I don't own either world, Psych or Buffy. I'm just borrowing them for a bit.
Lassiter was torn between despair and mortification. Now that he was here, he realized that it was beyond pathetic that he was sitting here on a dating show. Sure, there were going to be three women on the other side of that curtain fighting to date him. But…he’d seen the show. Yes they were probably going to be hot. But…yeah…he’d seen the show. What was wrong with them. There was always something wrong with them.
And yeah, there was always something wrong with the guy sitting in this chair, too. He was not that guy. He was not a loser to be made fun of. He had to get the hell out of here, that’s what he had to do. He never should have let Spencer and Guster goad him into this. How had he let that happen?
He was Carlton Lassiter. He was the head detective of the Santa Barbara Police Department and he didn’t need a damn television show, especially one on cable that aired at 2:00 in the morning, to find a date.
He stood up, straightened his tie and headed toward stage left and the exit, freedom from embarrassment and eternal blackmail, only to run into the producer flanked by two really big guys wearing black shirts with “SECURITY” printed on the front in white block letters.
“Detective. Did you need something? Water?”
“No. I was just leaving. I changed my mind.” He wasn’t nervous, scared. It was damn hot up here. Stage lights making him sweat.
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.” He held out a hand, snapped his fingers. One of the hulking mountains slapped a stack of papers in it. “You signed a contract, Sir.” He flipped through the pages, stopped, licked a finger, flipped through a few more, studied the one he’d finally settled on. Nodded. “Hmm…” He turned it around. “Yes? Your signature?”
Carlton looked down and with a resigned sigh answered. “Yes, that’s my signature.”
He passed the contract back to the giant and clapped his hands together once. “Wondrous! Splendiferous, really! I think you’re going to love the specimens we have for you today, Detective Lassiter. Just love them…” He walked off muttering to himself and Carlton could have sworn he heard him say “Delicious.”
He frowned at the noise behind him, turned around to look and groaned. Loudly. The studio audience had arrived and was taking their seats. He looked closer and the frown deepened. Spencer, Guster, O’Hara and…it couldn’t be. Please God, no. The groan turned into sick moan. Chief Vick. Spencer gave him a big, happy wave. He managed to stop himself from flipping him bird. He gritted his teeth and made his way back to the bachelor chair, forced himself to sit.
He was ruined. He would have to quit his job. He would have to move to Alaska. Maybe even Antarctica. He glared at Spencer. He would get even with him if it was the last thing he did. This was all his fault.
What the hell was he going to do?
“Okay, Detective, here’s what you’re going to do,” the assistant to the assistant something or other came over. He was a short, dumpy looking guy with a big, bulbous nose, beady little brown eyes, balding in the middle of his head and ill fitting clothes, and he reminded Lassiter of every bad guy’s side kick in every bad cop movie he’d ever seen.
“Run away fast?”
“Heh, heh. No.” He held out a stack of index cards and shook them impatiently when Carlton didn’t take them. “These are your required suggested questions.”
That explained a lot, Carlton thought. The bozos who sat in this chair always asked the dumbest questions. He took the stack and flipped through them, giving them a cursory scan. “Describe your perfect date. If you and were stuck on a deserted island, what would we do while we waited for the rescue boat? What song best describes our first date?” He looked up. “Really?”
The assistant to the assistant to the whatever nodded. “Yes. We find you can gather enough knowledge to make an informed decision using this guide.”
There were about twenty cards. He knew from watching the show that he would get to ask around five or six questions, give or take, spread amongst the three girls on the other side of the screen, depending. Some guys asked a question and then just said “same question” to the other two and some guys asked each girl a different question. He also knew from watching the show that the host usually found a way to make fun of everyone involved and make them all look like total losers. It was a lose-lose situation for everyone involved and he couldn’t understand why anyone would put themselves through it for the crappy prize at the end, which was usually dinner and a show.
He heard the show’s theme music and sighed, wondering if he could afford the Antarctic wardrobe.
