Spoilers: Set some time before everything DESCENDED INTO SUCKERY, aka, like, season two?
Word Count: 5,268
Summary: Lassiter and O'Hara go undercover as a married couple. Cue the shenanigans.
Author's Note: This, much like Wives & Daughters and that Drood guy of Dickens', is not finished. Which is lame. However, it has also been sitting on my harddrive for like over a year, and it's over 5,000 words, and I think it's just kind of sad to completely ignore a piece of writing that got that big. I also had a great time writing what does exist, because Detectives Lassiter & O'Hara make an awesome team. However, with season three, Shawn/Juliet came along and totally murdered my desire to watch Psych even a little bit, and it's been ages since I saw any of it, so really, the completion of this is pretty much impossible. Show, this is what you get for putting your highly predictable ship together. The loss of my loyalty, and the abandonment of my fanfiction! I hope you feel properly guilty for what you've done, you fiend of a television program.
“There’s yours,” Lassiter mutters, shoving the gold band in his partner’s direction. When five seconds slip by without her taking it – an anomaly for O’Hara, whose motor reflexes have never been anything less than adequate – he looks over at her. She’s staring at him, her forehead and nose scrunched up in that expression of mildly appalled disbelief that he’s more or less gotten used to.
“What?” he asks shortly.
“That’s it?” she replies, making even incredulity chipper. (Unsurprising.) “‘There’s yours’?”
He holds back a sigh, sits up a little straighter, and directs a scrutinizing gaze across the table at her. “Is that a problem?”
“I guess not,” she replies with a little shrug, still clearly perturbed. “It’s just …”
“It, O’Hara, is an undercover investigation,” he reminds her sharply. “Not a marriage proposal.”
“I know,” she replies, her voice going a little higher on the second word in a way that sounds almost hurt. He feels a twinge of – something not remotely guiltlike. In fact, it’s frustration. A frustration twinge. Directed at this whole idiotic situation. Exactly. “Fine. Sorry. It was stupid of me.”
“Yes it was.”
They settle back into a nice, professional silence. He takes a bite of his cheeseburger.
“Will you put it on for me?” He looks over to see her face lit up with a bright, mischievous smile. She wriggles her ring finger at him.
“Absolutely not,” he scowls, just barely not choking in the process.
“In fact,” she continues, and the look on her face makes him suspect that she’s on the verge of giggling, “maybe we shouldn’t do this now. Let’s wait ‘til tonight: stars in the sky, a little moonlight—”
“O’Hara, just put on the damn ring!”
She pouts a little. “Fine.”
He hears a round of indignant ‘hmph!’s, and turns to see that the table of old ladies sitting next to them has now turned into a table of furious old ladies. They’re all looking at him with varying degrees of shock and horror, like he’s some young hoodlum who’s been caught cheating at bingo or shredding doilies.
Maybe he should have considered the downsides of doing this in a public place.
“… And,” he adds in monotone, clearing his throat and cursing the world at large, “be my wife and love me for all eternity.”
O’Hara has no problem working herself into a fake tizzy of joy.
“Aw, Carlton! Of course I will!” She leans over the table and kisses him on the cheek. Her mouth is only there for a second – a second and a half, tops. He barely feels it, really. It’s not the sort of thing that merits any extensive reflection, or even attention. So. That’s it.
“Cool.” He hadn’t meant to say that. He doesn’t even know where the hell it came from. Fortunately, he thinks it comes out sounding pretty smooth. Casual.
O’Hara’s eyes widen slightly.
Or maybe not.
“Sweetie bear,” she prompts after a few seconds, pulling him out of some odd trance state he hadn’t even realized he was in, “aren’t you forgetting something?”
“Sweetie bear?” he repeats. He’s fairly certain that any more talk like this will reacquaint them both with the already-consumed parts of his lunch.
She rolls her eyes and jabs her left hand in his face.
He stares at it.
“The ring,” she hisses.
“Oh. Right.” He reaches for the piece of jewelry, which he’d set down during her extensive refusal to cooperate. O’Hara keeps on holding her hand out expectantly, her fingers dancing slightly. He grabs her wrist to steady it and prods the ring impatiently onto her finger. She makes a face at him, like she’s got some problem with his lack of finesse and sentimentality during this fake proposal staged entirely to appease the eavesdropping morons that are their fellow diner customers. Don’t they have food to pay attention to?
