To Fetch A Dog (Leonard #7)

Plot: Leonard gains a disturbed admirer..

November 1

The shout of the word “SURPRISE!” jolted the detective back a bit, but he quickly shrugged and smirked as his fellow officers shook his paw and gave him congratulations.

A long, white table sits in the middle of the break room, covered in dog treats and some cookies and candy for the human interns.

John Hulbert, dressed in his trademark police uniform approached Leo and hugged tightly, his happy tone made those around him light up, it seemed he was the type of husky that could brighten any day. “Leo you mutt! How did you do it?” To the detective, this was all part of his work. Catching a serial killer seemed quite routine, but  he had alluded everyone and left not much of a trail-but it was Keaton’s dedicated and heartfelt nature that kept him up the entire night when everyone else was asleep to get evidence he needed. It didn’t seem harder than his other cases, he had run into more unsavory anthros and humans in his life.

The forty year old (in human years) shrugged and loosened his black tie, matching his black suit and white dress shirt, he grabbed a cup of water and stood chatting to John. “Perhaps it was that I got more time alone, Chris has been busy with a few house sitters.” John nodded. “How is Chris? Still the same loving human I hope.” The lab let out a quick chuckle, the only way to get him to truly smile was the mention of his son. “For sure, hyper as ever. Damn, I would think with all the crap we’ve been through he’d be more leery, I’ve always been afraid he’d go back to being more scared, like he was before. Seems he’s happy though.” John placed a paw on Leonard’s shoulder. “I think he feels protected, he’s very proud of you. He knows you both make a good team.”

As soon as the husky left-a young, beautiful black panther approached the dog. Wearing a blouse and grey skinny jeans. Perhaps in her thirties, her blue eyes big and full of emotion as she looked at Leonard. Her triangular ears moved about, her voice sweet, but had a certain peppiness. “Hey Mr. Keaton. I’ve read all about you. You’re quite a legend.” She had always listened to his rough British accent from a distance, but hearing it up close made her heart flutter. He looked at her as he rubbed the back of his neck and shrugged. “I suppose, thank you. Nice to meet you.” Really, he was flattered, but he’d never been called such a thing, Chris did put his dad up a pedestal, and it seemed cute. This seemed more weird since he had never even seen this feline. “I’m Vanessa!” She shook his paw excitedly.

Vanessa took up Leonard’s time, not that he cared-she had good questions about human rights and what it was like for Chris to have an anthro father, what his disabilities were and what he did at home. Seemed she had done her homework on him and this meeting was something the intern had been waiting for.

As the crowd died down and Leo grabbed his first and final dog treat before exiting, she spoke as he looked for his car keys in his suit coat. “If you ever need anything, let me know. Papers copied, coffee made-really I’m learning the ropes and anything like that would help.” He nodded. “Thank you. Have a good evening.” He gave a toothless, but genuine smile and left.

Chris loved his new apartment, staying with Ashley, the arctic fox did not turn out so well, irritation got the best of her. The human also loved that new anthros were coming into check on him when he got home from school, as amazing as Leo was to him-these younger anthros were more willing to take him out and have fun.

Plus, his father felt that he should be around furries his own age. More positives than negatives seemed to have come out of this new change.

In the evening, when Leo got back from the office, Chris was napping on the couch wrapped in a blanket. A note was left on the kitchen table by one of Chris’ helpers, telling of the day’s activities.

November 2

The morning started off normal, as Leo came downstairs after showering and combing his fur, Chris was the first jump at him with questions. The morning had presented Keaton with a tired state of mind, but he didn’t want to offend his son by telling him to stop talking.

A few years earlier, he would have sternly stopped his son from berating him with unending hyperness and love to him as he busily got ready for work-but now the lab knew how far his own sternness would get, and knew that letting little things get to him was not worth it when most days his life was on the line. His son was happy, and that in turn made his dad was content about it. “Hey dad, when you get home-can we go out? Can we see a movie maybe?” Leo smirked, fixing his grey dress shirt and red tie and hooked his badge to the waist of his faded jeans and patted his son on his shoulder. “Depends what time I get home, go get ready for the house sitter coming over.” They both exchange a quick hug and the black lab grabs his brown leather jacket.

He shook a bit of water off of him before entering the building, the sound of the rain could still be heard as he walked through the large hallways, his brown dress shoes squeaked against the marble floor. He placed his black bag on the floor once he entered his large office which overlooked the entire city of Boston. His large desk not extremely messy, the only thing always on their was the framed photo of him and his son. He opened his laptop as he slumped in the large chair.

He suddenly heard a knock on his door, his ears, perked. “Come in.” He thought it would be John, offering him a beverage or a snack like he always did-but it was the same panther from last night.

