Lassiter, After The Big Reveal

Disclaimer: I don't own psych yadda yadda no copyright infringement yadda yadda.

Rating: T, but a touch of semi-M later on.

Summary: NOW COMPLETE! Takes place in the days after the end of the S6 premiere ~ SPOILER ALERT if you haven't seen the premiere yet, but it should come as no shock to anyone who watched the end of S5 that Lassiter found out about Juliet and Shawn, and in the opener for S6, doesn't handle it well. (I have a variation on this in Absence Makes The Heart Wake Up, but no one minds a little repetition, eh?) (Just smile and nod)

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The week had been strained at best; Lassiter knew he had to get a grip on this thing with Juliet. They worked a few cases but there was little talk between them (most of the silence on his side), and he honestly wasn't sure if it could ever get back to normal. If he could ever get back to normal.

Friday after work, he went home and prepared to open up a bottle of Scotch that he'd kept for awhile, but he didn't want to drink. He didn't want to be drunk. He wanted to forget, yes, but not to feel more like crap in the process. Tie off, he was starting to unbutton his shirt when there was a knock at the door.

He was tired enough that he didn't even bother to get his gun, though unexpected visitors were rare and seldom a good sign.

The face on the other end of the peephole was Juliet's. He opened the door, surprised and uncertain. "O'Hara."

She stood in the hall, obviously a little nervous; she must have come straight from the station. "Could I talk to you for a minute?"

Lassiter stood back and let her pass, and she stopped at the end of his kitchen counter. "What's up?" He wasn't at all sure how he felt about her being here.

"I... I came to apologize." Tugging at her jacket, she wandered to the sofa and sat down, and he reluctantly followed. "Look," she began, lovely blue eyes fixed on his, "you know why I didn't think I could tell you. You and Shawn aren't exactly friendly, and I knew there'd be fallout. You know that." She took a breath. "But you were right. I should have told you anyway."

He studied her. "Yeah, you should have."

"I'm sorry," she said, genuinely regretful. "You were absolutely right that we have to have trust between us, complete trust. We have to have each other's backs and there's no room for secrets like that. None. I should have faced my fears and just told you."

She stared at him, and he nodded, because that was the correct thing to do, yet the tightness in his chest didn't abate.

"And I should have apologized sooner than this. You scared the hell out of me talking about getting a new partner, and I didn't know how to handle that except to get mad, because I felt foolish and I knew I was wrong to have kept this from you. I got defensive."

She leaned in closer, to touch his arm, and Lassiter had to stop himself from retreating.

"I don't want any other partner but you." She smiled hesitantly. "And if you give me another chance, I think we can get past this... uneasiness. Please? I talked to Shawn and he promised to leave you alone. He won't make trouble."

He will, Lassiter thought. That's part of who he is. He has to stir things up, because he can. "Okay."

Juliet looked a touch hopeful. "Okay? You can forgive me?"

"O'Hara, it's okay." It wasn't, but he had to tell her it was. He extended his hand to shake hers, but she slid down the sofa and hugged him, the scent of tropical blooms filling his head (not peaches, he mused; she changed her shampoo) in the moments she was pressed to him. "It's okay," he said more gently, extricating himself. "I understand. Thank you for telling me. I know I was a jerk about it-"

"You kinda had a right to be."

He half-smiled. "Doesn't make it mature, does it." He stood up, because he could still smell her scent and he needed distance between them.

"There's one more thing." She stood as well, and her nervousness was back. "Did you really tell Shawn you'd kill him if he hurt me?"

Lassiter froze, and kept his voice even. "He told you that?"

"No. He told Gus, and Gus told me." She smiled a little.

"I never specifically said I would kill him." He put more distance between them, but she advanced. "I never even specifically said I'd shoot him. But I won't apologize for warning anyone to take good care of my partner."

Juliet smiled again. "I wouldn't want you to. Gus said Shawn was really rattled."

"Good," he said with satisfaction. "That was the point."

Now she laughed. "Thank you, Carlton. I'm so sorry for not being open with you, and I promise it will never, ever, happen again." She stepped up quickly and kissed his cheek before he could retreat, and headed to the door. "Next week is going to be a lot better than this one. You and I will be back in the game." Flashing a brilliant smile, she waved and was gone, leaving Lassiter touching his cheek where she'd kissed him, already damned sure next week would not be better at all.

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Another week passed. Lassiter did his best to seem 'normal' for Juliet. It was effort every day, effort distracting him from the work they were supposed to be doing. He found himself offering to do paperwork while she went out into the field, offering to run leads by himself. He needed breathing room. He spoke when she talked to him, and smiled when it seemed called for, and things were not better.