Speaking of food, he decides he’s lost his appetite.
“Let’s go,” he adds gruffly, standing up. To her credit, O’Hara doesn’t try to argue, even though she’s got half of her sandwich left. When he reaches her side, he grabs onto her arm. Now that this whole ridiculous charade has started, he figures they might as well continue to adopt the vibe of two people beginning an excited, starry-eyed journey toward a shared lifelong future, unaware that a few years down the road they’ll doubtlessly be hurling heavy objects at one another (physically and emotionally) and providing one another with uplifting, caring little gems of information like ‘separate means APART.’
“Ow!” O’Hara mutters through her megawatt smile.
The diner crowd applauds as they walk out. He’s struck by the sudden, possibly unreasonable compulsion to reach for his gun.
“Cool?” she says as they step outside, and he lessens his grip on her arm. “Since when do you say cool?”
“Since when do you go around kissing people?” he retorts, like the nine year old he’s apparently become.
“On the cheek!” she replies defensively. “And I don’t. For your information. Not often, anyway. I mean, it’s not like I never do. Of course. But not … extra-frequently.”
“Oh,” he answers – lamely, he can’t help but notice. “Well, good.”
“Not that it’s any of your business,” she adds, suddenly stern.
Oh, for the love of …
“I didn’t say it was my business. I’ve never wanted it to be my business. But did that stop you from telling me Mickey’s whole life story?”
“His name was Mark.”
“He taught people to kayak in Alaska! He saw grizzly bears up close!”
“Not helping, O’Hara.”
“And he had dimples.” Her whole demeanor changes suddenly. Turns … fluttery. “Like Josh Holloway.”
He stares at her. They’ve obviously reached a point where words will get them nowhere.
“Never mind,” she finally says, snapping out of it. The return to dimple-less reality seems to make her grumpy. “Fine. The next guy I kiss, I won’t tell you anything about.”
“Good.” They keep walking. He mulls over her last words with satisfaction. Finally, he’ll be spared the inane, nauseating details about who took her where and what she wore and what she ate and whether What’s His Face walked her to the front door afterwards – not that she usually provides that last part, but he’s usually able to tell, because there are some post-date story session days where she skips a little when she walks and hums Carpenters songs under her breath, and others when she wears a less-cheery pastel colour, like sky-verging-on-pale blue, and is more inclined to snip at him. He likes the latter better. It’s far easier to put up with Post-Disappointing Date Detective O’Hara.
Of course, now he won’t really have to worry about Post-Successful Date Detective O’Hara or Post-Disappointing Date Detective O’Hara. He’s through with hearing about her weekend exploits once and for all. No more Lewis the veterinarian with the secret passion for pre-Raphaelite poetry and the dreamy green eyes. No more Nathan the bowling alley guy (and no, that had not been some kind of sick joke, contrary to his hopes) who could recite, line for line, every Indiana Jones movie. No more Bryan the sensitive and caring investment banker with really great hair, who Lassiter is at least ninety-three percent sure wound up spending the night, because how else would O’Hara know about the guy’s devotion to brushing his teeth for a full two minutes two times a day, and there happens to be a little thing called gut instinct that one learns to trust when one just so happens to be head detective of the Santa Barbara Police Department, and clearly that man had been some kind of lunatic who saw no problem with wreaking havoc on his gums, and no woman in her right mind would willingly invite that kind of sick individual into her home, and— “O’Hara?”
He’s careful to sound nonchalant. “Maybe you should tell me a few things. So I can check him out. Make sure he’s legit.”
She stops walking. “You want to check out the legitimacy of my future boyfriends?”
“I feel that it’s my duty as your partner,” he replies stonily.
“Um,” O’Hara says.
The moment suddenly seems very weird.
“But that’s enough,” he declares, narrowing his eyes. In steely tones, he finishes, “We’ve got murders to solve.”
The place: The Heart Be True Marriage Rehabilitation Getaway Lodge. The suspect: Dr. Mary Merry, renowned marriage counselor and New York Times bestselling author of seven books on how to rekindle and preserve the spark in your marriage. (She’s even been on Oprah.)
The crime: brainwashing.
Shawn had pointed out the likelihood of her picking this particular trick up from Oprah. She laughs a little under her breath now, thinking about it. It’s enough to earn her a glare of annoyance from her partner.
