Detective Emmett Carver decides to put his life back together by relocating to Santa Barbara. Things don't quite go the way he planned.
, Crossover Characters:
Juliet, Lassiter, Other
Drama, General, RomanceWarnings:
March 04, 2017 Updated:
March 04, 2017
So, here's my entry for Dragonnan's forum challenge. The requisite blueberry pie and toe-stubbing have been added with maximum gratuitousness for your viewing pleasure. :-D
A warning: if you haven't seen Gracepoint or Broadchurch, you're probably not going to get the full effect of the story, so I recommend checking out the Wikipedia article and watching a couple of clips on YouTube before venturing down this dark rabbit hole.
Since only myself and maybe twelve other people watched Gracepoint to begin with, let me clarify that I do like Broadchurch better, but using Gracepoint made more sense given that it's already set in California (unlike Broadchurch, which is set in Dorset). Throughout it all, I kept hearing Alec Hardy's voice in my head rather than Carver's, so if anything seems off about him, that's why!
Disclaimer: I do not own Psych or Gracepoint, nor do I own any of the characters, settings, trademarks, or related materials. Psych, Gracepoint, and all related materials are the property of their respective owners. The plot and original elements of this story are my intellectual property. I am not associated with Psych or Gracepoint, their creators, or any involved parties. Nor am I associated with any other media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
There's No End To Grief by PineappleHead
The dorky title that really doesn't fit this story was stolen from U2's song California. The title doesn't fit, but in many ways, the song's lyrics do.
Also, you can blame JesseWales for this one, because she just encourages my insanity---which is why this little aberration is dedicated to her. You're welcome, Universe! ;-)
Detective Emmett Carver hates his life, along with everything and everyone in it. Except for maybe Ellie---but that doesn't count, because after everything that happened in Gracepoint with her son's secret and Joe's trial---he'll probably never see her again. And he's made his peace with that.
And he hates it that he had to move again. First, the Rosemont thing, which could only be described as a catastrophe. Then, the Gracepoint thing, which, though marginally better, could only be described as a disaster. And now, the Santa Barbara thing---which is just downright stupid.
Carver shakes his head. Stupid sunny town with its stupid sunny people and their ridiculously high homicide rates. After getting that stupid pacemaker thing, Carver had taken literally the first job he'd been offered, but now he wishes that he'd taken more time to think about his decision. He'd wanted to get away from the stress, to sink once again into obscurity...and instead, he'd inadvertently moved to what was apparently the murder capital of the world.
He scowls at life as he slips through the glass doors of the SBPD for his first day of work.
Right away, he spots their head detective gawking at him. What's the guy's name? Larimer? Latimer? No---Lassiter, yes, that's it. On a normal day, Carver may have shot him a glare, but today, he isn't in the mood to acknowledge anyone's existence. So instead, he pushes his way through to the Chief's office.
Chief Karen Vick looks up at him with the same sunny face that everyone else in Santa Barbara has. Why on Earth are these stupid people so happy all the time? Is it something in the water? Carver hopes not.
"Detective Carver, what can I do for you this morning?" the Chief asks.
Carver shrugs. "Just checking in. Do you have any cases for me yet?"
Chief Vick eyes him in a manner that suddenly makes him uncomfortable. He guesses that she looked him up and found out about Gracepoint, or maybe Rosemont. They were almost one and the same to him now. Despite her sunny disposition, she apparently isn't stupid. One point in her favor. "No," the Chief says finally. "But I do want you to be working closely with Junior Detective O'Hara today, just until you learn how we run things here in Santa Barbara."
Carver raises one eyebrow until it blends in with the heavy, dark brown bangs that shadow one side of his forehead. "You want me to work with a junior detective?"
Chief Vick's gaze is steel as she replies, "Just for this week. If things work out, then next week, I'll give you a new assignment, just as we discussed. If not---just remember that you're hired here on a provisional basis. I expect things to go well."
Carver tilts his head forward in a hint of a nod. "They will. Thanks."
He leaves her office and wonders which of the annoying people in this police station is O'Hara.
After he finds her, Carver wonders which of his past sins was so bad that he got stuck with the sunniest of the sunny blondes for the week. He isn't sure what bothers him the most: her utterly unnatural state of perpetual cheerfulness, her insistence on referring to him as "Emmett," or the fact that for no reason in particular (except for perhaps the way her blonde hair shines in the sunlight) she reminds him of Ellie Miller.
