|The Year Under
Author: Bialy PM
Juliet's convinced they're going to kill each other by Christmas. Juliet and Lassiter and a year spent alone together after a case goes sour. Lassiet, oneshot.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Juliet oH. & Carlton L. - Words: 6,697 - Reviews: 16 - Favs: 33 - Follows: 1 - Published: 04-17-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6912818
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I don't own Psych and I'm not making money off this. The lyrics are from 'She Loves You' by Gaslight Anthem.
Note: This is a pretty long one and my first go at 'making Lassiet' work, so I really hope I haven't drifted outside the character's lines. Thank you in advance for reading, and please enjoy.
The Year Under
and if there was a way to navigate your seas
if, tonight, my true love, they'd belong to me
and juliet is smoking by the window
saying stone-cold, i believe in you, romeo
and the raindrops and the cars
keep falling from off the bars
blocking out a good song plating on the radio
It's one of their toughest cases right off the bat, but they don't realise it's one of their most dangerous until they're in far too deep to do anything about it. It's gang-related (all the worst ones are, in Lassiter's opinion, because you can never catch all of them) and they lose a rookie in their first stand-off. It gets personal after that for Lassiter, and when she can't make him see that he can't fight this war singlehandedly, Juliet offers him a second pair of hands.
The short version is that they get in over their heads, and the gang leader – Ernesto Del Biyo, presumed responsible for at least twenty four gang-related killings and three outright murders in the Santa Barbara area over the last eight years – puts a hit out on them. Both of them. Lassiter is in favour of armouring up and going straight after the sons of bitches, but the Chief has other ideas.
She lets Lassiter know (with a wry smile, no less) that he's not going to like them.
Month One: November
Juliet would love to say faking her death was the easy part, but it really wasn't. So much could go wrong, and there was an element of very real danger lacing every part of Shawn's plan. But they pulled it off, and then, they disappeared.
She almost hates Lassiter for this. The Del Biyo case didn't need to go this way. If he hadn't turned it into a vendetta, if he hadn't gone all Maverick and got himself a name amongst Del Biyo's boys, then she wouldn't be on her way to some God forsaken town in the Mid West, with a false identity and instructions to lie low until further notice.
She almost does, except for the fact that she's the one who insisted she go along, and she's the one who shouted out her own name when Del Biyo called her a dumb bitch, and she's the one who chose to become a detective. Blaming Lassiter for danger would be like blaming the sky for rain.
Their new house doesn't exactly fill her with confidence, though.
It's a blank, white thing, with a blocky design and very little worth writing home about either inside or out. They've been bought new things, mostly – new clothes, new cooking equipment; it'd be too suspicious if a large amount of their stuff suddenly got shipped across the country. All they have are a few woefully small boxes of personal effects. The moving in process takes about an hour.
The house doesn't look much different when they're done, which is depressing enough in and of itself.
She and Lassiter keep casting each other nervous glances. This is a lot, however they look at it. They're going to be living together, in close proximity, for as long as it takes for the Feds to get a handle on this case. They're not going to have a lot of reign to go further than the next town over, they're not going to be able to carry on with any police work, and they're going to be out of contact for weeks at a time.
Juliet's got no idea how they're going to cope. She draws out the goodbyes for as long as she can, making the most of what she knows could be the last time she sees her friends for a while. Gus and Shawn give her a hug each goodbye, and Shawn whispers that the house is psychically secure, he's double-checked, but watch out for Lassie. He might go stir crazy.
Juliet wants to believe it's just a joke.
All too soon, they're gone. She listens to the cars pull away, and then it's just her and Lassiter.
"I can't believe they're doing this to me," he says, kicking at one of his bags. He's angry. She thinks that's understandable.
She still wishes he wouldn't be. They're stuck together, now, and she wants it to go smoothly.
As smoothly as possible.
Oh, God, it's going to be a disaster.
Month Two: December
December is a hard month.
It's both the hardest and not the hardest. Juliet's heart is breaking because it's Christmastime and she can't call a single friend, relative, anyone and tell them how much they mean to her. Lassiter is angry and muted, and he spends a lot of time staring out at the snowdrifts blocking the roads.
