Lassiter was a difficult man to live with. Everyone he had ever lived with told him so.
So he tried to do the kinds of things that would compensate from his Lassiterness. He would obsess over which flowers to buy, what she might enjoy doing on a weekend trip, what he might say that would avoid accidentally offending, and how to do that magic trick of seeming hopelessly devoted but not at all overbearing.
He was not good at any of these things, it turned out. Downright despicably bad, as a matter of record.
But one day, a few weeks into their relationship, Jules called to ask him to bring a bottle of wine to her house. She was going to bring take-out. Her request was cheerful, and Lassiter fondly remembered worrying when they were first assigned as partners that her chipper nature would get on his nerves.
It didn't. But as he hung up, he realized that the voice wasn't merely cheerful. It was happy. And it dawned on him, for the first time, that it was possible that being in a relationship with Carlton made Juliet happy.
He wasn't expecting that.
He tried not to hum as he walked into the grocery for the bottle of wine. He also decided to pick up some tulips for her; after all these years, it wasn't hard to recall her favorite flower.
And that was it, he realized. Everything with Juliet was easy. If he were to plan a weekend away, he could take her to the new shooting range down in San Diego. Or to SWAT demo in LA. But he knew she would like Napa too. Though of course, she would probably have even more ideas for cool places to visit that they would both like.
And it's not that he didn't say stupid things to her. He knew he did. It's just - well, usually she was amused by it, and when she wasn't, she just told him to knock it off before she shoots him.
It was oddly appealing.
When he arrived at her door, he was thinking all these things as she answered and smiled, "I love tulips! Thank you, Carlton!"
He grinned. He said, "That's what I love about you, you're so easy!"
Her smile flattened.
"No," he amended, "I mean it's easy that - you're not - I just meant that-"
She rolled her eyes. "Would you like to come in and help me find a vase?" she said.
He smiled and said, "Yes. And what I said-"
"I know what you meant, Carlton -"
"I meant that I can't believe how easy you are to love."
She looked back. Apparently she hadn't known exactly what he meant, at least based on the movement of her eyebrows upward.
"I---" Carlton said. He was not an eloquent man.
She smiled again, softly. "Um... I don't know if I'm there yet, but I, um, I'm on the same road, if you know what I mean."
He nodded and they went inside to sit and eat. Carlton was silent, waiting for the awkwardness to settle on them.
Instead, Juliet said, "You know, partner, there's a security convention in Reno next month. There's going to be a booth where you sign a release form and they Taser you at half voltage, just so you know what it feels like."
"Seriously!" Lassiter said, giddy, "We're so there! Of course we'll have to empty our bladders thoroughly before doing it." But then Lassiter froze, suddenly realizing that he may have just spoken the least romantic phrase ever.
Juliet didn't notice. She nodded and said, "I think we should ask Vick if we can go. Show those mall security guards how the SBPD does it." She grinned at him and ate another bite of her take-out noodles.
He smiled back. "You got it, partner," he said and leaned back in the chair with his plate of food. He tasted it and made sound of satisfaction at its blend of sweet and salt, acid and heat. "This is my favorite take-out place," he said.
She smiled as she lifted another bite to her lips, and said, "I know."