Carlton Lassiter pulled up to the Santa Barbara Police Department to start his day at precisely fifteen minutes to 8AM. It was a later start than he was used to, but since becoming chief his schedule had been unnaturally regular. Unnaturally for him anyway. He'd had years of early mornings and late evenings. Not that he didn't have them once and a while, but they were few and far between.
Just as he was about to turn off the car and head in, a loud voice boomed through the speakers. "One of you lucky listeners is about to win the price of a lifetime!" "LIFETIME!" The radio echoed. "One of you will get to battle next week at WrestleMania... in the ring..." *DING* "with Chris Jericho!"
Carlton paused, listening intently as the echoes of "JERICHO!!!" filled his car. He'd always been a closet wrestling fan, and had only recently admitted it to Marlowe after she'd told him she liked it too.
"Be caller number five to win!"
Carlton quickly grabbed his phone out, only to drop it and have it land on the other side of the car. "Crap!" He fumbled to get his seatbelt off and lunged to the passenger's seat to reach for it. His long arms were able to grab it and he started dialing triumphantly. It was busy the first time, so he tried again.
"Sorry! You're caller number four. Try again!"
He did, four more times, but each was a busy signal. Finally he admitted defeat and left his car before hearing what lucky schmuck had won his dream prize. Slightly sulking and grumbling about how those radio prices are a scam to get more listeners, he sulked into the precinct.
"Chief?" Buzz tentatively knocked and peeked in Carlton's office, obviously noticing he was in a foul mood for most of the morning.
Carlton looked up from his work and gave an overly harsh, "What?"
Before the Jr. Detective could reply, Shawn and Gus walked in. Gus was in his usual casual business attire and Shawn, or what he assumed was Shawn, was in a spandex Lucha Libre outfit complete with a green cape and mask.
Carlton gaped at the spectacle in front of him. "Spencer, why in the name of sin are you dressed in that... thing?"
"WrestleMania!" Shawn bellowed throwing his arms above him in victory before being slapped in the side by Gus. "What? Too much?" Gus glared and nodded while Buzz, still in the office, was forcing himself not to laugh.
After closing his eyes, biting his lip, taking a deep breath, and pinching his nose, Carlton looked behind the trio to see if his old partner had come with them. He doubted it because she never would have let him even think about wearing that getup if she had been there. "What are you doing in Santa Barbara? Is everything okay with O'Hara?"
"It isn't Spencer. It is Senior Calcetín!" He crooned out in a horribly fake sounding Spanish accent. "... and Jules is fine." Shawn waved his hand dismissively.
Gus glowered at Shawn. "You know calcetín means 'sock' right?"
Shawn's mouth twitched, as if he didn't know it had meant sock, but Carlton figured he knew what was coming next. "Your face is a sock."
Finally coming from around the desk, Carlton put his arms around the two friends and began leading them out of his office. "You know, as much as I love having you here interrupting my work..."
Ducking out from under his arm with a flourish of his cape, Shawn was suddenly facing him again. "Hey, I know you're all busy with the paperwork, the bills, and stuff," Carlton rolled his eyes and released Gus with his other arm, not rising to the bait of Shawn implying that he was a desk jockey. "−but I came here to invite you to see me fight Chris Jericho at WrestleMania!"
He felt the blood rush from his face and hoped the others didn't see it.
"You− You won the radio contest this morning?" Of all the people in the whole city, the whole surrounding area... it was Shawn that won it. Carlton didn't know why he was surprised anymore.
With only what Carlton would guess was a giant smile behind his mask, Shawn shouted, "Great! You heard of it! So will you and Marlowe come? I can invite up to five friends! My dad is already coming and−"
Cutting him off, Carlton quickly stated, "I don't know. I'm really busy."
He suddenly had a hand around his shoulder and Shawn gave it a comforting squeeze. "Oh come ooon Lass! Jules says you've been stressed lately. You need a break."
Carlton made a mental note to tell his former partner not to share their conversations with her fiancé.
"C'mon Shawn. He doesn't want to go." Gus nodded his head towards the exit before facing the Junior Detective. "We'll ask Detective Dobson if he wants to go instead."
"Well hold on a minute." He'd be damned if Dobson was going to take his place at a wrestling match. Christ, what am I about to myself into? "I'll see what Marlowe says, but I don't know if we can find a babysitter on such short notice."
Buzz raised his hand, "Francine and I can take her."
Carlton blinked in surprise. "You'd do that?"
"Yeah." Buzz nodded with a smile. "I have the night off and Francine loves her." His heart melted slightly at the Detective's generosity at giving up a Sunday off to help him out.
"Great!" Shawn released him. "Jules will be glad, I think. I still have to tell her, but I'm sure it will be okay."
Carlton rolled his eyes. Of course Shawn would buy a suit, pick a name, and invite everyone else before telling her. "Okay. I'll ask Marlowe tonight. Now I've got things to do. important things, so out!" Shawn left but before Gus was out the door Carlton pulled him aside. "Make sure O'Hara knows about this before the day of the fight."
"You know that's right." Gus nodded.
"Come on Gus! Olé!" Shawn yelled from the other end of the bull pen, where he was getting some very interesting looks. Most of them knew Shawn and his antics, but hot green spandex was a new one on everyone.
"Good luck." Carlton patted Gus on the back as he followed after his slightly insane friend. He then went to his desk and sat down before giving an exasperated sigh. Shawn always seemed to have some kind of divine luck to be in the right place at the right time. Just once Carlton wanted to have something cool happen to him. He just had to come to terms that he was going to that event, because he knew what would happen if he asked Marlowe anyway.