They spend most of the month cold and aggressive. They fight – a lot – and there's a week in the lead up to Christmas where neither of them speaks to the other. It's as silent as the grave in the house, which they both think is actually very ironic, even though neither mentions it. The only noise comes from the sporadic phonecalls from untraceable phones, and the crackle of the Chief's voice checking up on them.
Have you killed each other yet, she asks, and Juliet grits her teeth and laughs down the phone. Lassiter acts like he doesn't hear her say "no, though not for lack of motive", and just keeps staring out the window when she asks him if he wants to talk. When she hangs up, he strides out of the room, and she doesn't see him again until Christmas Eve.
She snaps, then. Christmas is special to Juliet, God dammit, and she isn't going to let him ruin this. She isn't – going – to let him.
She stays up the whole night. When Lassiter stumbles into the kitchen at eight in the morning, every newspaper they had has been cut up into Christmas decorations. Angels and snowflakes and chains of ribbon are dangling from every surface it's suitable to dangle things from, and quite a few Lassiter's not too sure about. The kitchen table is labouring under the weight of a dozen plates of cakes, some covered with kitchen towels or napkins, some still cooling down. The steam rises off them in coils, misting against the windows. There are bowls of peeled vegetables sitting on the counter, ready to be cooked, and the turkey is defrosting in the sink.
There's a note at the front of the table; a sheet of paper folded in two that says "Carlton" on the front in her loose, loopy handwriting. Inside, it says, I'm sorry. It's Christmastime, we shouldn't fight. This is getting to both of us but I'm willing to make the effort if you are. Merry Christmas, Juliet x.
Juliet herself is sitting on the couch with the television listings open in front of her and flour on her left cheek and collar and neck. He notices a nick on her thumb, where she probably cut herself peeling; inattentive, he thinks, from exhaustion.
She's asleep. He plans on leaving her there but a board creaks as he heads back to the kitchen, and Juliet – ever the cop – snaps awake. She looks blearily around, and spotting him, gets uncertainly to her feet. She notices he's holding her letter.
"You used all the eggs," he says. "What about eggnog?"
Juliet bites her lip and says, "We didn't have any rum."
It's the first conversation they've had with anyone for a week, and it's pretty pathetic, but it's a start.
Month Three: January
Things are easier after Christmas, and the slide into the New Year is almost calm. There's little good humour to spare, but there's a lot more tolerance and lot less arguing. New Years Day sees Lassiter shovelling snow out of the driveway, and Juliet sitting by the window in her bedroom that overlooks the street, re-reading a dog-eared copy of Of Mice and Men. Every now and then, she glances down to watch Lassiter's progress. Start the year as you mean to continue it, she thinks grimly, and looks around at her blank-walled room. The line rings uncomfortably true.
Below, Lassiter leans on his shovel and rubs a gloved hand across his forehead. He leaves the tool wedged into a pile of the snow he's shifted, and heads towards the house. She turns to face her open door as she hears him downstairs, and he shouts up that he's going to go into town and get some food. They're all out, he says, thanks to her insistence on cooking elaborate meals for the last week.
But it's without malice, she's sure of it. She calls back that she'll see him soon, and she asks if he's taking the truck. He says yeah, he is, but when she hears the front door slam, she watches him walk right past the truck and onto the road into town. He's a stubborn ass, and being cooped up like this is going to drive him crazy.
She shuts her book, and rubs her head, watching him wind away into the middle-distance. Her room feels barren and impersonal, and the reason she's suddenly jumped on the housewife-cookery-school bandwagon is because she has to carve out something that feels like home. She isn't made for this, for solitude like this. And Lassiter isn't made for sitting still and keeping low. Lassiter's made for gunbeat decisions and foot chases, not hiding out and taking care.
Snow starts falling, and eventually, it swallows him up.
She doesn't know what she'd do if he didn't come back. He's all she has out here, and with the wilderness inside and out, she can't bear the thought of being alone.
Month Four: February
February brings some of the first green they've seen since they got here, and they're both in better spirits because of it. Lassiter finally starts to look at ease in the flannel shirts and battered jeans, and Juliet's getting used to the sharp edges of her room. When the spring starts, she says, she's going to have flowers on the windowsill. Fresh, everyday.