"Okay, Emmett, I think it's important that we introduce you to our consultants before we get too far into this process," O'Hara says. "We rely on them pretty heavily here in Santa Barbara."
"Consultants?" Carver echoes, a hint of caution tinging his otherwise emotionless voice. "What kind of consultants?"
"Um..." O'Hara begins, but after seeing the look on Carver's face, she simply says, "Well, you'll see."
Carver can tell right away who the consultants are. They breeze right into the police station without any kind of security check or even a second glance. The brown-haired one is obviously the leader: Carver recognizes the cocky strut, the thumbs hooked casually in the belt loops, the lopsided smirk. So naturally, he's the one that Carver most wants to punch in the face. The bald one, on the other hand, may not be so bad; obviously the beta of the pack, the bald one stops to smile and talk to the officer at the front desk before hurrying to catch up to the alpha.
The alpha removes one thumb from his belt loop and touches a couple of fingers to his temple. "I'm sensing that this is our new detective, am I right?"
Obviously, Carver thinks, but says nothing, his face a veneer of calm apathy. On the inside, he's seething; he can't believe this is actually happening.
Beside him, O'Hara bites her lip and nods. "Shawn, this is Detective Emmett Carver. Emmett, this is our psychic consultant, Shawn Spencer."
Spencer opens his mouth to speak, but somehow Carver beats him to the punch, the words tumbling out like a machine gun blast. "I don't work with consultants. Especially when those consultants are clearly frauds. We have a case to work on, and I'm not wasting any more time with this." He pauses for just a split second. "And don't call me Emmett."
Just before he turns to walk away, navy blue tie flapping against his chest, he sees a flash of understanding cross Spencer's face.
Spencer knows who he is. Carver is sure that several of the coppers here do, but the consultant is probably the only one who'd bother to instigate trouble; Carver can tell from Spencer's body language (and from Lassiter's, too) that the supposed psychic must be the constant thorn in the SBPD's side.
Carver isn't in the mood to deal with thorns right now (though he does pause to notice the all-too-obvious attraction between O'Hara and Spencer), so he walks to his desk, downs another shot of herbal tea, and gets back to work.
It's half past noon on their second day of work and Carver is halfway through a police report when he overhears Lassiter and Spencer arguing. He can't really make out what they're saying because they're in the conference room with O'Hara and the door is closed, but he can tell that things are getting heated. He hears someone's palms slamming down onto the table; he's guessing Lassiter's, since Spencer seems to be the type to play it cool and O'Hara doesn't seem prone to fits of rage. He smirks a little to himself. Finally, something interesting is happening.
Carver hears the conference room door opening, but his eyes are still fixed to his report, ballpoint pen hovering just over the surface of the paper. In his peripheral vision, he sees Lassiter storming away. After that, he loses interest and reaches for his mug. It's at that moment that he notices O'Hara approaching his desk. Through black-framed reading glasses, he watches her walk with delicate steps.
He's been sizing her up all day. He can tell that she isn't from around here originally, but he can't pinpoint an exact accent or behavior that would give it away. She could easily be from Kentucky or Florida or any other nondescript place in between. That makes him wonder why she came to Santa Barbara in the first place. She's too young to be here for a reason like his self-imposed exile, and she's too talented to choose a relatively low-profile city like Santa Barbara over someplace like Los Angeles or Sacramento---or even Rosemont. Obviously, she doesn't have any family in the area apart from her two cats. So why is she here? He can't figure that part out.
He does know, however, that she has potential but she's hiding it. To Carver, that much is as clear as day. He guesses that she's trying to spare the feelings of her partner or her 'psychic' boyfriend---because he's already figured out that, even though she shows signs of attraction to both of them, she's regrettably hitched her wagon to the screw-up. Maybe she thinks that by letting Spencer take the lead on cases, he'll get more work and a better reputation; that could be a motive. Maybe she likes the idea of doing him a favor. Or maybe she just doesn't want to show up Lassiter and make it obvious that she's the better detective.