Lassiter’s grumpy. In fairness, Juliet will admit that he’s got good reason to be. For one thing, they’re spending the whole weekend in a one-bed room that’s called The Endless Love Suite (which, eesh), but should probably be renamed The Endless Awkward Boredom Suite, since – well, one bed, and the cable doesn’t even include any movie channels. For another, they’re investigating brainwashing when it’s obvious he’d much rather just convict the wives in question (Lavinia Linton and Jessica Graham, to get specific) for the murders of their very dead husbands and be done with it.
He also might be a little peeved due to the fact that she’s just informed him in her best no-arguments voice that he is, for the duration of the weekend, going to be called Richie. He can pout all he wants, but that one? That one, he brought on himself. There’s no way anyone’s going to believe that they’re named Dick and Jane.
Next time, he’s not allowed anywhere near the name-selection process.
The last and perhaps most powerful reason for Carlton’s bad mood breezes into the room and takes a seat in the chair opposite the sofa they’re sitting on, exuding good humour so strong that you can’t help feeling like she should maybe sparkle.
“Mr. and Mrs. Smith!” exclaims Dr. Mary Merry, who’s got a heart-shaped face and beautiful honey-blonde curls and a voice that even kindergarteners would find kinda cloying. “How lovely to meet the pair of you at last.”
“Actually,” Juliet interjects – hey, she must be entitled to one small act of name-related rebellion, “that’s Ms. Bradshaw-Smith.”
Lassiter and Dr. Merry both eye her quizzically.
“I was uncomfortable with a full name change,” Juliet explains.
Lassiter gawks at her a little. She gives him a bright smile back.
“I see,” Dr. Merry says, recovering impressively. She flips through the collection of papers on her bright pink clipboard. “Nowww, the pair of you have been married for four years?”
“Four great years,” Juliet affirms enthusiastically without thinking.
Lassiter glares at her.
“—until recently,” she hastens to add, “when things have gotten tough.”
“Very tough,” Lassiter grunts.
“Thank you, Richie,” Juliet snaps.
“I’m trying to exercise full candor with our counselor, Jane,” Lassiter sneers.
“Ooh, yes.” Dr. Merry winces. “I can see there’s a great deal of deep-rooted tension and ill feeling between you.”
“There is?” Lassiter asks it at the same time that Juliet does. They meet each other’s eyes, equally surprised.
“But there! See, that!” Dr. Merry pounds her pink-nailed hand triumphantly against her clipboard. “It’s a sign, Mr. and Mrs. – Mr. Smith and Ms. Bradshaw-Smith. Although the fire of your love has dimmed to naught but embers, with the proper coaxing, the sameness of your souls will flourish anew, and feed a vibrant and everlasting flame!”
She beams at them.
“Wow,” Juliet says.
There’s not really much to say besides ‘wow.’
After several seconds, Lassiter flatly asks, “Did you just make that up right now?”
“Not as such,” Dr. Merry says with a coy little giggle. “It’s actually an excerpt from my most recent book, Passion of the Phoenix: How to Pluck Your Marriage from the Ashes and Rise Anew. Oprah enjoyed it very much. You’ll find complimentary copies in your bedroom suite!”
“Great,” Lassiter grumbles.
“Now, we don’t have time for much today, as this is just our introductory session. I’ll just start off with a series of ten simple questions, so that I can begin to get a real feel for your relationship.” Dr. Merry clears her throat, then asks in a cheery trill, “What was the first thing you thought the first time you saw one another? Jane! You first!”
“‘He’s tall,’” Juliet answers after a moment, deciding honesty must be harmless in this circumstance.
“And he is!” Dr. Merry agrees, as though the statement instantly confirms that she and her fake husband were made for each other. “All right, Richie. Your turn.”
Lassiter looks at her. In spite of herself, Juliet feels a smile quirking at her mouth.
“‘Oh,’” he says at last.
Dr. Merry’s perfect eyebrows creep up. “… oh?” she delicately repeats.
“‘Oh,”” Lassiter verifies tonelessly.
Questions two through ten don’t go much smoother than that.
“I was uncomfortable with a full name change!!”
“You could’ve informed me about that beforehand.”
“It’s not a big deal.”
“That’s not the point, O’Hara,” Lassiter lectures. “The point is that we’re partners, and that you withholding that information could have compromised the operation. What if I’d reacted with surprise? Given the whole thing away?”