Lassiter says she'd better not expect him to pick them.
On Valentine's Day, they get one of their check-up calls. This time, Lassiter takes it, and even from across the room Juliet can hear the bemusement in the Chief's voice when he's not just polite, but pleasant. She's probably used to them snapping bitterness, not offering how-are-yous and you-wouldn't-believe-the-snow-heres.
"Yeah, yeah," Lassiter is saying. "Wait, what? When?"
There's a sharp edge in his tone suddenly, and Juliet sits up. He glances over, and there's dread in his eyes. Juliet waits on tenterhooks for him to wrap up the call, and then demands, "well?"
With the air of a man condemned to hang, Lassiter turns to her, and says, "Spencer's coming to visit."
Juliet can't help it. She laughs. Maybe it's the start of stir craziness, but now that it's out, she can't stop. She laughs and laughs and Lassiter's staring at her like she's some wild and dangerous thing, and she laughs until she feels sick and can't breathe and Lassiter has to guide her into a chair.
"This is no laughing matter," he says severely, but Juliet is inclined to disagree.
In the middle of nowhere, on the cusp of winter, dead to almost everyone except each other, they're alone and they're alive, and Shawn is coming to visit.
(It turns out to be Shawn and Gus, which she expected, and also a dog, which she did not. Apparently Shawn has taken to bringing it around with him, and she wonders why her partner actually looks surprised when he's told its name is Lassie. Gus says they're not staying long, but then they stay for dinner, and then they stay the night. Lassiter starts to relax after a glass of wine or three, and Shawn picks up on his increasing good humour and plays up to it. They're practically friendly by the end of the night, and absence really must make the heart grow fonder because Lassiter is forcing hug after hug on them before they manage to retreat to the guest room. The last she sees of them that night is a skinny view of Gus' face, panic stricken, as he checks round the door before making a run for the bathroom. Lassiter catches her before she reaches her room, arms outstretched, and rolling her eyes, she steps into his embrace. He murmurs something that sounds like I'm glad it's you I'm stuck with O'Hara, and kisses her on the line of her hair. She sleeps the best sleep she's had since they got there, even though she's woken up by Lassie's barking at ten past five in the morning, because for the first time in so long she's sure she's surrounded by friends.)
Month Five: March
Lassiter paces a lot these days. He knows Juliet can feel his temper starting to rise again, and he wishes he didn't have to take it out on her, but she's the only one there. He catches her looking sidelong at him, anxious, and he knows she's worrying that they're going to start arguing again.
He's not going to let that happen.
They've been here four months now, just the two of them (except the occasional encounters with door-to-door salespeople who have mysteriously stopped visiting since he started answering the door cleaning his gun) and it's changing things. Not big things, maybe, but stuff like how she leaves the milk out after she makes her morning coffee, even though she takes it black, because she knows he hates ice cold milk in his. Stuff like how he's silently taken on the responsibility of making breakfast on Sunday's – the one day she allows herself a lie in. Stuff like how they sit closer, now, when they watch TV, and how she'll sometimes fall asleep on his shoulder.
There's a closeness that comes from sharing space like this that he hasn't experienced in a long time, and it's making him wonder –
- Well, it's connotations, is what it is, and it's making him think...
...an awful lot of things he really shouldn't. Things he's spent a long time forcing himself to ignore.
So he promises himself that he's going to try, real hard, not to take it out on her. But it's so hard, being here. He feels like a caged lion, and he's pacing, pacing, always pacing, because there's energy coiled up in all his bones and all the fibres of his skin that needs to get out. He needs something to do. He feels sick, sometimes, with the endlessness of it all, and he's caught himself twice this week on the verge of shouting at Juliet for not leaving him alone.
He has to remind himself that there's no one else here for her, either, and she needs people a whole hell of a lot more than he does.
But he's got to start doing something, however low the Chief says he has to lie, because otherwise, he's going to eat his gun. It isn't worth it, not to him – there's little point in life if you can't do anything with it. He's worthless here, trapped, impotent, and it isn't good for him. Not at all.
