Notes: For Joandarck
Ben squatted down to face Diefenbaker under the bare lightbulb in the supply closet.
Dief flicked his ear back and snapped at the air. Everything smelled of dust and ink and plastic.
"Yes, I know what you'd do," Ben told him, "and it's no help whatsoever. Humans simply do not sniff each other's rears."
Dief sighed and cocked his head.
"As a matter of fact, I don't think it would be easier." Ben waved one hand in the air. "It would only serve to make things awkward between us, and I—that's the last thing I want to do." He leaned back against the shelves (which didn't have any food on them) and stared at the ground, frowning.
Dief twitched his ear and grumbled.
Ben lifted his chin indignantly in response. "I'm not mooning. Anyway, you're hardly one to talk—how many months did you have your sights on Mr. Moonstrump's bitch before you—"
Dief barked sharply, interrupting.
"I don't see why not," said Ben. "Anyway, you have to remember that not only are we guests in this country, we're also representatives of the Crown. It behooves us not to discomfit our hosts."
Dief blinked and lay down, resting his head on his paws pointedly.
"No, it's not an excuse." He licked his lip. "Anyway, I nearly said something just the other day."
"I did! When we were investigating that dumpster on West Marble Place. I very nearly told him that the piece of lettuce on his shoulder brought out the color of his eyes."
Dief raised his head and brought his ears forward.
"He found the discarded firearm we were looking for, and I was distracted."
"If you must know, I was just about to say it when he went all red in the face and seemed to be having difficulty swallowing. Frankly, I was concerned for his health."
Dief sat up again and sneezed skeptically.
"I hardly think he'd thank me for giving him a heart attack in a dumpster on West Marble Place. He'd probably do everything in his power to have me deported, supposing he survived the incident."
Dief just looked at him.
"Well, I know that physiologically speaking, they're indistinguishable, but how can I be sure which one he—"
Dief flopped back to the ground, and covered his muzzle with his paw.
Ben sighed. "It's not easy, you know. Not after—"
Dief uncovered his muzzle, and grumbled.
Ben folded his arms. "Oh, don't you start with the caribou stories. I've heard them all before. I told you most of them. Well, no, not that one. But—"
Dief rolled onto his side and blinked at him.
Ben took off his hat and ran his hand through his hair. "You're right. Oh, don't look so smug. I'll say something—"
Dief raised his head hopefully.
"I don't know. I'll say, 'Ray, would you mind if I kissed you?'"
Dief pushed himself up, and began to lick his own balls.
"Yes," said Ben, affronted, "well, you're hardly Wordsworth. I think it's best to keep these things plain. The potential for misunderstanding—well, it boggles the mind."
Dief continued licking.
Ben scratched his eyebrow. "When the next opportunity presents itself, I suppose. Yes, I know what an opportunity looks like. I've done this sort of thing before, you know."
Dief looked up, and did his best to radiate impatience.
"Well, I'm sorry if I'm boring you with my problems, Mr. Popularity. Please, don't let me keep you from your busy schedule!"
Dief got to his feet and shook himself all over. Then he sat down again.
"Yes, I'll tell him. I promise." Ben fiddled with his hat. "You do realize that you'll be the one to pick up the pieces if he says no."
Dief closed his eyes.
"How do you know he won't?"
Dief snorted triumphantly.
"He told you? And you couldn't have mentioned this earlier?" Ben settled his hat back on his head and reached for the door handle, apparently spurred to action.
When he opened it, Elaine was standing outside holding an armful of folders and no doughnuts.
"Ah," said Ben, as she looked from him to Dief and back again. "We were just—"
Elaine raised her eyebrows and waited.
Dief twitched his ears and waited.
"—ah, talking about, ah, Diefenbaker's dietary habits."
Elaine nodded slowly. "And you had to talk about it—in the closet."
"Well, yes," said Ben, nodding in time. "He doesn't like me to reprimand him in public."
"Oookay," said Elaine, under her breath.
Ben strode off to the squadroom in search of Ray.
Dief made a beeline for the break room with a spring in his step, sure everything would turn out just fine.