A Dog's Work

Disclaimer: I wish, but no, I don't own the characters/show.

Author's Note: First attempt at some Claudia POV so be gentle with me! Post "Personal Effects." Felt compelled to write some Artie and Claudia interaction after such a good episode. Call it a continuation I suppose, or just an excuse to write Trailer, whatever floats your boat. Enjoy!

She's in the zone, jamming out with headphones in and computer on and generally soaking up all the awesome-sauce vibes of a mission/day well done.

Jinksy was alive, they'd gotten Sykes' arsenal of artifacts back and safely stored in the Warehouse, and after everything she got to have waffles. Hers and what she managed to steal from Steve's plate when he wasn't looking. She received a noogie for her efforts when discovered, but the laughter that followed was worth it.

All was right with the world, phantom scratches and all.

Claudia's so lost in her own happy little world, in fact, that she doesn't notice her door opening, only a wet lick to her bare foot finally derailing her happy train.

"Whoa! Trailer! Hey, buddy!" she laughs, reaching to scratch behind the dog's ears. Usually such a move turns the canine into a puddle of goo, but not tonight. Instead, he barks.

"What? Oh duh, right! One sec!" she apologizes, leaping from her bed to dig through her bag.

"Here ya go dude, nice and greasy just like you like it!"

The bacon is their little secret. It was a law past down by the great Artimus that the dog wasn't allowed to have table scraps, never mind that the rule maker was most often the rule breaker too. She just made a point of following in her mentor's footsteps, so whenever there was a little something meaty left on a plate Claudia would do her best to tuck it away to share later.

"It's the little pleasures, eh Trailer?" she smiles, watching him patiently sit and wait before giving him the treat. After watching him eat for a moment with a fluffy wag of his tail, she went to plop back down on her bed. Her Farnsworth, however, had been sitting on a razor's edge between her mattress and the floor for a while, and her suddenly added weight tips the scale.

The old device drops like a stone, just in time for her to see it and curse. Reaching down to pick it up, however, Trailer beats her to it.

"Thanks Trailer I- Hey! Get back here!"

That once cute tail has breezed past her door by the time she makes it off her bed, sprinting after the Farnsworth thief.

"Bad dog! Trailer, get back here!"

But he seems content to lead her on a wild goose chase around the B&B, Myka's face is priceless and Pete will pay later for laughing and not helping, until finally Trailer takes one corner to slowly and she has him.

She hits the floor hard, just barely keeping herself from landing right on top of him, but she has a grip on the Farnsworth, so she'll call it a win.

"Let go, Trailer!" she commands, and Trailer instantly releases his hold, leaving her to thunk her head down on the rugged floor in exhaustion.

"Not cool, dude!" she mumbles through the fibers, almost too scared to see just what the device's damage is after being in Trailer's mouth.

She hears him walk up next to her with a small "Woof!" as if in apology.

That makes her lift her head. "Yeah, not buying it, but thanks for playing."

"Claudia? Do I want to know what you're doing in my room face down with what looks to be a chewed Farnsworth in your hand?"

Her head shoots up; glaring at Trailer whom she could swear is smirking (dogs can't smirk right?) before looking up to see a very disgruntled looking Artie. But he often wears that face, maybe she lucked out this time, and it didn't mean she was about to get a serious lecture and her Farnsworth privileges revoked. Agent or not, he still could make her feel like she was five.

"Nope! Nothing to see here! I was just-"

He steps past the door, that look of his darkening, and oh man she is so screwed.

"Honestly, Artie, the Farnsworth's fine, I'm fine. See? I-ack!"

"Claudia!"

She'd jumped to her feet, trying to assuage the angry bear wearing glasses and earth tones headed her way, when one step on her right ankle sends her falling right back down. Or at least she would have fell, if not for the angry bear turned papa bear now bearing most of her weight. But she only has eyes for one thing.

"My Farnsworth! Oh frak Artie, I'm sorry!"