When Juliet says, idly, while browsing the newspaper, that they should get jobs, he nearly kisses her.
Then there's a burst of winter-spring sun that breaks over her skin and she's half-haloed for less than a second, and he catches himself just before he does.
The moment passes and his head is full of noise, most of it forming itself into something that sounds like WHAT THE HELL YOU JACKASS.
Regardless, he fixes her breakfast on Sunday as usual, and picks the usual handful of wildflowers to leave next to the tray outside her door.
Not on it, though. He's not going to run the risk of cross-contamination.
Month Six: April
Juliet pulls a job as a waitress in a busy diner, and Lassiter winds up with a low-ranking security job at the town's shopping centre. It's uninteresting work for them both, and Lassiter really doesn't take well to being ordered around by someone less qualified than mall cops, but he's out of the house and on his feet and God, there's even a uniform, so he takes Juliet's advice: shut up, and make the most of it.
They work Mondays to Fridays, both of them, except Juliet has Wednesday mornings off and a Saturday afternoon shift instead. The weather's getting finer and Lassiter's relaxing again now he's got a daily purpose and a routine. For her part, Juliet is looking healthier than she has over the winter, and she's adapting to the role of waitress well. Some days, she almost seems to enjoy it.
There's a lot of being on their feet involved, though, and they usually wind up beat by the time they end up home. It leads to a lot more evenings sat together on the couch, watching mindless television (though they far from watch it mindlessly – they argue over everything; plotlines, costumes, dialogue, inflection, points of law. Juliet has a more in depth knowledge of the law relating to death row inmates, but no one can beat Carlton Lassiter when it comes to period drama costumes). It leads to a lot more of Juliet's head on his shoulder, and eventually slips into his arm around her shoulders.
After a couple of weeks, and without either of them really knowing how, it's become the two of them lying together under the light of evening, Lassiter's arm around her and one of her hands tangled in his. There's this surreal sense of serenity here, in amongst everything, like this little house in this nothing town is something separate and private, just for them. She's warm against him, and he is something solid and steady in the moments where she panics and forgets who she is these days.
They have something, and they're not sure what it is, but neither of them is in a hurry to define it.
Except one night, when the sun's setting, and Juliet shifts and turns on her back to look up at him. They hang there, in that instant, in the haze of peace and spring twilight, until Juliet's gaze drops, for a split-second, to his mouth. When he leans down and kisses her, it feels like it's the most natural thing in the world.
Month Seven: May
After that first kiss, they fall fast and hard.
It starts with casual things that they could have brushed off as nothing. Lassiter's hand will alight on her waist when he comes up behind her and asks what she's making for lunch, or hers will find its way into his hair while she watches him finish the crossword puzzle. Juliet stops leaving the milk out for his coffee and starts making it for him and bringing it to his room as he wakes up. He starts joining her on her bed for Sunday breakfasts. He'll get in from an irritatingly boring day and collapse with his head in her lap, and she'll unclip his tie and run her hands down his arms.
One day, they're talking about something – Lassiter will never remember what, but Juliet will tell him it was how they organised the shift rota for the part-timers at the diner – and something in him breaks. She's distracted and a tiny bit dishevelled and there's a laugh waiting somewhere at the corner of her mouth, and before he realises what he's doing, Lassiter is pushing her back against the counter and wrapping his arms around her and kissing her. She's off-guard, for just a second, before she presses up to meet him, running her hands over his cheap polyester uniform until they reach his neck. Her skin against his is suddenly electric, and he's holding her so tight he's not sure if he remembers how to let her go.
It turns out he does, though, and when they pull away, there's a look on her face like he's never seen before.
It's a good one, though.
Month Eight: June
And for a while, things are incredible.
It comes as a shock to both of them that things seem to happen so effortlessly. Lassiter's hands map Juliet's body like he's known it his whole life, and there are moments when Juliet looks at him sideways with her eyes half-lidded when Lassiter swears he actually feels his heart miss a beat. Their unique rhythms are nothing like in sync, but they learn to work with that, to run with it – they work with, not against, each of their quirks, each of their flexes and gasps. They've made the rules here, and they say that this is okay.
They say it's better than okay.