Personally, Carver likes O'Hara's attention to detail and the way she isn't afraid to take highly-calculated risks. She realized in less than twenty minutes that he likes information to be presented to him in lists and took the initiative to begin communicating with him that way. She also stuck to her guns when the Chief questioned her on one of her decisions, and Carver had actually witnessed her solving a case over coffee earlier that morning---a case that Lassiter had been working on all week. Carver thinks that O'Hara could be a very very good cop---if only she'd let herself shine. He makes it his goal to polish her up, even if he only has a week or so to do it.
But that line of thinking abandons him as she begins offering him the latest bullet-pointed list: "New case. Robbery of a convenience store on Las Palmas, one witness and minimal security footage. Suspect was wearing a mask and gloves, so our only details about his appearance are that he was about six feet tall and had unusually large biceps."
Carver leans forward. "No footprints or anything, I assume?"
O'Hara shakes her head.
Carver frowns, deep in thought. "Then let's take a look at that security footage."
Carver stands behind O'Hara with arms crossed as he watches the security tapes from the robbery over her shoulder. She's biting her lip again and leaning forward, scrutinizing the video. He's observing several things---both in the video and in her body language---but he intends to stay quiet and give her the chance to speak first. He wants to see what she can pick up, what conclusions she can make.
After a few moments, she pauses the video around the fifteen-minute mark. Rewind. Pause. Rewind. Fast-forward. Rewind. Pause. Her ocean-colored eyes light up. Carver's lip twitches. He recognizes that look. It's a good look. She opens her mouth to speak.
Then Spencer saunters over. Her mouth closes. Spencer looks at the frame that O'Hara has paused. Licking something orange off his fingers---Carver doesn't even want to look---Spencer declares, "I'm sensing something."
Carver rolls his eyes. "Would you shut up? This isn't your case and it's none of your business. Go bother Lassiter again."
Spencer ignores Carver and points to the video. "The brother did it." Then he walks off.
Wordlessly, O'Hara watches him go and then rearranges some of the papers on her desk. Carver observes her for a second before saying, "Why did you let him do that?"
She has a frown in her eyes as she glances at him to respond. "What do you mean?"
"You let him steal your case," Carver replies. "You had it. You knew it. You could have solved it. I could see it in your eyes. But you let him take it, and of course now he's going to take credit and not you. Why'd you let him do it?"
For a long moment, O'Hara has no answer.
Then she does the worst possible thing that Carver could ever imagine:
She begins to cry.
Carver freezes. What's he supposed to do? What's the protocol? Is he supposed to comfort her or something? How?
Then she stands and she leaves, rushing to the ladies' room, the heavy oak door swinging behind her. Carver watches her go. He feels a tension in his hand and looks down.
At what point had he started clenching his fist?
Things are a little awkward the next morning when Carver sees her again, but to his surprise, she doesn't bring it up; at least, not at first. Instead, she offers to take him to lunch, and Carver accepts. He normally wouldn't, out of his usual hatred for social situations, but in this case he feels obligated.
When he tastes the blueberry pie served by the cafe that O'Hara dragged him to, he's glad that he did it...even if Carver's doctor might protest the all-too-heavenly dessert if he knew.
It's after O'Hara has softened Carver up with the pie that she brings up the crying incident.
"Hey, um... I just wanted to say that I'm sorry," she begins, faltering and twisting a strand of sunbleached blonde hair around one finger. "For breaking down on you like that yesterday." Now her words are coming out in a jumble, but Carver can still understand. "I don't know what came over me."
Carver shakes his head slowly. "You're a good cop, O'Hara. Never apologize for that. Even if it means standing up for yourself once in a while." He reaches for his glass of water on autopilot and doesn't even notice that O'Hara's reaching for her sweet tea at the same time. The tips of their fingers touch.
Carver moves away quickly. O'Hara is looking at him with something in her eyes that he can't define. Her eyes are the color of the ocean, but not the sparkling blue Santa Barbara waters.
Her eyes are the color of Gracepoint.
"I should go," he says, beginning to rise.
"Stay." It's a command, not a request.
O'Hara blushes a little, trying to downplay the reddening of her cheeks with a dimpled smile. "If you want to, I mean. Don't let me rush you off."
