Even now, hours later, Lassiter couldn't believe it, couldn't believe what he'd seen with his own two eyes.
O'Hara kissing Spencer?
It just… it wasn't possible.
His partner was smarter than that… saner that that. Of that, he was absolutely certain, because Chief Vick had known better than to partner him with someone of vastly lesser intelligence than himself. He'd told her that. In fact, when the issue of his needing a new partner came up five years ago, his exact words to Vick had been, "Imbeciles need not apply." And it wasn't that he remembered the moment exactly. That was just his standard motto for all potential partners.
At the time, Vick had given him what he'd learned from Spencer was "the stink eye" and then presented him with the newbie that had just transferred to the SBPD.
At first, he'd been put out with having to deal with someone who had next to no experience. But Lassiter had quickly come to the conclusion that he could use O'Hara's inexperience to his advantage. He could mold her and shape her, teach her how to be almost as great as he was. (Lassiter wasn't stupid. He knew that there was no way she'd be as great as him. He was, after all, the best the SBPD had to offer.)
And he'd done just that.
Over the next few years, under his tutelage, O'Hara had become a pretty good detective – even if she did tend to buy into Spencer's "psychic" shtick. So Lassiter knew that she was smart and had a solid head on her shapely shoulders.
Which only made what he'd seen even stranger. And he couldn't help but ask himself… why?
Why had she been kissing Spencer?
Lassiter rolled over in bed to lie on his back. Looking up at the plain white ceiling of his bedroom, he replayed the scene in his mind for what felt like the billionth time. He'd been standing on the business side of the two-way mirror to the interrogation room when he saw it happen. Spencer had leaned forward and kissed O'Hara like it was the most natural thing in the world. And worse yet was the fact that she didn't slap him or push him away or even act shocked. In fact, she'd kissed him back.
When it had happened, Lassiter had been shocked and kind of… hurt. After all, this was his partner. And she'd always seemed immune to what some might call Spencer's "charm." But now, lying in bed and rehashing the scene, he realized some things he hadn't really noticed earlier.
At the time, O'Hara's hair had been a mess but not her normal mess with a few artful dark blonde strands hanging loose here and there. Instead, it looked like she'd been through the mill – which she had.
From what he'd heard, she'd gone a few rounds with Yin's protégé, and O'Hara had come out the victor. (Which didn't surprise him at all; O'Hara was tough.) But with her sitting in the investigation room, hair a mess, clothes disheveled, bruised and bandaged, Lassiter realized something about his partner…
Thanks to the Yin-Yang killer… well, killers, O'Hara had gone through a lot over the past couple of years. Not only had she almost killed Yin's would be new Yang today, but she'd been strung up on a clock tower and almost killed by Yin a few months ago. And if Lassiter hadn't been there to save her, she would have died. Spencer, after all, had gone to save the girl he'd been dating instead of O'Hara.
But even though he had been the one to save her from Yin's twisted game, it was Spencer who had been kissing her. And it wasn't that Lassiter was jealous of Spencer or anything, because he wasn't.
But after untying her from the clock tower, he'd held her as she'd cried in his arms. Granted, his suit jacket would never be the same again, but he hadn't cared. It had felt good to be there for her, protecting her and soothing her. Not because he liked her, of course, but because she was his partner, and it was his job to look out for her.
Rolling onto his side again, Lassiter picked up the clock on his bedside table. The little electronic numbers glowed red, telling him that it was three fifty-eight in the morning. It was basically four am, and he was wide awake, thinking about O'Hara kissing Spencer. It was absolutely ridiculous. He was smarter than that. Plus he was saner than worrying about something Spencer did, because the psychic was completely nuts, crazy….
Lassiter sat upright in bed. That was it. O'Hara, his normally brilliant partner, had gone insane due to her recent stress and trauma. It wasn't that she wanted to kiss Spencer. She just couldn't help herself.
And now, just like on the clock tower, she needed her partner's help and guidance. O'Hara needed him to save her again.