It now lays cracked open like an egg, two edges deeply bent where it'd landed on it's side when she'd dropped it in pain, a long thin crack splintering across the glass of it's display.

Yep, definitely demoted, if not set back completely to quasi agent/inventory girl for life, Claudia groans.

"Forget about the stupid Farnsworth! Are you okay?"

"Huh?"

"Did you hit your head too?" Artie asks urgently, all but carrying her to an empty chair before setting her down lightly and rummaging through his pockets to produce a small flashlight.

"I didn't- Hey enough with the light, Doc! I'm fine! I guess I just twisted my ankle when I tried to tackle Trailer."

"You tried to tackle Trailer?"

"Well, yeah! He had my Farnsworth!"

"Claudia-"

"And I know that it's Philo's original and I didn't want to know dog slobber could do to it so I-"

"So you chased the dog around the house."

"Were you not there for the chase? I think it'll be playing on World's Deadliest Dog Chases later this week if you want to catch up."

"I was outside getting some things from my car, Leena and I just got back, and next time wait for him bring it back to you!"

"What?"

"You heard me! You're a field agent now, I can't have you getting hurt over something so stupid!"

Ouch. She was more than willing to admit that burned a little. Okay, a lot. Nurse, ice please!

"Claudia? Claudia, look at me."

She doesn't look up, but she does hear him move around, picking up the Farnsworth and setting it on his desk before grabbing another chair and sitting down in it in front of her. It's only when she sees his hands reach out to take hers that she meets his gaze, determined to not be that scared kid she used to be, the one who needed to prove she was worth keeping around, the one desperate for approval from adults she respected, desperate for a family.

"I'm sorry, okay? I'm the stupid one here. Chalk it up to the stress of getting all those artifacts under lock and key. I guess I can't stand the thought of you getting hurt over a Farnsworth because in the end it can be replaced. Granted it'd take a while, but the same can't be said of you, okay, Kiddo?"

There's something else there, something in his tone, behind the words themselves. He's not telling her everything, but then when had Artie ever told her everything? Maybe being around Jinksy again was helping her own internal lie detector. Either way she doesn't find herself caring too much, because his words are still sincere. Kiddo. She'll never admit how much she loves it when he calls her that, but she's sure he can see it anyway when she nods, her smile bigger than intended.

"Got it."

He smiles back, tightening his grip on her hands before letting go.

"Now, let's get you downstairs, I smell supper being made, and you need to get off that ankle anyway."

"Okay," she agrees, moving to push herself up. What she doesn't plan on is Artie scooping her up into his arms before she can.

"Artie!" she squeaks, latching an arm around his neck on instinct.

"What? You need to keep weight off that injury until I can look at it, and this is the easiest way to do that," he shrugs, adjusting her position in his arms before heading for the door.

"Okay, okay, just don't drop me, Pooh Bear!" she grouses, shifting closer all the same.

"New rule, you never call me that again."

"Ah c'mon! It's a great nickname!"

"I already have one! So no!"

"Okay, how about just on Tuesdays and bank holidays?"

That gets her a smirk on the way down the stairs. It's one of her favorite movies, and when she finally got him to sit down and watch with the others she knew he got misty-eyed towards the end.

"I'll consider it," he sighs, and she marks it down as "CV" for a Claudia Victory in their battle of wills.

"Thanks, Pooh Bear."

"Don't make me drop you."

"You wouldn't dare-!"

Neither of them notice Trailer trailing behind, tail wagging contentedly. The plan had worked, he had distracted Artie from his troubles. His human was always in a better mood when his pup was around. He'd have to apologize to Claudia later though; her getting hurt had not been part of the plan. Perhaps she'd like one of his new squeaky toys…

"Hey, Trailer, coming to dinner bud?" Steve asks, ruffling Trailer's head before walking past with a limp that he's obviously trying to hide.

If Trailer could sigh, he would.

A dog's work is never done.