

Some animal instinct wanted to insist that Sean was his man. Not his master, because he hadn’t lost himself that completely, but still someone that belonged to him. And he wanted to stay close to him and stake his claim just in case some other dog wanted to move in and try to take his place. Which he would never let happen because Sean belonged to him and he would fight anyone that tried to take him away and…

He was startled to realize that that low growling sound had come from his throat. It was still vibrating through him and he was shocked because he hadn’t even realized he was going to do it.

Sean was looking down at him worriedly, his hands still on Zack’s back, but not moving anymore. “You’re not going to try biting me, are you? Because that’s all I need, a rabies shot.”

Zack lowered his head ashamedly and after a moment Sean resumed his stroking. His fingers were clever and worked in to find spots that Zack hadn’t even realized would feel good until he felt his bones trying to melt.

He had no idea what was going on or what he was going to do about it, but as long as Sean kept petting him he simply couldn’t find it in him to care. He’d been turned into a dog somehow, but all he wanted was for Sean to keep scratching him forever. Everything else was just too distant for him to even worry about.

It was as though “Zack Branagh” was some other person, and the only life that mattered was the one he was living right now. With fur and paws and sharp teeth that had him biting his tongue occasionally when he wasn’t careful.

This was the only moment that mattered and nothing else could ever mean as much as now. With Sean scratching him, the TV a warm background murmur, and the world something that happened to other people.

He yawned hugely and rested his head against Sean’s chest. He could hear the man’s heartbeat under his skin, a soothing thrum.

* * *

“What happened? Just tell me what happened.”

Faraday winced away from Angela’s eyes. “We’re not really sure,” he said. “Lily called me and let me know that Zack has gone missing.”

She cocked her head. “Where were you? Shouldn’t you have been here?”

“Yeah, I should have been,” Faraday ducked his head in shame, “but I wasn’t. I was… I was… He was here working and I wasn’t. And now someone’s kidnapped him and I don’t know where he went.”

Her hand was gentle and warm on the back of his neck. “There’s no time for any of that. We have to figure out what’s happened to Zack and get him home.”

He didn’t know what to say to her. The look on her face maybe frightened him a little.

Angela Branagh had always been nearly obsessive about keeping Zack safe. She had been so overprotective of her son that the idea of her never letting him go out on his own hadn’t really been that much of a joke. The day Zack had been allowed to move out of his parents’ house had been kind of a miracle day.

So Faraday knew she was only an inch away from completely nutting out. Not that he could really blame her. Someone had kidnapped Zack. How or why was a mystery, but they’d managed to force the back door and take him without anyone being the wiser.

“I hope he’s okay,” he said softly.

More than anything, he didn’t want to picture what kinds of terrible things could be happening to Zack. And if he died…

Faraday closed his eyes and just breathed for a minute.

There was a warm touch on his shoulder and he looked at Angela in surprise. There was kindness in her eyes when he would have expected to see blame, and it just about killed him.

“I’m sorry I didn’t take care of him,” he said.

She tsked softly. “He’s a grown man, no matter how I treat him. He’s not some little boy that constantly needs taking care of. I just…” She shook her head. “I don’t know what I’ll do if something happens to him.”

The second he saw the glisten of tears, he wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tight. “We’ll find him,” he promised.

“And if he’s just screwing around, I’m going to whip his ass,” she growled.

Faraday looked at her in surprise and she shrugged. “He’s my son,” Angela said. “I’m the only one allowed to beat him, even if he does need it.”

He rested his head on top of hers and sighed. She had always been the mother he had never had. She’d treated him more like family than as a guest when he was a kid, and she’d looked after him with no questions asked.

Zack was his best friend and Angela was the closest thing he had to a real mother. And if Zack turned out to be all right, Phillip Faraday vowed that he would start being a better best friend.

If Zack was dead…

He hugged Angela tighter, breathing in the fresh, floral powder scent of her perfume. Under it all, he caught the faint chemical smell that let him know she had just recently refreshed the light brown color of her hair. It was a familiar odor that his mind naturally seemed to associate with her and the warmth of family.

“He’s all right,” he whispered. “He’s gotta be.”

The gentle pats she gave him on the back made him want to throw up. He didn’t deserve to be comforted; he was the one that had screwed everything up, par usual.

But he didn’t say anything. Just let her hug him.

TBC…

Coming soon: Chapter Three.

* * * * *

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In case you’re unfamiliar, this story is presented as a Raw Feed. Before it appears as an ebook or pbook, it will experience a heavy going over and all the rewriting that it can handle. So if you want to wait for the official version, that’s cool. You can see this as kind of an early taste test.