Leo looked to her, she wore an all black outfit-brand new. Not super fancy, but not cheap considering the brand name. Her skinny tail flicked as she sat across from the dog, she places a fresh coffee in front of him, she sounded upbeat. “For you, Leo! I noticed you didn’t have a coffee with you, like usual.” He rolled his sleeves up to his elbows and leaned back. “Oh, well-thank you.” She stared at him, up and down, Vanessa stood to his side, looking over his shoulder. “How was your morning?” He typed at an email, glancing at her. “Not bad.” Clearly, he was busy. She continued to talk. “Can I get you anything else or are you good?” He looked to her one last time. “I’m alright, we can talk during break, okay?” His tone was soft, last thing he wanted to do was to offend her for just being a bit overly curious, but he knew she wouldn’t go away unless he explicitly stated her to leave. The cat felt a slight surge of anger, but she smiled and nodded. “Okay, see you then Mr. Keaton.”

Venessa had a lot to do, the boss had given her more than enough papers to copy and type, but today would be difficult. As her claws hit the keys in a quick and methodical pattern, the thought of the black lab detective invaded her brain. She sighed, continuing her work-but the image came up again and again. She typed harder, faster tried to be more concentrated. She groaned as her work was not coming out well, sighed and clenched her fist. The words had no spaces, no paragraphs. Just a jumbled mess of words that all seemed to collide into one another.

She stood up nervously. Those around her either on computers or answering 9-1-1 calls. She was one of the few not dressed in a cop uniform, but she knew that was not the life for her-but she did find officer’s quite cool.

She was startled by Mr. Hermin, the doberman and her boss approaching her cubicle. She wished she could cover it in images of hot anthros, but knew that was not work acceptable.

His pointed ears moved a bit, his brown suit looked quite good on him. “Vanessa? Everything okay?”  She nodded and placed her paws on her hips slowly. Her tone sounded distracted. “Yeah, just tired and stuff.” He nodded and he crossed his arms. “Why did you go see Leonard this morning?” She looked him in the eye, her tone more upbeat once the name of her hero was mentioned. “To get him a morning coffee, and we talked for a bit.” He smiled. “He’s a good guy. Get those papers done, my friend!”

Once he left, the panther grabbed her laptop and headed out of the office. She walked down the main hallway where all the main offices were, she took a seat on the floor, a few feet from Leo’s office, resting her back against the wall. Her mind now able to focus on her work a bit easier, knowing she could hear what was going on in his area. She enjoyed envisioning the dog working on his next case, being all heroic and strong. This is what her mind wondered to until lunch.

“So, Leonard-I just want you to know that if you ever need anything, like a sitter for your son or any help outside of work as well as here, I’m here for you.” They were the only two sitting in the break room, other officers came in and out, but Vanessa sat across from her inspiration. Leonard nodded, and while deep down he really wasn’t comfortable with someone he just met coming into his house, he shrugged, figuring nothing would come of it in the future. “Thank you.” Being kind was the best action Leonard figured he could do.

The cat wanted so badly to hold his paw, she let her fear slide by and attempted to inch her paw close to his. Once she grasped it, he gently patted it and went up to clean his dish in the sink.

She smiled, figuring maybe he was shy of her-she knew she was pretty, Leo certainly wasn’t like the other males who’d jump at an opportunity to have someone as sensual as her, her skinny body, her black silky fur, her huge blue eyes, her smell flawless and her clothing tight.

She silently stood to his side as he began to walk out of the room, hoping that maybe he could get some more emails written up. The panther stopped him nonchalantly but grasping his shoulder, this question had been burning in her brain ever since she laid eyes on the muscular canine. “There’s another lucky girl-o-or guy in your life, hm? I-I understand, and I’m sorry for being so naive.” He shook his head. “Just Chris and I.” Her ear flicked and she smiled a bit. “YOU? Single? Hard to believe, you’re such a nice guy.” The lab exited the room without a word, she walked to his side-he really hoped she wouldn’t, but knew she would anyway. It was no doubt Leonard was good at reading humans and furries, and right now it seemed this panther was desperate. Perhaps she had lost someone? Perhaps something happened that made her so clingy. Honestly, he felt no danger from her, sure maybe she was touchy, but that was a trait of the average furry as far as he was concerned. “Well Leonard, nice to see you! I’ll chat with you whenever. Just shoot me a text or call.”

He nodded-and realized he had no way to contact her, which sort of made him feel better. She would be a work furry, not an outside of work furry, with that logic it would not matter how many questions she asked. Leo felt he could handle this.

Vanessa made her way through her front door, her home quite large and elegant. Tiredly, she put her bag down and began cooking a meal for herself, she preferred home cooked meals and almost never ordered out. To keep her figure, she had a very strict diet.

As the food simmered, she decided to go online and research Leonard a bit. She found the same articles she had read before, she found what college he went to, and for the first time she decided to print some photos of him. Not that she went online to deliberately do this, but she figured why not? He wouldn’t care if he never knew. She would go out and buy some frames shortly, she did feel a ping of weirdness, but again-not like he’d ever know.

