Riko Sakurauchi had silently made a fist pump to herself as she arrived at the residence of her friend and second year classmate, Chika Takami. The reason for being here was so that the two could discuss what they were to do during the group meeting amongst the members of Aqours.

After politely knocking on the door, and being let in by Chika's older sisters, Riko began looking around for Chika only to find, to her dismay, the Takami's family dog; Shiitake, sleeping across from her in the middle of the hallway. Why Chika didn't tie the large sleeping furry monster of a dog in the backyard, Riko didn't know. All she did know was that she did NOT want the dog to wake up. During some of her other encounters with Shiitake, she was nearly caught, feeling that she only barely managed to get away as the shaggy dog was surprisingly quick on his paws for a mutt his size and build.

If he woke up again, there was no telling what would happen. It was possible that her luck might run out, leaving her unable to outrun the beastly dog snoozing blissfully in front of her. The redheaded teen started panicking as she looked at the dog, with her knees quivering as she started to back up.

But Riko stopped herself, realizing this wasn't going to help her find Chika. So with reknowned resolve, she calmed herself. She would need a clear head in order to think up a plan to sneak past Shiitake and avoid waking the mutt up, and that's exactly what she began to do as the gears in her head started turning.

Finally, she came to the only conclusion she could. Placing her hands on the windowsill and her feet against the wall, and then slowly elevating herself higher, Riko would attempt to crawl over Shiitake without disturbing him.

Inch by meticulous inch, she moved herself, keeping herself elevated over the dog. She had to urge herself mentally to be mindful of her balance, while also making sure to maintain her balance at the same time. All the while, the dog down below her was unaware of her presence, even as she was halfway done. But she wouldn't let her guard down, not for a moment.

Soon she found herself close to the other side. Breathing a sigh of relief, she took one hand off the windowsill and used the arm to swipe sweat off of her forehead.. This was a mistake on her part as it the droplets had landed on the dog's face, especially close to his sensitive nose. Causing him to stir in his sleep as he started to smell her familiar scent.

Crap! Riko mentally cursed herself for her moment of carelessness, which broke all concentration she was supposed to be having.  Both hands now slipped from the windowsill, and her feet slid down the wall.  Riko yelped in panic as she fell, landing directly next to Shiitake.  The dog's eyes shot opened and looked directly at the girl sprawled on the floor beside him, and slowly his tongue dropped out of his mouth in delight.

Scrambling to her feet in a lightning-quick motion, Riko started making a run for it, knowing that a head start would be her only chance. But her head start was a short one, as Shiitake lifted himself to his feet too and began chasing after her, barking excitedly. This only made Riko run faster, the adrenaline in her bloodstream combined with her athleticism being the only reason the dog hadn't caught up to her yet.

As she turned around a corner, she quickly opened a sliding door, dashed into the room, and closed the door shut. She then immediately attempted to blockade the door with some heavy furniture in an effort to keep him from getting in.  This proved futile, as Shiitake slammed against the door with such force that Riko was thrown backward, landing on her back just as the large dog managed to push the door open enough to slip into the room.  In a flash, he was looming over Riko, his paws on her shoulders and his tongue lolling a few inches above her face as he panted warm breath onto her.

Riko was petrified, fearful that he was going to rip her to shreds.  Instead, the dog planted his tongue directly on her right cheek, the wet slab pressing down on the girl's skin to the point where her right eye was forced shut.  Slowly, Shiitake slid his tongue upward, leaving a trail of drool behind. His tongue left, but it didn't do much for the cynophobic girl's nerves. "N-no! Don't taste me!" She immediately tried to shove the dog's head away from her; "I don't taste good! Get back!"

But Shiitake disagreed, as he found Riko to taste delicious!  He managed to push his head forward despite Riko's attempts and pressed his tongue against her chin, letting it sweep upward all the way to her forehead.  Riko squealed and turned her head to the side, only for Shiitake to lick her left cheek.

"Stop.. It.." She said as the dog lifted her cheek's skin to where it forcefully shut her eye. As soon as his tongue left again, she suddenly pushed against his neck, the adrenaline giving her the strength to forcefully get the dog off of her. This gave her time to scramble away and stand on her feet. She then grabbed what appeared to be a wooden ruler, and pointed it at him like a sword. "I won't let you eat me! Get back!"

Shiitake looked at the girl and the ruler in confusion, tilting his head and giving a confused "Arf?" Riko stared back at the dog for what seemed like a few minutes, trembling all the while.  But eventually, she slowly lowered her hand, the ruler lowering with it.  ", you don't wanna eat me?  Are you just trying to be n-nice?" 

There wasn't any response except for Shiitake's panting, with the dog wagging his tail as he just sat there in front of Riko.  She had to admit...he actually looked kind of cute like this.  With a nervous gulp, Riko stepped forward and slowly extended her free hand toward him.

Shiitake simply leaned into it gently, which confused Riko greatly. She stroked his head to see what would happen, naturally he seemed to be more relaxed than he had been before, though he gave a bark of satisfaction. Riko wasn't sure if he was trying to get her to let her guard down so he'd go in for the kill, but she decided to keep going to see what would happen.

This was heavenly to Shiitake, as Riko's hands seemed to have the same special touch of his owners. The big fluffy pooch was melting like a vanilla ice cream cone on a summer day in her hands, to the point where he was now laying on his side. For him, petting was the greatest thing in the world....well, other than chasing squirrels, but that was beside the point.

Fascinated, Riko knelt down and continued to stroke Shiitake's head.  Shiitake gave another happy bark, then began to lick Riko's hand, his tongue slurping each one of her fingers.  Riko gasped in surprise...and then started laughing, as the feeling of Shiitake's licks across her hand was ticklish to her! She then pulled the hand away, wiping it on Shiitake's fur.

"I.. I guess that's your way of saying thank you?" Riko asked, chuckling a bit.

Shiitake just continued to lay on his side, letting his contentedness speak for itself. Riko raised an eyebrow as she started to rub his belly, amused by the fact that he seemed to have simple pleasures, with no demands to speak of. From what Shiitake was also proving so far to her, when you took the time to know him, he was a genuinely gentle giant of a dog. Of course, this interaction wouldn't cause her cynophobia to go away like that, that would be unrealistic. But, at the very least, this was the first step in the right direction. At the very least, she could form a tolerance, even a liking, for just one dog - her best friend Chika's dog, Shiitake.

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