Author's note: I'm actually going to participate in one of the jello-forever monthly challenges. I'll link this there tomorrow, but it's late now. This month I was actually somewhat inspired, even if this isn't exactly what I meant to write starting out. And it's much longer than it was supposed to be too. Oh well. The prompt was smile, and I was trying to avoid the obvious. So I wrote a Cho-fic, that's really only Jane/Lisbon if you squint. I apologize in advance for the clich├ęd title, but I couldn't resist. Oh, and I feel the need to point out that I actually do like dogs myself.

Disclaimer: I own nothing

Puppy Love?

He didn't like dogs, was that a crime?

Okay, so it wasn't even really that he didn't like them he just wasn't a dog person per se. He was fine with them when they were walking calmly on a leash, or curled up in a basket in the corner, or running around the park with a small gang of children playing a game with no apparent rules. A bunch of his friends had them, and the scruffy things were generally nice enough, when they weren't yappy. Besides, he patted them when they came over to see him, maybe tossed the odd toy for them to chase, he enjoyed playing with a dog in moderation. And he could understand the appeal. Loyal best friend, someone to walk with and just contemplate the universe, constant companion... They tended to figure into the stereotype of the ideal American family, along with the white picket fence and the pair of kids.

But Kimball Cho had never been one to conform to stereotypes. And he didn't see the need to go into spasms of delight and high pitched cooing noises any time anything with four legs and a wagging tail wandered by (even if some of them were kind of cute).

And besides, the above were all attributes of a well-behaved dog. He'd gone to see that movie, what was it called... "Murphy and Me?" No. That wasn't right, "Marley and Me." Yeah... that was it. Anyways, he'd gone to see it on a date with a woman he'd met (somewhat ironically in hindsight) in a movie store. She'd loved it, thought the incorrigible dog had been charming. He'd been quietly horrified. Who thought a 100 pound lump that destroyed all your stuff was charming? He couldn't understand how the family had managed not to shoot the thing or, more realistically (given that he really didn't advocate killing anything unless absolutely necessary), give it away, or at least try and train it. Okay, so apparently they'd tried, but only once, and it's not like the characters put a whole lot of effort into it. Alright, so he was probably overanalyzing what was really, not a very good movie... And at the time he'd been tactful about the whole thing. Really. He'd refrained from shaking his date, or questioning her sanity (at least out loud) as she yammered on about how she hoped one day to have a dog as sweet as that, and how cute he'd been, and how didn't that movie want to make you run out and get a dog? He'd made polite noises, but there hadn't been a second date.

Cho figured his position as somewhat justified. He had a lot of firsthand experience with some less than perfectly trained dogs in his line of work. Some days it seemed like every second person he had to go interview had one. At best they were small and yappy, running around his ankles in excitement while his witness looked sheepish and tried to restrain them. Other times they weighed almost as much as he did and seemed to think that any stranger at the door had arrived for no other reason than to brace themselves against the impact of an incoming canine at top speed. Most of the time they were friendly and he just got slobbered on as he tried to push his overenthusiastic new friend down as gently as possible, but did the owners honestly not understand that was annoying? And there seemed to be some sort of law of inverse proportions which stated that owners with the biggest dogs lived in the smallest apartments. But a little drool wasn't even the worst case scenario, when the dog seemed just as likely to bite and attack as not. He knew it wasn't usually the dog's fault, that behaviour like that tended to be a result of training (or lack thereof), but he'd had more violent encounters with vicious dogs then he cared to remember. They were the minority obviously, and he'd had the good luck to never be seriously hurt, but it had left him less than fond man's four-legged friends.

Which was one of the many reasons he hated their current case (and probably why he was so cranky).

Some lunatic was targeting dog owners, and not just targeting them, but then using dogs as the murder weapon. Not the dog owners own pets at least (that would have taken things to a whole other level of creepy), but at least two large vicious animals the team was assuming had been trained for that purpose. The pet itself was always left alive, and usually found grieving for their owner in the middle of a pretty unpleasant crime scene.

Obviously the nature of the case meant that all the potential suspects and future victims were dog owners, which meant a lot of knocking on doors and being greeted by dogs of various sizes, some of whom might be violent (especially if they managed to get lucky and knock on their killer's front door). The entire team had been interviewing people for the last few days, and had come to a sort of unspoken agreement that whenever possible either Rigsby or Lisbon answered the door. Rigsby because with his size he was harder to knock down, and Lisbon because all the dogs just seemed to like her, and when she told them to get down, they listened.

Jane had jokingly told her that she'd gotten so good at giving orders that now even dogs dared not disobey.