Leonard and Chris spent some time on the couch, his son flipped through a few TV channels, but spent most of his day telling his dad about school. His son placed an arm around his dad. “Dad, have you you e-ever thought of leaving the FBI?” Leo was surprised this question came out, he glanced to his son. “Not really, why? Do you not like when I’m gone?” Chris said nothing and just shrugged. “I understand your worry, but it is what I do best. I know that, and I think you know it too.” Chris nodded. “I’m probably not going to work weekends anymore though, my boss is very open minded and understands that I need to see you and hang out with you. That would help, hm?” With his thought interrupted, Loe’s cell phone went off, which meant a text came through. Hey Leonard! It’s Vanessa! How was work?

A text? From her? Leo didn’t answer right away, and Chris of course asked who it was.

No secrets anymore. Keeping his son away from his life was not fair to him, Chris knew that sometimes things in Leonard’s life got scary and he had a right to know what was up.

He’s eighteen, he’s an adult, he can know. “Well Chris, it’s a girl. A panther named Vanessa. I think she might have a crush on me.” The human smirked. “O-oh! Really? Do you like her? Is she pretty?! Can she come over?!” The dog chuckled at his son’s sudden burst of excitement, but spoke seriously and honestly. “I don’t know, Chris. She’s a bit much. Not that I think she’s dangerous, but she’s a bit too touchy and-I’m not comfortable with her coming into our lives, maybe if she became a bit more subtle. I doubt it though.”

He stood up to go get changed out of his work shirt, putting on a simple tight brown t-shirt.

Suddenly, his phone went off again, this time she was calling him. He sighed and decided to pick up, staying in his bedroom. “Hey Leo! What’s up?” He could tell this was a huge moment for her, her tone of voice said it. “Going to make some food soon for Chris, how did you get this number?” As he spoke, he looked out his window-expecting to see her there for some reason. “Asked someone at the office…I hope you don’t mind.” He did mind a bit, and now was a good time to begin to chip at the truth. “I don’t mind a text a day, but-I am rather busy at my house. I can’t be on the phone too long.” Not a lie, not even a ‘white lie.’ Keaton’s time at home meant a lot to him, and it meant even more to his son. “Oh! I’m sorry, I will see you at work then, have a good one!” She hung up right away to the dog’s surprise. He headed downstairs to make Chris a sandwich, well Chris actually would make it while his dad watched.

The panther rubbed her eyes, she hoped she wasn’t too forceful with her texting or call. After eating her homemade chicken meal, she decided to have a glass of wine and set one of the photos of Leo by her laptop.

November 3  

Leonard had meetings to attend, he wore his black suit and loose red tie complete with his cop badge on his waist, a cup of coffee sat by him. He spent his time shuffling papers. Like every morning now, the panther entered his office-freshly showered, wearing a floral sundress, this time with a container of food. “Hey you! I thought I’d cook some stuff up for your son, I had leftovers and thought you’d like them.” Okay, even Leonard had to admit, this WAS a thoughtful gesture. She stuck the delicious looking food in the fridge next to his desk. “Meetings today, Mr. Keaton?” She knew at work, she probably shouldn’t call him by his first name-even though to her, they were on a ‘best friends’ agreement.

She casually walked around his desk, picking up the framed photo of Leo and his son. “Chris looks quite happy here. Only thing missing is a beautiful wife…”

The dog glanced to her, no smile, not even a smirk. “Hey, I’ll see you at break. Okay? I have tons of papers to sort through.” He now had to put his foot down, even if it was in a calm and hopefully friendly way. She paused, her happy personality seemed to dwindle ever so slightly. She nodded. “Yeah, I understand. Totally. See you later!” With a wave, she left and headed to the bathroom.

She took a few deep breathes, speaking to herself. “It’s okay…he still likes you…it’s fine! FINE!” After the scream…she took a deep breath and whispered to herself. “No need to get upset.” She slammed her fist into the porcelain sink once, causing a nice bruise to form on her fist then briskly walked out.

The meetings went well, new interns wanted to ask Leo all types of questions, since everyone knew his name and knew the cases he’s solved, he was content with everything for the most part. Tiredly, he went to the break room to settle with some coffee and a snack. The break room had a few officers walking in and out, but for the most part was empty. He sat at the large white table, the counter with the sink and coffee maker directly behind him.


Of course, Vanessa walked in again. This time, not as invasive, being careful what wording she used. “Meetings go well?” He nodded and drank his beverage. “Went fine, thank you,” He didn’t want to seem interested, he wanted her to learn that he has limits. He knew if he started asking her questions, she’d stay forever and follow him out. She knew he wasn’t interested in her like she had hoped. Being friends was better than nothing, but her mind kept nagging for more. If she ignored it, she’d lose sleep. She’d scream. She’d regret it. She wanted to go full force. A rejection would be better than his unknown reaction.

