TITLE: Believing What Makes You Happy
CHARACTERS: Carlton Lassiter, Juliet O'Hara, Shawn Spencer, Chief Vick
GENRE: Romance, humour
SUMMARY: Lassiter moves in with O'Hara. But it has nothing to do with an interoffice romance. Because he's uncomfortable with that. Right?
CHALLENGES: 090. "Home", Lassiter convincing himself of something
WORD COUNT: a lot (6319)
WARNINGS: some sex
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The tv episode that Juliet refers to about detectives and partners is "Blind Spot" Law & Order:CI.
"Just so you know, I'm uncomfortable with inter-office romance," she says and you wrinkle your nose.
'That's ridiculous and limiting,' you say to yourself and suddenly you feel ridiculous because in way she just rejected you, not that you had even been considering anything in the first place. And now that you're being told you can't have something you hadn't even wanted in the first place…
"I'm uncomfortable with inter-office romance," you agree as she smells of peaches and she flips her hair over her shoulder, coy but in a way that she only does around you.
She nods, looking very satisfied. She shifts her shoulders and you can't help but look at the gracefully curvature of her body in that skirt suit. She flirts in that accidental way women sometimes do, trying to impress without actually meaning to and in the past month, you've noticed it more and more. Her bubbly nature is consistent throughout the day, though the second you're with her in your office or your car, a teasing edge takes hold, one that Spencer (hopefully) has never seen.
She sits down in front of your desk, relaxing into the chair, though still maintaining a professional posture. Today her blonde locks are hanging down loose, carefully coiffed so that the ends curl under. You wonder how long it takes her to fix it like that in morning, if it takes longer to pull her hair back up in that spiraled bun. Not that you should be worrying about her hair.
She takes another drink of her coffee, diluted heavily with soymilk, slurping it in an undignified manner. You raise an eyebrow and she grins.
"It's good, Carlton."
Your mind instantly records every little detail that went into the coffee so that you can make it the same every time from now on.
"I'm uncomfortable with inter-office romance," you say through your teeth as you stand on her doorstep.
O'Hara raises an eyebrow, obviously not expecting her little joke about "people will think something is going on between us."
"Look, I was checking up on that parolee in the neighborhood and I thought I would stop by." You're a little exasperated that she's making such a big deal that you've come over—after all, you DID bring over some blueberry crumble for her, which you offer up.
This seems to change the situation drastically and her whole face lights up as she holds her door open wide.
"Oh! That's so thoughtful of you! Come in!"
Her eyes are staring hungrily at the blueberry crumble as she carries it to the kitchen and you follow close behind her, hoping she'll perhaps give you her opinion on the files she took home last night. Oh, O'Hara is so easy to please sometimes.
"I'm uncomfortable with inter-office romance," you promise as you walk into her new lease.
She just moved into this house because her old place wasn't up to code. "I have a "no shoes" policy," she explains as she points to your feet. "To protect the wood floors."
"I'm not walking around in my socks."
"I know. That's why I bought you some slippers," she says cheerfully and pulls open a plastic shopping bag, yielding its contents to you excitedly.
You recoil at what you see inside. Huge slippers made of bright pink fake fur.
"They were 5 bucks," she shrugs, as if it explains everything.
You aren't impressed, but you know she won't tell anyone about them. As you put them on you mutter,
"Gee, I wonder why."
The slippers are comfortable which is both a relief and a disappointment. If they didn't fit, you could have legitimately rejected them, but now… She's tastefully organised the whole house with oak furniture and sunny yellow, very different than the greys and taupes of your apartment. Of course she still has boxes yet to be unpacked and you're momentarily reminded of when you moved out of the house you shared with Victoria.
She takes your hand and her whole face is lit up. "Let me give you the grand tour!'
"I'm uncomfortable with inter-office romance," you say as you bring over that stack of your books—the good ones—into her house because it's "easier for you to access, O'Hara."
She's cleared off a shelf in her living room, beside her diplomas and even though you know that she's given you the most important shelf in the house, a place where everyone will see the tomes you treasure, you try to rationalize that she's just being nice. After all, this is the gal with the sunny smile the moment she walks into work, the gal who sings along to the jingles for Stanley Steamer, the gal who thinks kittens are "just the cutest!" You're simply reading too much into the matter.