Carver tries not to smile. He doesn't want to smile. Bad things happen when he smiles. "That's what I'm talking about, O'Hara. You just asserted yourself, and I'm proud of you for it. But you can't tack on all these---these hedges, trying to soften the blow. Assert yourself and accept responsibility for it. Just own it, O'Hara. Own it."
She sighs, crossing her arms on the table. "I know. It's just---I don't want to seem... I don't want to be---" She trails off, a hint of desperation showing through in the way her eyebrows are creased together. "Please don't take this the wrong way..."
"You don't want to be like me," Carver finishes, sparing her the burden.
Looking down, she nods as if in shame. "I just don't want to be... I don't want to be that person who looks at everything cold. I want to stay--you know, soft---open."
Without thinking about what he's doing, Carver reaches over and touches her hand---doesn't even take it, just touches it. "To be a good cop, you have to make sacrifices. What sacrifices are you willing to make?"
Her foggy Gracepoint eyes look at him again.
He fights off a shudder.
"I've got to go."
This time, she doesn't stop him.
Carver's got to hand it to Spencer; the guy knows when to throw a tantrum. Right in the middle of the police station, just before Lassiter could finish putting the pieces together. Not that figuring out the murder of the schoolteacher had been difficult---but Spencer makes it sound like he's divined the meaning of Nebuchadnezzar's dream. Personally, Carver doesn't have time for it. While everyone else is clustering around the front of the station, he parks himself at his desk with a juice box.
He has a text message from his daughter. He smiles.
Not a real smile; a little half-smirk at the corners of his mouth. But that's a big deal for Emmett Carver.
And it doesn't go unnoticed.
It's a couple of weeks before Carver has any major interactions with O'Hara again. He's partnered up with Dobson after his week-long initiation is completed, and their spheres don't cross each other very often.
Which is why Carver is so surprised when O'Hara comes up to him at his desk around one o'clock on a Tuesday and asks if he wants to join her and Lassiter for lunch; he's already half-forgotten her.
"Carlton and I are going to eat on the pier today," she says. "Want to come with? You can invite Dobson, too...if you want."
He blinks at her. "No, thanks." He looks back down at his desk, thinking that's the end of it.
"Why not?" she persists.
His eyes are drawn back up. "I don't do lunch dates. And I don't like water."
"Okay," she says, finally giving in. "But let me know if you change your mind, Emmett."
"I won't," he says, "and don't call me Emmett."
It's a full month before the Rosemont thing is once again dragged---inevitably---into the light.
The murder of a high school girl, just barely turned sixteen, stabbed in her parents’ own backyard. By two of her friends, no less. Carver wants to be sick, but like always, he’s emotionless throughout the entire case. Throughout the investigations, the arrests, the trials...and the press conferences.
But it’s hard for him to be emotionless when at last, a reporter from the Santa Barbara Mirror asks him the ill-fated question: How does this case relate to your experiences with Gracepoint and Rosemont?
Gracepoint and Rosemont. Like they’re something so iconic that they need no further explanation. Putting Gracepoint first, and then Rosemont---the fresher tragedy before the most painful. Of course. How like a reporter to set up such a trap with words, such a clever snare.
“These are completely unrelated cases from completely unrelated towns,” says Carver. “The procedures, the investigators, the crimes...completely different. No comparisons can be made.”
“Except the fact that you were involved in all three of them,” the reporter insists.
Carver stares him down. “If you’re implying that my experience in homicide investigations makes me a less effective detective, then you’re sadly mistaken. Next question.”
Carver has a new hatred to add to his already-burgeoning hate list: alliteration.
He truly didn’t mean to give that reporter such a dubious soundbite, but---it was his rookie mistake, and now he has to live with it.
He has to live with the knowledge that “Emmett Carver, the Effective Detective?” has officially replaced “Carlton Lassiter, Detective Dipstick” as the Mirror’s go-to headline.
At least Lassiter is happy. That makes one of them.
It’s the week after the fiasco with the reporter that O’Hara finally comes to talk to Carver again. This time, she ambushes him not at his desk, but somewhere much more personal: right as he’s exiting the door of the men’s room.
His head is half-turned as he tosses his damp and crumpled paper towel into the bin, so that he doesn't even see her until he’s collided with her.