She sat next to him, purring slightly, a sound that Leo found odd, yeah he was a dog and dogs never made that sound, but he still found it a bit off putting, especially that she started as soon as she was a few inches from him. “Leonard, I really want to help you.” The dog’s ears went down, so did his tail, speaking softly and perhaps feeling a bit jaded by this point. The meetings made him tired, which didn’t help anything. “Vanessa, I’m fine. Really, I have all the help I need.” With a sigh, he looked her in the eye. “I don’t have time to debate this every single day. Okay?” The panther put an arm around his shoulders, perhaps he needed calming. “Leo, I don’t want to debate-I just want to tell you how I truly feel.”

With a snap in his tone, he stood up and placed his hands on his hips, the yell was a quick burst and only lasted a second. “I know how you FEEL! You don’t need to keep telling me over and over. I get it.” His voice so cold and full of hate, the panther coiled back a tad bit.

Vanessa took a deep breath and began to cry ever so slightly, embarrassment washed over the dog, his sternness turned to sorriness. “O-okay Leonard…b-but you didn’t have to yell.” She cried a bit more.  He didn’t want to comfort her, he knew getting closer to her would only provoke this strange behavior. Also, he did not want to be a complete jerk, he needed to find some sort of inbetween. He slowly sat across from her. “Vanessa, please don’t cry. I need you to realize that, I can’t be with you twenty four hours a day. I think you’re reasonable enough to understand why. Okay?”

With a brisk walk, she approached the drawer full of knives and she pulled one out, Leo’s heart skipped a beat.

Time moved in slow motion, he got ready to defend himself for any attack. The dog slowed his breathing down, eyeing the cat. She raised the knife and slowly dragged it across her wrist, red fluid dripped onto the floor.

Now in full protective mode, Leo ran over and knocked the sharp object out of her paw and grasped both of her soft wrists. “STOP!” The panther hugged the dog as soon as he had yelled, rubbing her face into his chest like he was some live formation of catnip. “You left me no choice!” The detective gently grabbed her paw, changing his tone from stern to vigilant. “Vanessa, you need help. Right now.” He grabbed napkins, placed them under cold water and applied pressure to the wound. After calling in medical professionals, she was calmly whisked away, she did not put up a fight-she merely took one last glance at her lover…

 

November 8

Saturday morning proved to be stress free, for some odd reason-Venessa had stopped texting.

Driving down the road in his freshly cleaned convertible with the top down, his brain wasn’t filled with thoughts of some gruesome case. The sun shined, the afternoon breeze was cool because winter would be just around the corner. Two full cups of coffee from a local coffee shop were by the dog’s side.

He became curious when an unknown car was parked rather close to his home. He removed his black sunglasses and entered the clean living room.

He nearly dropped the beverages to the floor when a pretty black panther sat a few feet from his son, the two were chatting away on the couch. A single white bandage was around her right wrist. She turns to meet his confused gaze. “Hey Leo! I was in town and thought of stopping by! Hope you don’t mind.” This had to be the last straw, he gestured Chris over to the kitchen, not angrily, but swiftly for sure, his son of course knew something was up.

He kept his voice low as the two entered the kitchen, which was separated by a glass door. “D-dad? You okay?” The lab nodded. “Stay in here, I’ll explain later, I promise.” Chris rubbed the back of his neck, he knew not to disobey his dad. Leo swiftly grabbed Chris’ coffee and handed it to him so he could sip it calmly as he waited. He knew Leo knew what was best for him.
The muscular canine entered the living room, she looked him up and down in his tight grey v-neck shirt and green slacks. His brown eyes read a sort of dark puzzlement as she walked up to him to grasp his paw. “Nice house Leonard.” Her tone full of sweetness with a hint of seductiveness, she raised her right hand and was about to touch his muzzle. He grasped her paw before she could do so and put it to her side. “Leave, now.” His tone austere, she was surprised that after the crying fit, he still treated her this way. “L-leo. What did I do wrong?” The dog sighed deeply, scratching his flat ear. “I have to be stern about who enters my home, and from the way you’ve been acting-I frankly am uncomfortable.” Vanessa frowned, letting her tail rub his stomach, she was way too close for comfort. She sighs and heads for the door. “I’m glad your son has more respect than you, dog.” Slamming the door, Leo relaxed once he heard the sound of her car speed off. Chris slowly walked in and put an arm around his dad. “A-are you scared?” His brown eyes didn’t read fear, but concern. “On edge, but not scared.” He locked his front door and windows.

For the next half hour or so, he explained the issue to Chris over the coffee and snacks.

“I’m sorry d-dad, if I had known, I wouldn’t have let her in.” His father shrugged. “I know, you were only trying to be nice to her by letting her in. As I’ve explained, I don’t think I’m comfortable with her. No matter what she says, don’t take it as one hundred percent truth.” After a quick tuck in, Chris was asleep on the couch.