All of her other books are organised by alphabetical order AND the Dewey decimal system—even though proper grouping and classification of books is a huge turn on to you, you push those thoughts aside, focusing on the fact that she's brought Mexican from Theresa's Tamale Shack on PCH. Tacos and law enforcement? She's going to have a very friendly Lassiter to work with tonight.
Whilst licking salsa off her fingers, O'Hara talks about the chop shop that the two of you have been investigating in connection with a college drug ring and you hand her a napkin, though she seems content with her tongue.
"We should do a bust," she says impatiently.
You know how she feels. "I know, but the Chief has to give us the go ahead."
For once, you wonder if getting to do a raid would be worth giving up the evenings you spend together.
"I'm uncomfortable with inter-office romance," you state as you had started staying over on some nights because she absolutely hates having you drive home so late. You've also stopped wearing the slippers, enjoying the freedom of wandering barefoot, squeaking your soles on her wood floors.
"Let me know if you need anything else," she says sweetly as she gives you a pillow and a patchwork quilt.
You wave her away and when she's behind her bedroom door, you finally let yourself relax, removing your holster and setting your gun on the coffee table, atop a stack of Martha Stewart and TIME magazines.
Her couch is very comfortable (thank god) and even though you know that in the morning you will most likely be covered in cat hair, it also means another morning that you'll both get out of the house extra early to pick up breakfast together. You had forgotten until recently how nice it was to share meals with someone who didn't mind that you want to discuss new firearms or the best method to cuff a perp…
You fall asleep to the thoughts of the breakfast burritos that await you in the morning.
"I'm uncomfortable with inter-office romance," you grumble as you start sharing her bed because she feels so guilty seeing you on the couch in the morning.
You nearly collapse in relief when you see that she doesn't have an attraction to bedding with lace, frills, or roses. Your soon-to-be-ex-wife Victoria was like a magnet to that crap: angels made out of sugar cubes, country chic flowery chairs, lacy throw pillows shaped like hearts. Instead, O'Hara has an elegant queen-size sleigh bed, made out of lacquered oak, a piece of furniture that looks more like a work of art. It's flanked by two similar wooden nightstands and she points to the left side of the bed, which is closest to the door and she makes her way to the opposite side of the bed, which is closest to the bathroom door.
Her bed sheets are a deep plum, at least a six-hundred thread count, and you run your fingers against the delicious Egyptian cotton. You've never had sheets this nice because a) they are damn expensive and b) you've stained too many sets from blood, dirt, and other crap you drag home when you're too tired to get out of your work clothes. You smile at the genius behind her choice in the dark material, even if she did it unintentionally.
The quilt spread out on top is made with jewel-coloured fabrics latticed between strips of white, and even in the minimal light from the nightstand lamp you can see it's been hand quilted. For a moment your mind entertains the thought that perhaps O'Hara herself made, but you suspect it was probably her mother or grandmother, or perhaps some other female relative that wanted to ensure she slept warm.
A pillow-top mattress and as you sit on what has now been designated "Carlton's side," you let out a barely audible sigh of content. Victoria had gotten one of those memory foam mattresses, which didn't breath, so when you would wake up in the morning, your pyjamas would be stuck to you and you'd be cranky. Though now you have a cramped apartment's twin size to sleep on, so O'Hara's bed without a doubt is an upgrade. Cool and comfortable, your muscles begin to relax instantly.
Her cats look very angry that someone is attempting to move into their territory, but O'Hara attempts to appease them anyway with liver flavoured treats, comforting with cooing and baby talk. She's set their cushion/beds in the living room and you grimace until she finally returns to the bedroom, shutting the door behind her.
"Promise me you don't snore," you demand as you lay as close to the edge as you can, your back facing her. You reach over to the nightstand (where your gun lays just within reach) and turn off your lamp.
"I don't," she assures and you notice that she doesn't fight for the covers. "I just drool on the pillow."
You smirk, but you certainly don't admit that you do, too.
'I'm uncomfortable with inter-office romance,' you think as you sit at your desk, filling out the change of address form online for your subscription to California Law Enforcement Quarterly.
O'Hara doesn't mind sharing her copy with you, but you like to highlight good articles and she has a habit of folding the corners of pages to bookmark. Honestly, why would someone do that?
