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Tag Two: Strange Estrangement, or Dual Ires

Tag to Season Five's "Dual Spires"

Basic summary: Juliet tries to convince Lassiter to consider not turning in The Barkers for faking the death of their niece Paula Merral seven years before. Things get heated fairly quickly.

Set in between the two of them finding out and the end of the episode. Juliet and Lassiter are back at the station.

Main Characters: Juliet O'Hara, Carlton Lassiter

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Juliet set her mouth in the wake of her partner's stiffening shoulders, his long fingers clenched into a tight fist on his desk. She knew her words had just hit below the belt, but they had been intended to—so she tried not to let it bother her.

"You mention my ex-wife?" Lassiter hissed hoarsely, his teeth clenched firmly as well.

"All I'm saying, Carlton," Juliet pressed on in a businesslike tone, "is that sometimes there are extenuating circumstances." She kept her eyes on his face in spite of his biting gaze, the way he looked back incredulously, as if she were a stranger. "They just lost their niece to murder, and now they should lose their freedom? Their niece, whom they wanted to protect from a drug-addled mother, neglect and abuse—"

"You want me to ignore the law because—" Lassiter spat angrily.

"No, that's not—"

"What then? Look the other way? So as not to hurt someone's feelings?"

His sneer was so pronounced that he actually sent a spray of saliva in her direction. It hit her cheek like ashes, and she wiped her face calmly with the back of her hand.

Undeterred, she continued, "Carlton, I just wanted you to consider what you might do if you were in their shoes—"

"You're unbelievable," he croaked out. "Have you learned nothing from me? Nothing about me? I don't live in fantasyland! I don't . . . invite criminals to a surprise party!"

She gasped, the taste in her mouth souring. Before she could defend herself, he cut her off.

"You really think that if my ex-wife came crawling back, begging for me to help her fake her death because of some abusive new beau, that I wouldn't just go and shoot the bastard myself? Or have you forgotten the arsenal I carry on my person any given day?"

"So . . . you're saying you would help her, but in just about the same illegal way?" Juliet snapped. "You wouldn't try to get her to press charges, get to her file a restraining order—you'd just take matters into your own hands?"

Lassiter frowned, staring at his partner in silence. He felt she had tricked him somehow. His eyes narrowed. "Did Spencer put you up to this?" he finally asked instead of answering her questions.

"What? No—" Juliet said, furrowing her brow.

"Because Spencer does live in perpetual fantasyland—"

Juliet sighed, rolling her eyes to the ceiling. Shawn might be part of the reason why she attempted such a hopeless endeavor, but even as a cop who followed the law to the letter like her protocol loving, law-abiding, straight-shooting partner, she had her own doubts on what she might do in the Barkers' situation if faced with limited choices.

Certainly, faking a death was a criminal act—unless the Federal Marshals intervened, and there was the entering into WitSec . . . but what if that wasn't an option? What if there wasn't any other way to disappear or protect your family?

Sighing again, Juliet quietly tried one more tact. "What if your sister had a child who was under your guardianship—"

Lassiter frowned, once again ignoring her words. "Who, in their right mind, would make me a guardian of their child?" It was a valid question, but Juliet still shrugged with frustration. "Why the hell is this so important to you? Are you offering a confession that you would—" He raised his eyebrows at her lack of reaction.

"No, Carlton, I'm a detective, just like you. I know and follow the law."

Lassiter stared at her, growing more suspicious. "This bullshit could have only come from Spencer," he accused, "putting these outrageous ideas in your head. Did he play some sympathy card about those lunatics and their supposed morals?"

Juliet glared back, her expression impassable. He was half right, making the accusations he was of Shawn, who did seem to be, more often than not, a sympathizer of people who committed felonies. But Shawn did not just see the world as black or white, as her partner always did, and was more likely to forgive what he thought were small things when people had to do what they had to do.

Juliet sighed, realizing her argument was broken. She looked down, away from her partner's burning look, and shook her head. While she respected Shawn for his opt-to optimism, she couldn't always say with absolute certainty that what he did or thought was always right (especially by the law).

"Never mind," she said finally. "I don't know what the hell I was thinking." She left it implied, though doubted Lassiter would catch on, that she didn't know what the hell she was thinking trying to talk to him about such a controversial idea that he would not be able to see as anything but a crime. "Excuse me, I need a cup of coffee."

Lassiter watched her go, hearing lingering notes of frustration in her words, but not sure what to make of them, especially after she'd closed the issue herself. What he'd said about Spencer was probably mostly true, but he knew she wasn't the type to parrot back someone else's words because she had none original of her own. This found him pausing with a twinge of concern, mulling over her farfetched scenarios as he sat down at his desk to start drawing up the charges for Michelle and Robert Barker for obstruction of justice.