Meanwhile, Leo got into his pajamas and decided to block her phone number.

November 11

Vanessa stopped Leo in the hall with urgency, handing him a very expensive bouquet of roses. “Leo, sweetheart I’m so sorry for everything. I’m sorry for stressing you out, I’m sorry for coming over. I’m sorry. I want to remain friends. You’re a good boy!” She sounded so motherly, the dog declined the flowers, looking to her with a scrutinizing look in his eye, but said not a word as he headed to his office, glancing at the officers making copies of records and hearing the sounds of office ambience. She surprisingly did not follow him, perhaps she knew he wasn’t in good spirits or perhaps she knew the wrong she had done.

As he sat at his computer, the office door opened to reveal John Hulbert. He shut the door and crossed his arms, looking at the lab with his blue eyes. “Leonard? Can I talk to you?” He nodded and leaned back in his chair. John pulled up a chair and he stopped smiling, whatever this was-was serious if Hulbert didn’t have a puppy smile on his face. “Are you okay?” Leo was rarely asked that question at work.

Are. You. Okay? The words jingled in his brain, a truthful answer is what his best friend deserved. This was the moment to open up, he needed and help and there was no two ways about it. “Not really. I do have an issue.” He didn’t give a ‘sad puppy dog’ face, but remained stoic.

John leaned forward, his paws folded, the handcuffs on his uniform jingle a bit. “What’s up, bud?” Silence filled the room. “The new intern, Vanessa. She frankly makes me uncomfortable. After she cut herself, she ended up in my house, talking to my son. I flipped out. Typically, I can take care of things on my own, but I can’t risk my son being in danger. It’s all my fault. If I hadn’t talked to her during the party.” John stands up and gives a deep sigh. “No, she’s crazy. She would have gone after you anyway if she was so nuts about you. Your concern is beyond okay. Obviously, she’s dangerous.” Leo knew he was right after he thought about his words. She IS insane and most likely nothing would have kept her away. She would have found some excuse to be with him. Her determination and darkness filled the detective up with nervousness.

Venessa did not show during break time-however another furry walked in on Leonard. Mr. Herman, he sat himself down. “Sorry to bother you on break, Leonard. Wanted to tell you that Vanessa has been fired.”

He paused to let Leo think on that for a bit. “Leonard, I’m so sorry for all the stress she caused you. It’s never okay to feel uncomfortable in your own workspace. John Hulbert told me everything, and you can put all that nasty stuff behind you.” As calming as Leo’s boss was, somehow the black lab knew this would not be the end of her, and that now it was time to be more careful than ever.

 November 17

Strangely, she didn’t try to show up to work, the detective was able to do his normal routine of paperwork, which actually was really nice. No cases were to be solved, he was able to go home early on a few occasions and go to the mall with his son, which was his favorite activity.

Her bookstore bag full of items, she was in a good mood. The cashier did notice all of the magazines had the same black lab on them, articles written over the years by human rights organizations and police officers. Not that he was famous really, but furries knew he had made a positive dent in the community.

Her home, two floors and a basement. The feline spent hours sitting at her kitchen table with a pair of scissors, cutting out images of Leonard and listening to music. With papers scattered over the floor, she began gluing the pictures to various walls in her living room. A feeling grew inside her she had never felt, a feeling of accomplishment and perhaps a bit of erotic tension. Once an hour was up, her living room was plastered with glued images of Leonard, from magazines and a few from Facebook searches. She was away from Leo’s work, but due to her having his number-she could call him anytime. She sighed happily and went through her contacts, she scrolled threw a few names-but Leonard’s was there, but was not clickable.

Scratching her ear, she decided to dial his number, she put the phone on speaker phone, an automated voice came on. The number you are trying to reach has blocked you. Goodbye. She chuckled, figuring this was a one time occurrence, a mishap with the phone company or her service. She dialed again. The number you are trying to reach has blocked you. Goodbye. Vanessa dials again, this time pressing her paws into the phone more firm. The number you are trying to reach has blocked you. Goodbye. Her mind became more concentrated, she sat down with a slump. She sighed, dialing again. The number you are trying to reach has blocked you. Goodbye. He blocked her. He. Blocked. Her.

The panther now knew it-and she didn’t want to admit it to herself. Her soul felt crushed. Her brain swarmed with anger and deep, unflinching and undying love. She screamed at the top of her lungs and tossed her phone clear across the living room. “FUCK YOU LEONARD!”

November 18

The dog walked in from work as his son took his nap, a ritual after school. The sun shined through the windows of the house, he bid farewell to the teenage housesitter who had watched Chris for a few hours, paid her some money and placed his bag to the floor.

Loosening his tie and removing his suit jacket, he sat at the clean kitchen table after closing the glass door. Opening his email, he saw much of the same pointless advertisements  he always did.

