Disclaimer : I don't own these lovely characters, but I do own Rusty, who I imagine to be a massive sort of Golden Retriever with a puppy mindset. Enjoy!

Unbelievable. Unbe - bloody - lievable.

How could two people make so much noise? And was that barking?

Lester sighed. He wouldn't normally bother, but all the shouting was getting to be rather distracting.

"Look," he began sternly, straightening the cuffs of his canary yellow work shirt, "what is -". As he looked up, he was startled to find himself face to face with the biggest dog he had ever seen.

" - going on?" he continued, staring disapprovingly at the flushed faces of Becker and Jess, who had been chasing after the enormous canine.

"Um," Becker gasped, " well . . ." He shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other, refusing to meet Lester's steely gaze, instead watching Jess try to calm the over-excited dog down. "What is was, you see . . ."

Jess sighed, confident to the point of arrogance with deadly predators from ancient history, yes, completely unable to look his superior in the face for a, in her opinion insignificant, disturbance, yes.

Ah well, she'd just have to step in on his behalf as usual, she thought good-naturedly. Staying where she was crouched to Rusty ( the dog ), she interrupted her friend's stumbling explanation.

"Sir, this is Rusty, my sister Laura's dog. I'm just minding him for her whilst she's on a business trip and I could leave him alone in my very small flat, so I brought him here. It's only for one day and Laura really needed the help, she works very closely with the minister, you know."

Behind her back, she crossed her fingers, knowing that mentioning the minister to her boss was like bribing children with ice-cream, highly effective.

"Right," the boss in question said stiffly, "well under the circumstances I believe that we can come to some arrangement."

"I knew you'd understand Sir" Jess replied, desperately trying not to burst out laughing. She could see Becker over Lester's shoulder and he had no such restraint.

Frowning slightly, Lester stomped back into his office, shutting the door with a controlled, but no less final, snap.

It was then, in the relative safety of having Lester behind a closed door, that Jess joined Becker in silent, hysterical laughter, despite the man's seemingly untouchable exterior, once you knew him, it was easy to push his buttons.

Inside his office, Lester collapsed into his chair and let his head fall onto his desk. He HATED losing face.

It was then that he felt a warm, slightly drooly, head rest itself against his leg. He jerked his head up, glaring down into the chocolate eyes of Rusty.

" What do you want?" he snapped, instantly regretting it as the dog flinched from the harsh sound. Despite what he might show the rest of the world, James Lester did have a heart and, after checking to see that he had locked the door, he allowed himself to stroke the expressive dog.

"It's just so hard, I know they think I'm a complete bastard, but there has to be balance. The funding for this place doesn't just grow on trees, you know. There has to be order, even if it means working with bastards like Burton."

Rusty whined, pawing at Lester.

"Yeah I know, but I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't, I'm afraid."

To anyone else, Lester knew he would look mad, but he was so relieved to have someone around who was not trying to take more money from him, he really didn't care.

Just a bit of a fluffy plot bunny that was hopping around in my over-active mind! I love Lester, and we don't see enough of his softer side.

See you soon, please review, even if you don't really want to, I reeeaaallly want you to, so that makes it all worthwhile =] Just a sentence . . . 5 words . . . Ha! I know! I challenge you to tell me want you thought in exactly 25 letters ( not including spaces ) Are you up to the challenge ?

Harlequin x