Everything seems so easy. Maybe it's because they've been living together for the last six months, but Juliet's finding Lassiter a lot less trouble than she always imagined he'd be in a situation like this. And he tells her, once, in the dark and heat of the hottest night of the year so far, that he feels safer with her than he has with anyone. She knows him, he said, or at least a whole lot of the parts of him he's always worried will be his undoing at times like these. His chest is pressed against her back and his hand is exploring her thigh, and he says, "I don't have to hide from you."
She hopes to hell it's true, because she smiles whenever she thinks about him these days, and her stomach goes a little cold when she remembers that this isn't their real life. Carlton Lassiter is making her happy (even though that sounds bizarre, and unwieldy, and funny, even when she just whispers it inside her own head) and she's starting to feel like she doesn't want to give that up.
But she can feel the old longing pulling her back in, and she feels like she's been away too long. She misses the surety of a pistol in her hand and a tactical vest over her blouse, and all of the chaos and danger of their old life. This place is making a mockery of her – of the both of them – and she wishes things didn't have to be like this, one way or the other. They're going to go back, and it's getting closer every day, and she cannot stand the thought of losing Lassiter as her partner.
Though she's going to have to, one way or the other.
They wake up early one morning and just lie in bed together, entwined, and she runs her fingers over the lines of his face. It's as familiar as her own. This is the man she's trusted to have her back in a hundred different situations, at least a third of them life or death. This is the man who's saved her life – whose live she's saved – out of pure instinct, out of something absolute. Juliet knows he's always let get closer than mostly anyone else, but it had always been out of necessity. Now, in his arms, as he presses her fingers to his lips, it's out of something else.
"Which would you rather be?" she asks.
"What?" When she doesn't elaborate, he lets go of her hand and frowns. "You mean when we go back."
"Which I'd choose. Us as partners or...this."
Juliet nods. She hates this, hates bringing this up, hates that his answer is going to colour everything...but she's never been much good at ignoring the elephant in the room.
"Both," Lassiter says, like it settles the matter. Juliet stares at him. "I'm going to pick both."
He kisses her, and she believes in Lassiter with all her heart, so if he says both then both it's going to be.
Nothing can last forever.
Month Nine: July
It'd be wrong to say either of them had forgotten what they were there for. Whatever may have happened, they're detectives, and they have always remembered exactly why they were kicking it alone out here.
Juliet just hadn't expected it to explode the way it had, that's all. Or as quickly as it had.
"We got a hit on Del Biyo," the Chief says over the phone. It's the end of July, and her tone is heavy. "And it's bad news. He's headed in your direction."
Juliet casts a glance over at Lassiter. He's watching the news with his feet on the coffee table. His boots, at least, are off. She lowers her voice and steps out of the living room.
"He knows we're still alive?" she asks urgently.
"We don't think so. We think it's coincidence, more or less, but...we don't want to take any chances."
"Do you need us to get ready for a move?"
"I think it would best if you were prepared," she admits. "The Feds are being avoidant but I don't trust them not to drop this mess on all our heads with very little warning. I'm worried...look, O'Hara, I am really worried they're going to turn round and ask me to make the pair of you the cheese in their trap."
Juliet goes cold all over. "Chief," she says thickly. "If Carlton finds out –"
"If Carlton finds out Del Biyo is within a day's drive from you, he's going to be out the door with a gun in his hand and some stupid idea that he's going to bring this guy down on his own. I need you to keep a handle on him, O'Hara."
She nods. "I will, I'll do my best."
"For both your sakes, Juliet, I hope you do." She sighs; it crackles across the line. "We're sending some guys up there with the Feds in a couple of days. Until then, sit tight." She pauses, and then she asks. "Do you want to tell him, or...?"
"I'll do it," Juliet says. "Bye, Chief."
She hangs up, and heads back to the living room. Lassiter looks up, and mutes the TV, smiling.
"Hey there, beautiful," he murmurs, as she sinks down next to him. He wraps an arm around her, and presses his lips to her neck. She is so very aware of the peace she's about to shatter. "How's Chief Vick?"
You're not going to like it, she thinks. "There's been a development with Del Biyo..." she begins.
Lassiter freezes against her. He draws back. "What's happened?"