“I knew you wouldn’t,” she replies smoothly, “because you’re too good at what you do for that.”
Sure enough, he looks mollified. She holds back a grin.
“And don’t think I don’t know where it’s from,” he adds, to try to make her believe she hasn’t flattered him out of grumpiness. Fat chance. “And besides, that was a poor selection. Sloppy. If you wanted accuracy, you should have gone with York-Smith.”
“You watch Sex and the City,” Juliet says blankly. “You watch Sex and the City, and you know the characters’ names.”
“The reruns are everywhere,” he retorts, getting extra prickly. “I finally gave up trying to escape them. It was futile. It’s not like I like it.”
“I’m sort of like Carrie,” Juliet declares, struck by the urge to pout. “Carrie’s blonde.”
“Charlotte loves sunshine, and true love, and puppies.”
“I really like shoes.”
At this point, he gives up and rolls his eyes.
“I think you’re a Miranda.” She grins at him.
He scowls. “We’re done here, O’Hara.”
Turns out, they’ve got some familiar next-door neighbors.
“Spencer, what in the hell are you doing here?” Lassiter growls.
“By Spencer, I’m going to assume you mean Tristan Chartreuse DiChancy,” Shawn replies, with a sassy little hair flip to boot. It doesn’t actually move his hair, or anything, but it is a whole lot of sass. “And I’m here for the same reason as you are, Lassie.”
“Richie,” Lassiter snarls, then seems to realize that this is absolutely in no way an improvement.
“Cute,” Shawn declares. “Tempting, in fact. If me and ‘Lassie’ didn’t go so far back, I might feel inclined to make a permanent nickname change. But there’s no replacing those memories.” He wipes away an imaginary tear.
“Explain your presence, DiChancy,” Lassiter orders viciously.
“It just so happens,” Shawn replies, “that good ol’ Doc Merry happens to be the head of a very forward-thinking institution.”
“What do you mean?” Lassiter asks, his lip curling in suspicion.
Juliet thinks she’s got some idea.
“There you are, my little mocha choca la ta ya ya!” Shawn exclaims, beaming at a very resigned-looking Gus stepping into the hall. “What do you say we hit the hot tub room? Rekindle some sparks? I’ll rub your feet even after they get all pruney. That’s right—” He swivels back toward Lassiter. “I’m willing to make that sacrifice for my Mr. Right over there. I hope you’re giving your missus that kind of devotion. Jules? He treatin’ you right?”
“He bought me some Miss Vicki’s jalapeño chips on the drive over,” Juliet volunteers a little helplessly.
“Richie.” Shawn shakes his head. “You’re gonna have to kick it up a notch, man.”
“Don’t you have brainwashing to investigate?” sneers Lassiter.
“Don’t you?” Shawn counters.
For a second, it looks like her partner might have lost the power of coherent speech due to overwhelming anger. He regroups, though, and manages a scornful, “Go massage your boyfriend’s feet.”
“Um,” corrects Shawn, finger in the air, “Husband’s. It was a quaint little ceremony. Massachusetts. October. Outdoors, in a sweet little park surrounded by falling leaves. The weather was chilly, but we kept each other warm. Gus’s mom cried; you shoulda been there. And,” he concludes, “dooon’t mind if I do.”
Juliet feels the fleeting compulsion to put a comforting hand on Lassiter’s shoulder as they watch Shawn and Gus leave – it’s that worrying a level of pissed-off-ness. But he shakes it off, and turns to step inside their ‘special sanctuary of re-blooming love.’ (Juliet’s starting to lose whatever faith she might have once had in the New York Times Bestseller List. And maybe even Oprah.)
“It’s been a long day,” Juliet says, following him in.
“Yeah,” Lassiter grunts.
“But we made it through,” she continues optimistically. “And we can get up bright and early tomorrow and start checking out some more of the other couples, seeing if they exhibit any signs of having gone through the brainwashing procedure Williams and Linton described. Who knows? Maybe Dr. Merry’ll even try it on us.”
Lassiter doesn’t say anything. Just stares around the room, numbed by exhaustion and anger, not to mention maybe starvation. Turns out that here, you’re not allowed to even enter the cafeteria until you’ve said something you love about your spouse and given them a hug that lasts at least fifteen seconds, and neither of them had really had the strength for that tonight. It’ll be his own fault if he starves to death, really. She’d tried to share her jalapeño chips earlier, but to no avail.
