You've Got A Friend In Me
Summary: She knew she couldn't face it alone. Carlton. Juliet. Toy Story 3. Yeah, this is happening.
A/N: Carlton and Juliet go on a date! Just kidding, unless we call this a 'friend date.' Anyway, as you may have guessed, I recently saw Toy Story 3. I loved, loved, LOVED it. But that being said, it was pretty intense and even scary, as well as a little bit heart-breaking. And then this idea kept me up all night (seriously, it made me mad). Anyway, I kept references to the movie plot extremely vague so that there won't be many spoilers. I just talk about the tone, mostly. One reference/spoiler to Mr. Yin Presents.
Juliet knew that she wanted to see that movie, had known it from the second she'd found out that it was even in the works. While she wasn't quite young enough to have grown up with the franchise, the characters were still her favorites in animated film. Toy Story, the ultimate buddy movie, the story of childhood, was a movie that just...resonated with her.
She wanted, needed, to see that final chapter – Toy Story 3.
But she read the early reviews from critics, and though heaped with praise, there were the warnings:
Darker than previous installments, but perhaps the most satisfying because of it.
Both heartwarming and heart-wrenching, this film is guaranteed to get entire audiences in tears.
She wanted to see that movie, but there were two things she knew for certain, and they happened to come into great conflict with each other.
The first was that she didn't want to see Toy Story 3 alone. If she saw it alone, there would be absolutely nothing to keep her from crying at every opportunity, and if those moments were half as "heart-wrenching" as they were made out to be, she was convinced she might lose it completely, weep hysterically, and maybe not even be able to finish the movie.
The second thing she knew, however, was that she didn't want to see the movie with friends, either. Shawn and Gus, who would have been her first-choice company, would have agreed to see it with her in an instant, and having them there would likely have been enough to keep away the hysterics (God forbid she fall hopelessly apart in front of Shawn; she could restrain herself if it meant he wouldn't see that). But it wouldn't keep away the tears and sniffles, and truth be told, she didn't want Shawn or Gus to see even that much of her vulnerabilities. Just...no.
The solution didn't quite hit her til the morning of the movie's release, at work, of all places.
There he was, her solution, scowling at everyone coming every which way.
She would not, and could not, cry in front of her partner. She had never done so, save once directly after the Yin nightmare and that had been excusable (you didn't go through something like that and not have an emotional breakdown; Lassiter himself had said so). To cry over a kids' movie would be a different thing entirely. Carlton would not allow it. If she cried, he would scoff and never let her live it down. As long as he was there, she would maintain dry eyes if for no other reason than she had to in order to keep her dignity. His strength was something she could admire – and mimic.
She knew she would be able to fight off the waterworks as long as he was there.
The only problem, however, would be convincing him to see the movie with her.
Over the years, Juliet had learned the fine art of persuasion in regards to Carlton Lassiter. She had it down to a science, so much so that she was the one constantly called upon to wheedle him into or out of something – a job no one else could do effectively. There were a few different tactics to be tried, but Juliet knew that in this case, it was best to warm him up first.
So she did the one thing that never failed to put him in a good mood – she asked him to go down to the shooting range with her and fire off a few rounds after shift ended. He agreed to it easily (he had never once declined, and she was pretty sure he had canceled dates just to shoot bullet after bullet into paper targets).
When they had finished shooting and were picking up shell casings as courtesy entailed, Juliet heard him humming softly to himself. There would never, ever be a better time than this moment.
"Carlton?" she started tentatively.
"Hmm?" he asked, curious and not at all hostile as he bent down to pick up another casing.
"Um, I was wondering, are you busy tonight?"
"No, why? Did you want to try and pick up some over-time?"
And of course Carlton would ask that...
"No, I just thought maybe we should do something together tonight. Probably go see a movie."
Carlton looked over at her in surprise. "Why? We don't usually do that."
"I know, but I'm thinking maybe we should start. It'd be fun."
And now he looked uncomfortable. "Are you...would it be like a..."
"No." she interjected before he could get out the word that had absolutely nothing to do with this situation. "Just as partners, as friends. Come on, it'll be great!"
"Well, I have been meaning to get out of the house more lately." he said. He had folded easier than she expected, but the game wasn't even close to over. "What movie did you have in mind?" he asked.
The moment she had been dreading: "Well, I really want to see Toy Story 3."
His reaction was exactly what she expected; his expression changed from one of open-mindedness to one of complete disdain. "That's a kid's movie, O'Hara. I'm not seeing a kid's movie with you."
"It's not just a kid's movie," she argued. "I know a lot of adults that would love to see it too."
"Yeah, they're called parents!"
"It's the only good movie out, the only one I want to see!"
"What about the one with the guns and the car chases and the explosions? That looks good..."
"No. Toy Story 3."
Carlton scowled heavily. "Then I'm out. Forget about it. Why don't you ask Spencer and Guster? They'd like it, I'm sure."
Honesty was so not the best policy in this instance. If she told the truth, she'd lose him for good. She had to flatter him now. "But I just want to see it with you."
Carlton blinked, looking a little surprised and mollified at the statement. "O'Hara, I'm sorry, I just really don't want to."
Juliet was not used to failing at persuasion, so this just meant that she needed to revise her strategy.
She stood firm, jutted out her chin, and stared him straight in the eyes.
And then she said the four magic words.
"I'll owe you one."
Carlton crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow with interest. "I'm listening."
Juliet thought hard for a long moment, wondering just how far she was willing to go. "I'll do all the paperwork for a week. Anything that is not specifically required to be done by you, I'll do. No complaints."
