Disclaimer: I don't own Psych or any of its related characters. This is just for my own enjoyment and the potential enjoyment of other Psych-Os like me, and no monetary gain was expected or received.
Rating: T for the moment
Spoilers: Through season six finale
Chapter One: Your Cheatin' Heart
It was the reaction from hours of restrained terror that made Juliet O'Hara collapse into her partner's arms, weeping, after she was rescued from certain death at the top of the courthouse clock tower. What she felt as she sobbed against his chest, however, was sheer relief and even a degree of comfort. Until she felt his arms encircling her shoulders she hadn't really felt safe, even though they'd pulled her off the ledge quite some time before. But Carlton was as solid as a brick wall, and he anchored her there on the roof while the rising sun brought light to banish the unnatural darkness that had descended over Santa Barbara in the night.
He let her cry, giving her the time she needed to bring herself back under control. She had the feeling he would hold her for days, if that was what she required, and indeed she felt no great desire to leave the security of his embrace. Even when her tears dried she remained where she was, clinging to his lapels and tucked under his chin.
Finally she recovered well enough that she was able to pull away enough to look at him. He was smiling, the way he so rarely smiled - warm and open, his eyes bluer and clearer than the Pacific. She realized with no small surprise that she wanted to kiss him. She reached up and touched his hair wonderingly. It did occur to some small corner of her mind that it was longer than it should have been, and maybe just a touch grayer, but it made no difference. He met her kiss halfway and they sagged against the side of the building together, heedless of the officers and EMTs all around them, sinking into their rising passion.
Juliet awoke in a cold sweat. It wasn't the first time she'd had this dream, in fact it was the third time in the last month. It was utterly incomprehensible - she wasn't attracted to Carlton. Sure, he was attractive, in his own way…with eyes her crazy aunt Sheryl would call "panty droppers"…and his smile, on those too-rare occasions when he took it out of mothballs, did make her feel a little weak in the knees…oh cripes, this was ridiculous. He was her partner, for crying out loud, and she already had a boyfriend.
Ah, the boyfriend. Even when she managed to look at the matter objectively she had to confess that while Carlton appeared, in the seven years she'd known him, to be aging like a fine wine, only getting better with time, she was beginning to notice more and more that Shawn was aging like milk. She had tried to lie to herself for some time, telling herself that the pudge he'd picked up over the years was actually beef, but the simple truth was that she was catching him sucking in his gut quite a lot these days, even when they were in bed together. It was not a particularly effective disguise. And now that his face was heavier his eyes looked too close together, too. It wasn't right to worry so much about the way he looked, but…well, honestly, his personality was starting to wear on her, so it wasn't like he had much to fall back on.
There'd been a time when she thought that Shawn was nicer than Lassiter. He usually acted nicer, but she was coming to believe that's exactly what it was, an act. And Lassiter, for all his gruffness, for all that he would like everyone around him to believe that he was an unfeeling, justice-dealing machine, had somehow over the years become her best friend and closest confidante. Which made her wonder exactly why she'd been afraid to tell him when she decided to pursue a romantic relationship with Shawn. No, he wouldn't have been happy, but if she'd been honest with him from the start…she was pretty sure he'd have tried to be accepting.
Monday-morning quarterbacking. If she wanted to be serious about it maybe she should be wondering instead why she'd decided to jump into bed with Shawn in the first place. If it was time to break it off it was time to break it off - what the hell was she waiting for? That was probably what the dream was trying to tell her - her unconscious mind associating the only other man that had a major presence in her day-to-day life with the concept that there were other, better men out there. Although it really, really felt more like the dream was trying to tell her that Carlton was a damned sexy man.
Juliet checked the clock on her bedside table, saw that it was close to the time she'd set her alarm for, and switched it off. She climbed out of bed and crossed to the bathroom for her morning shower.
Work was what it was seventy percent of the time, the slow grind of paperwork and information-gathering. They spent most of the day in the station at their separate desks, and when a break rolled around at last Lassiter came up with his keys in hand to invite her out for lunch. It was stuffy in the station, and he'd not only taken off his suit coat and tie but unbuttoned the top button of his shirt and rolled up his sleeves. Juliet always marveled at how hairy his chest seemed to be while his arms were comparatively unfurred, and she was always amazed at how he seemed completely unaware of how good he looked when he was slowly coming unbuttoned like this.
"I don't feel like café sandwiches. Want go grab something out?" he said. "You can pick the restaurant, I just want to get out of this station and drive with the windows down."
Juliet resolutely pushed the unbidden image of him driving a convertible, top down and hair blowing in the wind, out of her mind. "Sounds good. Feel like Thai food?"
"Fine by me. Let's go."
He led her out of the bullpen and held the door for her. As she brushed past him she was entirely too aware of his slim build and the scent of some subdued aftershave. If it was dissatisfaction with Shawn that was making her all hot and bothered for her partner, then she really needed to put the kibosh on the failing relationship before something happened that she was increasingly afraid she wouldn't regret nearly as much as she should.