Pairing/Characters: Lassiter/O’Hara, Lassiter/Crazy
Word Count: 1,215
Spoilers: Yes, references to S1 and S2
Summary: Detective Lassiter puts a lot of thought into using someone’s Christian name. A lot. Especially when she’s perky and adorable and his partner, and he may possibly be in love with her.
I love Dire Straits: it’s okay to make fun of me.
"Carlton, do you want me to bring anything back from In ‘n’ Out?”
“I’m fine, O’Hara.”
He thought it to himself a moment or so after Detective O’Hara departed for Chief Vick’s office. Had Detective O’Hara just called him “Carlton?”
It occurred to him, judging by the familiarity and effortlessness (he might even go so far as to call it “breeziness,” if he used words like that) in her voice, that it wasn’t the first time she had done so.
Why hadn’t he noticed the first time? Or even the second or third? He would’ve put a stop to it early on, if he had noticed. At least he assumes he would have. Not that he believed his inattention implied laziness. It’s just that O’Hara was forever talking, and sometimes, it was hard to maintain focus. It was like the auditory equivalent of watching a chipmunk scamper back and forth on the same tree branch.
Not that he thought of his partner as a chipmunk.
The point remained that it had clearly been going on for some time. Therefore, it would be problematic to make it an issue. He would sound officious, wouldn’t he, asking her to call him Detective Lassiter and only Detective Lassiter?
Well, it wasn’t as if he was friends with O’Hara. And he was her superior.
So that settled it. He would tell her that he was more comfortable being addressed by his surname.
Comfortable? Where did that come from? It was an issue of professionalism, not comfort.
He realized then that he’d been thinking about the entire issue for far too long. He sternly told himself to stop.
He watched Detective O’Hara leave Chief Vick’s office. She saw him watching her (not that he was watching her; he was watching for her…departure…watching for her departure…keeping an eye on the clock, since he was her superior officer).
She waved cheerily. In spite of himself, he smiled.
Maybe they were friends after all. It wouldn’t be out of line. They’d been colleagues for nearly a year and a half. She had tried to plan a surprise birthday party for him.
He glowered at the memory, and the glowering felt comfortable and reassuring…but only momentarily. Because the fact remained that the birthday party planning was still the act of a friend, which brought the whole complicated personal issue to the forefront again.
And then there was the time she hugged him. Which he didn’t like to think about, because he wished it hadn’t happened.
Perhaps—and he was only trying the thought out, not committing to anything—he should be calling her Juliet. Only on certain personal occasions. Like when they were at Starbucks and he was trying desperately to hurry her through her order. Or when she teased him—those occasions had been rare enough over the year they’d been partnered.
Try it out loud, he thought to himself. Try saying her name out loud (but quietly).
He felt his brow draw together. He said nothing, but not for a lack of mental effort.
If he were Spencer, it would be so much easier. To have no respect for social and professional boundaries must make things easier. More annoying, sure, but easier. Not to mention Spencer’s ridiculous predilection for nicknames. Honestly: Jules? Detective O’Hara carried a sidearm. Who on Earth would call a woman who was so clearly a Juliet Jules?
He felt a wave of panic. Did he just say her name out loud, just now? He didn’t, right? He looked around nervously. McNab, forever hovering, the great big oaf, met his gaze and looked confused (more confused than usual). Lassiter glared at him.
There. That felt better.
Maybe if he wrote it out first. In a nonofficial way on a scrap of paper. Maybe it would help the transition.
He wrote O’Hara’s first name and boldly dotted the I. It wasn’t so bad. He took it as a sign to write it again.
Three and a half minutes later, he looked, in horror, at what he had done.
Especially the last version of O’Hara’s name, in which her last name was no longer “O’Hara.”
He shredded the paper. He then opened the shredder basket and shredded the shreds. He nearly got out a scissors but thought better of it.
He decided to go out for a walk. Clear his head. Reexamine.
Repress. Deeply, deeply repress.
As he paced outside, he remembered the first time he ever wanted to call Detective O’Hara by her first name. He very nearly had, but had caught himself in the nick of time.
It was after his disastrous surprise birthday party. On Monday, she sat on the corner of his desk and asked, “Are you still mad?”
“Why would I be mad? I had to file for at least twenty new restraining orders over the weekend. It was the best birthday I ever had.”
“Sorry. Again. Sorry again. And here’s the thing: I’m the one who told your mom about your separation.”
He’d almost said it then. Almost shouted it angrily, as a matter of fact. Something about the way she looked at him contritely and the memory of her uncomfortable statement that she didn’t believe in interoffice romance and the horrible, horrible vision of all those people at his house collided into one near-explosion of “Juliet!”
But he hadn’t said it. Nor had he said her first name it when standing at the end of that decrepit mental institute hallway, his gun drawn, wondering if the screaming was hers or someone else’s. Spencer had yelled it (or his tacky variation thereof). But “O’Hara” was all he, Carlton—Detective Lassiter—could manage.
To say more, he realized, would be admitting something.
If he were capable of imagining it—and he wasn’t—he would imagine that this is what a criminal felt like when guilty of something and unwilling to bend under intense interrogation.
His cell phone rang.
It was Detective O’Hara.
Unbelievable. He wasn’t sure if he was more angry that life appeared to be taunting him, or that he felt his heart skip a beat. Preposterous. He actually felt the blood flow to his aorta halt.
“Yes, O’Ha…Detective? Detective O’Hara?”
“Are you sure you don’t want a root beer float?”
There it was again: that dangerous combination of anger, frustration, and some kind of ache he wished he didn’t recognize but did—it smelled like lilacs, crinkled its nose in disgust when it thought he wasn’t looking, smiled in a way that made life seem brighter, and offered him root beer floats when, yes, he really could use one.
“Fine. Sure. Whatever. Whatever makes you happy.”
There was an inauspicious silence. Ominous, really. He could see her pensive (yet still sunny) expression.
“Is there something wrong?”
“I’m just checking.”
He looked out across the park. Some preadolescent punks were skating. He wished he could kick one, but they were too far away.
Just say it, he said to himself. Just say, “I would prefer it if you would call me Detective Lassiter from now on. Or just Lassiter.”
“Could you…make sure they don’t skimp on the ice cream.”
She said “Okay,” and her tone said, “I am humoring you.” “Anything else?”
“No, Jul…just the…that.”