On Friday evening, just before Lassiter was about to declare the day over, Spencer bounded in, Gus at his heels. Lassiter was in the corner by the filing cabinet, where the light was bad this time of day, so Spencer must have thought it was safe to do what he did: he swooped in on Juliet over at her desk, dipped her and kissed her. She pushed him off, and Lassiter heard her say "not at work, please," but she was laughing, and clearly not much bothered. Gus moved, blocking the view Lassiter didn't want to have anyway, and the three of them chatted.

He flicked the computer monitor off, picked his coat up, and walked out of the station. Normally he and Juliet would have said good night to each other, but he wasn't waiting around for the chatfest to end, and he sure as hell wasn't interrupting it.

It was a long, dark weekend.

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Karen Vick had just opened her email to see what pressing irritations lay in store for Monday morning when Carlton Lassiter tapped at the door. "Yes, detective?" He came in, and shut the door behind him. Hmmm, she thought.

He looked ... quiet. His vivid blue eyes were hard to read. He was his usual trim, well-dressed self, but there was a different air about him. She'd seen Lassiter wound up, angry, ready for a fight; she'd seen him sarcastic, polite and obsessed with a case. She'd seen those same blue eyes light up at the mention of the Civil War, of a new weapon, or simply of a fresh cup of coffee. She'd seen him ready to throttle Shawn Spencer, she'd seen him take down gun-wielding suspects, and she'd seen him stand down out of obedience to the law and the greater good even when it went against all his instincts.

But she had never seen him look like nothing mattered anymore.

He sat in the chair opposite her desk, and folded his hands in his lap. "A couple of weeks ago I was in here with O'Hara, asking for a new partner."

"I remember."

"You, for lack of a better phrase, suggested I suck it up and get back to work." His tone held no censure.

"I remember that too," she agreed. "And you two seem to have worked out your issues."

He was very still. "I can't do it anymore, Chief."

"Excuse me?"

"I thought I was only angry that she didn't tell me about Spencer, but it's more than that."

Karen felt a little impatience. "Look, Detective, I know the man is annoying. God knows I've wanted to throw him in jail myself more than once, and police brutality doesn't always seem like such a bad thing at those times. But like it or not, he's here for the duration. He's helped us on more cases than I'd like to admit, and no matter how much you want to - - "

"It's more than that," he repeated, more emphatically.

She sighed. "You and O'Hara are too good a team to let one incredibly irritating man stop you from doing your jobs. I know it seemed harsh for me to tell you to get over your grudge but you're going to have to - -"

"Karen."

More than his use of her first name, it was something about his tone—weary, defeated, flat—that got through to her. She looked at him, into those haunted blue eyes, and finally she saw. She understood. And on his behalf, she hurt. "Oh, Carlton," she murmured. "I'm sorry."

He let out a breath. "Yeah. Anyway, I've been thinking about how to solve this problem, and I don't see any option but to remove myself."

"I don't accept that," she said immediately. "I need you here."

"You need her here. She's got a lot more years left in her than I do, and she works well with Spencer, and hell, everyone else."

"You're only 42, Detective; I think there's a lot of years left in you, too."

"Not here," he said wryly. "I thought about asking to move over to narcotics or the gang task force but that's not going to work. A transfer out is the only solution."

"Carlton, no." She heard her own anxious tone. "There has to be a better way."

He stood up, asking simply, "What? What better way?"

She rose too. "Time. Time helps a lot."

"Time away would help more. I can't work with her as long as he's around, and honestly, I'm not sure I'm fit to work with her anyway."

"Fit? My God, you forget who you are. You're my head detective. You've worked with every kind of person on both sides of the law. You made her the cop she is."

He hesitated. "That's how I know you need her, and why it's okay for me to move on."

She ran her hands through her hair, unsettled. This was not something she could ever have expected. In the past she had censured him, she had put him in protective custody; she had even taken his badge when he was suspected of murder. But she was totally unprepared for Lassiter in emotional pain.

His blue eyes seemed darker than usual. She wanted to hug him, but didn't dare. That was the mother in her and whether or not he needed that, he didn't need it. He said, "I don't want to seem manipulative but if you can't or won't help me transfer, I'll resign. I'll move out of state and go work for some other police force."

Horrified, she strode around the desk, but he was moving to the door. She put one hand on it to stop him, and her other hand on his arm. "Carlton, wait. Give me some time. A day or two. Let me see what I can do. We need you on the force. On our force. You can't leave over this."

A little half-smile on his face, he said somberly, "I don't want to. But I don't see a choice." He reached for the doorknob again, but she kept her hand firmly in place.

"Have you talked to her?" she asked carefully.

Lassiter shook his head. "There's no point to that either, and I know I don't have to ask you to respect my privacy."

"You don't. But you should tell her, Carlton. And if I can get you a transfer, eventually word will get out. She should hear it from you, and she should hear why."