Buffy paced backstage, looked at the other two women and then down at herself for the hundredth time since she’d gotten here five minutes ago. Sister or not, Dawn was a dead woman. She sent a glare at the sister in question, happily waving at her from the live studio audience of the lamest dating show in the history of the universe.
Like she needed a damn dating show. What the hell was that all about? Sure she was having a slump but who didn’t have a slump now and then. She was the Slayer for crying out loud. She was a little bit busy saving the damn world from certain doom to be out dating. The fact that there were a ton of slayers doing the same thing and that she spent nine nights out of ten watching TV in her Elmo footie jammies was completely not the point.
Five minutes ago, she’d come running in here, following Dawn because her baby sister had told her it was demon apocalypse the likes of which had never been seen before. A complete surprise to everyone. It called for Buffy herself, the oldest living Slayer. The best of the best. The cream of the crop. She should have known something was up with the sheer amount of ass kissage that had been flying around. But she’d been so damn thrilled to be needed that she’d blindly followed Dawn’s bouncing ponytail without a second thought.
Right into the hell and damnation of Make a Match, Girl Number Three.
Of course, she’d given Dawn the death glare and turned to leave, only to be stopped by the producer who was happily bearing a clipboard containing a contract that was somehow, someway bearing her very own signature. And she remembered very well sitting in the kitchen with Dawn, “going over things”. Dawn, suddenly so serious, saying she didn’t want a repeat of what happened with mom, with Buffy herself when she’d “gone way that time”. Damn kid. She’d signed so much shit she’d stopped reading, stopped even looking. Like Dawn had known she would.
She looked again at the other two girls, in their dressed-to-kill outfits, their perfect make up, their done-to-the-nines hair and then back at her own going-to-the apocalypse fashion statement, which consisted of a ponytail, a half-assed one at that, no make up at all, not even Chapstick. Her jeans were clean but they had a hole in the knee. At least the shirt was rocking it out – blood red tank top that clung to everything she had, but it had a stain on the left boob. Damn it.
The shows theme music started playing and a tall, curvy, blonde got them in a line, telling them to wait for their introductions and then walk out to their seats. She pointed to said seats, as if they were idiots and couldn’t clearly see the seats, numbered ONE, TWO and THREE. When the first two girls brightened, both making little “O’s” with their mouths, Buffy sent Dawn another death glare. Dawn smiled and waved.
Buffy considered the merits of death by dismemberment versus death by skinning for her little sister.
The music reached a deafening crescendo and then abruptly stopped as the announcer perkily said, “Welcome to Make a Match! The show where WE help YOU Make a Match! And now, let’s give it up for our host, the Man who loves to Make that Match, Merle Marlow!”
Buffy rolled her eyes as the audience went insane, clapping and hooting, as Merle jogged the entire foot to his podium.
Carlton rolled his eyes as the idiot host for some reason found it necessary to jog the foot to his podium. He flashed the audience a fake smile and then gave Carlton an even faker “Hey, we’re in this together, buddy” look and leaned on the stand as he turned back to the audience.
“Okay, let’s tell our bachelor a little something about our girls…but not TOO much!” He winked at the audience and they went nuts again.
“Kill me now.” Carlton muttered, not realizing his mic would pick it up. On live television.
“Me too.” Buffy muttered back, not realizing her mic would also pick it. Also on live television.
Merle paused and looked at the producer, who frowned and then made a rolling motion with his hands and mouthed “Keep going!”
Merle picked up the first card. “Girl One! She’s a California girl who likes surfing, long walks on the beach and animals. She’s hoping to find a man who’s not afraid of his softer side.”
The audience said “Awwww” as she walked out, waving as she took her seat, forgetting for a moment, almost sitting in the chair marked TWO, before being redirected to ONE. Buffy sent Dawn another death glare, this one backed up with some Slayer behind it. Dawn bit her lip and didn’t wave.
Merle set Girl One’s card aside and picked up Two’s. “Girl Two! Another California girl who likes the outdoors, partying with friends and piñatas. She’s hoping to find a man who will treat her right.”
The audience clapped and yelled, yelling even louder when a wardrobe malfunction “accidentally” happened on the way to chair TWO.