Drawing a breath, she tells him. Before she's even finished, he is on his feet, and going for his gun.
"Carlton." She hurries after him, grabbing at his arm. "Carlton, Chief Vick said to stay put, she's going to have people up here with the FBI in a couple of –"
He turns on her, and he's found one of his guns. His expression is fixed and sharp. "Not good enough."
"Well, it has to be!" she follows him into the kitchen. His holster is in the bread bin. Too out of reach upstairs, he said. "We can't just go running off across the state after Del Biyo, we don't even know where he is!"
"Exactly." Lassiter straps on his holster, and grabs his jacket, and the keys to the truck. "We can't. You're staying here."
"Juliet," he says, putting his hands on her shoulders. "It's too dangerous, I can't let you –"
She shrugs his hands off angrily, and pushes him away. "Damn it, I am your partner! You can't tell me something's too dangerous!"
There's bare emotion in his eyes when he looks at her and says, "You're not just my partner anymore. You know that."
That's when she slaps him. "How dare you," she says. Her voice is low and dangerous. "How dare you!"
"Shut up! Don't you ever talk to me like that, Lassiter! Don't you ever treat me as less than I am! We are partners, and that means that if you're going, I'm going, no matter how stupid it is! Someone's got to watch your back."
He studies her in silence for a few moments, then nods curtly. "Get your gun."
Month Ten: August
Juliet makes it clear that she has no idea what they're doing.
Neither, if he's honest, does Lassiter. Rushing into this wasn't his best idea, but he's not going to back down now. He's going to find Del Biyo, he's going to nail the son of a bitch, and that's going to put an end to this whole damn business. Then it'll be back to Santa Barbara at last, and things can start going back to normal.
He looks across at Juliet, who's half-naked and asleep on the motel bed across from him. He unbuttons his shirt and slides his gun underneath his pillow before climbing in next to her. She groans a little, and starts to wake up, but he shushes her gently. She takes his hand and holds it to her chest. Lying down behind her, he measures her breathing, feeling it slow and slow until she falls back to sleep.
Lassiter holds her in the semi-darkness, feeling the rise and fall of her body beneath his hand. He's the one that got her into this; the Del Biyo affair. They both have targets painted on their faces, all thanks to him. He wants to say that he didn't feel this way back then, that he hadn't know what he was doing...but it isn't true.
He knew then exactly what he knows now, and felt what he feels, too. And somehow, having her there next to him, face set, ready to charge into danger with him, made it all the more exhilarating.
The next day, they get a lead. A town. A name. One more night, and they'll be on top of him. One more night, and it will be over.
That night, he doesn't climb into bed with her. He puts his jacket back on, sends a text to the Chief with their location, grabs the keys to the truck and just goes.
She's going to hate him so much for this, and maybe he'll deserve it.
And then again, maybe he'll be dead, and she won't.
It's worth the risk.
(When Juliet is awoken by the FBI pounding at the door, and Chief Vick shouting in to her, she's disorientated. Then she's confused, when she looks around and can't find Lassiter. And then she notices the keys are missing, and she's mad as hell. She's mostly dressed by the time they start threatening to break the door down, so she lets them in, and she grabs her gun. "He's gone after Del Biyo," she says, and the Chief's face looks drawn and pale when she says, "We know. He found him.")
Month Eleven: September
Juliet knew what had happened before they even gave her the name of the hospital.
The Chief drives her over. She glances across at her a few times, and Juliet is sure there must be something about the way she looks when she says Carlton now that makes everything so painfully obvious.
She doesn't care. Not now.
At his bedside, she can't decide if he looks worse or better than she imagined he would. There's fewer tubes, she admits, but more bandages. So many more bandages.
"There were four of them," the Chief tells her, quietly, punctuated by the beep of monitors. They're keeping him under with morphine. He'll only do himself damage if he comes round now. "With about half a million's worth of drugs in the back, and a couple of hostages. The local police were on the scene a few seconds after him."
And then, "we got Del Biyo. The whole thing, it's over now. We got him."
For whatever that's worth now, thinks Juliet, and the month wears on.
