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Love & Crabbiness

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It was a quiet day at the 12th. Levitt was making the rounds.

“Mail for Wojo,”

“Thanks, Levitt.”

“Mail for Harris,”

“Thanks, li’l Levitt.”

“Mail for Dietrich,”

“Took you long enough.”

“Arthur!” protested Harris.

“What?”

“What happened to ‘Thank you, Carl’?”

“You’re a fine one to talk. You’re mean to Levitt all the time.”

“We’re not talking about me.”

“Oh, there’s a switch.”

Levitt snickered and then stopped abruptly and looked innocent when Harris and Dietrich both glared at him. He let himself out with one last quiet chuckle.

“Seriously, Arthur …” Harris began. Dietrich kept his head down, shuffling paperwork.

Exasperated, Harris stood up. “Barney’s office, Dietrich. Now.”

“I love it when you exhibit delusions of authority,” said Dietrich without moving.

“Wojo, you wanna help me drag him in there?”

“Sure,” said Wojo, sounding amused.

“All right, all right,” said Dietrich grumpily. “No need to bring the Polish mafia into it.”

Harris looked at Wojo. “Is there anyone here that Dietrich hasn’t insulted?”

“Barney,” said Wojo. “But that’s only because he’s not here.”

Dietrich slouched into Barney’s office with Harris on his heels. Once they were both inside, Harris slammed the door shut and wheeled on Dietrich. “What the hell was all that about, Dietrich?” he demanded.

Dietrich sat down on the couch. “Nothing,” he said. “I’m fine.”

“You sound like something’s bothering you.”

“Well, that’s certainly true,” Dietrich snapped. “You are.”

Harris sat down next to him. “You know you can talk to me, Arthur,” he said more gently.

Dietrich stared straight ahead of himself for a moment, then he took a deep breath and his expression softened. “Thanks, Harris,” he said, and took a deep breath. “Family issues. Nothing I’m comfortable discussing right now.” He shook his head. “It’s complicated.”

Harris put a hand on Dietrich’s knee and squeezed gently. Dietrich turned toward him and on a sudden impulse, Harris kissed him. He felt Dietrich relaxing, leaning slightly against him as he returned the kiss.

After a moment, they broke apart. “Thanks, Ron,” said Dietrich.

“Any time,” said Harris. “Well, any time Barney’s willing to lend us his office.”

There was a knock at the door. “Are you gentlemen finished in there?” came a familiar voice.

“Coming, Barney,” said Harris. He winked at Dietrich. “We’re done.”

Dietrich smiled at Harris. “For now.”