One email did strike him, something at the very top. The subject line read: OPEN ME from VanessaWalton@gmail.com. Moving his mouse almost hesitantly over the message box, like it would reach over and bite him in the face. He needed to click it, what had the crazy furry sent him? Clicking on the message, no words were written, just a link to a video posted on some social media site. Leo dreaded seeing what it possibly could be, he clicked it with a quick and slightly uneasy sigh.

The camera faces Vanessa, dressed in a pink bathrobe, her backdrop nothing more than an expensive bathroom. She appeared to be holding her cellphone to her face and recording herself, the angle above her head, like a mini bird’s eye view, her blue eyes staring deep into the lense lovingly, but with an edge, the angle also purposefully revealed slight cleavage.

Her voice not sweet and sensitive like it was most times they met, this time their was an air of desperation. Her voice slightly echoed through the bathroom, her hand steady, her fur combed neatly, most likely especially done for filming flattering frames. “Hello Leonard. This is what everything has come too.” Leo folds his hands and leans into the computer monitor. “I didn’t want to say it, I didn’t want it to be true, but you’re ignoring me.” She coughs, her hand less steady now, a lump forms in her throat.

Her sharp claws painted a deep purple color, her teeth revealed slightly as she spoke the disheartening words, a cat’s teeth were quite sharp and thin. “I know in your mind I’ve done wrong things, maybe I’ve said some stuff that rubbed you the wrong way and I am deeply sorry. Cats and dogs, always complex.” She softly chuckled, her voice pounded in Leonard’s brain, not because she was loud or her voice was annoying-but because he hated her heart so much that hearing her speak sent crazy and dark images to his mind.

“You don’t know what it’s like, detective Keaton. At night, I envision you…NO I envision us. Your muscular arms wrapped around me, protecting me from the uncertainty of the night and of my own bad memories. Your deep brown eyes, staring at my body-both of us at ease. Your head smooth and fluffy as I rub my claws through your perfect body.”

She smirks, her tone going up in happiness, Leonard’s heart feels nothing but dark and empty. “We speak to each other about our days, about our jobs, about our son-Chris. We’re so proud of him and how he’s able to overcome his special needs. You, no longer saddened by the cases that drill your mind, me no longer an uncertain feline with no man to come to for warmth. Chris, happy that he has not only a loving father, but an amazing mother to nurture him and tuck him in at night.” He growled a bit, getting extremely irritated by what he was enduring, it was like a boxing match. Does he face the terror head on and get a bit damaged, or does he tap out and let it all end like a failure? “Leonard Keaton I love you. Do you understand? I think you do-and I think this perfect life can happen. We have to erase the past, go beyond our friendship. Every night..this image of a perfect life hurts my brain, it hurts my heart, it hurts my soul. Losing sleep over the imagination is frequent-but our life doesn’t have to BE imaginary Leo.” The video cuts to black. He hopes it’s over. He hopes this feline has the decency to cut him off from the madness. Once the video cuts back, it is of Vanessa’s living room, no longer facing her visage, but a wall. A wall of cut out images of Leonard himself, plastered with glue and scotch tape, her voice heard clear as crystal as she shows him each individual image. The lab shivered in horror. “Call me crazy sweetheart, but I think this is nice. I think when we’re together, I will keep this all here. Here’s you in a tie, in a t-shirt, shirtless on the beach. Sometimes, I’ll even put myself in these pictures and imagine what it would be like to be in your presence. It is euphoric.”

The camera flips back to the bathroom and to her face which now looked much more grim. “Leo, I don’t mean to be firm o-or drive you away, but you are driving me crazy. You really are.” A tear escapes her eye, a frown begins to form, the camera shakes a tad bit. “I want this so badly, and I’m sending you this-because it’s from the heart, it’s from my spirit. Those times a-at the office when you grasped by paw, I n-never forgot that feeling. How I long for it again, your brown eyes, your puppy dog face. I want it. For me. I want you to know the life you c-could have. If you don’t respond within three days of this-then you’re a monster.”

Her voice goes a bit deep, her blue eyes no longer full of wonderment and happiness, but of slight anger. “I know you’ll respond, but just know that if you deny to even write-then you’re heartless. Look at me Leonard…look at the loneliness, LOOK into my eyes. You’re the only one f-for me, a-and you know it, you son of a bitch!”

Her soul was cracking, revealing the true underbelly, she hisses a tiny bit. “I love you, but I can be your worst enemy if you dare cross or ignore me! M-maybe I’ll even take Chris…i-if I don’t feel you’re fucking respectful enough. Everyone knows you can’t be a single parent with a-a human, Leonard. You NEED me…I hope you’re watching and listening. You love me, you need me for yourself AND for your son. Got it? Don’t be an asshole, write me.”

With that, the screen goes black.