Yesterday, you bought the brand of paper towels you prefer as well as a replacement filter for her Brita pitcher. The day before that, you fixed the house numbers on her door because they were a little crooked; it was nice to use power tools and wear torn and stained work clothes and just be a man. Last week you got satellite for her TV because her cable wasn't showing Deadwood and you'd be damned if you miss your shows.
The bright computer screen is asking security questions to confirm that yes, you are indeed Carlton Lassiter needing your copy of California Law Enforcement Quarterly sent to 8021 Terrace Drive, and yes, you are indeed aware that someone else at that address has a subscription. No, you aren't trying to send a gift subscription. Yes, you're sure you want to send your subscription there! You violently hit the mouse button to answer the questions. You sneak a glance up and there's O'Hara, sitting at her desk filling out papers. Her fingers are playing with a loose lock of hair, tugging it softly and twisting it between her index finger and thumb.
In your briefcase are bills you've smuggled out of her mail. You've started going through her payments to pay the ones that are the most expensive, because after all, you're using her utilities as much as she is. She seems a little offended at first, insisting that you don't owe anything, but after a while, she stops complaining and tries to hide the bills from you, though you're not called "Head Detective" for nothing. This afternoon when you go to pick up lunch, you'll take care of the electricity and the propane, and perhaps tomorrow you'll find time to pay the sewer bill.
Your attention turns back to the computer and you hit the "submit" button, sending your information across the vast internet to an address in Culver City. One more thing to literally cross off your list and you dig the paper out of your wallet, taking a stub of a pencil and careful draw a line through number 28: "Change address to California Law Enforcement Quarterly". You quickly count the other things you have yet to do, many of them involving O'Hara which surprises you. 34 items of interest and you decide to tackle the next in line while you're out paying bills this afternoon. Number 30 (because you've already done number 29-"order customized pens"): "two-year partner anniversary gift". Perhaps she'd want something Kevlar? You sigh, leaning back in your ergonomically chair, closing your eyes and rubbing the bridge of your nose.
"I'm uncomfortable with inter-office romance," you growl as you help her out of her work clothes so you can both feed the need that's been building all afternoon.
She's got you up against the bedroom door, though you're the one supporting her weight as she leans into you. Your hands hoist her up and she wraps her legs around your waist, moving her hips against yours and you moan into neck. With the recent rise in case work neither of you have time to date, a task already difficult because you're too old to go to bars and she's too intimidating to men. Plus, you scare off a lot of her prospective boys with threats that if they harm a hair on her head, you'll be more than happy to show them the meaning of police brutality. And she always seems to offend your lady friends with a catty and snippy remarks about what "Carlton really likes".
Which means you've started taking care of her needs and she for you, and you wonder if it's the fact that you are partners that makes for such amazing synchronicity here in her bedroom, that you've both spent enough time around one another to recognize and respond to one another's subconscious cues. You lean in to meet her mouth with yours, but she turns her head away, once again denying the kiss that you both still have yet to share. But you don't really mind; your lips never meet with hers because you're both too busy trying to communicate, talking, begging, asking. And you're partners, not partners, so kissing really shouldn't be involved in the first place.
"You're tearing my skirt!" she mewls, but she's still grinding against you, pulling at your tie like she's hanging on for dear life.
If you kiss that means both of you will have been lying every time both of you insist that neither of you want anything inter-office.
The grey fabric rips a little more. "I'll buy you a new one," you promise.
"I'm uncomfortable with inter-office romance," you utter in disbelief as you walk into the break room, bringing her a cup of over flavoured frappacino.
She's wearing a pair of pearl earrings you had pointed out to her two days ago in a window display as you waited for lunch at a taco stand and that light blue blouse you saw in her catalogue that you called, "very professional-looking". You didn't carpool with her this morning because you had to pick up some dry cleaning and O'Hara had to leave extra early for a bi-annual physical, so you had no idea she was wearing this ensemble with her nicest pantsuit. Her left leg is crossed over her right and her foot is shaking back and forth to a rhythm only she can hear. She snatches the coffee out of your hand, your fingers connecting momentarily and you feel the hair on the back of your neck and arms stand up.
