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Story Notes:
I might add more to this later, but I haven't decided yet, so I'm leaving it open for possibilities.
Author's Chapter Notes:
As promised, this is the alternate take for the "Day in the Life" drabble challenge prompt... This was actually my original idea, but it's about twice the word limit for the challenge, so I'm just going to post it as a separate one-shot. I can't bear to part with any of these words!

It's also something of a sequel to my "Handle With Care" drabble. I dedicate this to Harakiri. It may not be quite as sinister as you were hoping for, but I still couldn't have written this if your comment hadn't jogged the idea in my mind!
The time of the month had come. Regularly scheduled, like clockwork. The twelfth, a Monday. It was later than usual; maybe she wouldn’t be home.

He knocked on the door.

Althea answered, and her face immediately lit up, as if he didn’t come around every three weeks and she was so surprised to see him. She gently pressed her palms against his cheeks. “Oh, Carlton! It’s so nice to see you again. Won’t you come in? I’ll make some cocoa.” She turned and led him inside, and he dutifully closed the door behind him and wiped his shoes on the mat. Not for the first time, he had to quash the lingering wish that Althea were his mother instead.

“Mona, dear! Come here! Carlton’s come by for a visit.”
“So I heard,” Carlton’s mother drawled from the other room. “Come here, Booker.”
Obediently, he walked over. “Mom, have you been smoking again? You know that it’s bad for your---”
“Don’t interrupt me when I’m talking to you!”

Carlton looked down at his shoes, cheeks burning. He wanted to tell her that he was a forty-year-old man who could say whatever he wanted, but…he couldn’t.

“Booker, look at me.”
He glanced up.
His mother’s mouth twitched. “I hear you made quite a collar last week in that homicide case.”
Carlton’s mouth twitched, too. “Yes, ma’am.”

Althea returned from the kitchen, pressing a warm ceramic mug into his hand. “Have a seat, dear, so we can talk. Now, isn’t that better?”
Lassiter sank into an absurdly plush couch draped with a blanket that was as pink as Althea’s fluffy housecoat. As he sat, he happened to get an unobstructed view of the picture hanging over the mantle. “No. No, it can’t be.”

Althea looked around, bewildered. “What is it, Carlton dear?”
“Why is Shawn Spencer hanging over your mantle?!”
Althea’s expression was something between a grin and a blush. “Who, Chad? Oh, he’s just a star in one of those stories that I like on television… I can’t understand a word he says, but he’s sure nice to look at. He must be a very sweet boy in real life. I’m sure his parents must be so proud. Not more proud than we are of you, of course.”

Carlton ran a hand down his face, trying not to grimace when he pulled the two semesters’ worth of high school Spanish from his long-term memory and translated the caption beneath Spencer’s ridiculously scrawled autograph: Handle with care.

“I’ll get you for this, Spencer,” Carlton muttered into his coral-colored mug of hot cocoa. “No matter how many days out of my life it takes to do it.”
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