When they'd first started working together Cho knew that that kind of remark would have earned the consultant a glare or an eye-roll, but now he watched as she just laughed, "You've just got to strike the right balance Jane. Most dogs are genuine, they're uncomplicated, and that's what they like. You can trick a dog into chasing after a ball that you only ever pretend to throw, but they enjoy the game much more if you just throw the damn thing, without all the sleight of hand."

"But I like the sleight of hand." Jane told her somewhat petulantly, but with a smile lurking in his eyes.

"I know," she'd replied. "And that's probably why most dogs don't ever take to you really quickly."

Funny thing was she was right, and the smile she'd shot Jane over her shoulder as she walked up to the house to talk to a witness told him she knew it. Besides, the slight wariness was a bit of a mutual thing. The dogs didn't dislike Jane; when he held out his hand for them to sniff, or offered to scratch behind their ears they seemed to like him just fine. But he didn't have Lisbon's effortlessness about it, and he wasn't really comfortable with them. Cho had watched him, both with dogs and with people. The man could have the people around him at ease in a matter of seconds, but with the dogs he tended to hang back, almost fading into the background until he was sure what was going on. It seemed to take Jane a couple of minutes to feel at ease, to get back to his usual appearance complete confidence. It was like the man was never quite sure what the dogs would do, a fact that amused Cho, since everyone else was never quite sure what Jane was going to do. Of course, once he was assured the dog was friendly Jane liked them, petting some of them, or playing fetch while he let Lisbon and the rest of the team get on with the things he considered boring about the interviews, but it never seemed to be his natural state. It was oddly gratifying to see the man doing something that didn't come as naturally to him as walking.

Cho felt a strange sort of bond with the consultant when the pair of them hung back, slightly aloof from a dog everyone else seemed to be enamoured with. Although he had to admit, when it happened, he didn't watch his boss become the lifetime friend of yet another household pet over the course of a conversation quite as intently as his companion seemed to.

Lisbon loved dogs of course. He knew she had one of her own. She loved all animals really, he'd seen her face when she'd opened that door and caught sight of her pony. Come to think of it, he wondered what she'd done with that thing... Anyways, she really loved dogs. And it was nice to see her play with one for a few minutes, because even if she was fantastic at her job, the woman needed to learn to relax. And she did that a bit with her canine friends, which was, Cho reasoned, partly what twigged Jane's interest. It was a change from her norm.

The latest lead had the entire team heading out to speak to a woman who bred border collies. At the moment she wasn't a suspect, but Lisbon was worried she might become a potential target and thought an interview couldn't hurt. The woman, a Mrs. Miller, lived in the country and bred the dogs on site. By all accounts there'd be quite a lot of dogs.

Sure enough, the barking started the second the car pulled in the driveway. Van Pelt grinned, "Almost makes me miss having a dog," she'd remarked absently.

Lisbon grinned back, "And border collies make great pets." She said. "Very smart."

"Why don't you ask about getting one while we're here?" Jane asked her teasingly.

"Already have one," she shot back as he stepped out of the car.

He paused somewhat surprised, before shrugging and getting out of the car. Clearly he hadn't known about her pet. Interesting. "I wouldn't have thought you'd have time for a dog." Jane remarked casually.

"A fact that didn't stop you from buying me a pony," Lisbon pointed out logically. "I really should make you pay the fees to board it." Well that answered the question about what she'd done with it. Actually, he was surprised she'd kept it. It seemed like an awful lot of hassle for what had essentially been a gag gift. But then, Lisbon probably wasn't capable of turning away a stray.

But Jane was undeterred, "That's different," he said with a wave of a hand. "What do you do with it when you go out of town?"

She looked at him as if he was being particularly slow, "I just leave Jack with a neighbour when I'll be gone for a couple of days. Mrs. Sloane likes the company once and a while, and Jack likes to play with her frequently visiting grandchildren."

"Jack is a sweetheart." Van Pelt added, "Wouldn't hurt a fly. Well, unless they were after his mistress. He's a bit of a one-woman dog." She told Jane by way of explanation, clearly pleased that she knew something he didn't. "When'd you get him?" Van Pelt asked curiously.

"Got him from the pound about eight years ago." Lisbon told the other woman.

Jane kept glancing between the two women. He seemed a little surprised Van Pelt had met Lisbon's dog. What did he think? That they went to the gym together all the time, but neither had been back to the other's apartment even briefly? After all, it's not like a dog's hard to miss. Although that did probably mean that Jane had obviously never been to her apartment then. Rigsby so owed him twenty bucks.

They were all standing on the porch now, but there seemed to be no question who would be knocking on this door. Lisbon strode up and waited for an answer. A middle-aged woman (he presumed Mrs. Miller herself) appeared momentarily. She looked a bit wary until Lisbon identified herself and the rest of the team and asked if we could speak to her for a moment.

"Why don't we sit out on the back porch?" she asked. "It's more comfortable."