Her mouth is moving and sound is coming out of it, but your brain can't process the words she's saying. You're still standing there, unable to sit down, unable to break your gaze and your own coffee—which has a dash of soymilk mixed in with the actual dairy—is cooling quickly as the tips of your ears burn. Her blouse is unbuttoned giving a tasteful but enrapturing view of her décolleté. A pearl solitaire lingers on a gold chain at the hollow below her throat, rolling slowly on sun kissed skin. Breathing is becoming a little difficult and you absolutely need to loosen your tie, because it may be just you, but it certainly seems like it's hot in here.
She's happily drinking down the frappacino, licking the foam off her top lip with a sliver of tongue, babbling about that sideshow freak Spencer and the surprise party he wants to throw for Vick. She gives that smile that says, "humour me, sweetheart." She thinks that two of you really ought to attend.
You nod against your will, captivated with this Helen of Troy, wanting to launch ships in any direction she needs. She's leaning over to play with her shoe and while you curse silently for letting your eyes look down her shirt, you see she's got her hair twisted up and held back with a pen, a pen that's got your name stamped on it. You ordered them over a month ago and this morning they finally arrived, blue with white SBPD logo and emblazoned with "Stolen from Head Det. Carlton Lassiter"; you suspect that Spencer has been lifting your pens every time he enters the office and these will be the proof of your suspicions. Now it looks like O'Hara's a thief, too. You've never wanted to handcuff and book someone so badly in your life.
However it's very distracting that she's got your name somewhere on her person and you wonder if perhaps you ought to steal all her pens so she'll have borrow yours.
"I'm uncomfortable with inter-office romance," you add before holding open another file for her to look at.
She's relaxed in the bathtub filled with large bubbles, steaming water, and you're holding conference regarding a series of gruesome homicides, sitting on her teak shower bench next to the bathtub. Her hair is pulled back in a loose ponytail and her eyes are closed, so you clear your throat and she glances over.
"Carlton, I'm trying to have "me" time," she whines as she adds more fizzing bath drops that release the scent of peaches.
She looks annoyed, which makes you annoyed.
"Me time?" you ask, wrinkling your nose. "We're detectives—we don't get "me time"."
You shake the file a little to emphasise your point, pointing your finger to a picture, the body of a transient that was disemboweled and hung from a tree. She frowns and looks at the photo with half lidded eyes. She sighs and you know you've won. She rerolls the towel that she's resting her head on. "Can you make me something alcoholic? And fruity?" she asks finally, sounding defeated and tired.
Happy that you're being taken seriously, you set the file down and say, "Coming right up!"
A few daiquiris for her and a few scotches for you and you find yourself (uncomfortably) fitted into the bathtub with her, facing her as you read aloud the case file. She's busy making faces and splashing as you try to keep the papers dry, holding them above your head.
"O'Hara, stop squirming," you order, trying not to hit your back against the faucet.
"Carlton, your toes are poking me. Move your feet.
"You're getting me wet!"
"You're in a bathtub!" she says and you're expecting her to add "duh" at the end.
Finally your feet find their way up by her waist, and she looks pissed that most of her bubble bath has disappeared. She sips her drink and you want to bring her usually good mood back, so you decide to make a joke.
"Uh, so I think was the best idea we've had all night. Sharing the bathtub," you say nervously, never realising how long your legs were until this moment.
"Why's that?" she growls.
"Water conservation," you blurt out, your words a little slurred. "We're saving water. Like that memo said in the station."
She looks a little stunned then bursts out laughing, spilling a bit of her daiquri into the bath water.
"I'm all pruny," she observes and she moves to get out of the tub. "And that memo was from months ago, during the fire season."
You want to follow her anywhere and you get out of the bathtub as well, draining the water as she wraps herself in a white towel. Buttons is sitting on your towel, giving you an exceptionally foul look.
"G'it," you order, hands on hips.
"C'mon, Buttons. Leave him alone," she says as she carries the cat out of the bathroom.
You don't admit it to her and especially not to yourself, but you like the heavenly peach aroma from her bath soap and you know that tonight you won't have to sneak a whiff of her hair before you fall asleep.
"I'm uncomfortable with inter-office romance," you greet as she comes stumbling into the kitchen, wearing one of your button-ups and her own cotton panties, her sleepy face lit up with a sunny smile.