Carlton smirked. "Two weeks."
She kept herself from groaning, but just barely. He was really milking this situation for all it was worth, but it was a mark of just how badly she wanted to see that movie (without the fear of breaking down), that she was willing to allow it. "Fine. Two weeks. Tonight, the movie. 6:30 showtime."
Carlton smiled widely. "Oh, and O'Hara?"
"You're buying my ticket and refreshments, too."
They met up at the movie theater about fifteen minutes before showtime. The ticket attendant gave Carlton a weird and moderately critical look when he allowed Juliet to pay for the both of them, but Carlton, of course, couldn't care less about what some nobody-teenage-punk thought about him.
Juliet bought the popcorn and sodas too, just as they had established.
They made their way into the theater, and when they sat down, Carlton immediately took the armrest between them as his own.
In other circumstances, Juliet might have argued, but she didn't this time around. It's just enough that he's here, she reminded herself. How many heart-breaking tragedies had she seen with him by her side? And she had never cried over a case, because she refused to look weak in front of her partner. As long as he's here, that's enough.
The movie started after only a few previews; it seemed that they had taken their seats just in time.
Juliet leaned back and prepared herself to enjoy the movie, but also mentally braced herself for any scenes that were created solely to make her heart ache and her eyes wet.
The beginning of the movie was easy enough to get through. Yes, there were sad moments, but nothing that lasted long enough in order to have a huge emotional response to it. Carlton shared the popcorn wordlessly and watched the movie with what seemed to be increasing interest.
There were laughs from her, a few almost-chuckles and the occasional snort of appreciation from him.
When the toys were being ripped apart by wild daycare children, she distinctly heard her partner mutter under his breath, "Little bastards."
Juliet chuckled quietly to herself.
He was having a good time, she hoped. At the very least, he seemed to not be hating the movie completely.
And then the beginning of the movie ended (Juliet guessed it roughly by the time that had elapsed), and the middle of the movie began. And that's when things started to get rough. Scary. Sad. Maybe even sad enough to...
But she glanced over at Lassiter and he was stoic, impassive. I'm okay if he's okay, she thought to herself, almost as if it were a competition.
It was fine for awhile, just as long as she kept the perspective that it was, in fact, just a movie (with animated characters, no less).
And then came the action-packed climactic scene.
There was a moment, then, when it all seemed like it'd be fine. An early rescue. But Carlton had seen something she didn't see, just before it happened. "Oh no." he said quietly, and then Juliet understood why.
The intensity of the scene brought on a level of suspense and fear inside of Juliet that should have been reserved for being shot at, or something serious like that. She knew it was stupid, she knew she had to get a grip, but it took all her will power to not scream out at the screen.
In a panicked impulse move, she grabbed Carlton's hand on the shared armrest and squeezed it as tight as she could. When she realized how awkward it was to be holding Carlton's hand, she let go quickly. Juliet looked over at Carlton, expecting to see him scowling or at least giving her a look of surprise. But for all she could tell, he hadn't even noticed. He was staring at the screen which reflected in his eyes, his mouth slightly agape, eyebrows raised with the suspense of it.
After what seemed like a long, unbearable wait, the scene was over, the danger (the movie danger, that is) had passed.
Juliet breathed a sigh of relief. Of course it was silly, but she couldn't help herself.
Not long after the climax came the resolution scene, which she had been dreading to an extent, not because it didn't promise a happy ending – it always did – but because it was going to be the bittersweet kind of ending meant to pull at your heartstrings until it completely unraveled and left you as a puddle of goo.
And it accomplished all that it meant to. It was long and sweet and sad and happy. Juliet could feel herself cracking slowly but surely; she breathed in and out, trying not to think. She didn't want to cry, not over a kid's movie, not where her partner would be able to see. He would never accept it.
Juliet looked over at him, hoping to take control of her own emotions by copying his impassivity, hoping to be reminded that she could not cry in his presence.
But impassivity was not what she saw, to her slight horror and distress.
Carlton was wiping at his eyes roughly, almost angrily, but wiping them nonetheless. When he moved his hand away briefly, Juliet could see his eyes. They were glistening.
Carlton. They got to Carlton Lassiter. Lassiter!
An ache that had already formed at the beginning of the scene now increased ten-fold. She looked from Lassiter back to the movie, and she knew she was a goner. The lump in her throat hurt and the tears came quickly, the sniffles following right after.
The credits finally rolled, but neither Carlton nor Juliet made any move to get up from their seats. Juliet wiped at her own watery eyes, and Carlton took a deep shuddering breath. It took a minute or so for them to both gain absolute control over themselves.
They remained in their seats until even the last stragglers had drifted towards the exit.
Carlton did not look at her, instead, he looked straight ahead of himself. "O'Hara?"
"We're never going to speak about this again. Not to anyone else, and not even to each other. Agreed?"
Truth be told, Juliet had never even considered mentioning it to someone else. It was so shocking to her...no one else needed that kind of jolt. Not to mention the fact that Carlton had just as much dirt on her as she did on him; it may be slightly more excusable for a woman to cry, but not when she had worked so hard and so long to be as tough, or tougher, than most men she knew.
"Agreed." she said firmly.
As they left the theater and walked through the parking lot, Juliet gave Carlton a tentative smile. "Now, this may be a stupid question, but are you at least glad we did this?"
He hesitated slightly, but then answered. "Yeah. I am." he said, and he smiled so briefly that the untrained eye might not have seen it.
But Juliet saw, and smiled to herself.
A/N: The idea just amused me too much to let go. ;) Reviews are wonderful, as always.