Hopping out of bed, Lassiter knew what he had to do….
At five thirty am, Lassiter pulled up in front of O'Hara's house. The last time he'd been there was a few years ago when she'd invited him over to join in on her family's old fashioned Scottish Christmas. He'd spent his time hanging out with her nephews and if he remembered correctly, made quite the impression on them.
Now, here he was again, but this time, it wasn't for traditional Scottish crafts or WII boxing. This time, he had work to do.
Grabbing the two piping hot cups of coffee, Lassiter looked at the bag on the seat next to his. Very carefully he managed to pick it up between two fingers before climbing out of his car. He slammed the door shut with his hip and headed towards her front door. It was still dark out, but the sun was beginning to rise, casting a pinkish glow over everything around him.
Very carefully, Lassiter used his elbow to push the doorbell. But since he hadn't been able to pull away quickly, due to the scalding hot coffee in his hands, he'd ended up pressing the buzzer more times than was really necessary. Three more times to be exact. Cursing softly under his breath, Lassiter tried in vain to manage the cups and bag he was holding. It didn't make up for the obnoxious buzzer that was still making its way through the cycles of the ring though.
Through the front door, he could hear the electronic chimes, and he was desperate for them to stop.
When the last dong finally faded away, Lassiter sighed in relief. But when he saw the lights in front room flicker on, he felt his anxiety return full force. On the ride over, he'd planned out everything he was going to say. But now he couldn't seem to remember a single word of it.
Before O'Hara could open the door, Lassiter gave his head a little shake. Really, he wanted to be able to straighten his tie and lapels, but with his hands full, that was impossible. So that would just have to do.
When the door began to open, Lassiter held his breath. It was go time.
"Carlton! What is it? What's wrong? What are you -" O'Hara paused, and Lassiter finally let out the breath he'd been holding.
Silhouetted in the doorway, O'Hara waited for an answer and Lassiter quickly took in his partner's appearance. He told himself that it wasn't because he was taken aback by how she looked without makeup. Instead, Lassiter tried to convince himself that he was looking for signs of her psychosis. And from what he could see, she looked fine.
Her hair was a tangled mess, and she looked worried, but that was nothing.
"Carlton! Did you hear me? What's going -" Her voice had climbed an octave, and Lassiter could hear the fear and worry there.
"Nothing!" Lassiter had been a little more forceful than he'd meant to be, and he could see the evidence of that on O'Hara's shocked face. "Sorry." He sighed audibly. This was not how things were supposed to be going. "I, umh…."
In the doorway, O'Hara shifted her weight, the alarm and tension slowly leaving her slender body.
His mind working quickly, Lassiter tried to salvage his original plan. "I brought coffee." He tried to raise the cups a little higher. "And since I don't know how you take it… McNab wouldn't answer his phone…."
"That's probably because it's five thirty in the morning." O'Hara admonished him, but there was an underlying layer of kindness to her words.
"So. I've been up for hours." He shrugged a little as O'Hara rolled her eyes. "Anyway, I brought extra cream, dairy and non-dairy. I also brought sugar, Equal, Sweet and Low, and Splenda. Oh I also got -"
"That's very sweet of you. Odd…." O'Hara eyed him like she thought he was nuts. "But sweet." Using her bandaged hand, she pushed a few stray hairs out of her face. "It doesn't explain why you're here though."
"Oh. Right." Lassiter nodded. This was one of the questions he'd prepared himself for. He couldn't, after all, mention seeing her with Spencer or that he thought she was going crazy. "After everything with Yin, I thought we could spend the day working on getting back to the basics of partnering."
O'Hara's eyebrows rose in confusion. "But it's Sunday."
He said matter-of-factly, "I know."
Her eyebrows rose a little higher. "Our day off."
Lassiter nodded. "Right. I know."
For a few seconds, O'Hara just stared at him as if she couldn't believe what she was hearing. But after a moment, she stepped aside and ushered him into her home.
