The new dog was strange. For one thing, she was blue, with darker blue spots. She was also the chattiest dog Will had ever encountered, not barking or woofing, per se, but chattering on with little 'ba-bow' sorts of noises. She was very friendly, though, and seemed to be highly intelligent. He'd picked her up in Quantico, of all places, but the recruits weren't allowed pets, so he wasn't sure where she'd come from. Maybe someone had snuck her in for a visit and she'd gotten lost.
She only had one annoying habit, and he hadn't been able to figure it out. Will kept finding blue paw prints on things – or, more usually, he wouldn't notice them until someone else came over and pointed them out. Where she kept finding the blue paint was a mystery, and she always seemed disappointed and sad when he cleaned them off. The worst was the day that Hannibal had come over and made him dinner. He'd found paw prints on the frying pan, on the image of the missing person from his current consulting case and, worst of all, on Hannibal himself! Doctor Lecter had thankfully been amused, and not as put out as Will had feared about the mark on his expensive tweed coat.
"Maybe she's trying to warn you off my cooking," he'd joked. When he'd glanced at the dog, who Will had been calling Blue, she'd run off and hid, chattering to herself sadly. He hadn't been able to find her for hours.
Will kept Blue for a few weeks before the mystery of where she'd come from was resolved. She had been snuck in for an illicit visit to one of the new FBI recruits by a brother, who had made arrangements to come and pick her up that afternoon. When Will opened the door to greet him, he found a fresh-faced young man with dark hair and thick eyebrows, wearing a striped purple shirt.
"Hi! I'm Joe! I'm here to pick up Blue! She must have gotten lost when we went to visit Steve. He's joining the FBI!"
Will wasn't fond of other people for the most part, but Joe's earnestness caught him a little off guard. Joe had a habit of interjecting ASL into his conversation, and Will wondered if maybe he worked with the deaf. He seemed like someone who spent a lot of time with kids, or maybe just like a big child himself. Blue, for her part, seemed very happy to see him, jumping around and 'ba-bow'-ing excitedly. That gave Will an excuse to avoid further eye contact, watching her instead. Joe seemed happy to greet the rest of the dogs as well, which was a point in his favour.
"She's a good dog, but she's got some strange habits."
"Oh yes – Blue is very special. Did she teach you how to play Blue's Clues? Or how to skidoo?"
Will shook his head, but Joe looked to Blue instead.
"What's that, Blue?"
The dog chattered on, with Joe nodding along. His eyebrows, and all of his body language, were very expressive.
"Blue says she tried to show you how to play, but that it's hard if you can't understand her."
"Yes!" Joe grinned broadly. "It's very simple! Blue leaves clues – blue paw prints, and you have to find them. When you do, you write them down in your handy-dandy notebook. Once you find all three, it is time to sit in the thinking chair and think, think, think!"
Will stared in fascination, not sure whether the dog was actually that clever, or Joe was perhaps a little over-imaginative. "That might explain a few things," he answered, finally. "I'm sure she'll be much happier going home with you than she was here."
"Thank you so much for taking care of her, Will – I'm she loved staying here. Blue loves making new friends!"
"She was no trouble," Will said, giving her an affectionate pat before sending them away. He wondered, as they drove off, whether she might have been trying to play that silly game with him after all, and what she might have been trying to tell him. But he had enough real cases to worry about, and besides, he'd always done his best thinking on his feet.