Max would really like to say he thinks Louie's backward cap makes him look stupid. He'd like to, but he can't. He's got a pair of teeth that would beat a beaver in a dam-building contest. Tramp once reassured him that it just wasn't so. Max didn't have the proper tail. Lady had wrinkled up her nose and pushed her muzzle up behind Tramp's ear in reprimand, but Max understood. Some people chose to make light of it so that Max would feel less embarrassed. He just gave an awkward smile and rubbed at the back of his neck as he forced out a chortle. "Thanks man," he'd said, and then Tramp had followed Lady as they ushered their pups out the door.
But his own faults aren't the only reason he can't say he thinks that. He also can't because he doesn't think Louie's backward cap looks stupid. On anyone else, maybe. Because that's old news. Caps turned forward a while ago, and Max has a feeling that eventually the cycle will reverse, but for now, Louie's kind of a sitting duck. If he had his mind right, Max would find it ridiculous to the point of annoying. Would, but he's obviously insane because the only thing that's ridiculous is how adorable he finds it. Or maybe how much he wants to creep up behind Louie, steal it off his head and put it on himself, mirroring Louie, make him chase Max around a bit in order to get it back.
Flirting has never been his strong suit. Max is a go-the-distance kind of guy, but most of the time he feels like he's running on a tread mill. He doesn't want to fall on his face. Not in front of Louie. So he sits at a table he's supposed to be cleaning up, gloved fist under his chin and sighs as he watches Louie swat the back of Huey's head. It takes almost three minutes before he even realizes Dewey isn't with them, eyes so completely trained on the green.
So embarrassingly, he fidgets and yelps when he feels a shoulder knock into his own. Huey and Louie look over and Max ducks his head as he pretends to sweep crumbs into the palm of his hand. Actually, he meant to sweep them into his hand, it's just that he completely missed. When they stop looking, Louie taking just a little bit longer than Max likes, Dewey shoulders him again. "Hey." One thing Max is grateful for, it's the black fur that keeps him from blushing bright red.
"Hey man, you startled me," Max says, refusing to make eye contact, stacking plates and slipping silverware into an empty cup.
"Well I guess so," Dewey says, snickering behind a feathered hand. Max's nostrils flare, but he remains focused on the dirty table, and maybe his eyes wander to Louie. "Louis do something to you? Do I need to go get grounded for something and say it was him?"
Snorting, scoffing, generally choking himself, Max asks an incredulous, "What? Why would you say that? No. Of course not. I was just - that clock's crooked. Over there. See and I have to - Have to fix it when I take these to the kitchen to be washed. Nothing - Louie didn't. I'm fine." Exhaling, Max buries his face into his glove, ignoring the grainy feeling of crumbs that stuck to the cloth, now rubbing against his face. He is such a loser.
"He isn't even remotely cool, Maxxie. If you wanted to talk to him... Tell him something? I'm sure he'd be ecstatic." Max's shoulders stiffen up at the very idea, but he peeks out through a couple of fingers and Louie's looking at him. Great. But then Max's eyes widen and he realizes Louie looks concerned. Closing his fingers back together, Max makes like he's just rubbing his eyes and then blinks blearily a few times before finally turning his eyes on Dewey. "Aw, go on Max. Rumor has it he thinks you're the coolest guy in the House. Obviously, he is crazy. Look at me. But apparently he likes... Well - you."
He presses the palms of his hands to his cheeks. They've grown so warm he's not sure they won't burst open with beams of light, but they feel fine as he pats at them, and he sucks in a steadying breath as they fall to his sides. "Me? But I... I don't even. I haven't ever."
"Max," Dewey says plainly. "Who's smarter? Me or you?"
"You," Max answers without much trouble.
"Right. So who're you gonna listen to? Me or you?"
"Uh..." Max hesitates, eyes darting back to Louie who seems to have calmed down, but is once again listening to Huey ramble on about some girl. "You?" Dewey nods, slaps Max on the shoulder, and leaves the booth before Max can ask how. It's in awful slow motion, the way Dewey approaches Louie, whispers something in his ear and then both ducks are looking at Max as he cowers into the darkest part of the seat. "Oh boy am I in trouble," he murmurs to himself as Louie slides in next to him.
"Hiya Max. You doin' okay?" Max nods furiously, head bobbing even as he turns his neck to glare at Dewey who shrugs at him, not a trace of guilt anywhere on his body.
Max's throat has gone dry, and his fingers stumble over the contents of the table until he reaches a glass of water, and ignores the lipstick smudge as he gulps it down, throat working over the waves of water as it crashes into his stomach. "Um. Louie I..." Max gulps again and squeezes his eyes shut. Deep breaths, he reminds himself. On an exhale, he opens his eyes and blurts out, "Like you wanna go out some time?" It's so much louder than he intended and Huey's eyes are wide and looking right at him before he slaps his knee and cracks up. Max's head sways into his arms that are piled over each other on the table. He could die.
It's silent and he's sure that Louie has slipped away just before he feels a light touch at his back. He turns his head just enough to see and Louie's still there, a faint smile hanging on his bill as he rubs gently at Max's back. "You still okay?" Max shrugs, honest with nothing left to hide. "Well what are we going to do?"
"About what?" Max blurts out again and Louie laughs, squeaky quacks that make Max's lips turn up despite himself.
"On our date." Max is so happy he could kiss him, but instead he just throws his arms around Louie's shoulders and nudges Louie's hat up with his nose.
"Whatever you want."