Buffy sighed and got ready for her total humiliation, hardly able to wait to hear what kind of man she was looking for.
Merle picked up the last card. “Girl Three!” He glanced over and frowned when he saw her, looked at the producer and waited.
Before the producer could answer Buffy yelled “Just read the damn card.”
The audience gasped, the producer growled and nodded at Merle, and Lassiter recognized the voice as the voice of the girl that clearly wanted to be killed now along with him.
Merle swallowed and tried to sound just as absurdly perky as he read “Girl Three is yet another California girl who likes the nightlife, walks in the moonlight and getting just a little bit wild. She’s looking for a man that can handle her strength.”
Buffy glared at the audience as she stomped to chair THREE. Dawn cheered but trailed off when she realized she was the only one. The. Only. One. She sat down and shot Buffy an apologetic look, only to be met with yet another death glare.
The audience ignored the flashing “Applause” sign.
Merle blinked a few times and then gamely nodded his head at Carlton. “Okay, so we’ve met our gor-gee-ous girls and now lets see what our bachelor has to ask to them! Now, ladies, you know our bachelor is a mystery so we can only tell you his name is Carleton.”
One and Two clapped and oohed like they’d been told his name was actually Prince Charming. Buffy propped her booted foot on her knee and slouched, clasping her hands over her stomach. She tipped her head from side to side, the sensitive microphone picking up the cracking of her neck, making some in the audience wince.
Carlton knew, just knew without a doubt that the bone cracker was going to turn out to be Three. He wondered if she was…well, fat. Ugly. He’d never actually seen anyone less than attractive on the show but there was always a first time and it would be just like Spencer to pull something like that.
Merle shook his head, disgusted. This show was really going down the tubes. Maybe he’d go read for “Date My Deadbeat Dad.” He looked at the dork in the chair. “Okay, Carlton. We understand that due to the pressures of your job you can’t keep a woman! So…ask one of these lovelies your first question.”
Carlton looked at the first card and sighed. “Yeah, okay. Number One, what’s your idea of the perfect date?”
Number one paused for a long minute and Buffy shook her head. How do you not have that answer already in your head coming on a show like this? Finally One got it together and answered, “I’d have to say my perfect date would be you and me in a hot tub, wearing the hot water and nothing else. Having a hot time.”
The audience went wild, making loud wooo sounds and stomping their feet. Merle nodded approvingly. Two looked jealous and actually muttered, “I was gonna say that…” Buffy scrunched her nose up and actually wished for the apocalypse she’d been promised (but not out loud) and Carlton thought he might actually throw up.
He took the lamer’s way out and said, “Yeah, number two, same question.”
“One took my answer, so I’m gonna have to say that my perfect date would be you and me in the hot tub with a can of whipped cream. Chocolate whipped cream. And…um…some really good music and no clock.” She giggled.
The audience wooed again and Carlton actually did throw up in his mouth. Merle clapped his hands. “Next question, Carlton.”
“Number Three, same question.”
“Yeah…um…my perfect date, at this point, would be One and Two in their hot tub, and me with a bomb, which I then drop into said hot tub. I, uh, don’t actually care what we’re wearing. Or eating.”
The audience didn’t go wild but Carlton fell a little bit in lust. The producer frowned and started frantically going through the contract, looking to see if he could sue that bitch. Merle fumbled his microphone and finally righted it and said “Next question! Carlton, next question please!”
“Right…” He looked at the next card. “If we were stuck on a deserted island what would do what we waited for the rescue boat? Uh…Number Two?”
“What WOULDN’T we do, Carlton?” Two asked with a sexy, flirty look at the audience, who once again cheered loudly.
Merle looked on like a proud papa. It was clear he was rooting for Two.
“Same question, One.”
“Well, Carlton, we’d find a nice quiet cave and spend all our time being busy until the boat came.” When she said “busy” she arched her hips back and forth for the audience, who again went insane.
Buffy wondered if the entire city of Santa Barbara was mentally challenged or they shipped the audience in from a mental institution. For one thing, the idiot asking questions couldn’t even see what she was doing and for another thing, a boat totally wouldn’t even see them if they were off having all that sex in a dark cave. Just saying.
