Wolfhound Chapter 1

WARNING: Smut ahead! (In later chapters, anyway.)

Finch approached the library with his usual caution-masked-in-nonchalance. He was using the tunnel entrance today because it had been selected by the randomizer program on his cell phone – he tried to avoid forming any behavioral patterns, since predictability made it that much easier for one’s enemies to catch one. Or, in his case, overly curious employees as well; but he had long since ceased to care about Reese’s probing into his personal life. The fact that the man had not taken advantage of Finch’s vulnerable state of mind when he had been under the influence of MDMA spoke volumes: Reese was curious, but not unscrupulous. And despite Finch’s natural distrust of humanity, he was willing to admit that he had grown to trust Reese.

He had hung up with Reese the previous night after monitoring that he had successfully “gift-wrapped” a Haitian gang-banger for the police. The young man, who was barely eighteen years old, had already murdered two Puerto Rican boys in a rival gang, with his sights set on taking out most if not all of their leadership. Reese and Finch were able to stop his killing spree and ensure that the NYPD had enough evidence to convict him for the first two. All in all, it had been a smooth and relatively easy job.

As Finch neared the underground entrance, he caught a glimpse of movement ahead of him and froze. Occasionally he had found vagrants – some desperate or drunk homeless person – taking shelter from the elements in the tunnel, but today was a nice day due to the unseasonably early onset of spring, so it was hard to imagine why anyone would prefer the darkness, dampness, and cold of the tunnel to a park bench. Unless, of course, they had a more nefarious reason for hiding here…

Finch tensed and wished, not for the first time, that he had some of Reese’s skill in self-defense. “Just poke him in the eye, poke him in the eye…” he repeated to himself, readying a finger as he cautiously stepped closer to the door. The shadow in the recessed entrance shifted, making him realize that whoever it was must be crouched down on the ground.

“W-Who is it?” Finch demanded, in a much smaller voice than he had hoped. At least it was not quite as shaky as he felt.

“Woof!” came a low, unmistakable bark. Finch almost laughed in surprise and relief. No doubt it was a stray dog, sniffing its way through the passage in hopes of finding something edible.

“There’s nothing to eat here,” he said, drawing nearer and waving his hand at the mongrel. “Go on, find some dumpster to scavenge.” The shadow arose and Finch realized that the dog was much larger than he had originally thought – it stood at least three feet tall and (from what he could see of it in the darkness) looked to be a cross between a Greyhound and a Great Dane, with shaggy fur sticking out at all angles along its body.

“Go on, shoo!” he repeated, waving his briefcase in the futile hope that it might scare off the huge creature; the dog merely stood there, wagging its tail, and Finch was left with the sinking realization that he could not move the dog away from the door unless the dog itself chose to move. It was simply too big to be picked up – and if it decided to bite him, who knew what sort of diseases it might be carrying? Although it did seem friendly enough…

“Good doggie… Nice doggie,” he said with a forced smile, hoping the conciliatory tone might help persuade the beast. “Go on, there’s nothing of interest here… Wouldn’t you rather run around outside? Over at the park or something?”

The dog looked at him and cocked its head, as if considering the suggestion, then stepped closer to Finch – at which Finch, instinctively, took a step back. The creature’s size alone made it intimidating; Finch was quite sure that it could put its paws on his shoulders very easily if it wanted to.

“N-Nice doggie,” he stammered, holding his briefcase in front of him since it was the only means of protection he had.

Then the dog turned around and bent its head down to pick something up from the doorstep. Thinking that it was probably a leftover bit of food the dog had found, Finch was shocked when the dog turned back to him again with a soft whine, as though offering it to him. The edge of the object, where it protruded from the dog’s mouth, was black and somewhat flat, but it was hard to see what exactly it was.

“What do you have there?” Finch asked, still keeping his voice mellow. “Did you find something you like? Is that a… a bone, or a toy? Do you want me to throw it?”

This was answered by another whine, and the dog took another step towards him, very slowly. Reining in his first impulse to step back again, Finch extended one hand – carefully, lest the dog take it as a threatening gesture – and held it open. The dog dropped the object (slightly damp from being in its mouth) onto Finch’s hand and sat down, looking at him with an expectant expression.

“Why… it’s a wallet,” Finch said in surprise. “Did you find this somewhere? I wonder…”

Opening it up to check the ID, Finch froze and felt himself go numb. The driver’s license showed a picture of Reese with one of the false identities that Finch himself had set up for him.

“Wh-Where… How…” he began, shocked, then remembered that it was useless to ask the dog. “Oh, dear… Oh, dear. This is not good. Something’s happened to John… Maybe he found a way to make the dog bring me this… I need to find him – track his cell phone…”

Taking a bracing breath, Finch stopped his murmuring to look straight at the dog. “I need you to move over so I can get in. I have to figure out where John is and help him if he’s in trouble,” he said in a no-nonsense voice. To his surprise, the dog moved out of the way as if it could actually understand him. “Well… thank you,” Finch told it, then pulled out the passkey for the door. He was startled, however, when the dog squeezed past him the moment the door was open.

“Hey, wait! You… You can’t go in there,” he called after it in vain. But the dog had already bounded down the hallway and disappeared. “Where on earth did John find that dog?” he muttered to himself. “And how did he manage to train it to come here? Maybe it’s his dog – maybe he’s been keeping it somewhere, training it to help him in case of emergencies. It’s certainly large enough to be a guard dog… or an attack dog, if necessary…”

The thought was not very pleasant, but as the creature had made no threatening overtures to him (yet), Finch turned his thoughts to more important matters, such as finding out what had happened to Reese. He was already running through the search protocols for Reese’s cell phone in his mind as he limped into the office but was horrified to see the dog there, its paws on the desk and its nose pressed against the keyboard.

“Hey! Stop that! Get down from there,” Finch shouted, but the dog only looked at him with its deep, soulful eyes before pushing its nose back onto the keyboard. Finch huffed and puffed as he hurried up, determined to haul the beast off the table by force if necessary, but what he saw on the monitor there made him drop his briefcase and gape.

There, on the otherwise blank screen, were typed the words: IOM RWEESDE HE;LP FOINCJH

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