Boring Disclaimer: I stole these people again.

Rating: Let's go with T again.

Summary: The second of my completely ridiculous and clichéd Lassiet one-shots: someone sleep-talks during a stakeout, and Things Change.

. . . .

. . .

"Mmmm," she mumbled, "those eyes."

"Whose eyes?" Lassiter asked, still looking through the binoculars.

No answer, so he glanced at Juliet and realized she was asleep. He'd told her to get some rest and she'd insisted she was wide awake, but obviously she was wrong.

A faint smile curving his mouth, he set the binoculars on the dash and flexed his back. Too many hours in the car by far.

After a moment, she mumbled, "Carlton's."

Carlton's? Or Carlton?

No, she definitely said Carlton's. Possessive. Unless it was plural, and even Lassiter didn't want to consider more than one of himself. Although she could be inexplicably mumbling about the brand of cigarettes.

"What about them?" he ventured. She might be asleep, but hey, he had time to kill while absolutely nothing was happening around the warehouse they were watching.

Juliet shifted slightly, her head on the window. She looked young and pretty, even with her hair in disarray and her clothes rumpled.

"They're amazing," she sighed.

Lassiter's eyebrows went up, and he felt a little warm. Juliet had told him on occasion that he had nice eyes, but never that they were amazing.

"Gorgeous," she added, more indistinctly, her head facing the glass.

Oh.

Well, he thought it would be best to shut up, because no way would "the conversation" not go badly from here on out. Just take the compliment, keep your eyes on the warehouse, wake her up in an hour and IF asked, deny, deny, deny.

But damn her, she sighed again and said, "All of him is gorgeous."

Ohhhh.

Crap. He needed to wake her up now.

He was reaching out to jiggle her arm when she said almost wistfully, "I want to tell him."

Whoa, whoa... what?

Lassiter stared at her profile. This had to be a joke. Somewhere in the darkness around them, Spencer and Guster and a videocam were recording him freaking out. How they'd gotten Juliet to agree to help, he didn't know, but that had to be what was going on.

"Don't tell him," he said firmly.

She huffed, turning her head almost anxiously before settling back down again. "Why not?"

"You don't mean it."

More silence, a frown, restlessness.

"But I do," she said more clearly, and just like that she was awake, confused, eyes wide.

"Easy, O'Hara." He picked up the binoculars again, feeling like he'd just dodged a big bullet of embarrassment.

"What? What... God, I feel like a dishrag." She rubbed her temples and her cheeks. "Is there even one drop of coffee left?"

He handed her the thermos. "Finish it off. Another ninety minutes and we're out of here."

Juliet gratefully knocked back a cup full of the lukewarm stuff, stretching in her seat and reminding him of why it was so hard to resist her: even worn out, she was still so damned appealing.

"Carlton?" she asked hesitantly.

He glanced at her; she seemed uneasy. "Yeah?"

"Were we talking just now? Or was I dreaming that?"

"Must have been a dream," he lied smoothly. "You said you felt like a dishrag, that's all."

He could feel her gaze, and even her faint distrust of his answer, but part of his success as a detective had been based on his ability to maintain a poker face.

She let it go. Thank God.

. . . .
. . .

Tuesday. Same stakeout, different car, different spot, different night.

Lassiter was uneasy. Not because of the stakeout. Not because they'd brought too much coffee this time and Juliet would inevitably have to leave the vehicle to take care of her… needs, which was always a lot more complicated for her than him, not to mention dangerous at this time of night.

He was uneasy because she was yawning and he needed to let her sleep a little, and he wasn't sure this was a good idea. She had behaved a little oddly toward him earlier in the day, giving him the occasional strange look. She wasn't distant exactly, and she didn't seem angry, but something was off and he was sure, without even one shred of proof, that it had to do with her sleep-talking the night before.

He had decided, about this issue, that it meant nothing. Apart from the fact that she'd slept in his presence many times before and never emitted more than the faintest of mumbles and thus was statistically unlikely to do it again, it was not uncommon to think of other people as attractive even if you weren't attracted to them, and her kind nature was predisposed to want to say nice things in general. Her problem, he reasoned, was that her good heart wanted to say nice things to him too but feared he would take it the wrong way, or make too much of it, or in some way let it get out of hand.

She didn't have to worry about that. The last thing he would ever do was jeopardize their partnership. He hoped to maintain their bond until he was shot in the line of duty and forced to retire.

Juliet yawned again and he couldn't help it, because he did care: "Sleep for an hour. I've got this."

"You haven't had your turn yet," she protested, but another yawn escaped in mid-sentence and she grinned sheepishly.

"I think you just made my point," he said dryly. "Close your eyes."

"Okay, but only for half an hour. Wake me," she ordered, "or there'll be trouble."

