Boring Disclaimer: I stole these people.
Rating: Let's go with T.
Summary: I have in mind several completely ridiculous and clichéd Lassiet one-shots, and this is number one: Lassiter has a (contrived) situation which opens Juliet's eyes in more ways than one.
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Juliet was sitting at her kitchen table, sipping cooling coffee, contemplating a trip to the store versus doing nothing at all. Her cell rang—Carlton's ringtone—and she was unaccountably pleased. "Hey, Carlton."
"O'Hara," he said slowly. "Hi."
She waited a moment. "What's up?"
He started again, still slowly. Almost bemused. "I think I might... possibly... have a... situation."
Alert. Alert. "Where are you?"
"Ummm... I'm at home."
As if he'd had to check? "What can I do?"
"Would you... come over here?"
"Sure. You okay?"
"Ummm... maybe? Probably. I don't really know."
"Carlton," she said, feeling real concern, "do I need to call an ambulance?"
"No, no, nothing like that. Just... uh... yeah... would you come over?"
"I'll be there in ten."
As she drove rapidly to his condo, she tried to figure out what might be going on. He hadn't sounded drunk, but definitely he had to be on something, and That Was Not Carlton (and not just because he was still scarred by the "whackaloon" Amy trying to drive him insane via amyl nitrite).
But why would he be on anything? He didn't have a cold that she knew of, he wasn't taking any medications that she knew of, and he hadn't mentioned any doctors' appointments lately. Maybe he'd fallen and knocked himself upside the head?
When she knocked on his door, there was no immediate answer, and no sound from inside.
Juliet's cop sensors were going off; she tried the doorknob, sure it would be locked, but the knob turned smoothly and she was able to push the door open easily.
She kept her hand on her gun as she stepped in, listening for any noises.
There was only silence. "Carlton? I'm here. Where are you?"
"O'Hara," he called back immediately, and stepped into view from the left. He was holding a bag of potato chips, his still-mostly-dark hair was mussed, his large blue eyes were only slightly too wide, and he was nude.
Juliet swallowed. "Carlton?"
Yes, her partner was naked, as naked as the day (and not only the day) was long. Lean, in satisfyingly good shape, plenty of chest hair, and... completely and undeniably naked.
"O'Hara," he said again, expansively. "Chips?" He approached, offering her the bag, and seemingly very glad to see her. (Not that way, she warned herself.)
"Um, Carlton, why are you naked?"
He looked down at himself, puzzled. "Oh. Sorry. I was hot. And everything itched." He walked away toward the loveseat, giving Juliet an unsolicited but not unappreciated good view of his back and backside and oh yeah, her mind was wandering.
She put her gun away. "What's wrong?"
Carlton dropped the bag of chips on the dining table as he passed, and flung himself on the loveseat. "I'm not sure," he mused.
Going closer, to see his face, meant... well... it meant she felt her cheeks warming. She stood behind the loveseat, snagging the quilt resting along the back and tossing it over his nether regions. "Tell me."
He sighed. "I think someone stabbed me at the farmers' market."
This close, she could see his pupils were dilated; he allowed her inspection as if he were studying her as well. "Stabbed you? Where? You're not drunk? You didn't take anything? What have you had to eat today?"
"I had coffee and... uh… something... for breakfast and then I went to the market. But then somebody stabbed me so I came home and took a little nap." He yawned, as if to underscore this so-very-mellow declaration.
"Carlton, show me where you were stabbed."
Before she could think through the ramifications of this request, he rolled onto his side away from her, dislodging the quilt, and pointed to his bare hip.
Indeed, there was a small red mark, and she tried to look at that instead of his butt.
"Okay, we need to get you to the hospital," she declared. "But you need to put some clothes on first."
He rolled onto his back again, giving her rather a more up-close view of his groin, and she half-closed her eyes because... because... yeah, she wouldn't mind... yeah... never mind. Never mind what you wouldn't mind.
