Disclaimer: the usual admission that I have nothing to do with psych

Rating: T

Summary: You could consider this a tag for S6's Indiana Shawn because that episode sort of inspired it, but it could also be a standalone. A simple little heated discussion between partners about Shawn. One-shot. The end.

. . . .

. . .

"Ooh, cake!" Shawn said happily, watching Buzz walk by with a plate. "Is there some of that for me?" He was leaning against Juliet's desk, restless as always.

"For you," Lassiter said, "but not your tapeworm."

"Carlton," Juliet began, rolling her eyes.

Shawn pretended sadness, but his eyes were on the cake. "What, nothing for Pooky?"

"Let me reach down there and pull him out," Lassiter suggested, "and if you survive the procedure, Pooky can have some cake, too." He stirred creamer into his coffee, smiling coolly.

Shawn eyed him warily. "That's creepy, Lassie."

"You're creepy, Spencer."

"Carlton, stop," Juliet said wearily.

"I am not any such thing. I may be loud, I may be a foodie, and I may be cool, but I am not creepy."

"You're a foodie like I'm a ballerina. A foodie actually knows about food; how to prepare it, how to serve it, how to complement it. You're just an eating machine."

"I compliment my food all the time. Just the other day I told my churro I loved her," Shawn retorted. "Plus I look better in a tutu than you do."

Lassiter frowned. "What the hell kind of comeback is that?"

"Guys!" Juliet said again, more loudly.

"Look, man, I'm just distracted by cake, and I'd love to stand here and bandy insults with you but I'm only human, and where there is frosting, there must be Shawn Spencer." He was starting to hop up and down.

"And where there is Shawn Spencer, there will soon be wreckage, carnage, starving children and the faint smell of cheese."

"You say that like it's a bad thing." More hopping; more attention from everyone else. Anxious like a six-year-old for a treat.

"It is a bad thing, because you're an idiot." Lassiter pointed down the hall. "The cake's in Booking." Shawn practically ran for it, and he called after him, "Moron. Good thing the cutlery is made of plastic or you might stab yourself in the face."

"Carlton, enough," Juliet snapped, and slammed her desk drawer closed. "You're a real ass sometimes."

Lassiter had heard it before, and even from Juliet, but for some reason, today he was in the mood for a rumble.

He advanced on her rapidly. "You know what? Sometimes I am. I just want to know, where's my free pass?"

She blinked up at him, confused. "What are you talking about?"

"My free pass. Spencer gets one. Where's mine?"

"Carlton, you're not making any sense, and I'm tired of all this snarking between you two."

"I'm asking when I get the same leeway he does." He glared at her, more annoyed with her than he'd ever been before. "Spencer can say anything to anybody at any time. He can do everything from contaminate a crime scene to butcher a eulogy. He can alienate witnesses, suspects, cops and toddlers. He lies, he steals, he breaks laws, he puts himself in danger. And what does he get from you? The occasional 'Shawn!'" He noted her expression—puzzlement, suspicion, and then stone—and went on. "But every time I say anything about him at all, I get the eyeroll and the 'knock-it-off, Carlton.' The other day you actually told me to be a person. When's the last time you hauled his ass back into line?"

Now Juliet was angry. "Look, if this is part of your resentment about us dating—"

"No, no. No way, O'Hara. This is how it's always been. Long before you started dating, this was how it was. I know I'm an ass sometimes, and hell yeah I take a shot where I can because I've had six years of him coming at me from all sides. But it's always Spencer who gets away scot-free where you're concerned. Never me."

"That's not true. I do tell him—"

"When? When do you tell him? In private? That's more than I ever get."

"Well—well, sometimes I have to shut you up, Carlton! Because there's people around!"

"Why don't you ever shut him up?" He gave her three seconds to respond, but she was mute. "I know I'm not anyone's idea of a dream co-worker, but unless you go down the hall and talk to Vick after this conversation, I'm still your partner and I know you a hell of a lot better than he does—and maybe that should count for something. Maybe it should grant me a fraction of the freedom you grant him so I can be an ass whenever I damned well feel like being an ass."

Juliet stared up at him, silent for a moment. Her color was high and her eyes were bright and she finally said, "But you're…"

"What? I'm what?" He realized he was towering over her, although she wasn't backing away. He felt the need to tower, honestly. He wanted to make her see.

"You're the grown-up," she said helplessly.

His turn to frown at her in puzzlement. "What?"

"You're the adult, Carlton. You're the mature one."

"He's thirty freaking six. When the hell does being an adult kick in for him?"

She ignored that question. "You're not always that mature, of course, but mostly you are. You're the one who knows better. You're the one with self-control. I expect you to exercise it because you know how. Maybe I am harder on you. But it's because you're…" She sighed. "The grown-up."

Lassiter searched her face, her eyes, wishing he could search her psyche as well. Wishing he had the nerve to ask her why she was dating a child.

"Carlton," she tried again. "I can shush you and know you'll mostly stay shushed. But there's no stopping Shawn, so… yeah, I guess I don't even try."

"You should," he said flatly. "Or lighten up on me."

Her annoyance flared again. "No. No, Carlton, and you know why? Because you do know better. You know you should rise above and be professional and you can do that, and you can sustain it, in a way he can't. You need someone to remind you to stay on point, and if that has to be me, then I'm up for the job."

He shook his head, puzzled at her willingness to tolerate Spencer's behavior. "I don't get you, O'Hara. I know you, but I don't get you. Not where he's concerned."

"I don't always get me either." She straightened up and met his gaze squarely. "But look. I'll try to be more even-handed in my… eyerolls and knock-it-offs, okay?"

He let it cycle around in his brain for a minute: would she?

Well, she would try. He knew that.

"Okay," he finally said, and went back to the coffee bar to retrieve his mug.

"I liked that line about the smell of cheese, you know."

He glanced back at her and saw her faint smile. "It wasn't a line. It was true."

Juliet thought about it a moment, and then nodded. "Yeah, it kind of was, wasn't it?"

Lassiter smiled. "Are you going to ask Vick for a new partner?"

Her eyebrows went up. "Why the hell would I do that?"

"You could get someone nicer," he suggested.

Now she laughed. "I'm happy with the partner I have, thanks. What about you?"

He shook his head. "She's pretty weird sometimes, but I think I'll keep her."

Her blue eyes were lit with what he could only—even in his cynical soul—define as affection. "Good call, detective."

Damn straight.

. . . .

. . .