“But for now,” she finishes, equal parts firm and gentle, “let’s just get into our pj’s and channel surf for awhile and then go to …”
It’s now that she remembers the one-bed conundrum.
“Floor,” Lassiter says blearily.
And, well, gosh. When he puts it that way.
The last time he shared a bed with a woman—
No. There is nothing good that can come of approaching this unfortunate but necessary turn of fate with that thought.
Lassiter watches, feeling slightly overwhelmed, as O’Hara sinks down onto the bed beside him, wrangling her hair into a ponytail as she does it. She’s wearing bright pink pajamas covered in strawberries. The shirt is a little too big, and she’d left the top two buttons undone. It slides over to one side as she settles down onto the bed, revealing her collarbone and just barely covering the curve of her left shoulder.
Behind her is a bedside table with a lamp on it. The lamp’s base is brown and covered with tackily carved roses; the lampshade is a rich gold probably meant to evoke feelings of … moving on. The wallpaper is … probably meant to evoke similar feelings. The entire place is like a turn-of-the-century brothel.
The bathroom had been fairly sparse. Maybe it’s best to focus on the memory of that.
The point is that he’s taking in his surroundings. It’s what a good cop does. Ceaseless observation is key; it doesn’t matter what you’re observing. A tacky lamp is no different from a cute blonde in pajamas. Blonde in cute pajamas. Blonde in pajamas. There’s nothing cute about anything.
“You’re going to hurt yourself.”
“What?” He’s struck by the completely uncalled-for feeling that he’s been caught at something. He is not a child with a sweet tooth, and his thoughts are not a cookie jar. Damn it.
“You’re practically falling off the bed,” O’Hara announces, wrinkling her nose a little.
“I don’t want to cross the line.”
“The designated no-crossing line that differentiates your side of the bed from my side of the bed,” he explains staunchly. “Professionalism has to be maintained here, O’Hara.”
“I don’t think anything unprofessional’s going to happen if our arms accidentally touch.”
“Of course it’s not,” he snaps. “That’s not the point.”
“Then what is?”
His brain fails him entirely.
“Come on, Carlton,” O’Hara orders, pouncing on him in his moment of weakness. Figuratively. “Scoot over.”
He has to admit that it does feel much better not to have to do a balancing act in order to ensure his continued presence on the bed. He even relaxes a little bit once the TV’s been turned on; O’Hara hasn’t exhibited any signs of line-crossing or other behaviour unbefitting of a good bedfellow. Still, he supposes that can’t be confirmed for sure until she’s actually asleep. He wouldn’t put it past her to hog the covers.
She flips through channels idly, pausing for a few minutes on the occasional late night talk show or sitcom rerun, before stopping on a vibrant technicolor shot of a man and a blonde. “Ooh! Ooh!”
The question quickly becomes unnecessary, because the credits sequence confirms it for him: I Dream of Jeannie.
“I can’t watch this.”
“Oh, come on!” O’Hara reaches over and taps his arm with the remote. It’s … annoying. Not charming. “It’s totally great.”
“It’s the zany adventures of an astronaut and his scantily-clad genie friend,” Lassiter retorts gravely.
“I know, right?” She grins, like it’s the greatest concept imaginable by mankind. “Ya know, when I was little, I went through this phase where I dressed up like Jeannie every day for a month straight.”
Lassiter takes a moment to consider her, strawberry pajamas and sloppy blonde ponytail and luminous smile. “I have no trouble believing that,” he concludes.
“I would fold my arms and blink and then get really, really mad whenever I never wound up actually going anywhere,” she continues happily. “I finally trained my brothers to close their eyes every time they saw me fold my arms, and that way I’d have time to hide, so when they opened them again, I’d have disappeared. And sometimes,” she adds, “I’d have them move objects, or knock over stuff in time to me blinking. Just to prove my power.”
He chuckles in spite of himself.
She smiles at him, seeming – touched?, maybe, that he’d enjoyed her story. They sink into pleasant silence, watching the episode. The laugh track becomes more bearable, somehow, when she’s laughing along with it.
After ten minutes or so, she softly observes, “You’re kind of Major Nelson-y.”
“Not Dr. Bellows?” he asks, then immediately wants to kick himself for betraying the fact that he’s picked up the character’s names already. It suggests that he cares, which he doesn’t.