"O'Hara, I'm pretty sure I can handle you."

She thumbed her nose at him, amused, but soon enough closed her dark-blue eyes and was out.

It wasn't twenty minutes later that she spoke. It was a mumble, just like last night, but in the quiet car in the deep dark in the deserted warehouse district, it was easy to make it out.

"Carlton."

He glanced at her, hoping she was awake, but her eyes were still closed.

"Mmmmm," she elucidated.

Oookaaay...

"Like that. Yesss..."

Lassiter flat-out stared at her, his heart suddenly pounding. What the hell?

No. He had to derail this now.

"Juliet." He said it calmly, and then asked himself why he'd used her first name.

"Carlton," she sighed, almost sounding dreamy. "I wish you would..." She stopped, her hand moving up jerkily to her throat, and while he was puzzling over this, she started fumbling with the top button of her blouse.

RED ALERT! RED ALERT!

The Klaxon in his head didn't allow him to move from his slack-jawed staring at her, however; it wasn't until she had undone the top two buttons—while still murmuring his name—that he knew he had to act.

She's just warm! his denial brain screeched.

It's winter! his reality brain screeched.

Winter in Santa Barbara isn't real winter!

Shut up! Shut up! SHUT UP!

Her hand slipped inside her blouse just as she sighed, "You don't know how much I want you..."

Her face was flushed and her breathing was rapid and Lassiter barked "O'Hara!" knowing his own face was aflame.

She jerked awake, but he was peering through the binoculars, hoping like hell she wouldn't notice his hands were trembling. "What is it? Is it Madsen?"

"I don't know," he lied grimly. "I'm going to go take a look."

"What did you see?"

Out of the corner of his eye he noted her rapid re-buttoning of her blouse, but he would be damned to a slow roast in the flaming heart of hell if he let her think he'd seen anything whatsofreakingever.

"A shadow, probably. I'll take a closer look. Stay put." He got out of the car over her protests, and skulked away into the freedom of the darkness.

Even if it was only out of personal cowardice, by God he needed the cool air on his face.

. . . .
. . .

Wednesday night, Lassiter vowed, they were going to either catch Madsen's men, or they were going to call this damned stakeout off.

For extra ammo, he brought his MP3 player and headphones. The minute she went to sleep, the headphones would go on and he would listen to Vic Damone, while keeping his gaze firmly on the warehouse. He would hear nothing, see nothing, know nothing.

The dreamer part of his brain, louder tonight than DenialBrain or RealityBrain, had inquired of him many times during the day, "What is so bad about O'Hara dreaming of you?"

DenialBrain scoffed, "She doesn't mean it. It's just a dream. People dream about everything, including men they're not interested in."

DreamerBrain persisted, "But why couldn't she be interested in you?"

RealityBrain said, "Because she's Juliet, and you're Carlton, and that's that. After all these years, she's not harboring any feelings toward you."

DenialBrain agreed. "She's just tired, out of sorts, and looking for some kind of release."

DreamerBrain purred, "Oooh, releeease…."

Lassiter swallowed hard and commanded all three voices to shut the hell up.

Juliet was quiet on the way to their pre-picked lurking spot, but he felt her glancing at him. Finally she said cautiously, "Are you okay?"

"Fine. Just tired. You?"

"I guess I'm the same. It'll be nice to spend a whole night in my own bed when this is over."

Yeah, you had to say bed. You just had to say bed.

"I hear that," he agreed neutrally.

DreamerBrain snickered.

They got through the first couple of hours without upset. There were some movements in the warehouse which led them both to believe this might be the night—oh, it'll be the night one way or the other, Lassiter swore silently—but by half-past one a.m., Juliet was drooping again.

Crap. Why couldn't she, just this one time, be the automaton he was often accused of being?

He told her to sleep, and put on his headphones as soon as her eyes were closed.

But no, because the problem with Vic Damone? The first song was We Kiss In A Shadow.

Really? Kiss? In the freaking shadow?

He punched the button for the next song. On The Street Where You Live.

Great, another pathetic man mooning around over a woman he couldn't have. NEXT.

Embraceable You. FINE then. He scowled at the MP3 player. Vic was supposed to soothe him, not make things worse.

What Kind Of Fool Am I?

Yeah, now, that was more appropriate.

To his right, Juliet was already settling into sleep. Lassiter sighed and took the headphones off. He was an idiot, and torture was inevitable.

Nothing was happening in the warehouse.

Juliet was quiet for nearly half an hour. He started to think he might catch a break.

Nope.

"I want him," she said plaintively.

Lassiter sighed and leaned against the headrest.

"Who?" Maybe it was someone else tonight.

"Carlton," she answered at once, and he turned his head to make sure she was still asleep.

"Why?"

