Note: This post has been included in one of the new Chapter drafts, please refer to the Index for the current draft of the story.
Please note, this is currently a very rough draft from NaNoWriMo 2007. There will be spelling and grammatical errors afoot as well as flat out bad writing, info dumps, plot holes, flat out contradictions, and uneven characterization and pacing. (Content is also subject to constant change as I take an editing chainsaw to the story.)
Jon didn’t notice the dog at first. He was too busy focusing on how ungodly hot it was and the fact that he’d only gotten four of the six bushes into the ground and it was already two-thirty. The bushes were fluffy ungainly things with prickly leaves that jabbed at him though his work gloves. If he didn’t know better he’d think Sullivan had picked them just for that. But his boss wasn’t that vindictive, Sullivan was focused in on selling house with an almost religious zeal. Taking time out to make Jon’s life just a little more miserable wasn’t worth the effort. Not that he didn’t do a dammed good job at it without trying.
Jon wiped sweat from his forehead with a dirt-covered glove and glared at the remaining two bushes. They ignored him with their normal leafy disinterest.
It was at that point that Jon finally noticed the dog lounging under the [species] tree. It was some sort of German Sheppard cross, with the giant ears and the not-long not-short fur. They stared at each other for a moment than then dog yawned and put its head back down on its paws, watching him unnervily like a lazy lion.
Jon was tempted to chase it off, construction sites weren’t the safest places for dogs that might (or might not) be someone’s pet. But as the most dangerous object on hand at the moment was Jon’s shovel, he figured it wasn’t worth the effort.
If he’d wanted to he could have simply told the mutt to leave. He has a knack for talking to dogs, a little something extra passed down sporadically from his mother’s side of the family. Some fanciful tale by way of his great great grandmother blamed the gift on her fling with a mysterious gypsy neredowell. Whatever the cause it had given the less then venerable Black family name yet another smudge. Not that it was that impressive of a knack. It wasn’t like the dogs ever talked back and they really only understood very basic concepts. He could communicate that the construction site was dangerous and that the dog should leave, but he couldn’t explain why. In fact he doubted if the dog would even listen to the warning. Most of the time canine would just give him confused looks and continue on about their business. The well-trained dogs of those that were desperate for attention would pay more attention, but only if nothing more interesting was available. From the dusty look of the mutt he doubted if it had ever been an indoor pet, or a pet at all.
But sitting here thinking about dogs and knacks was not getting the bushes planted. And after the bushes he had to frame out the new flower bed. Which he liked a little better than moving dirt. Carpentry was always a reward for the more boring work, and Sullivan knew it. Even if the boss though Jon was wasting his potential, it didn’t mean that Sullivan still wouldn’t try and get his money’s worth. With a sigh, Jon shifted the shovel and moved over to the next marked hole-to-be.
Akela watched the man digging holes and then filling them in again, and not for the first time wondered at how downright strange humans were. Why any being would spend time working on a dwelling and then turn around and abandon it for another made no sense. The fact that none of the men on the jobsite actually lived in the house only made it more futile. But they weren’t her concerns, these strange men and their strange habits. Men were men and as such were beneath her notice.
Or at least they were normally. Now she needed a Huntsman, and she could smell it on him. Just a faint hint, a whiff of diluted bloodgift flowing through his veins, watered down by generations of humanity. Not that he needed any. The pack could choose anyone to serve, bloodgift or not, but those with a hint of service in their veins made better Huntsmen than those without.
Still, she wasn’t ready to call in the rest of the pack just yet. Their patience was thin enough without bringing home false hope. The long weeks without tether to this world made for rough company. She chewed thoughtfully on a paw as the man cursed creatively as he hit the unexpected remains of a brick patio long ago tossed aside by a previous owner. There was no point in picking someone with bad temperament, they’d only have to kill him later.
The dog left sometime between the last touches of the frame for the flowerbed and quitting time, but Jon wasn’t quite sure when it had actually vanished from its spot beneath the tree. It had been unnerving for the first few hours, with it just sitting there watching him. He’d gone inside for an hour or so to help Roy with the tilework just to get away. The yard felt empty now, and he tossed his tools in the back of the frakencar with a faint sense of unease. Not that he was afraid of a dog, no matter how oddly it had been acting. It was just, well, odd, that was all.
Jon spent the ride home half expecting to see it turn up somewhere along the way, but he arrived at the house without incident. His older sister’s car was in the driveway which meant she’d come home from college for summer break. For a moment he toyed with the idea of just driving past the house and hooking up with Tod or Keith for a few hours. But Tod was probably still out at the shop working, and Keith’s mom had specifically forbade the Quartet of Doom from gathering during weeknights. Keith’s grade had been abysmal the last quarter and as he was the last brave soul still in high school, Jon figured they owed him a little support.
Even if that support meant he’d have to deal with Bethany.
He pulled onto the side grass with a sigh, wincing as the frankencar grumbled to itself as it rumbled over the gravel bed. The frankencar had been a Toyota sedan at some point in the distant past. Now it had at least one part from every manufacturer grafted onto it and a copious amount of duct tape. There had been some debate during sophomore year if it was a MacGyver car or a Frankencar, but it had finally been decided that the poor girl was simply too pathetic to be considered a proper MacGyver.
Trish had already abandoned the house to lurk on the steps up to Jon’s above-garage apartment. He raised an eyebrow and her general aura of ‘grump’ intensified to accommodate the arrival of an audience. Someday the seven year old was going to rule the world. Or at least as much of the world as she could reach. God save them is she ever made it on TV.