He stands there gawking at her, more vulnerable and emotional than he’s been since---
And she’s just standing there gawking back, like she’s forgotten everything she ever meant to say (which she probably has, Carver thinks, they startled each other so), and her eyes are wide and puffy and Carver just wants to grab her by the hair and---
Where did that thought come from?
Miller. O’Hara. Miller. O’Hara.
Carver has to get away, needs to get away, he feels the characteristic dizziness of the panic attack even without the condemning heart palpitations that had once plagued him so much, but he can’t get away because O’Hara’s in the door and he can’t go back and her eyes are foggy and she looks so much like Miller that he can’t bear to look at her for a second longer.
He’s done his penance. He’s done it twice. He’s nearly lost his daughter for it. He’s lost Ellie Miller, lost his wife, two jobs, his heart, maybe even his soul.
How much more does he have to suffer before all of it ends?
Why isn’t there a way out?
O’Hara must see the panic in his widened, dilated brown eyes because her lips part in a tiny gasp, almost like a squeak.
The sound calms him somewhat, enough for him to regain his bearings and clamp down on his mask. “O’Hara,” he says with a calm that belies what lies beneath.
“I need to talk to you,” she whispers.
Carver forces himself to look her in the eye. “What do you want?”
“I need to---know.”
He doesn’t need to force himself to look at her anymore because his eyes are boring into hers, the panic and hurt and shame now morphed into sheer rage. “Know what?” His voice is clipped and terse. He already knows the answer.
“About Gracepoint,” she says with a rush of breath. “I---wanted to hear it from you.”
“About Gracepoint, eh? Not about Rosemont?” He continues to stare at her, savoring the moment when she flinches. “You want the whole story, don’t you? You want to know all about me, get the inside story on the worst cop in America, right?”
“N-no,” she stammers, “it’s not like that at---”
“You can get it from the tabloids,” he snarls, pushing his way past her and shoving a stack of Spencer’s junk off of her desk as he marches to the door. He stubs his toe on one of the objects and curses loudly, not caring who hears him as he pushes his way out of the police station.
He never wants to see her ever again.
Over the weekend, he gets a half-hour-long video chat with his daughter, which improves his mood considerably. He considers sending Miller a text message---the Godsend of all awkward and introverted people---but he decides against it and deletes it before he can finish typing.
On Monday, O’Hara comes up to his desk with a cup of herbal tea---his favorite, he can smell it from where she stands in front of him, but he doesn’t take it. Doesn’t accept her flimsy little peace offering.
She begins with, “Emmett, I---”
He cuts her off. “Don’t call me Emmett. You don’t even know me, so don’t waste my time pretending that you do. Don’t call me Emmett.”
He looks down and ignores her.
She places the cup on the edge of his desk and walks away.
The next morning, there’s a red velvet cupcake on the corner of his desk.
He sweeps it into the trash can.
Wednesday morning, Lassiter is even earlier to work than usual, beating Carver to the station by at least five minutes, by Carver’s estimate. He corners Carver almost as soon as the weary detective enters the glass doors.
“You and I need to have a little chat,” Lassiter says. “Now.”
Carver really isn’t in the mood to deal with Lassiter, but he is the head detective, and since the Chief isn’t there (thanks to a strain of flu she picked up from her daughter), that automatically puts him in charge. So Carver plays nice and follows Lassiter to the conference room.
The second Carver’s foot crosses the threshold, Lassiter hurls him against the wall, using one arm to pin him by the throat.
Carver’s eyes visibly widen in shock as the air is knocked out of his lungs and the oxygen flow to his windpipe is drastically cut. His fragile heartbeats roar in his ears.
“I can see what you’re doing to her,” Lassiter hisses, and Carver doesn’t need to be told that he’s talking about O’Hara. “You’re driving her crazy because she thinks she hurt your feelings. You and I both know that you don’t have any feelings to hurt, but Juliet is sensitive, and she thinks she has to be nice to people, and for whatever reason, she thinks that includes you. So you have two choices: you can either make peace with her and stop getting her so riled up---or I will shoot you.”
The cold ring of metal touching Carver’s cheek is beyond all doubt the barrel of Lassiter’s sidearm. He wonders briefly if Lassiter would mind to follow through with that threat. It would be quite the favor.