"No hospital." His dark brows were in their familiar frowny position, and his blue eyes were lit with an equally familiar annoyance.
"Carlton, you've obviously been drugged, and we need to know what it is. It could be poison. You're always saying you're proud of the number of people who want to kill you. Come on. Let's find your pants."
He got up immediately and headed into the bedroom, and she was just thinking that was too easy when he came out again, holding his Colt 45. "No hospital," he said again. Conversationally.
Oh, if you weren't drugged I would so kick your handsome ass. "Carlton, put the gun down. It's me, Juliet. I am your partner. I am your friend. You don't draw on me, because it makes me very, very cranky."
"Sorry," he said, apparently genuinely apologetic. "But if I don't, you'll try to take me to the hospital. I don't want to go to the hospital. I don't need to go to the hospital." Somehow he managed to sound both plaintive and zoned out.
"Well, you pointing a gun at me is kinda saying otherwise, you know?"
"Relax. I'm not going to shoot you." As if she was crazy to think so. "I love you."
Boing went her brain... what?
She quickly reminded herself they were friends and partners, and he was stoned and didn't know what he was saying, and she really needed to get him some medical attention. "I know," she said soothingly, "and I love you too, but you need to—"
He interrupted. "You only love me as a friend. I love you as... a woman." He wandered back to the loveseat and threw himself down again, feet up on the armrest. "Which you are," he pointed out helpfully. "A beautiful, smart, sexy..."
Juliet was frozen, her heart thumping inside her chest.
After a moment of internal-thesaurus-consultation, Carlton went on contentedly, "Very nice woman. And amazing and a crack shot and did I mention beautiful? Because God, you're beautiful. And I love you, see. So I could never shoot you. I just don't want to go to the hospital."
He closed his vivid blue eyes for a moment, and Juliet stared at him in undisguised shock... wonder... shock. But a lot of wonder.
There was suddenly a faction in her mind telling her to go immediately and lie beside your lean, attractive and very nude partner and best friend—who loves you—until he comes back to his senses.
There was a smaller faction saying no no, just get him dressed and to the ER.
A third faction told her just to keep memorizing what she was seeing.
Because yea verily, it was good.
"Carlton," she sighed. "I really need you to give me your gun."
"I'll have to try to take it from you," she warned him.
"Good luck with that," he said, amused and unthreatened, though he hardly seemed a formidable foe. He rested the gun on his chest, one long-fingered hand holding on to it firmly.
"It could get... personal," she persisted, feeling the heat rising in her cheeks. And elsewhere.
His response was a lazy grin: a very male reaction no matter how stoned he was. "Bring it," he challenged.
She didn't dare. "You suck," she muttered, and tossed the quilt back over his lower body. "Where's your laptop? I'm going to look up your symptoms. When did you get jabbed?"
He mumbled something, but she'd already spotted the laptop on the desk at the other side of the room.
Pulling up a chair, she started Googling what she'd observed so far. "How long ago did this happen?"
"I wanted to get to the market at eight," he said, "but I didn't get to buy the monkey bread before I got stabbed."
This marginally useful (?) information unexpectedly came from her immediate left, his breath warm on her face, and two things happened at the same time: he reached inside her jacket pocket, and when she turned to see what he was doing, she found herself not that far from eye-level with his crotch.
"Oh, God," she whispered, despite herself. Then she realized his hand was still in her pocket, and her pocket was near her hip, and the sensation of her nude partner's hand at her hip made her forget she was actually dressed. "What are you doing?" And why am I whispering?
He pulled out her cell phone. "Making sure you don't call for backup," he said mildly. He was still bending down, and he looked at her directly, his blue eyes momentarily clear as he murmured, "You are so damn beautiful, O'Hara."
While she was staring at him in open-mouthed total inability to think or speak, he leaned in and kissed her.
Oh, dear God in heaven.
Stop, she told herself. He's stoned and you cannot let this happen.