Mrs. Miller led us around back where we were greeted by a single black and white border collie. "That's Jessie," she told us by way of introduction. "She won't bite. Most of the rest are in the barn at the moment, but I like having Jessie around for company. She just had a litter in case any of you are interested."

"Oh look at them!" Van Pelt said excitedly as four puppies poked their heads around the corner, intent on seeing what the commotion was. "Aren't they adorable?"

They were cute. As we sat down to talk to Mrs. Miller they seemed to gather some courage, deciding we weren't a threat. After about ten minutes Lisbon had one in her lap while Van Pelt and Rigsby were both playing with a puppy at their feet. The remaining sibling seemed perfectly content to stick by Mom for the rest of our visit. A couple of other dogs wandered across the porch while we were there, but they were clearly well behaved and didn't cause any trouble, just the way Cho liked it. He noticed Jane was mostly quiet, watching everyone else, grinning when the puppies Van Pelt and Rigsby were playing with switched places abruptly, but really the most interested in the antics of Lisbon's puppy as it climbed over her lap.

The interview wasn't all that long. Mrs. Miller didn't seem to have anything to do with the case, and assured a worried Lisbon that she had an alarm and that her husband would be back from a business trip that evening so she wouldn't be alone in the house. As we got up to leave, Lisbon rather regretfully put down her puppy. Mrs. Miller noticed and laughed, "You sure you're not in the marked for a puppy Agent Lisbon? It seems you've made a friend."

Lisbon grinned, "I'm tempted, but Jack'd never forgive me. He's used to having me all to himself."

The other woman laughed, and we all watched as the newly released puppy went in search of someone else to play with. To everyone's surprise he headed directly for Jane, who up until now most of the dogs had been ignoring, and sat directly in front of his feet, looking up at him hopefully.

Lisbon laughed, "Oh come on Jane. How can you resist that face?"

Glancing at her he sighed and gave in, picking up the small dog tentatively with a smile.

"You've got to watch him," MRs. Miller warned, "He's a bit of a trickster." As if to prove her point the puppy immediately attempted to burrow his way into Jane's vest.

"Hey!" he exclaimed, as the rest of us laughed.

"I don't suppose you're in the market..." Mrs. Miller began suggestively.

Jane looked up surprised, "Me? No! I don't, I mean..." he glanced down at the puppy that had given up on climbing into the vest, and was now concentrating on trying to eat the buttons.

"Come on Jane," Van Pelt told him, "He likes you. And if Lisbon has time for a dog then I'm sure you do."

Jane shot her a dirty look, but Lisbon more than made up for it by shooting the younger agent a look of pure glee, and raised an eyebrow at her troublesome consultant.

"You planned this!" he accused her immediately. "You somehow managed to send this dog over here."

"Yes, while holding him I forged a special bond and then used it to telepathically tell him to walk over and sit at your feet." She said sarcastically. Then her voice softened into indulgent amusement. "I think someone just wants an excuse to keep their new friend."

"No... I... Lisbon, I can't have a dog." Jane told her with a stammer. But Cho had seen that look on her face before, and he knew that not even Jane was getting out of this one.

"Why not?" Lisbon asked her consultant calmly.

"Because... because I can't." Cho couldn't help snorting and exchanging amused glances with Rigsby and Van Pelt. With reasoning like that Jane was going to lose this debate even faster than expected.

"I don't see why, and I think you want one anyways," was all Lisbon said in response.

"I don't know anything about keeping and training a dog." Jane pointed out, like he was desperately searching for a reason.

"I'll show you." Cho's attention was caught by that. But then again, of course she would. If Lisbon ever thought a member of her team needed anything she'd be there in a second. He'd learned that the time he'd gotten the flu in the middle of a case the first year he'd been working with her. He'd found hot soup and Kleenex on his desk for the next two days.

And Lisbon's offer had apparently gotten Jane's attention as well. He glanced between the amused face of his boss, and the dog in his arms before giving in with a sigh, "Oh, alright."

Lisbon grinned in victory, and started making arrangements with Mrs. Miller for transportation, while a somewhat shell-shocked Jane looked on.

Cho wondered if Jane had fully grasped what had happened. For one, it looked like he was about to become more of a dog person. Not to mention, taking on a puppy was a responsibility. And he'd accepted the responsibility after learning that it came with an opportunity to spend for time with the lovely Teresa Lisbon (Coincidence? Possibly.). But more importantly, now the man was responsible for another life. He wouldn't be able to spend all of his time out of the office by himself. (Did she know exactly what she'd conned Jane into? Probably.). He supposed that was really why most people liked dogs. They provided a connection to another living thing, an acknowledgement that you weren't alone. And watching as Jane accepted advice on the care of his new puppy from his boss who was currently cooing and fussing over the pair of them, Cho had to admit, the idea made him smile.

xxxxx

Fin