Leonard removes his headphones and stands ever so slowly to prepare a meal for his son, he knows Chris is up from the sound of his ipad in the living room. His paws shake a bit as, his breathing is a bit heavy. Was he having a panic attack? Maybe a small one. Taking care of Chris was not really an issue, but trying to get work done was a bit tougher. He jotted a few words for his report he had been working on for a few days, but the feeling of being watched waved over him like a dark cloud refusing to dissipate.

November 19- Morning

Today, the energetic husky had a day off.

He started off his morning by showering and singing, throwing on a yellow t-shirt and light blue sweatpants and grabbing his suitcase.

He was going to a family get together, and he couldn’t be more happy than to see his mom, dad, cousins, brothers and sisters. He checked the upstairs, flicking off all the nights and humming to himself, the sun shining and the weather a bit cold. He sent a few last texts to his grandfather, who was scheduled to meet him at the train station soon.

All the lights were off, stove turned off, window blinds shut, he smiled and hoisted his suitcase towards the front door, opening it quickly with a wag from his bushy tail.

His heart went to his throat, he barked ever so slightly in fear and he dropped the suitcase with a bang, the panther he had seen at work,Vanessa was standing in the door frame. Smelling of sultry perfume, wearing a skimpy blue dinner dress, matching her energetic, but slightly chaotic blue eyes. She smirked as she saw the rightfully shocked officer’s facial expression. “Mr. Hulbert! I’m so sorry! I wanted to ask you a question, you busy?” Returning to his normal demeanor, but feeling a tad bit of fear as he knew the mental breakdown she had and the ‘obsession’ with a certain black lab detective. He rubbed the back of his neck and lifted his suitcase again with a chuckle that read surprise, but a warm heart. “Venessa! Jeez, been awhile since I’ve seen you. Staying healthy and happy I hope?” She nodded, her body read ‘I’m fine’ but her heart screamed in pain, pain of wanting love and affection from only one anthro. She spoke again. “Thank you, Mr. Hulbert-I’ve been better actually. I wanted to know if I could use your phone? See, I think Leonard blocked me by accident and I know about his depression and his son, I want to make sure he’s okay.” The husky sighed, his ears drooped ever so slightly. “I’d love to help, but I really need to go. I’m late for a family get together.” She interrupted him, stepping up into the house, her movements slow and sensual, he was a bit worried she might be coming onto him now. The dog watched the panther’s kinks, her sexual walk, her velvet smooth voice, the clicking of her highheels prominent as she made her way into his house. She smirked. “I’ll only be a moment, I promise dear.” He had no choice, he was not like Leo who would have scolded her a long time ago, this all happened so quickly.

John gave a nod and a half of a smirk, his nerves not shown at all. Being an officer, he knew he needed to stay in control of himself and watch her.

He was not quick enough for her, as he attempted to back away and let her into the living room, he felt an intense pinch go through his stomach. With a whimper, he tried to lunge to the cat to defend himself, but the dog found himself feeling quite drowsy within a moment or two and fell to the hardwood floor. This medicine did not knock him out totally, it was more of an anesthesia, making his brain and body go limp. His surroundings slowly disappeared as the medicine kicked in and soon all he could see were vague shapes, her voice echoed, the sound of the living room door slamming was a bit painful to his now fragile brain, he barely had enough strength, but he managed to turn himself on his back, facing upwards towards the villain who had tricked him.

She must have had a hidden hammer, because she suddenly held one, silver color, one that could be bought at any hardware store. Her eyes narrowed in anger, her dark heart coming out in full.

Vindictive and evil was all that went through John’s brain, and he could not defend himself from whatever would happen. “John, I know you can hear me. That medication will tire you, but you should be quite aware of what I’m saying. Nod if you understand.” He groggily did so, his voice sounded hoarse. “Y-yes. S-stop, now. Please.” She lifted the hammer, he didn’t have the strength to stand let alone try and fight back. “Tell me where Leonard is. I can’t get a hold of him and his boss won’t let me into the office. Where can I find my true love?” The husky sighed deeply, his fur stood up on end. “I-I don’t know.” With a whack from the hammer, John knew she had aimed and hit his arm, and judging from the snap it was broken. He barked loudly, a tear formed in his eye. She walked around his writhing body. “John, I can make this very hard for you, where is LEONARD?”

Mr. Hermin had not given Leo much to do, but he needed to fill out some papers for a case, Leo sat in his usual spot-his large office, leather jacket slung over his big leather chair, in a flannel shirt and jeans with dress shoes, he felt today would be quick and easy and he’d get home just in time for Chris’ school bus in the afternoon.

As he reviewed a case file for a colleague, his cellphone went off, which he usually turned off during work. Without really thinking, he picked it up, strangely no one said ‘hello’, all he could hear was two voices. One of a drugged up husky named John Hulbert and the bitchy voice of Vanessa yelling. “WHERE IS LEONARD?” He could hear she was breaking various objects, Leo leapt from his chair and briskly walked to Mr. Hermin’s office, he felt dizzy, but his brain was on a one track destination. “Hermin, we need to send officers to John Hulbert’s house-NOW. He’s in trouble.”