At that, she could see his internal doors shutting. Slamming. "No one has the right to know why, especially when nothing is going to change because of it. I'll tell her I'm leaving when the time comes." He stared pointedly at her hand on the door. "I have work I know you want me to do."

Reluctantly, and still feeling like there must be some way, somehow, against all odds, that she could fix this, Karen dropped her hands, and let him go.

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Juliet knew something was still wrong. It was better, but it still wasn't right. She'd studied Lassiter sometimes when he wasn't watching; she knew his every expression by heart and how the right light in those amazing blue eyes could color everything he said. He was being nice to her. Not so nice that it seemed false or sarcastic, but nicer than usual. More polite. Sincere, but quiet. She knew she was babbling to herself, but the point was this: something was still not right.

She had kept Shawn away as much as possible for several weeks, and had impressed upon him her fervent and gun-backed wish that he simply leave Lassiter alone for awhile. He was irrepressible, but he had mostly complied. When he wasn't eating, thinking about eating, or figuring out how to invade someone's privacy, he mostly listened to her. Sometimes. In his own way. Sort of. Gus said, "Welcome to my world, Juliet."

Juliet sighed, and gathered her purse and keys. She was supposed to meet them tonight for the premiere of a new horror movie, and the timing was crucial regarding transportation, parking, and ticket pick-up. Factoring in snack bar line time, of course. She rolled her eyes thinking about it.

She turned from her desk and ran straight into Lassiter, who stepped back, hands on her arms to steady them both. "I need a word," he said quietly.

"Oh... oh, I'm sorry, I really don't have time. I have to get out of here right now and get across town. I'm already in deeply serious danger of being late. Can it wait?"

"It'll just be a minute." He let her go, and she thought his eyes were especially mesmerizing.

She looked at her watch. "Look, let me call you tomorrow, okay? I really can't - - "

Lassiter's gaze was almost unnerving, and something... sad? She had goosebumps. Not sad. She hated it when he was unhappy about something. Please don't let this be about me, she thought, I can't bear it if I've made him sad.

For a moment he was silent, and then he simply said, "Okay."

"Carlton." Karen Vick was at the end of the hall and closing the distance. Juliet glanced at her and found her expression odd. She stopped about fifteen feet away.

After a moment, during which Juliet felt increasingly unsettled, Lassiter said more lightly, "Go on, Juliet. It can wait."

"Carlton," Karen repeated more urgently, but again, when Juliet looked at her, she didn't seem to be calling to him. She seemed to be warning him. Or... no ... asking him.

Lassiter turned away from both of them, returning to his desk. Vick sighed. Juliet felt frozen to the spot. She had no idea what was going on but Lassiter was obviously willing to put it off, and Vick was already turning back to go to her own office, her body language suggesting her own weariness.

With the clock ticking on about her tardiness, Juliet had no choice but to leave.

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Monday morning, Juliet drove to work with that uneasy feeling enveloping her. She had called Lassiter several times over the weekend, but got no answer; he texted her once to say sorry and he'd get back to her. She was starting to wonder if he was sick. It might explain the wrongness, and it might also explain Vick's demeanor. Vick had wanted him to tell Juliet whatever he had to tell her, and Juliet was regretting more and more that she hadn't just given him the one minute he asked for.

But it was Monday, and she would corner him as soon as she saw him. She would find out.

His car wasn't in his spot. Odd. Her pulse quickened. Lassiter was always here early. Her mind raced with possibilities—doctor appointments?

In the station, she sailed past her own desk toward his, to brazenly check his appointment calendar, and it was slowly registering on her that his desk had been cleared of anything personal (not that there'd ever been much of a personal nature there) when Karen Vick called her name.

With the frown still on her face, she went to Vick, who gestured for her to come into her office.

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Karen told Juliet to have a seat. "I just wanted to give you a status report. This all happened quickly, so I don't think I can get you a new partner until mid-week, maybe next week. Until then, I'd like you to—"

Juliet was staring at her in undisguised confusion. "Wait—what? A new partner? What are you talking about?"

Karen's heart sank. "Oh, hell. He didn't tell you?"

"Tell me what?" Her face was flushed and her expression was turning to fear. "Is he all right? Where is he?"

"Dammit," she said with feeling. "I'm sorry, O'Hara. Carlton has transferred out of the department. Effective today, he's working over in Ventura."

Juliet's face was blank, and then horrified, and then confused, and then sick. "I don't understand. That's in Ventura County. Is he—is this some task force or special assignment?"

Karen was again at a loss. "No. He transferred there in exchange for one of their people coming here to work Narcotics."

"I don't understand," she said again, her voice rising. "What are you saying to me?"

"I'm saying..." Karen hesitated. "O'Hara, I'm saying he's gone."

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