Gazing out the window, to the untrained eye, could easily seem like a beautiful day at the start of spring. Chief Lassiter, having had to open the window to his office (no thanks to the latest shenanigans of those two rebel-rousers), finally had to admit that the breeze felt nice. Warm, with that salty sea coolness mixed in. It was lovely. Or…it should be lovely were his mind not caught up in these constant worries and thoughts. Ever since Marlowe announced her pregnancy, and especially since little Lily's birth, he couldn't help but think of all the dangers that lay in wait for the slightest lapse in caution. Those could be managed, however. He was the Chief of Police of this great city, after all. He had the inside track to what was going on, and even though it could never be perfect, he knew he was as close to having control of his family's environment as anyone could have. Not only that, but Marlowe had done a surprisingly good job of establishing good relationships in prison. He hated to admit it, but he was happy to know there were certain others who had her back just as much as his officers.
No, it wasn't his wife and child that were filling his mind with worry at the moment. As he took in another breath of that outside air, he couldn't help but think about someone else taking a time out during lunch to enjoy the change of seasons.
He had absolutely no control over her environment. Sure, Vick was Chief, and he trusted her as much as he could trust any Chief, but still…he wasn't out there in the field with Juliet. He had no idea what cases she might be working, who she might be chasing, and most importantly, what dangers she might be facing. No, he had no fears for her competence. Heaven knows, if there was anything he was sure of, it was her competence. Never had he ever been so impressed by any of his partners. Surely, she could handle herself, and surely, she was making for one badass Head Detective under Chief Vick. If that were the case, then, why was he so worried for her? If knowing that Marlowe could handle herself calmed his nerves, then why wasn't it working for O'Hara?
Because she's too far away for you to back her up, that's why.
Maybe that's why. Because he had always thought that letting her loose would mean being able to do it from the sidelines, where he could jump in and help if necessary. Sure, in his mind's eye, he envisioned watching her from a comfy chair with his feet propped up, delicious Philly cheese steak in hand, not worrying about whether she could handle herself. But still, at least he would be there just in case. The times when she ended up in grave danger after getting too far out of his reach, all he could think of for weeks afterwards was how it would have destroyed him to lose her. Not that he thought of himself as some sort of knight in shining armor, riding to her rescue at the slightest cry for help. She never cried for help. Not even when she was facing a certain fatal fall from the clock tower. The only time he had ever heard her cry out to him was when she was coming to his rescue. The times they were apart and he'd found himself in harm's way. Those were the only times he could remember hearing her calling to him. He would happily put his life in her hands any day without a second thought. She would put her life in his too. And yet, she never cried for help. Not even when she was ambushed by a crazy bitch with an axe, and not when she was ambushed in a confined basement – yet again! – during the Yin/Yang experience. She never cried for help.
He wouldn't just put his life in her hands, he would also gladly lay down his own life for her. He would take a bullet to ensure that he would not be robbed of her smile – the smile that promised him that for every time he'd have to trip over a table during a foot pursuit and land face first on the hot sidewalk, he'd also get to make a little boy's day by handing him a badge sticker – the smile that proved to him that it's fun to be invited to eating bad Chinese takeout for lunch, as long as it was with a group of good friends. The smile that helped him learn to see the person behind the crime – the smile that made it possible for him to fall in love with a felon – his soul mate and the mother of the child he had always wanted.
He would lay down his life for her, and she would do the same for him. That's what partners did for each other…right? Would someone else do the same for her? Maybe. Again, that's what partners did for each other, but would she be appreciated like she deserved? He had always officially had the role of teacher in their relationship, but she had taught him so much more. To put her in the official position of teacher…he actually felt slightly jealous for the lucky sap that would get to begin their Detective career under her. Maybe that was just it – he knew that great partners are hard to find, and he wanted to keep that amazing partner for himself, no matter how selfish that might be.
You're Chief now, idiot. Chiefs don't get partners.