“Same question, Three.”
“Yeah, I’m thinking we could kill a lot of time by, I don’t know, making signal fires so the damn boat would actually see us, finding and or making some kind of weapons and fortifying our perimeter so we don’t get mauled or eaten by any nasties that happen to be out and about, finding food and fresh water so we don’t, oh, I don’t know, DIE, making shelter because who knows what kind of whether we’ll be facing out there, not to mention…”
“Okay! Thank you, Three. Moving on…” Merle interrupted her.
“But she wasn’t finished.” Carlton said.
“Sure she was!” Merle interrupted in his I’m-too-happy-to-be-real voice. “Next question.”
He frowned and plodded along. “Right, One, you’re making me dinner at your place. What are we having?”
“You’re having me, and I’m having you.” One answered quickly.
Carlton was pretty sure that answer was given every single time that question was asked but he gamely said “Two same question.” He couldn’t wait for Three. He nearly bounced in his seat.
Two shot One a dirty look and answered, “I’m having you and you’re having me.” Even Merle frowned.
“Three? Do you have a different answer?”
“We’re having whatever you pick up on the way over. Dude, seriously.” The audience finally clapped for her.
Carlton looked at the next card and grinned, tossed them on the floor. “Three, we’re in an alley and four guys with knives corner us and demand all our money. What do we do?”
“Why are we in an alley in the first place?”
“Great answer! Okay, we’re on a street and it’s empty for some reason.”
“Me?” Buffy asked.
“Yeah, Three. What do we do?”
“Well, I would beat the shit out of them and leave a note for the cops…oops, I probably can’t say shit on live TV, huh?” She grinned at the red-faced producer. “Is shit one of those bad words you can’t say?” The audience was laughing, even Dawn. “Sorry.”
Carlton’s grin grew even bigger. “Okay, Two, same question.”
Two blinked and then said, “Me? Um…I don’t know if you can say shit on TV. Probably not. I think you can only say like ass and damn.”
Buffy snorted and then gave up and laughed.
Carlton risked a glance at Spencer and company and was actually happy to see they were having a good time. Spencer held up three fingers and then ten fingers and nodded. But should he trust him? He looked at O’Hara but she was covering her eyes and shaking with laughter.
Merle looked at the producer who just shook his head and held up a finger, so he turned to Carlton. “One more question for each girl, Carlton.” Thank God, he thought.
“One, you’re in a room full of vampires and you have a gun with three bullets. It’s noon. What do you do?” Vampires didn’t exist of course, but it was a logic problem that was presented in the academy and no one ever got it right. It was an exercise in thinking strategically.
One sat in her chair and stammered for a while before she finally said, “I wait for you to sweep me off me feet, handsome.”
“Two, same question.”
Two shrugged her shoulders. “Vampires aren’t really real, so I guess I turn the movie off?”
He leaned forward in his seat and said, “Three?”
Buffy shrugged. Even if she weren’t the Slayer, what kind of idiot didn’t get the question? “Duh. Shoot the windows. It’s noon. Toaster-caked vamps and you walk on out the door. Maybe you even save a bullet and shoot the producer.”
Even Merle clapped at that one before saying, “Okay, let’s give Carlton a moment to think about his decision. Audience, care to help him decide?”
The audience began screaming out One! Two! He looked at the gang again. Spencer was holding up three fingers, looking him in the eye, and looked sincere. O’Hara wasn’t holding up any fingers but was nodding, to what he couldn’t tell. Guster was holding up two fingers and practically drooling while staring at, presumably Two. The Chief looked thoughtful and was intently studying one of the women. He looked around and finally found the girl who had been cheering for Three at the beginning of the show. She was looking at, he assumed, Three and was smiling, albeit a small one, so it looked like she was finally forgiven.
Merle held up his hands and the audience quieted down. “Okay, Carlton, have you made a decision.”
“Okay, who’s it gonna be?”
There was a full five seconds of dead silence and then Merle said, “What?”
The producer said, “What?”
One said, “What?”
