Prompt: "Lassiter brushes an eyelash off of Juliet's face"
Word Count: 1,170+
Summary: Detectives O'Hara and Lassiter trade eyelashes, waste wishes, fight each other and a large biker named Aloysius, and are the same yet different after two years.
"Good morning, Detective Lassiter."
It had been this way for three months. Juliet didn't mind the routine, but the thaw she'd been anticipating didn't seem to be happening.
Also, Detective Lassiter was kind of a jackass, so she wasn't certain it was ever going to happen. He was competent (or as competent as a dyed-in-the-wool, by-the-book, sometimes-insensitive cop's-cop could be) to be sure, but friendly? Solicitous? Perfunctorily aware of social niceties? No, no, and no.
She wasn't going to push it. O'Hara wanted, above all things, to make Santa Barbara her home, both personally and professionally. And since Lassiter had been here since he strode (she imagined purposefully, and probably while pushing several people out of the way) out of the police academy, it stood to reason...
Then she looked at her partner, frowning over a report that appeared to be more white-out than anything, and noticed something.
"You have an eyelash."
"I have several."
There it was again: sarcastic and obtuse. What a gem.
"No," she said, and the exasperation in her voice coated that one syllable like OPI Aphrodite’s Pink Nightie. "A loose one. On your cheek. Here." She mimed brushing her left cheek.
And when Detective Lassiter looked up at her, she was surprised to find that he looked embarrassed and uncomfortable. Like she had told him his fly was down or that his tie was ugly (for the record, it was not one of her favorites: a boring blue-and-white diagonal number).
He ducked his head a bit and brushed at his face reluctantly.
O'Hara was struck with a bolt of delight. Just like that, after months of barely disguised frustration and suspicion (after all, she'd heard he'd been sleeping with his last partner, which seemed strange for a man so socially unpleasant), she felt the defrosting process begin. "Aren't you going to make a wish?"
Lassiter looked up at her, bemusement causing a crease between his eyes. The bit of pink across the bridge of his nose was fading away. "What?"
"A wish! You put the eyelash on your fingertip, blow on it, and make a wish. Though I think I know what you’d wish for."
Lassiter continued to stare, now looking mortified in addition to confused.
His misery was sort of darling, frankly.
"You'd wish for McNab's typing skills to improve." She pointed at the whitewash-besmirched report.
And there it was: a flicker of a smile passed across her partner's face. It was so brief that Juliet wondered at how he could manage to corral his pleasant emotions so quickly. He looked down at the report and growled (or at least tried--it was too soon after the self-conscious blushing and momentary amusement to pretend to be a hardass again), "I'd settle for him having an IQ higher than a kiwi."
Juliet smiled at him, more confident than she’d felt in three months. "Do you want a refill on coffee while I'm up?"
Lassiter continued to stare at the report, keeping his expression as neutral as he could. He muttered, "I'm fine." One beat, then two, then... "Thanks."
Maybe it wouldn’t be friendship, O'Hara thought, but she felt certain that from here on out, it would no longer be just "O'Hara."
"O'Hara!" There was a tinge of panic in Lassiter's voice, which made Juliet even more uneasy. This arrest was not going according to plan at all. The uniform who had been her backup was sprawled out on the floor, and Juliet was losing her tenuous grip on the suspect, a 6'4" biker nicknamed Andre the Giant (but whose given name was Aloysius).
She felt the rough skin of Andre/Aloysius' elbow connect with the bridge of her nose, then admired the temporary dazzle of red that crossed her line of vision as the skin became bone and that bone became intimately involved with the cartilage in her face.
The next thing she saw (around the tips of her fingers, which had instinctively flown up to press her aching nose; for a moment, she thought of Marcia Brady and almost laughed) was her partner roughly placing cuffs on Andre/Aloysius while shouting the Miranda in a tone that was furious, bordering on murderous.
Later, as more uniforms arrived, along with an EMT, Lassiter took a seat next to her on one of the bar’s rickety and rough-hewn tables. In profile, he looked cool and collected, though Juliet had registered his alarm when he first saw her blossoming black eye.
"Fine. Nothing broken. Bad guy's going away. It's a good day." She gingerly pressed the ice pack the EMT had given her to the bridge of her nose. She felt her partner's shoulder brush hers; it was inconsequential but comforting at the same time, especially in light of the throbbing in her face.
"You did everything right." In Carlton Lassiter terms, the words were on par with "You're the greatest partner I’ve ever had." It made her ego feel slightly less bruised; the status of her face remained unchanged.
"I always do," she said, sounding braver and more certain than she felt, knowing she’d look like a raccoon for at least two weeks.
"Okay." Lassiter stood and crossed in front of her, then paused.
"You have an eyelash. Right side." From around the ice pack, Lassiter suddenly loomed before her, all six-foot-plus of him, looking uncertain and boyish, hands in his pockets, eyes retreating from her face to the floor.
Juliet smiled, as she always did when she knew she had temporarily set him off his stern posturing. "Would you get it for me?" She set the ice pack down, closed her eyes, and turned her face up to him, trusting that eventually he’d cave and brush it away.
She felt his pointer finger, light and tentative. Then, unexpectedly, the pad of his thumb passing quickly down her jaw line.
Juliet opened her eyes and found that whatever upper hand she had was neutralized by the way he was looking at her. There were things she’d begun to suspect in the last few months, but had denied because: 1) Carlton was married (sort of); and 2) Carlton would never, ever, ever make a pass at her.
Oh, and 3) she herself did not believe in interoffice romance.
Lassiter swallowed like he had a 2x4 stuck sideways in his throat, held up his pointer finger, and said, "Your wish."
She hesitated, a question forming somewhere above the throbbing pain (more noticeable now that she’d abandoned her ice pack).
But she saved it for another time and exhaled sharply. The eyelash disappeared into the ether (or into the mysterious gunk coating the floor just to Lassiter's right; eew).
While Lassiter battled to conceal the fondness and worry in his expression, Juliet said, "I wish I'd been the one to put the cuffs on Andre."
He smiled, reluctant and wry, "I know."
Juliet wanted to hug him so bad that her arms itched.
Instead, she pressed the ice pack back into place.