It's very early on Thursday morning, the sun just beginning to rise over Santa Barbara, giving the smallest hint of golden light to the room; you're standing at the stove in your boxers, an undershirt, and your favourite robe that you've brought from home, monitoring two frying pans and the toaster. You've started cooking breakfast in the morning, even though you aren't a morning person yourself, but you know she appreciates the effort and after all, she makes dinner when you both get off the shift, the time that you're usually too tired to take off your holster, let alone feed yourself.
Her hair has dried wavy during the night and one side is a little scrunched up, pillow hair. She looks like she needs a cup of coffee to wake up, but a month ago the coffee machine "mysteriously" broke, so you both make the morning journey to Starbucks to buy your regular coffee with seven sugars and five creams and her frappachino with blueberry muffin. It's a quiet moment of bonding you have with her each day, something between partner and partner and it costs under fifteen dollars.
O'Hara has the fading bruises of an exceptionally large hand around her throat, a reminder that there are always criminals you can't take down by yourself, left behind by a rapist terrorizing the Santa Barbara College campus. You were the one to shoot the bastard and it took all your self-discipline not to empty the entire clip into him, wanting to completely eliminate anyone who tried to hurt your partner.
Her fingers trail on the back of your neck as she passes by you; you take the toast out of the slots, wheat on the orange plate, sourdough on the yellow. A butter substitute made from soy goes on the wheat bread toast and unsalted, whipped butter goes on the sourdough. Your attention returns to the eggs and sausage frying on the stove while O'Hara goes to the fridge and as she peers in, mumbles,
"Where's the orange juice?"
You point to your left, where two cups of orange juice sit.
"Already poured it for you."
She looks relieved and as she sees the empty Tropicana jug in the recycling bin, she makes a move to the grocery list you've left near the sink, but you've already added "orange juice" right below "plums" and "Crest NO AQUAFRESH". She smiles and you smirk, her hand finding itself in the small of your back as she drinks the citrus part of her breakfast.
Her eyes go back to the list (as you turn off the stove) and her voice sounds a little clearer.
"You know, I've never asked, with pulp or without?"
You don't answer her, just offer her the orange plate with eggs sunny-side-up, the way she likes.
You start lingering in the meat department at Vons, wondering if her two cats would enjoy a small cut of liver or kidney? You look at the cut meats, clear saran wrap pulled tight over small white Styrofoam trays, searching for pieces of animal organs to take home to Mr. Peepers and Buttons. Your left hand is rocking the shopping cart back and forth impatiently, the wobbly wheel shaking with odd noises, and your right hand is hovering over a decision of pork chops and steaks.
So far you've purchased the just baked French bread and the goat cheese that smells like feet, the fist size nectarines and the petite golden delicious apples, the calorie-heavy Hearty Man frozen meals and the soy ice cream that actually doesn't taste so bad, the prepackaged bologna and the mozzarella string cheeses, the angel food cake mix and the boxes of organic mac and cheese.
Your eyes dart over your list in joined writing in blue ink on lined paper and then they scan the list constructed of very feminine print on two pink taped-together sticky notes, your pencil striking out what you've already put in the cart. You frown and ponder the pink list, trying to figure out her very vague request of "meat."
You got off work an hour ago; O'Hara headed off to a dentist appointment and your stomach still hasn't settled because you're very aware of the brand new key in your pocket. She's attached it to a SBPD keychain, tossing it at you right before she got out of the car at the dentist's office. She had done it so casually, like she gave out the key to her place to just anyone, and then waved bye, reminding you to come pick her up (you glance at your watch) in about thirty-four minutes.
Your arm brushes against your gun in your leather holster, hidden safely under your suit's unbuttoned jacket. The woman next to you is eyeing your badge on your belt (or your crotch) and she's offering you a grin; while you offer her a quick smile back, your attention remains focused on the dilemma of what you're supposed to be buying—you really don't have the time to flirt at the moment.
Your hand is still rocking the grocery cart, amazed that something as simple as buying food has become so complicated. You're also amazed that you're even buying your groceries and hers in the first place; you can't say "our" groceries because that would imply that the two of you are something more than Lassiter and O'Hara, something more than Head Detective and Junior Detective, something more than partners—
"Hey, buddy, can I help you?" the butcher asks, pleasantly and you snap your head up.