That same dreamy tone from last night infused her answer. "Because I know how wonderful he is."

"He's really not," he said dryly. "Trust me."

"Mmmm, no." She breathed deeply, relaxing into herself even further. "He is."

"Well, you deserve a lot better than him."

Juliet's sleepy smile faded and she seemed restless.

"What's so great about him?" he persisted.

The smile was back. "I would do anything he asked," she said simply, and fairly clearly.

"Why?"

"Because I love him," she said, and her head thunked abruptly against the glass.

Lassiter was staring at her, completely frozen, as she woke fully and blinked, yawning and turning to meet his gaze.

"What is it?" she asked, frowning. "Are you okay?"

"You talk in your sleep," he managed somehow.

Juliet blushed. "Sometimes. I used to more when I was younger. Usually I have to be pretty stressed."

His mouth was dry. "What are you stressed about this week? We've been on a lot of stakeouts and you never got chatty before."

She looked at him, and finally his agitation registered on her. "Um… what exactly did I say?"

RealityBrain kicked in.

"Nothing. You were just dreaming. Nonsense." He faced the front again, reaching for the binoculars, but Juliet clasped his wrist first.

"Carlton," she said slowly, "what did I say?"

The warmth of her hand on his wrist was unduly electric, DreamerBrain mused, while RealityBrain screeched Deny! Deny! Deny!

"Nothing."

"Carlton." Her hand moved up his arm slowly, spreading heat as it went. "Did I say something to freak you out?"

He couldn't talk.

"Was it bad?"

"Hell no," he breathed. "Just confusing."

"Tell me," she pleaded.

"I can't." Did he sound strangled?

"Please." She was nearly whispering.

Lassiter tried to pull himself together. "It was… just something you don't mean. It was a dream. You know dreams don't make any sense, O'Hara."

Her hand had slid up to his shoulder now, and damn if she didn't proceed to where her fingertips could dance along the back of his neck and up into his hair, turning him into one large electrical current.

"Was it this?"

With her other hand she grasped his jaw and turned him to face her; then she leaned in close and kissed him.

Later he wasn't sure it was much of a kiss at the start, given how many seconds it took for him to stop being stunned, but by the time she'd wormed her way into his lap, steering wheel be damned, he was fully functional.

"Was it that?" she repeated breathlessly.

His senses were on overload. Juliet was in his lap, she smelled like heaven, her skin was flushed and those warm sweet lips had just been on his, and most amazingly, they were both awake.

"You are awake, right?" He had to be sure.

"Wide," she affirmed, and kissed him again.

To kiss her, to hold her—to feel her hip under his hand as he braced her, and her tongue dancing with his and her body pressing close—Lassiter had not, in his wildest fantasies, been prepared for how damned good it would feel if it actually happened.

DreamerBrain said snidely, "I told you so."

RealityBrain tossed off, "Yeah, so I can be wrong now and then. Bite me."

DenialBrain said nothing, because Lassiter was too busy kissing the hell out of Sleeping Beauty.

Later, after they wrote off the stakeout, Juliet sweet-talked him (yeah, like that was hard) into coming to her place, and they spent quite a bit of time exploring each other in her warm bed, until dawn imbued the room with golden-pink rays of light.

She traced a line along his jaw tenderly. "I guess I should tell you something."

"Yeah?" He captured her hand and kissed her fingertips.

After a moment's hesitation, she said carefully, "It really is rare for me to talk in my sleep. And it's never happened three nights in a row."

Lassiter rolled onto his side and studied her, senses prickling. "Never?"

"Never."

"O'Hara…"

She blushed. "When I got home Monday night I figured out why you were so freaked, because I remembered exactly what I was dreaming."

He shivered when she touched his throat, her fingers playing lightly in his chest hair. "And Tuesday night?"

"Well, the thing about REM state sleep is that you aren't able to move while it's going on."

He did the math, so to speak, remembering her buttons being unbuttoned. "So…"

Juliet smiled. "I wasn't asleep."

"You tricked me," he breathed, unsure whether to be annoyed, embarrassed or delighted.

She obviously wanted him to choose 'delighted,' because her grin was very self-satisfied as she pushed him onto his back and climbed atop his not-nearly-as-sated-as-he'd-thought body.

"I did," she agreed. "But only about sleeping. Everything I said, I meant. I mean." She kissed him gently.

"Everything?"

"And this seemed as good a way to let you know as any. What do you think?"

Lassiter stroked her face, her hair, and allowed his heart to answer for him. "I think you did the right thing, Detective."

"And you might be a little fond of me, too?"

"Way past fond," he said, his heart racing. "Way the hell past."

"Then it's all good."

"It's all kick-ass," he agreed, and took Sleeping Beauty for another "ride" while DreamerBrain laughed and laughed.

. . . .

. . .