It would be a big, fat, excited...
"YES! Oh my God Carlton WRESTLEMANIA!!" Marlowe squealed happily and hugged him. "I've always wanted to go to that since I was a kid!"
"Alright, alright. I'll let Spencer know we're in." He gave her a small peck on the nose before releasing her. There was no going back on his word now or she'd be absolutely crushed.
Below them, Lily made an excited nose and looked up at them with wide eyes. She'd obviously seen her mother was happy and wanted in on the action. He picked her up and handed her to Marlowe who was giving him a funny look.
"What's wrong? You love wrestling." She put a hand on his face. "Don't you want to go?"
"It's just, I tried calling in for the contest and Spencer−You know what, never mind. I'm sure we'll have a great time." Carlton smiled and tried to change the subject. "Anyway, it's this Sunday and McNabb said he'd watch her while we were gone."
"Wait, he's not going to..." She covered Lily's eyes and made an angry 'rawr' face.
Carlton smiled at how cute she looked when she did that. "McNabb knows that if he does that again he'd be demoted to cleaning toilets. I think we're safe."
"Good." She smiled and turned with Lily, heading towards the living room. "We have some wrestling to brush up on. I'll teach you how to do a Suplex when you're older."
Carlton snorted in amusement as he watched them go. Then his chest tightened up again. If she was this excited just to go, imagine how off the moon she would be if he'd gotten to wrestle Chris Jericho himself. With his good mood ruined again, he turned to his work room and decided he'd put a few more names on his criminal wall to help him feel better.
WrestleMania was packed. People from all around the world, of all ages were rushing to get to their seats, get snacks, and get pictures with their favorite wrestlers. Carlton almost regretted coming when a child barely missed spilling a king sized coke all over his shoes.
With the long lines and mass of people, it was already almost show time by the time the group got to their own section. Henry, Juliet, Gus, Carlton and Marlowe spotted their seats were in the front row, with five blocked off for them as Shawn promised. Shawn himself had been at the stadium since the afternoon. Supposedly he had some practice work to do before the actual fight.
"Finally. Took us long enough to get through that throng." Carlton grumped. "If you would have been able to pick something to wear, we would have gotten here faster."
Henry frowned and looked at his Undertaker T-shirt. "I had to find the right one. Besides, you took long enough at the snack isle. What were you ordering? Steak well done?"
Glaring and clutching his chili dog, Carlton just sat down. He'd gotten his food fairly quickly to be honest, but he'd actually seen a few men near the concession stand, hiding in the corner reaching into their pockets and pulling out money. He'd stalled and stayed there to watch them, just in case they were selling drugs, but it ended up being wrestling cards in the end.
However, Carlton wasn't going to tell anyone that. Least of all Henry.
"Oh come on Carlton. Don't be such a grump!" Marlowe smacked him in the arm lightly. "Just because you wanted to win that silly contest doesn't mean you can't be happy for him."
Carlton froze and out of the corner of his eye saw all three people to the left of him turn their heads to stare in shocked awe. "Wait a minute, you called in for that too? That's messed up." Gus said with a mouth full of fries.
"Wait," Juliet looked at him quizzically. "Is that why you've been sulking since I got here this morning? Shawn said he thought it was because you didn't want to come."
"NO! I just..." Carlton sighed. "Can we just please watch the match?" It was getting hard to hear anyway with the commentators starting up their banter. Besides he hadn't exactly been rude to Shawn, more short than anything, but he'd been doing his best to hide his disappointment.
Marlowe turned to him with one of her determined frowns. "Carlton, Shawn has enough problems worrying about the match. He doesn't need to fret over you not having fun. I want you to say you're sorry and tell him the truth."
Nooooo. Anything but that. He wined internally and turned to Marlowe. "C'mon. Spencer doesn't care that much. He just wants to have people to show off to."
"Carlton." Marlowe huffed out, annoyed.
"Carlton!" Both Juliet and Marlowe were turned to him. Staring him down from both sides.
He looked down the row at and locked eyes at Henry, silently begging for help.
"Don't look at me." Henry held up his hands.
"Alright fine." Marlowe's face instantly lit up and she gave him a kiss on the cheek before he stood and took out his backstage pass. "But I'm telling you he's probably forgotten all about it by now."
He caught the knowing look Henry, Gus and Juliet shared. He got the familiar nagging feeling that he really should have listened to Shawn's goodbye disc all the way through, before heading off towards the dressing rooms.
A few flashes of his backstage pass later, and Carlton was picking his way though the maze of costumes and people trying to find his way to the dressing rooms. He'd asked for directions from someone who looked suspiciously like the Undertaker without makeup, but he'd chalked it up to his imagination and followed the extremely tall man's directions.
Carlton knocked on the door before he carefully peeked around the corner into Shawn's dressing room. He'd already gotten an eyeful of the detective just in the costume, but he didn't want to chance seeing him naked either. He stepped further in and he saw it was empty. Oddly, the costume was still on the hanger, and Shawn was no where to be found. He looked at his watch and saw they had less than five minutes before he was called out.
"Spencer?!" He shouted, hoping that Shawn was just in the bathroom having second thoughts rather than believing the twinge in his gut that something was very wrong.
He didn't even get half a chance to worry, because as soon as he stepped into the dressing room, something hard hit his head. His face smashed on the floor as he landed, and just before he passed out he felt something tugged over his head as his attacker began to smother him.