"I'm uncomfortable with inter-office romance," you say firmly before you can stop yourself and you grab the closest (and most expensive) package of ground beef. You quickly walk away, ignoring the flirting woman, your half-empty/half-full grocery cart rattling in protest.
"I'm uncomfortable with inter-office romance," you grouse as you both arrive twenty minutes late to Vick's surprise party.
O'Hara's tied her hair back again with a white bow because she couldn't get it to lay straight after you both fooled around in your car (yes, right there in your partner's darkening driveway! And you do intend on writing up both of you for disturbing the peace—you're a cop, not a hooligan), getting sweaty and disheveled. And her blue flowered skirt seems a little wrinkled from where you bunched it up around her hips, but she seems confident that no one will notice. You actually hope that Spencer's "psychic" abilities will pick up on THAT detail, and just thinking about the look on that idiot's face brings your spirits back up.
Your car is parked almost at the end of the block of the chief's townhouse and you're using the tiny mirror in the sunshade to straighten the cowlicks that resist being smoothed down. Your perky partner is adjusting a shape hugging tank top in cornflower blue, shifting it here and there until it doesn't look too stretched out, then pulling a necklace out of her purse to clasp around her neck. You briefly wonder if you look too formal for a surprise party, but looking nice for someone's birthday is hardly a crime. O'Hara seems to know exactly what you're thinking and she turns to you.
"I'm really glad you wore this tie," she soothes as her hands carefully adjust the violet silk, retying it neatly.
The present you're taking to the party is still balanced on her lap, jiggling and bouncing as she moves in close to possessively fix your appearance. You've always been terrible at picking out gifts, especially for women, but O'Hara put her junior detective skills to work and snooped around Vick's office until she felt she had gained enough information to choose something the Chief would like.
"You like it?" you ask as you swat away her fingers, still trying to work on your hair, which is a little crusty feeling; you had forgotten how sweaty a person could get when a car's windows are rolled up to keep the whole neighborhood from hearing that O'Hara is exceptionally talented with her hands.
"Very much," she says and gives one of her sunny smiles before climbing out of your car with the wrapped present.
You give up on your hair and exit the car, locking it with a click of your key chain's remote. O'Hara squeezes your hand, beaming at you like a little girl on her way to a birthday party offering both pony rides AND ice cream cake and you roll your eyes. You'd rather be at home with the Wii you're borrowing again from the DA. As you both start to head towards the townhouse, you make a mental note to have your tailor Antonio order a dozen more ties just like it so you can wear it every day from now on.
"I'm uncomfortable with inter-office romance," you drawl without looking up as she enters your brand new office, shutting the door behind her.
She sits down at your desk with a dramatic sigh, ignoring your subtle attempt to tell her that you didn't have time to talk with her at the moment—these case files aren't going to read themselves after all.
"My landlord is selling the house and I don't have the money to buy it. It looks like I'm going to have to move."
"O'Hara, I have an appointment with Vicks in a moment, so I need you to return to your desk and try to focus on paperwork. And tell that clown Spencer to stay out of my office."
"Okay," she says dejectedly
"Chief Vick, I need to have the rest of the day off. An emergency."
"Carlton Lassiter, taking a day off?"
"I can make it up this weekend."
"Run along now."
You escape the station without O'Hara noticing, quickly making phone calls to your bank.
Later that evening while the two of you are watching Deadwood, you're completely restless as O'Hara isn't her usual cheerful self.
"I wonder when I'll have to move out," she finally says with a forlorn expression, rubbing Mr. Peepers' stomach and you glare at the cat, who just tried to scratch you.
"Not anytime soon," you reply.
She glances over at you, her lips pursed and frowning. "You wanna go apartment hunting with me this weekend?"
You look away and give a flat, "No."
She looks surprised and hurt and before she can open her mouth to express herself, you reach under the couch cushion, pulling out a manila folder. It's been labeled "8021 Terrace Drive" in your hand and as she opens it, you point to a line highlighted in pink right below your signature. It requires her to sign as well, so you pull the "Stolen from Head Det. Carlton Lassiter" pen out of her hair and hand it to her. Her hand shakes and you don't smile, you don't laugh, you simply allow yourself to stay mesmerized at her surprise.
"Oh, Carlton," she murmurs and suddenly her arms are around your neck, hanging onto you like you are the only thing stable in this universe. "Oh, Carlton."