But the truth is that Carver is as scared of dying as any man---he’s proved that once before---and more to the point, he’s ready to stop giving O’Hara the cold shoulder.
He lacks the oxygen to force out a sentence, so he nods to Lassiter instead.
The head detective releases him and walks away without another word.
When O’Hara walks into work, he puts a cup of herbal tea on her desk.
Spencer has super-glued Carver’s stapler to his desk. He refuses to make a fuss like Lassiter frequently does; he doesn’t want to give Spencer the attention and encourage the behavior. Instead, he quietly grabs a knife and begins to pry the stapler free.
At lunch, Carver has a text message and he can’t believe who it’s from.
Around three o’clock, O’Hara tentatively slips over to his desk. “Hey,” she says in a quiet half-whisper, “Carlton and I are going to Tom Blair’s Pub after work. Would you like to come?”
“No, I can’t today,” Carver says, trying to ignore the itching feeling of his nerves like live wires. “Maybe later. Thank you.” He looks back down at his work, unable to focus.
O’Hara isn’t stupid and can immediately tell that something’s up, but she doesn’t pry, and for that he’s grateful.
At five o’clock, Carver promptly gets in his car and drives to the pier. He scarcely dares to breathe.
At five-thirty, O’Hara piles into Lassiter’s car and switches on the radio as he drives to the bar. She’s singing along to every song because she knows all the words, and for a second she thinks he’s annoyed because he keeps glancing at her, but he doesn’t look upset and he’s not saying anything, so she sings away the stress of a rough day.
The evening is still young, and so there are multiple people milling about here on and around the pier, but Carver can still see a silhouette that he thinks he recognizes. He throws his car in park and makes a beeline for it.
O’Hara and Lassiter walk into the bar together. Dobson, McNab, Allen, and a handful of other officers are already there. Spencer and Guster are noticeably absent.
Lassiter claims his territory at his usual table and O’Hara slides in next to him.
He orders for both of them because he knows what O’Hara wants and she doesn’t mind.
She yawns a little and he finds it unbearably cute.
“Long day, huh?” he remarks.
“Yeah, but I’ve had much worse. It was a good day.” She smiles.
“You think every day’s a good day.” Lassiter’s eyes are intense.
“Because it’s true,” O’Hara says simply, shrugging her shoulders.
A walk isn’t good enough as Carver makes his way down the damp, salt-stained boards of the pier.
He begins to run.
Lassiter slides his arm around her shoulders.
She smiles, snuggling into his side.
She’s very warm.
Carver skids to a halt almost at the very end, half-stumbling and trying to catch his breath as he takes in the silhouette with wild eyes.
His eyes did not deceive him.
Quietly, voice strained, Ellie Miller says, “Hello, Emmett.”
Carver’s palms are sweaty and he wipes them against his jacket. He’s fully aware that he’s being too emotional. He tries to lock it down but can’t. “Miller.” His voice sounds coarse. He tries again. “Ellie.”
Her clear blue eyes, her Santa Barbara eyes, seem to look right through him. “I wasn’t sure if you’d come. I didn’t think you’d want to see me after---” She clears her throat. “It’s a pretty big coincidence that I’m here. The boys and I were in Sacramento for a couple months after everything happened, but I had a friend in the police department there who recommended Santa Barbara to me, so we decided to move again. Put in a little more distance.” She swallows hard. “I didn’t even know you were here until last week, or I would’ve called you sooner.”
“I thought about calling you,” he says, “but I wasn’t sure if---” He trails off.
Maybe it’s the warm atmosphere of the bar or the fact that absolutely no one is paying attention to them, but for whatever reason, Lassiter decides to seize the moment and act on an impulse that he’s been cultivating for a long time.
She shushes him. “Carlton, I know.”
Her lips are soft when they press against his.
Miller’s embrace is sudden and rough and unexpected.
But Carver’s been waiting for it for a long time. He throws his arms around her and clutches her like an anchor in a storm.
“I’m sorry,” she whispers, and he can almost hear the wobble of her lower lip.
He presses his lips to her cheek, his rough stubble scraping her delicate skin. She blushes.
His penance is over.
Anybody catch the gratuitous CarvBox reference? Because *this is a serious ship.* :-D
Also, can you guess who Ellie's friend in Sacramento is? Pretty obvious, right?
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.