He wakes up on the twelfth. They were reluctant to lower his medication before then, apparently, because they'd been warned he might be uncooperative. The doctors had wanted to wait until he was closer to being able to be discharged. Juliet wishes she had some grounds to protest on, because all she's been doing lately is pacing back and forth and driving herself crazy. But she knows damn well that Lassiter is going to be out of that bed and back to Santa Barbara two days, max, after he comes round, so she doesn't blame them. And she isn't surprised that by the time she gets to his room after hearing he's awake, he's already trying to get dressed and discharge himself.
She's at the door, all ready to be angry, or to tell him to get back into bed, or to say anything, but all that happens is her knees go weak with relief, and her words die in her throat.
He turns and sees her. Guilt is plastered across his face, and he says, "Juliet –" and tries to move towards her.
She meets him two thirds of the way across the room, collapsing into his arms. He winces as she hits the wounds, and she pulls back, apologising, but he keeps a firm hold on her. He looks battered and bruised but unbroken – God, so far from broken. Her heart is emptying itself out for this man, and she can feel herself faltering.
"I can't do this," she says, when she gets her voice back.
Lassiter's face goes blank. "Why not? Because of Del Biyo? You know I would have done that regardless of –"
"I know," Juliet says. But that's not why she's doing this. She knows he'd have done it regardless, but it matters. It's different. She can take that from her partner. She can't take that if –
"It's not that I didn't trust you," Lassiter says, and he's keeping his voice very level. "You know that, Juliet. Don't go inventing motives that aren't there."
"I'm not." She steps back. "I'm not. I believe you. You trust me, and you'd have done that anyway, but...I can't do this."
She takes another step back, and turns, and goes, leaving him alone.
Home: October Again
Lassiter chooses not to accept it.
Their house is cleared out, and all the things they'd accrued are either gotten rid of or sent back to Santa Barbara. Juliet has already headed back, and Lassiter is the last person to leave the building. It had been home, for a while, he thinks. Their home. And that had been something exceptional. They'd been intimate and honest and they'd trusted one another, and Lassiter isn't letting that get away from him, not this time.
Oh, he thinks about it, at first. He thinks about it all the way back to Santa Barbara, and after she avoids him the day he comes in to give his report on Del Biyo. He thinks about it a hell of a lot during his enforced leave, and the thinks he should probably respect her decision. It's her choice. And if she doesn't think she wants this, that she can't deal with it, who is he to tell her otherwise?
He respects her decision all the way up to the point where he's hammering on her front door at eleven at night in the pouring rain, and she answers the door in sweats and a loose shirt, and he kisses her.
"Yes, you can," he says, and there's conviction in his voice like if he's ever believed in anything before, it's this. "You can deal with this, because you can deal with me. You and me, O'Hara, have gone through some rough times, and some bad cases, and we have always come out on top. We can do that again. This isn't any different."
"Yes, it is, Carlton," she insists, pleadingly. "If this doesn't work – if we can't adapt to this – it's not a case of the bad guy getting away. One of us could get hurt –"
"It's the same any day on the job," he reminds her. "Every day."
"It's unnecessary risk."
"We'll manage it."
"It's against regulations!"
"We'll find a loophole."
"They'll make us find other partners!"
"What do you think we're going to do if I get back to the station and it turns out we can't even face being in the same room as each other?"
Juliet bites her lip. "What if something happens?" she asks, finally, like she can't think of anything else.
He steps towards her. He's dripping rain all over her porch, but she's staring straight up at him with those eyes, and her hair is loose and golden. "Then we fix it." He grabs her hand. "Juliet..."
Juliet casts a glance upwards. The clouds are heavy and thick, and the night is a starless swathe of black as far as they can see.
"Get inside," she mutters. "Dry off."
He steps over the threshold. As he passes her, she grabs at his sodden sleeve and pulls him back. They're close – so close his jacket's seeping water against her shirt, but she doesn't seem to mind.
"Don't make me regret this," she says.
Lassiter's smile is one of the softest he's ever smiled. He doesn't intend to.
"When do you think we should talk about moving in together?" he asks, raising an eyebrow, and he knows she doesn't mean it when she threatens to shoot him.
He's pretty sure, anyway.