You tentatively wrap your arms around her small frame and thankfully she remembers the five second rule.
"Did you hear that Mr. Peepers? We don't have to leave! Say thank you to Daddy!"
You pretend you don't hear her as a growling face is put close to yours.
"I'm uncomfortable with inter-office romance," you inform as you cross your arms, ready to start your nagging so she'll TiVo your Law and Order:SVU this evening while you go to dinner with your mother.
O'Hara's sitting on the couch, her legs tucked up next to her while she wears her "weekend lounging clothes" a pair of running shorts and an old stained academy t-shirt. She's reading an article you highlighted on the new laws regarding traffic violations, enjoying lemonade. She already knows where your tone is leading, being the smart woman she is.
"Do you want the SVU on NBC or USA?" she inquires without looking up.
You frown and she looks up. She really has to ask?
She snickers and answers the question herself. "Both."
You let out an exasperated sigh and she smiles, before turning back to the magazine.
"I'm uncomfortable with inter-office romance," you shout over the rolled down windows on one of your Sunday drives with her along the PCH.
"I know!" she shouts back and grins. "Wanna go buy new bed sheets after we get back? I saw them half priced at Pier One!"
She's dragging you into uncharted territory and your voice is unusually high when you reply, "What's wrong with the ones on the bed?"
"Nothing's wrong with them; I just thought it would be nice," she says dejectedly and turned her attention to look out at the rolling blue waves.
"Okay," you answer nervously. "Maybe something blue. You know, for spring."
She squeals in delight and for the first time in your life you can't wait to buy linens.
"I'm uncomfortable with inter-office romance," you whisper as you start letting her hold your hand.
It's a Friday night and you're both sitting on the couch, watching "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" reruns on USA network. A carton of soy ice cream is positioned between your left leg and her right. It's not as good as the real stuff, but sometimes decent substitutes like "Soylicious Chocolate" and "It'soy Rocky Road" aren't so bad, and you're not going to admit it to her but the rainbow-coloured sprinkles she's added do in fact help.
Your rent is up at the end of the month, so you'll officially be moving into her house and it's been an odd topic for either of you to bring up. It's different than flatmates, different than (you shudder) lovers…so it must just be what partnership is. You drive to crime scenes together, you solve crimes together, you have lunch together, why not live together? You smile smugly that you've managed to justify these living arrangements once again to yourself and she makes a sad noise for Detective Eames, who looks rather scared.
O'Hara has catalogues for baby shower gifts scattered all over her coffee table because Francine McNabb is expecting triplets (!) and she wants to get a gift for each baby AND both parents, costly, but she's just received a raise.
You sneak glances at the baby gifts and wonder if one day you'll receive something called a "diaper genie" or "shopping cart cover".
Actually, you've noticed that the spare room cum office would make the perfect nursery—not that you've told her that! O'Hara would probably take it as an opportunity to get more of these catalogues and ask you for your opinions on "Noah's Ark themes" and "convertible strollers", topics that you simply have no knowledge on.
She doesn't seem to hear your previous words as she sighs, "Ooh, I hope he rescues Eames in time! I just love the part in stories where the heroic detective saves their partner!"
You decide this is the moment to upgrade the handholding to placing your arm over her shoulders.
"Me, too," you agree as she settles in closer.
You lean in close to her, your lips brushing against her ear. "Just so you know, I'm uncomfortable with inter-office romance." You echo her original words and her hand laces a little tighter with yours.
You're in her bed after a long day of work where the two of you managed to stop a diamond smuggling ring that had been involved in many shootings down at the pier.
"I know. So am I," she replies firmly, the two of you wanting to state something that is obviously not the truth.
"O'Hara," you sigh, relaxing against her, hoping she knows what you've been trying to say all this time.
She's the gal you can tell the dead clown story to and instead of hiding out in the restroom, she'll help you make the diagram (for illustrating the bullet wounds, of course). She's the gal who can play the game of "guess the police code" and doesn't mind letting you drive the squad car. She's not perfect, she's not a saint, but she's just what you need and now you have her.
She rolls over to face you and for the first time, she kisses you, a sweet, innocent peck on the lips.
"Get some sleep, Carlton," she says in response and you smile, pulling her a little closer.
Maybe you never were uncomfortable with interoffice romance after all.