“Jules, what are you doing? You’re gonna wear a rut in the carpet.”
Shawn had come back from the shower to find Jules pacing the small space by the bed in the tiny guest room.
“We have to get married in six months,” she said urgently, once he’d closed the door. “Maybe five.”
He blinked at her. “Ok? What’s with the number? Not that there’s anything wrong with numbers. Numbers can be good. I’m all for numbers.”
She started waving her hands as she tried to illustrate. “I just mean...our anniversary needs to be as far away in the year as it can get from...all of this. And Carlton’s anniversary. I don’t want to be talking about ours anywhere near his and bringing things up for him and-and so if we don’t do it in five or six months we’d have to wait a year and a half!”
“No, we wouldn’t. Sweetheart, he’s Lassie. He’ll be fine with it whatever we do. We can wait longer if you want, have more time to plan, or…you know, do it sooner. If Lassie can plan in a day, we can. I’d marry you tomorrow if you wanted. It doesn’t matter.”
“Yes it does!”
“Jules…” Shawn wrapped his arms around her from behind, maybe just to get her to stop moving. He kissed her skin behind her ear and she finally began to relax into him. “Ok. That’s fine. Whatever you want.”
“Thank you,” she sighed.
They were quiet for a while before Shawn spoke up again. “You were thinking about it because he’s coming back to work tomorrow, huh?”
“Maybe…” She paused. “He also asked me yesterday when we were planning on getting out of his house.”
“Well that’s just rude.”
Jules laughed once and tugged him down into the bed. “He was mostly kidding. Then he said we could stay as long as we needed to.” She made that face she made when she wasn’t sure what she thought about something. “Actually, I think he was kind of asking us to.”
“Yeah, I kind of may have let slip it was kind of expensive for you to get out of that lease in San Francisco…”
He held up his hands in surrender. “What? I’m supposed to be turning over a new leaf! I’m supposed to help with the providing and all that grown up stuff and...related things. It’ll take a few months to get back to where we were as far as cases and clients and whatever, so I’ve got to do my part some other way. You can’t tell me going rent-free a while longer won’t help.”
They hadn’t even had a case yet. Now that Lassiter was coming back to work he could decide how he wanted to do that—what sort of fluff cases he wanted to start Psych out on, so they could rebuild their crime-solving reputation. It would probably include quite a bit of the embarrassing and the boring, and Lassie was probably going to love it.
Shawn planned to put up epic old-days levels of protest and tomfoolery—he had an image, after all—but in all honesty it would probably be nice seeing Lassie enjoy himself after everything he’d been through in the last month or two.
“Tell me you didn’t,” Jules said.
Shawn shrugged. “Not...deliberately. I didn’t plan it. He was already sort of going in the same direction he was with you; I think he was trying to find out how long we would stay. I know my body language, Jules. When I mentioned the San Francisco thing he was relieved. He wanted an excuse to tell us to stay a while.”
Jules shook her head, confused. “Coming back here was my decision...ours...it shouldn’t be up to him to helps us make it work.”
Shawn leaned in to kiss her forehead. “Come on, Jules; you know he likes having you here. With us in the house he’s got his best friend and a built-in babysitter right down the hall...seeing as I’ll have a lot of time for a while until we have more cases again.”
She planted her face in a pillow for a moment. “Now we have to get married in a few months so we have an excuse to get out of here and stop bothering him.” She rolled over to stare at the ceiling, and Shawn watched her think for a moment. “Why would he want an excuse? You two especially are going to start driving each other crazy again before long; how does he think us being in this house for any extended period of time is a good idea?”
He could tell her, but she’d get it in a minute. Shawn didn’t really want to say it out loud. It hit way too close to the ouch-felt-that part of his chest.
“Crap,” she whispered finally. “I’m an idiot.”
Shawn layed down beside her, shoulder to shoulder, and they stared at the ceiling together. He twined his fingers with hers between them. “You’re not an idiot,” he said.
“He doesn’t want to be alone here with Lily yet. How could I not see that?”
“Jules...you’re a lot better at dealing with the hard stuff than me, but I guess everybody gets to the want-to-pretend-everything’s-fine-again part no matter how good they are at it. Maybe you hit it.”