Still balancing the two Styrofoam cups precariously, the brown paper bag clutched in his fingers, Lassiter stepped over the threshold. As he walked a little further in, Lassiter looked around. For the most part, her house looked the same as he remembered it. The only thing that was really different was the lack of Christmas decorations and extended family. But even though those things were nowhere to be found, O'Hara's house felt just as homey and inviting as it had the last time he'd been there.
The sound of the door closing behind him caused Lassiter to spin around a little more quickly than he really should have. Afraid of spilling the scalding hot coffee all over himself, Lassiter tightened his grip on the Styrofoam and hissed in anticipation.
"Here…." O'Hara hurried forward and wrapped her hands over his and pulled the cups from his grasp. Her touch had been firm and sure, and he wished that she hadn't pulled away so quickly. He wanted to believe that it was because the steadiness of her grasp made her seem more stable, but he was having a hard time convincing himself of that at the moment.
Trying to shake off the feeling of her hands on his, Lassiter tightened his grip on the bag before it fell to the ground. "I, uh…."
"So…." She walked into the living room, using her elbow to flick on the lights as she moved. "Why don't you tell me why you really came over to my house at five thirty in the morning on a Sunday." Her voice had started out light but had gotten sharper towards the end. It was the tone she normally used with Spencer in regards to one of his more idiotic theories. Usually, Lassiter liked it. But now that it was directed at him, Lassiter felt a twinge of guilt.
"I already told you." Lassiter looked her in the eyes, checking for signs of some instability or other. When he didn't see any, he set the brown bag on the coffee table in front of the couch. "I thought we could make a day of it. Get reacquainted with -" He wanted to say each other. But he didn't. "What it means to be partners."
O'Hara placed the coffees down next to the bag. When she straightened back up, her hair had fallen into her eyes again. And just like before, she used her injured hand to push them back. "I… really don't know what that means."
"Well," Lassiter's face brightened. She wasn't resisting, and that was a good sign. Perhaps she wasn't as far gone as he'd imagined. "I thought we could eat a good ole cop breakfast…." He pointed at the bag and the cups of coffee. "So I brought coffee and donuts." He eyed the bag. "Well, they're not actually donuts. The donuts looked stale so I grabbed the Danish instead."
"Wow, you bought something for me?" She smiled slightly, and Lassiter couldn't stop himself from smiling back a little. "I don't think you've ever brought me something before."
The smile on his face fell. "Well, I…."
"Carlton, it's ok." O'Hara reached out and squeezed his forearm a little. "I'm touched that you thought of me."
"Well then…." Now that his hands were free, Lassiter was able to straighten his suit. That simple act made him feel infinitely better. "You're welcome."
Lassiter watched as O'Hara smiled and sat down on the couch. For some reason, he felt uncomfortable about the idea of sitting down next to her, but he did anyway. However, he was only able to bring himself to perch on the edge of the seat. As he tried to make himself more comfortable, O'Hara pulled the bag towards herself and began to rummage through it.
"So I thought that after we ate, we could drive by and check up on the criminals I've put away who have been paroled."
O'Hara stopped rummaging through the bag to look at him. "You're still doing that?"
"Of course." Lassiter answered her as if that should have been obvious.
Rather than respond, O'Hara shook her head and looked back inside the bag.
"That'll take a few hours. After that I -" Lassiter's eyes landed on the Danish O'Hara had just pulled out of the bag. It was the cherry one. His cherry one. "Oh, the cherry is mine."
O'Hara shot him a dirty look but handed the cherry pastry over anyway. "So that means I get…." She stuck her hand back into the bag and pulled out the remaining roll. "Pineapple."
Lassiter's eyes widened in shock. "Pineapple?" There was no way he'd gotten her a pineapple anything. That would just remind her of Spencer and the kiss. "I grabbed lemon."
His partner wrinkled her nose at that. "No, it's pineapple." She held the Danish out for him to inspect. "See, there are little chunks in it." O'Hara looked at the Danish. "And I don't know if they even make lemon ones." She screwed up her face as if trying to remember if she'd ever seen a lemon-filled Danish before.