WRONG. Chiefs partner with the Head Detective in so many ways. She would still be his partner if he'd been allowed to keep her. The logical part of his brain tried convincing him that it would simply be too difficult to find another partner that could rival her skills. The rest of his brain immediately knew better. He needed her presence so much more than he would ever admit to. He needed to know she was still around to help him keep his humanity in such a dangerous and often ugly line of work. He had entered police work with such high dreams and ideals. He was going to rescue the world, or so he thought. What actually happened was he turned into a hardened black and white thinker that took solace within the neat confines of the law, calling it justice and damning all others who disagreed. Juliet had brought him back from that brink. She had seen the better side of him, buried deep within, protected by the harsh Head Detective's shield that thought it more important to point out her own flaws. She had never fled like his other partners. She had never cried out for help.
What if she doesn't cry out for help? Will her new partner still hear her? What if the new partner doesn't?
Lassiter's heart dropped at the thought. What if? The 'what ifs' bombarded his brain, one right after another, each one leading to the next without any answers in sight…because the answer would always be the same.
Then she won't ever come back.
He wasn't delusional. He knew damn well that being her partner wouldn't guarantee her life. And if by some insane chance he forgot that, those images of her on the clock tower would make sure to put him back in his place. It would have still been possible for something horrible to happen to her under his watch. He hated having to think that, but he knew, at least, that if it ever did, he would at least be there to make damn sure she had someone by her side in those last moments. He would make sure the whole damn city knew and appreciated her sacrifice, and he would make damn sure the Department would always show her the respect she deserved. If he couldn't protect her life, then he would honor her in death.
Would someone else do that for her? Would someone else be able to say they did absolutely everything they could have possibly done and then some to try saving her life? Would someone else appreciate her spirit and her skills in life? Would she be given the respect she deserves? What if she didn't cry for help…would someone else still hear her?
He breathed in deep, fighting back the tears that were threatening to betray his feelings. Even now, he was falling into the easy trap of wondering what would happen if she died far away from him – an easy trap only because the answer was easy – it would destroy him. Simple enough. The harder question was how he would go on without her. Any well-trained cop would know what to do in any number of dangerous situations, but most cops wouldn't have any idea how to respond to a tearful 7 year old child, breaking down over the loss of a pet that was let out of the yard during a break in while the family was away. Lassiter smiled and shook his head, remembering that last case they worked together. Juliet helped take the bastard burglar down in a foot pursuit and made things better for the child, all before lunch. Most cops would say they might do something similar or call it a day after taking the burglar down…but how many of them would have given the child a pen and notepad, then taken the child door to door with them to interview neighbors about the pet's whereabouts?
I need her to help me see the people, not just the criminals.
Lassiter's gaze traveled to a plastic bag sitting under his desk. So what if he had smiled like a goofy idiot at the sight of those frilly infant headbands, and so what if he had bought a dozen of them, one in each color and pattern the store carried? Ok, so maybe keeping in touch with his softer side might be a little easier now. Juliet would have been there to remind him of it, however. She had always been good at that – giving him credit when he did something worthy of her approval. How she would have approved of this! And…how he would have loved to see her approving smile! Strange, that he as the teacher had come to have such a need of her approval.
"What the hell, man! You call that an arrest?!"
His new Head Detective's voice cut through the silence, waking him from his thoughts as he looked up to see several officers shrinking away from her. He couldn’t help but smile and wonder how many times Vick had witnessed him in the exact same situation from this exact spot. Like the great Chief she was, she had paired him with exactly the partner that he needed at the time. Well, partners like O'Hara were few and far between. Finding that partner would easily be much more difficult and important, in his opinion, than it had been to find a Head Detective. In the meantime, he thought as he rose from his seat and prepared to go manage the situation, he would honor O'Hara by doing for his staff what she had done for him. Her legacy would remain, dammit, even if she couldn't.
And he promised himself that he would always hear her, even if she didn't cry for help.