O’Hara doesn’t seem to find this exceptional.
“Him, too,” she agrees, her voice sweet with sleep. Heavy. Heavy with sleep. “Shawn’s not a Major Nelson, though.”
“You don’t think so?” Well. His voice doesn’t sound like he’d intended it to. He hadn’t even really meant to say that.
“Definitely not,” she murmurs. He can tell she’s smiling. (Not that that’s such a rare occurrence, with her.)
It turns out it’s some kind of marathon. An episode and a half later, he feels weight against his shoulder. He looks down, and O’Hara’s asleep on him. Her lips are parted a little, her breathing light and even. The side of his face rests awkwardly against her hair. Peaches.
Technically, he knows he should wake her up, get her to move.
And he will.
Any second now.
“You look exhausted,” Juliet remarks the next morning on their way down to breakfast, frowning at Carlton. “Did you sleep at all last night?”
He mumbles something incoherent about nightmares – she hopes it wasn’t the snow globe one – and then changes the subject to the case. She doesn’t push it. The poor guy deserves a break one way or another.
“Good morning, good morning!” chirps the employee standing outside the cafeteria doors. She’s wearing a nametag that says ‘Prissy,’ which is sad, but not exactly surprising. “Oh – what’s that I smell?”
“I believe it’s pancakes,” Carlton replies. Juliet thinks she detects a hint of longing in his voice.
“Nope, not pancakes!” Prissy says, a sickening smile on her face as she waves a finger in theirs. “It’s potential.”
Juliet doesn’t mean to say it, but damn it, she’s hungry. “Potential doesn’t smell.”
Carlton gives her a brief, approving look, like the Lassiter equivalent of ‘you go, girlfriend!’
The employee’s smile vanishes. She stares at them. And stares. And, wouldn’t you know, just keeps on staring.
God, those stupid pancakes smell amazing.
“Ahahahaha!” Juliet bursts out, forcing on the most radiant smile she can summon. She elbows Carlton in the side, hoping her tiny act of violence isn’t too obvious to their current foe, and he joins in.
“You!” he exclaims, clenching his teeth; it doesn’t look remotely lighthearted or cheery, but at least he’s trying. “With the funny things you say. You’re like a barrel of monkeys.”
Juliet desperately fights the skeptical eyebrow raise. Fights it for all she’s worth. “Thanks, sweetie!” She reaches for his hand.
He holds it like he’s afraid he might break it, like her fingers will snap any minute or something. Pained smile-ish thing still on his face, he replies, “No problem … toots.”
“Anyway, why I was laughing,” Juliet continues, hoping they can just breeze over that little not-term-of-endearment, “is that I wanted to show I was joking. Because obviously it smells like potential!”
“That’s right!” replies Prissy, like a Stepford wife that’s just been switched back on. “And do you know what that potential is?”
“Potential marital bliss?” Juliet guesses, figuring she can’t be too far off on that one.
Prissy’s vapid smile widens. “That’s right! What a sharp little cookie you’ve got here!”
“The sharpest,” Carlton agrees with a laugh that doesn’t really sound like a laugh as much as it does a groan of agony. “Like a tack. Like a razor. Like a really, really big knif—”
“Richie,” Juliet interrupts quickly, digging her fingernails into his hand, “that’s enough, okay?”
“Sorry,” he replies, cringing and pulling his hand away. And, after a split-second’s deliberation – “Cookie.”
It’s a little like an improvement.
If you tilt your head and squint really hard.
“Now,” the employee says, still smilin’ away, “before you go in to eat, a little exercise to help work up your appetite!”
She feels Carlton twitch dangerously next to her.
“I’d like you to turn and face one another and take turns saying something your spouse has done for you that you appreciate.”
Well, that’s not so bad.
“I appreciate that mixed CD you burned me,” Juliet invents, “that had I Finally Found Someone by Bryan Adams and Barbra Streisand on it three times, because that’s how glad you are that you found me. Finally.”
Carlton’s looking at her like she just threw up on his shoes.
“How sensitive!” rhapsodizes Prissy. “Now, Richie, your turn.”
He stares at her. She stares back at him, careful to keep a smile on her face and her eyes wide.
Come on, Lassiter. It’s not that hard. Just make something up.
“I appreciate,” he says slowly, at last, “that you used your free coffee card for my drink.”