“That’s ok, you know. Isn’t it? I mean, obviously I’m no expert.”
She cleared her throat. “No, you’re right. It’s fine. I just...I don’t know.”
Shawn kissed her shoulder and mumbled into it. “He’s your best friend. I get that. I’ve got one of those, too.”
“If I could just make all of it go away…”
“Yeah.” He paused. “But hey! We get to be Full House for a while! We’ll get totally awesome pop culture bragging rights later. Which one of us do you think is Uncle Jesse, and which one is Joey?”
“Shawn, we are not having this conversation.” She was trying so hard to stay serious, but she smiled a little.
Shawn played along. “Fair enough, but you have to admit it’ll be cool having storage unit parties with Gus until we all have our own places.”
“That’s a thing?”
“If it’s not, we’ll make it a thing. Or we’ll bring it back. We’ll have to play that by ear.”
The steps of the Santa Barbara Police Department looked the same as they always had, but the next morning Juliet thought something felt different.
She climbed from the car after Carlton, and in the next parking spot Shawn and Gus unfolded from her personal car. The four of them drifted to the bottom of the steps and seemed to just stop there.
“We need to get this over with quick,” Gus said. “I love you guys, but I have an interview.”
“This? This what?” Juliet questioned.
“The go-team moment.”
“Is that what we’re doing?” Carlton asked dryly.
Shawn looked at him as if he should know. “Dude, Lassie, it’s your first day back and we’re all just kind of standing here staring at the front door waiting on you to make the first move. Classic go-team moment if I ever saw one.”
Juliet had to give him that. “He’s not wrong.”
“Oh, would you three stop it!” Carlton protested. He shook his head. “Come on, O’Hara; we have a station to run.”
With that Lassiter started up the concrete steps.
Shawn smirked. “Aaand….moment’s over.”
“It’s Lassie; what’d you expect?” Gus pointed out.
Juliet gave them a knowing smile and followed Carlton inside. Shawn and Gus were on her heels.
There was no gathering inside waiting—no obvious welcome back. When McNab asked Friday Juliet had told him to make sure it didn’t happen. That wasn’t what someone like Carlton would need or want right now. Instead there was the occasional ‘Good to see you, Chief’ here or a ‘How are you, Chief?’ there. Lassiter made it to his office without serious incident and Juliet let out a breath she didn’t know she’d been holding.
Two weeks. She’d had to fight to get him to take that much, but he took two weeks. Now she was glad she hadn’t backed down.
Carlton disappeared into his office, but he was out in the bullpen again seconds later.
“Where are my files!” he called. “Dobson! I need the file on the McKinney case! McNab! Where are my write-ups? I’m supposed to have all catch-up material on my desk already!”
McNab popped up from behind his desk. “On it, Chief!”
By the time Carlton turned around Juliet, Shawn, and Gus were waiting beside his door. Juliet couldn’t help smiling, Gus had an eyebrow up, and Shawn was bouncing on his toes like he did and grinning expectantly.
“What?” Carlton asked. He zeroed in on Shawn and rolled his eyes. “Spencer, if you want a case come back this afternoon. Maybe I can dig something up.”
“Sure thing, dude!” Shawn looked sideways at Gus. “Come back after your thing?”
“You know that’s right.” Gus held up a fist for Shawn to bump before he retreated for his interview.
“You’re not going with him?” Juliet asked.
“Jules, it’s an interview. I can’t go with him.”
“I wouldn’t have put it past you.”
Shawn opened his mouth to protest, probably, but then he shrugged. “That’s fair.”
Lassiter was shaking his head at them again as he spun back into his office, but Juliet saw him smile.
Juliet saw him realize the same thing she had, two months ago in San Francisco.
Through the blinds of his windows, with Shawn off to bug McNab and Gus halfway out the door, she was the only one who saw Carlton pause in the middle of his office and glance back at where they’d all stood seconds ago. The smile was still here, tugging at the corners of his mouth.
She saw Carlton have the moment he knew it would always be the four of them, somehow, no matter where they went from here.
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