"Oh." That was all he could say. Oh. If he'd have known it was pineapple, he'd never have bought it for her. Even now, the thought of her eating the pineapple one bothered him… a lot. He was there to try and help her. He couldn't have her eat something that would surely remind her of Spencer and everything she'd been through lately.
So that left only one option….
Hesitantly, almost like what he was about to do would hurt him, Lassiter held out his cherry Danish. "Here. You can… you can have… mine." Ever since picking out the cherry pastry, Lassiter had been looking forward to eating it. So it was with great pain that he offered it to her.
But when he looked up at O'Hara, her face was in shock.
"What?" His voice raised an octave. "What did I do?" Frantically, Lassiter scanned O'Hara's face for some sign of what was wrong.
O'Hara stared back, her own gaze worried and searching. "I just…." She gestured hesitantly at the proffered Danish. "You've never offered me anything of yours before."
Lassiter's expression fell and so did his hand. The flaky underside of the pastry was now dangerously close to coming in contact with his freshly laundered pants. "Oh."
"Carlton…." Slowly, O'Hara reached out and placed her uninjured hand on his knee. The touch was gentle, natural, like it was the easiest thing in the world to reach out and touch him. "Is something wrong? I'm worried about you." The concern filled her eyes, and Lassiter found it ironic that she had just said that she was worried about him. He, after all, wasn't the one who had been kissing Spencer.
"Me?" Once again, Lassiter's voice rose in pitch. Clearing his throat, he tried again. "Of course."
"Then what is all this…." O'Hara pulled her hand off of Lassiter's knee and gestured at the coffee cups and the bag on the table. "About?"
Instantly, Lassiter began to panic. In all of the scenarios he'd come up with for how this was supposed to go… this hadn't been an option. She wasn't supposed to figure out that he was up to something. "I… uh…."
As Lassiter stuttered, O'Hara's face began to split into a grin. "Wait…." In the soft living room light, her eyes began to sparkle knowingly. "Are you… are you worried about me?"
"I…." Lassiter struggled to think as he continued to stammer. "Uh…." Instantly, he wanted to say no, to deny that that was the reason he'd come by. Because the last thing he wanted her to know was that he was worried about her sanity.
But she looked so… happy.
And Lassiter realized that he didn't have the heart to take that away from her. Especially when it was he who'd caused that smile. Even his ex-wife hadn't been able to smile quite like that.
So rather than deny it, Lassiter said nothing at all.
Which, of course, O'Hara took as confirmation of what she suspected.
The smile on her face widened even more, and if keeping his mouth shut was all it took for her to smile at him like that… then Lassiter was willing to give up speaking altogether. Because at the moment she looked so beautiful. Not to mention, sane.
When she spoke, her voice was almost a whisper. "That's sweet."
The compliment touched something deep within Lassiter, and he smiled uneasily. "Yeah. I guess it is."
In response, O'Hara just shook her head before reaching out for the bag he'd brought. "Did you happen to pick up any packets of Sugar in the Raw?" She opened the bag and looked inside once again.
"I'm not sure. I just sort of grabbed a handful of everything." Confused about what to do next, Lassiter looked at his partner. All things considered, she seemed fine. And if it hadn't been for the bandage on her hand, he would swear that nothing was wrong with her. She was, as far he was concerned, totally sane.
"Oooh, found it." She pulled out a little brown packet and set it next to her coffee. Reaching back into the bag, she said, "You know, I really do like the pineapple Danishes."
At her words, Lassiter's head snapped up. She held the other roll in her hand, and there was a bite out of it.
All Lassiter could think was, "perhaps she isn't so sane after all."
Squeeka Cuomo's Notes
- This fic was written for gwynevere1 who won me in the help_nz auction. I had a blast writing this! I hope that you enjoy it. :D
- Quack: You are the perfect counterpoint to my (in)sanity. Thank you so much for all of your help and support.
- Disclaimer: Not mine.
- Reviews are love.