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Prickly

Spencer Reid had always heard that old supposition that over time, man's best friend and man would come to favor each other more and more. Until this day, however, he'd never had empirical data to suggest the theory could be proven. That was, until he faced David Rossi and his beast, Mudgie, each wearing identical expressions of dismay and bemusement.

Hmmm. He must remember to investigate this phenomena further. Perhaps there could be a scientific paper to be presented in the near future on the phenomenon.

"It looks like a drowned rat," Dave Rossi muttered, his nose curling in disgust as the animal in his lover's arms peeked out from beneath Reid's sleeve, a low growl emanating from its tiny mouth.

"He does not!" Spencer frowned, clutching the Pekinese to his chest as he sat down in one of the leather recliners in the family room, all thoughts of professional studies and scientific objectivity evaporating without a second thought. "I just gave him a bath. Naturally, he's wet." Briskly running the damp towel along the dog's long hair, Spencer ignored the protests beneath the material. "You said I could choose our new pet. I choose Prince," he said with a sharp nod down at the annoyed animal in his lap.

"That isn't a pet, Doc. That's an interactive chew toy for Mudgie," Rossi replied with a snort, jerking his head at the canine beside him as Mudgie barked in agreement. "See," he said pointedly, reaching out a hand to rest on his dog's massive head.

"Prince is a thinking man's dog," Spencer argued valiantly, narrowing his eyes as he glared up at the man that touted himself as a dog lover. That was yet another belief that was proving to be false! "The Pekinese breed served as the consorts of Chinese emperors, Dave. They were considered royalty," he insisted, defending their newest addition to their less than traditional family. "And I will thank you not to cast dispersions on him. You don't hear me complaining about the slobbery, flea riddled mass that comprises your companion."

"Mudgie has been a loyal dog," Rossi defended his animal staunchly, patting the dark animal's head again in support. "And he never chewed up a six hundred dollar Italian loafer," Rossi retorted, holding his gnawed evidence by one finger in the air between them. "And the fleas were a low blow. He's been dipped this year!"

"Be that as it may," Reid began determinedly, pausing when Dave held up a hand.

"Look, Spencer, I support your desire to have your own pet, but that….thing…hates me! By my last count, he's cost me twelve hundred dollars in shoes and the leg of a very expensive antique Elizabethan end table!"

"He's a puppy; he's teething," Reid explained patiently, patently unconcerned about Rossi's finances. Truth be told, his ego could stand to endure a few blows from a six pound dog. Prince was teaching the older man lessons that he'd never managed to impart himself.

Perhaps dog was man's best friend, after all!

Staring at the man he loved and that man's beloved puppy, Dave sighed as he rose from the couch to approach them, the Peke's growl growing in volume with each step he took. Was that little wanna-be dog actually sneering at him? Crouching in front of Reid, he met the puppy, eye for eye.

Yeah, the rat definitely was giving him the eye….that slightly superior snarl aimed squarely in his direction. Lifting a careful hand as the animal's lip peeled back over sharp, pointy teeth, Rossi barely had time to respond before it gave a sharp, warning yap. Jerking his hand back, Rossi glared at Reid over the dog's head. "Yeah, His Majesty is a peach. He just oozes charisma and regal charm," Dave snorted sarcastically, carefully moving out of reach of the fluff ball's incisors.

"And your dog is so much better," Reid scoffed, rolling his eyes as he smoothed his fingers over the dogs spine and was rewarded with what could only be described as a purr. "At least Prince doesn't barrel everywhere he goes. If Mudgie throws himself at the mailman one more time, we're going to be in danger of a lawsuit."

"Yeah, cause Mr. Priss's prancing is so much better," Dave returned snidely, nostrils flaring as he drew in a sharp breath. "For every bark, he takes three steps backward. Some guard dog he is."

Reid smiled benignly as he glanced up at his lover. "He's been doing a fairly good job in the bedroom."

"Yeah, guarding you against me," Dave whined, rubbing his hand over his clenched jaw. "For God's sake, Spencer, I can't even sleep in my own bed unaccosted by your demented dog!"

"I told you that you need to pull the covers back and announce yourself before you crawl into bed. You startled him last night," Reid argued, stroking the dog's still damp fur as they both glared at Dave. Honestly, was it so hard to add one more step to their evening rituals? Hadn't he adjusted his nightly reading schedule to incorporate that ridiculous game of tug-the-rope that Mudgie was intent on completing every single night? And didn't have the rug burns on his knees to prove that that under-sized horse that Dave masqueraded as a dog was the nightly winner?

"It's my bed. He has a perfectly good kennel in the corner of the bedroom. I should know. You insisted that it had to be in there with us," Dave grumbled, absently rubbing the shin where the animal had torn a hunk from his flesh. For a teeny tiny dog, he left a great big mark, Rossi mentally groused.

"Can I help it if he has abandonment issues?" Spencer hissed, clapping his hands over the puppy's ears as he disapprovingly glared at his lover.

Obviously his attempts at appealing to Spencer's emotional side were backfiring. "Spencer, you're a scientist," Rossi replied slowly, determined that switching tactics was the only recourse. "You are talking about this dog like he's a person. And he wasn't abandoned. You got him from a breeder, for crying out loud!"

"I rescued him from a puppy mill. And he was the runt of the litter. How would you feel if you were the very last dog chosen?" Reid returned, frowning as he stared down at the adorable pup in his lap.

Blinking, Dave's jaw hung slightly open as he stared at the younger man's serious face. The puppy was now draped across his lap, as well, looking none the worse for wear. And if he wasn't mistaken, the canine appeared to be smiling!

"I'm his person, Dave. Pekinese are notorious for choosing one human in whom they invest their trust. You are just going to have work harder at convincing him of your noble intentions," Spencer said succinctly. And as far as he was concerned, that statement settled the entire argument. Facts trumped emotion, after all. Didn't they?

Shaking his head dumbly at the supposed genius's logic, Dave scrambled backward as Reid rose, Prince held high in his arms.

"In short," Reid announced with a finality in his tone, "The dog stays. In our home. In our bedroom. You, however, are free to find other accommodations, if you are so inclined. Prince and I have a pressing appointment with a blow dryer scheduled for now."

Stunned, Dave looked at Mudgie as Reid disappeared from the room. Ambling back to the couch, he sat down heavily. "So, to recap," Dave told the massive beast at his feet, "In a battle for Spencer's affections between me and the rat dog….he chooses, the rat!"

Mudgie whined sympathetically and dropped his head on Dave's leg, his tail thumping against the floor in a silent sign of solidarity.

"You know we're screwed, right?" Dave asked his dog with a wince, well aware that if he wanted to keep his relationship with Reid, then he would have to accept the interloper.

Mudgie blinked.

"You can't eat him," Dave warned sharply, wagging his finger at the listening dog. "No matter how much the little terrorist deserves it. I don't care if his teeth are hung in your testicles, you can't make him a snack. Although, I gotta say, I understand the temptation."

Mudgie whined again, moving his head to hang it morosely.

"Could be worse, buddy," Dave sighed, petting his dog, fully believing that the pooch was more than capable of understanding every word he had just said. "At least you don't have to sleep with it. Look at it this way, we got used to Spencer. We can get used to the drowned rat, too."

Mudgie's moan proved he remained unconvinced.

Sighing heavily as he watched Prince scamper past the den's doorway, Spencer Reid in hot pursuit, Dave eyed his loyal mutt. "Just don't eat him. But if you wanna take a little nibble now and then, I won't judge," he muttered before shoving tiredly back to his feet.

He had a prickly Peke to help corral.

And with any luck, he just might be able to win Spencer's affections once again in the process!

Finis