The fact that it’s something real – something that actually, legitimately happened in the lives of Juliet O’Hara and Carlton Lassiter, no Dick “Richie” Smith and Jane Bradshaw-Smith involved – totally throws her.
“You do?” she asks, momentarily forgetting to be anybody besides Juliet. “Even though you threw it out the window?”
“Yeah,” he replies, sounding all clunky and embarrassed. It reminds her of the time he accidentally revealed that he knows what her hair smells like.
“Oh, lovely!” Prissy exclaims, her voice feeling suspiciously like an interruption. “All right! Now, hug away, and then it’s time to chow down!” She holds up an actual stopwatch.
“Greeeeeat,” Carlton says through his teeth, and opens his arms. Juliet folds into him.
The stopwatch beeps.
“Toots?” Juliet mutters as they step into the cafeteria after twenty seconds of hugging (because Prissy felt that they had earned that extra five). “We’re a married couple. I didn’t step into your office like a cool breeze on a hot summer’s day, Raymond Chandler.”
“Philip Marlowe,” Carlton answers immediately. Off her look, he adds, “Chandler was the writer. Marlowe was the detective.”
“Could you not correct my sarcastic references, please?”
“Maybe if you got them right in the first place, I wouldn’t have to.”
“Oh, for God’s sake, Carlt— Richie…” She trails off. “Wow. It’s really, really hard to say that and sound mad.”
“Don’t look at me. I didn’t pick it.”
“Yeah, on second thought, maybe ‘Dick’ would be more applicable on this particular occasion.”
“Yoohoo! Richie and Janie! Over here, you two!” Shawn calls, waving them over with his napkin.
“Hello, hello, Mr. and Mrs. – Ms. – you two! Today’s topic: physical intimacy.”
“What??” Juliet blurts out.
“Don’t worry,” Dr. Merry says, waving her hand in a gesture that’s supposed to be calming, and really isn’t. “It’s all very PG-13!”
“Now,” she continues, leaning in and becoming suddenly, frighteningly businesslike. “How is your relationship, sexually?”
The seconds of silence go by.
“Super!” Juliet finally exclaims, in an act of desperation.
“Really?” Dr. Merry is clearly skeptical. In this instance, Juliet can’t really blame her. “Richie, is this true?”
“Um,” Lassiter says to the floor, looking as though he’d like nothing more than to die on the spot. “Yes. It’s … it’s all right.”
“All right isn’t super,” Dr. Merry observes brilliantly.
“I meant what she said,” Lassiter says quickly. “I meant super.”
“But you didn’t say super,” Dr. Merry points out, her expression one of deepest sympathy. “You said all right. And those, Richie Smith, are two very different things.”
“I’m not sure this is necessary,” Juliet says, because she can’t just let this happen without at least attempting to escape. “We’re very, um—”
But Dr. Merry isn’t gonna take it. “I’m a professional, you two. And, being a professional, I know that the difference between ‘super’ and ‘all right’ is very serious business indeed. Now.” She leans forward on her elbows. “When was the last time you made love?”
Oh, God. Oh God oh God oh God oh God. God.
“Let’s just … forget that ever happened.”
“Okay. Yes. Let’s do that.”
“It’s for the good of the case.”
“Yeah … yeah.”
“Then we’re in agreement.”
“O’Hara, so help me God, this had better not be about—”
“It’s not, it’s not, I swear.”
“Okay. What is it?”
“The weather’s nice today, huh?”
“… that’s what you wanted to say.”
“Yeah. I like weather! You probably like weather too. I thought we could maybe use some common ground. You know. A safe topic. After … well … and … Carlton?”
“I’m sorry I said that thing about with – the – well. I’m sure you’re really great in bed! Not that that’s any of my business or that I want it to be my business or that I ever want to think about this again, ever. In fact, I could sort of use a lobotomy right now. But I felt like I had to seem like a woman who was dissatisfied with – with aspects of her marriage. For the good of the case.”
“Forget. That ever happened.”
Will O'Hara melt Lassiter's cold dead heart -- and let him borrow her peach shampoo? Will the brainwashing mystery ever be solved, or explained as an actual plot at all? How long until these two are forced to lock lips to keep up pretenses -- and my oh my, feel the sparks fly? And just how far will Shawn and Gus go in that hottub in the pursuit of truth and justice? Find Out Never, Because This Is The Untimely End! (Sorry.)