But it was such a good kiss. God, such a good kiss. His mouth was inviting and warm and persistent and hot and his hand slid into her hair and caressed her neck and she was trembling and he was already becoming aroused. Her half-closed eyes didn't hide that from view at all.
"Carlton, stop," she said with some urgency, almost leaping from the chair and a safe distance away from him.
Except now that you know... no distance is safe.
He looked sad, and it twisted at her heart to realize that if he weren't drugged, he'd have hidden away any reaction at all.
Of course, if he weren't drugged, he'd never have kissed her in the first place, let alone be nude in her presence.
"Sorry," he said quietly, and wandered off with her phone—making her wonder where the gun was.
"Carlton, wait." She followed him into his bedroom, where he threw himself on the bed—on his back of course; why hide anything now?—and stood by the side. "Listen to me. Don't be sorry. If you were sober, things would be different."
"No, they wouldn't." He put her phone under his pillow—where the hell was the gun?—and sighed. "I've been pining too many years now. It's too late."
"Not true," she retorted. "But hold that thought." She hurried back out to the living room and spotted his gun lying on the coffee table; snatching it up, she shoved it in her back pocket and returned to the bedroom.
Whatever she'd planned to say was moot now, because Carlton was out cold, long lashes dark against his cheeks. He looked peaceful, the most relaxed she'd ever seen him.
Carefully, she slipped her hand under his pillow and retrieved her phone, and went on looking at him for a precious few moments.
Yes, all of him. Damn.
In the last ten minutes her perspectives had changed completely, it was true. Seeing your partner naked, with his insecurities unhidden, and then being kissed spectacularly well... well, it was educational. And surreal. But really pretty damned wonderful, if she could get him to remember any of this when he was 'normal' again.
She started to call 911 and then hesitated. He would hate this so much.
But it had to be done; so she did the one thing she could do to restore some of the dignity he needed: she rummaged around in his chest of drawers until she found some nice dark blue boxers.
Taking a deep breath, she steeled herself for what she was about to do, hoping he wouldn't wake and fight her.
She put his shorts on.
It meant touching his bare legs... his thighs... his hips... his stomach. Her fingers brushing against his warm male skin. Nothing more intimate, despite great temptation. It was a small struggle to get the shorts up over his hips completely given that he was now dead weight, but she managed, only slightly of breath and definitely hot-faced when it was done.
"You owe me," she muttered.
Yeah, maybe he'll let you take his shorts off sometime.
Shut up, you.
Carlton stirred, but not enough to wake, and she focused on the main point, which was to get him some help. She covered him with the bedsheet and called 911.
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. . .
Two days later, Lassiter was back at work.
He was pretty fuzzy about Saturday morning's events, except that a whackjob had been randomly injecting farmers' market shoppers with a cocktail of drugs for no reason other than that he was a whackjob, and he'd been caught by the end of the day when a senior citizen thwacked him with her purse.
He dimly remembered calling Juliet, but not much else. He'd had one or two vivid dreams about kissing her, and he was uncomfortably certain he'd been… unclothed, but Juliet had told all the doctors that she found him in his bed when she came over.
He glanced at the back of her head, and as if she sensed it, she turned in her chair and smiled at him.
In a few moments, she'd brought him a fresh cup of coffee the way he liked it. "How are you feeling?"
"A touch muzzy, but okay."
"I'm glad. Listen, I was wondering… would you like to have dinner tonight?"
Lassiter blinked at her. "Uh…"
"And not talk about work?"
He studied her dark-blue eyes and her guileless smile. "Well, I—"
"If you're busy…"
Idiot. What's the holdup? "No. No, I'm not busy. Yes. Dinner's great." Before he knew it, he was smiling back at her.
"Great," she murmured. "We have a lot to talk about that isn't work."
She started off, and he called after her, "Wait. Is that good or bad?"
Juliet turned to smile again. "Oh, Carlton. It's going to be very, very, very good indeed."
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T H E
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