The doberman nodded, Leonard was never one to sound urgent, nor was he one to call for backup, but this time was different. A few officers of varying species came out in blue uniforms, heading for their police cruisers.

John could not focus on her yelling, the damage from the broken arm was worsening, the medication was wearing off, the dog looked pale, his eyes tired, he could not speak. He was in shock. He tried not to move his arm, the cat stood over him, various objects broken in and around the living room, her dress partly torn.

She gave a gentle kick to his busted arm, he barked loudly. “John-we can sit here all day, tell me where he is! I don’t think you understand how important this is.” The dog took many deep breaths. “I-I can’t tell you…bitch.”

Like angels from heaven, he heard the sounds of police sirens, officers had the entire home surrounded. Leonard was the first to get out of his vehicle, gun drawn and ready to enter the home. He knocked on the door. “Venessa, open up. This is the police. You hurt John and I will make sure you never hurt anyone again. Understand?”

The panther’s thoughts turned from extreme anger, to extreme love in a blink of an eye. She smiled. HIS voice was calling her, HIS muscular body was right outside the living room, ready to be cuddled. “LEONARD! Sweetheart, you don’t need to be mad.”

She ran to the door, bloody hammer still in hand, she dared not open the door-as much as her soul told her to do so. Unfriendly officers were outfront, she wouldn’t risk getting herself or her lover hurt. “John is nothing but a terrible dog! Getting in our way!” Leo knew she’d pull this, he kept his voice calm and collected. “Please, open the door and we’ll get you straightened out. Okay?” A long pause, if she truly loved him-she would listen to him. She wouldn’t want to make things worse with him. With a sigh, she dropped the hammer. In death, she knew she’d never see Leonard, but perhaps in prison, she would see him? It was a possibility. With his gun drawn, he backed away as the living room door creaked open and a frazzled black panther stood. She gazed at the muscular lab, it was almost sad. Really, it wasn’t though-because he ignored her depressed and desperate look to go after his friend who was on the ground and clutching his right arm, as he leaves she nearly wanted to reach out and touch the dog one last time-but felt it would probably get her shot.

He kneels by the husky, holding his left hand and speaking to him-he had never spoken in this tone to him directly, but knew he had it in him when comforting Chris. “John, look at me-you’re okay. Breathe. It’s over.” John did not speak, really all he wanted was for the pain to go.

A german shepherd grasped Vanessa’s shoulder, cuffing her swiftly, she was extremely distracted by the black lab and felt a bit of jealousy course through her veins as he looked at how calm and sweet he was being to John-but held it in. She had proved her point, and maybe one day he’d come to his senses and ‘date’ her if she got off on parole.

This was the hope that filled her. This was what made her climb in the back seat of the cruiser. Seeing Leonard again, was all worth it.

All she thought about was that moment the two made eye contact, nothing before or after. It was the closest she may get to him in a long time.

November 19- Evening

Chris sat across from John’s bed, who was now dressed in a hospital gown. He was responsive and chatting a bit to the young human, an IV was placed in his wrist to get the drugs out from the attack, his arm was a large and comfortable sling. His family would be their to visit the next day, Chris insisted on staying with John the entire night. The beeping from the machines didn’t bother him, nor did the nurses coming in and out-he knew he made John feel good and that’s what was important. John had a bit of trouble sleeping, but the sounds of the hospital ambience and the doctors soon brought his mind to a calm state and he was able to rest.

Leonard entered the bar close by to his home, Chris fast asleep and John in a surprisingly healthy condition. He sits down at a table, waiting to be served. He needed to be alone, the excitement from the day had completely wiped him out. As he looked at the menu, deciding on his beverage of choice, a female voice spoke to him-someone he knew. Wearing all black, thin, golden fur and a smile that would light up any room. Her tail wagged in excitement, she had not changed a bit. “What can I get you, Leonard Keaton?” He could not believe his eyes, he stood up slowly, his brain connecting dots. “Sandy?” She wrapped her arms around him. “How are you? It’s been too long!” Leo nodded. “Sure has.” She held his paw and continued to speak, it was like time did not catch up with her. She was in her twenties when they first met, and she didn’t look a day over thirty. Sandy must have kept good care of herself. “Can we catch up sometime? I could meet your adorable son?”

Normally, he wouldn’t want anything to do with any female who was interested in him-and it was no secret to him that in college he was her crush. With an open mind and an open heart, he nodded. “Yes. I’d like that very much, it’s so good to see you.” Once he ordered his drink-he sat…feeling not content about Sandy, but happy. As happy has he was when they were first together. That was her. She made anthros and humans happy. Perhaps she would be the change he needed. Maybe this meeting would be the chance of a lifetime to get out of the dark hole known as depression and welcome new opportunities.

End

   

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