I apologize, because I don't have a beta and my brain sort of checked out a while ago.
I don't own these characters, or their show. I just have a disease. Side effects include a need to ship all things. No matter how hetero the cast is.
The public police auction. This horror show was the kind of thing that came with stories of late-night encounters and the like, because honestly, you never knew what kind of creep would buy you out. It was a stupid idea to begin with, selling time with the officers as a form of fundraising? The whole thing was just prostitution disguised as charity. McNab had gone fast, O'Hara even faster, and Carlton had been surprised to see that even Chief Vick had quite a bit of charm about her, getting a rather large bid for her time. It had been going well honestly, and there'd be plenty of money to fund that new weapons unit Lassiter had been dropping subtle hints about since the whole... 'budget discussion' came up.
That was how this whole ludicrous situation had started off after all, in the chief's office, two days before the auction.
Lassiter had written up an absolutely beautiful report on exactly why he thought they needed to rev-up the firepower around the place. He'd made such a great argument, five pages worth, in fact. Every page was well presented with great evidence, each paper chocked full of helpful facts, resources, even gun sale prices, all laid out in a crisp, mellow folder. There was no way the chief could ignore something this well put together. He would just casually slip it onto her desk, and if she asked him about it, he could simply say it was a great idea, and that the (intelligent)person that proposed it should get a raise.
However, Vick had been a little less than thrilled with him after discovering the folder on her desk. She's beckoned him inside her office with an authoritative glower, "Lassiter, if you want funding for a special unit, you'd better be prepared to woo the crowd on Friday."
Carlton groaned irritably, upset that being called into her office did not, in fact, mean that she was on board with the idea. "I'm not doing that thing." he grumbled.
"Everyone is entering, Carlton." came a soft, yet stern mutter, the chief not looking up from her desk as he stood in front of it.
"Well I'm not." he huffed, annoyed, "It's degrading. Honestly, I'm surprised you're going to be doing it."
Now she looked up, "Excuse me?"
"No disrespect chief, but you're a highly ranked member of this police force. I can't believe you'd sell yourself to someone like that."
"For Pete's sake, Lassiter, we're not selling sex! It's just three hours. That's a dinner, a movie, an interview, whatever, no one is forcing you to sleep with them!"
"Last year three of our officers came back in the same clothes, and one got pregnant."
"Ashley got married. They're happily living together just out of Santa Barbra, detective."
He grunted awkwardly, "Not doing it."
No way. He was not going to have some mystery woman run her hands all over him for three hours, hoping to get lucky. He wasn't that kind of man. Lassiter was starting his stride out, ready to take all of his words in heed when she called after him, "If you want that new ammunitions unit, you'll do it."
Carlton bit down on his cheek, spinning back around, "That's extortion."
"It's incentive. We have no money to pay for new units like that unless we can rake in some serious donations on Friday." she stated, lifting an elbow up onto her desk and hiding her face in her palm.
"Is the station that low on funds?"
The chief nodded silently, "We might have to start making cuts if we don't get enough."
"That's why you're entering?"
Carlton frowned. As a responsible member of the Santa Barbra Police Department, it was on his shoulders to help out his coworkers. He could stand a little groping, he supposed. Especially if it meant a new weapons unit in his grasp. "Fine." he barked, "I'll do it."
He watched wearily as the chief's face visibly brightened, "Great. The bidder will have to sign a contract. You can't be forced into anything that harms your well being." she offered, trying to sound reassuring.
"And if it doesn't harm me directly?"
She smiled sharply, "Then suck it up for an hour or two."
So now here he was, sucking it up. He'd been pacing behind the stage for the last two announcements, doing his best not to nervously bite at his nails. He was up next. As soon as the officer on stage was bought, he'd be the next item for sale. He'd have to strut out onto that hallow, wooden stage and pretend to be enticing. Carlton did a lot of things for his guns, but he never expected to be taking off his shirt to a Pink! song for the good of the cause. A startling round of applause invaded his thoughts, signaling his turn.
With a metaphorical shot of courage, a light slap to his cheek, and hard gulp, he stepped up onto the stage.
He was not going to strut down the catwalk like a woman, but he was determined not to look too out of place, he needed someone to bid on him after all. With hesitant steps, he made his way to the end. The song started up, and someone started to introduce him through a microphone. His hands clenched at his sides a few times before he could actually manage to gather the courage to lift them. One button, two, barely bothering to actually move along with the music, but sort of... swaying a little to the left, then back into a neutral position.
Nobody bid even when the announcer had finished with his introduction. He felt uncomfortable again, more so than before he'd actually stepped on stage. Should he be doing something else? He caught the eye of O'Hara, sitting in the crowd next to the man who had undoubtedly bid on her. She made a small movement, nodding furiously at him, trying to signal him something. Probably to get him to move his freaking feet.
"Alright, do I hear one thousand?"
Not a hand raised.
"Oh, come on folks! This man here's a mighty fine specimen. He can- uh..." the announcer looked down at his cards, obviously searching for something to entice the bidders, "He can reload and shoot a gun in under five seconds! That's a department best, ladies!"
O'Hara raised her fingers to her cheeks, and pulled on the ends of her lips, and subtle gesture for him to smile. Carlton hadn't even noticed he'd been scowling. Tentatively, he raised a lip, forming more of an unsettling grin than an actual smile. He didn't miss the way Vick pinched the bridge of her nose in disappointment.
"How about five hundred?" the announcer tried again.
What a great confidence builder this was. "Four hundred?"
Still nothing, save for a few teasing whispers and some vivid expressions of pity.
"If you need some housework done, this man's just the one for you! Maybe he could shoot out a rat infestation! He does have a mighty impressive aim accuracy!"
Lassiter groaned with embarrassment, ready to button up his shirt and call it a night. Whiskey sounded good. Great actually. He lifted a hand with rejection, about to push the first button in when the announcer stopped him, "Actually folks, we have an anonymous bidder on detective Lassiter! A generous donation of three hundred dollars!"
The crowd clapped awkwardly as Lassiter practically vaulted off the stage, more than prepared to never step onto another stage in his life. A new song kicked in and there seemed to be a fresh fever of excited cheers as a rather toned officer walked out with a cheeky grin, and an entirely unbuttoned uniform.
Three hours. That was it. He'd treat whatever lady decided to finally take pity on him to a meal or something, and then politely be on his way. Not that he wasn't thankful to be off that godforsaken stage, he just wasn't very enthusiastic about spending the night with a stranger. He slowly made his way over to the station's secretary, who'd been running the cash box throughout the night. "Where's my bidder?" he grunted.
She looked up at him bashfully, "Oh, umm, there was no name, just an address." the secretary handed him a small card with the information scribbled onto it.
"Fine." he muttered, not bothering to share another word before getting himself out of that event hall as quickly as possible.
Never again would he do that. Not even in the name of guns.