Two said, “What?”
Buffy said, “What?”
The audience collectively said, “What?”
Carlton smiled and said, “I said Three. T. H. R. E. E.” He held up three fingers. “You know, three.”
Merle looked around, wondering if it was a joke of some kind, and finally seeing it wasn’t, he said, “O-Okay…w-w-well, let’s meet the girls you didn’t choose. First, Number One, she’s from Hollywood, California, Lena Turner!”
One walked out and Carlton stood up, nearly swallowed his tongue. She was hot, all right. A tall, curvy red head with green eyes and a gorgeous face, wearing a tiny little silver thing that hid nothing and showed everything she had off to perfection. He gave her required peck on the cheek and rolled his eyes at her muttered, “Ha, you’ll be sorry when you see what you picked!”
“And Number Two is from Los Angeles, California, she’s Janet Jones!” Carlton watched as Janet came around the screen. She was also tall but had long, curly dark hair and was also, as he’d assumed, gorgeous. She was wearing a barely there red dress that pretty much screamed “jump me now!” No wonder Guster was drooling. He dipped his head for the cheek kiss and his stress level jumped up another notch when she whispered, “Boy are you gonna regret that! You’d be better off dating Merle!”
He glared at Spencer, who was nodding happily at him, while Merle sent the Janet and Lena off with their lovely parting gifts. He wondered if he could just shoot Spencer and claim temporary insanity. Too bad the Chief was right there. Was she smiling?
“Okay, Carlton, time to meet the girl you chose. She’s from Sunnydale, California…really? Sunnydale? Isn’t that the town…”
“Just get on with it, pal, or I’m going to seriously Sunny your dale!” Buffy yelled from the other side of the curtain, making Carlton smile again. He couldn’t help it. She was probably a lesbian.
“Right. From Sunnydale, California and her name is Buffy…really?” he looked up and upon seeing the look on her face hurried on, “Buffy Summers!”
Buffy walked around the screen and Carlton slowly opened the eyes he’d closed. Then he closed them again and opened them again. “You’re not gross.”
She tipped her head to the side and gave him her 1000-watt smile. “Thanks? And, um…you’re not either?”
“Are you a lesbian?
“No…do you usually wear a backwards jacket, Carlton? A white one with lots of fun buckles? Did the little white chuckle wagon bring you here?”
“No! I just...” he leaned forward and whispered, forgetting about the microphones again, “You’re gorgeous. And straight. And normal.”
She smiled again. “You too.”
The audience went berserk, because it seemed that’s what they were there for, and screamed “Match! Match! Match!”
Merle came over and shoved her closer to Carlton and turned them all around and said “Another Match Made! We’ll see you next time on Make a Match!”
The music swelled as the audience clapped and stomped their feet. Merle lost the smile and glared at them both. “You are the worst two contestants ever.” He stomped off the set.
Buffy watched him go and shrugged. “Gee, coming from him that really hurts. In a way that totally doesn’t.” She turned back to Carlton. “Anyway, you don’t have to go out with me.”
He frowned. “You don’t want to go?”
She frowned back. “You DO want to go?”
He shrugged. “Why not? It’s free.” He glanced over her shoulder and then went on. “My…these people, set me up. If you cancel…”
She took a quick glance and saw four people heading their way. “Say no more.” She moved to stand by his side, took his arm with hers as the four joined them.
“Good show, Lassie!” She felt his arm tense under hers, just for a second, before he relaxed.
“Shawn Spencer, Burton Guster, Chief Karen Vick, Juliet O’Hara, this is Buffy Summers.” He pointed to each in turn and Buffy used the hand not holding Carlton’s arm to shake hands.
“It’s nice to meet you all. I understand I have you to thank for getting Carlton on the show, so big thanks.” She gave his arm a pat with her other hand.
Shawn nodded. “I told him to pick you!”
“Thanks, Spencer.” Carlton muttered. “We need to get going. They have a car waiting.”
He practically dragged her out the door. Once they were on the street he told her, “If you don’t want to go…”
“No, I do. As long as there are no muggers or vampires.”