It had been nearly a year since they made it official, and while things had changed slowly but surely, it was still going pretty well. Shawn had given up on trying to keep his own place and split his time fairly evenly between Gus’ or Juliet’s apartments – usually the three of them deferring to Jules’ apartment because she was the most likely to need to get up unexpectedly and have to be dressed and need immediate access to her stuff. Gus had taken to keeping an extra-extra set of clothes and toiletries at her place, just in case. Shawn… well, he pretty much rolled like he always had. It suited them and didn’t really put any strain on anyone. It was a running theme of their relationship; no pressure.
Everything changed on a Thursday morning when, by Shawn’s reasoning, it was entirely too early to be up and doing the things that Juliet and Gus did in those wee hours to get ready to go do the work thing. Juliet had managed to literally drag him out of bed and to the sofa where Gus proceeded to push a cup of coffee into his hands. “Juliet says we need to talk.” Gus muttered quietly as she turned off the television and attempted to get Shawn’s attention.
“Okay guys, I have to make this quick because I’ve got a busy morning today.” She sighed and sat on the coffee table, facing them. “I think you both should know that… I’m late.”
Shawn quirked an eyebrow. “You moved Pilates class to Thursday mornings?”
“Oh no you didn’t, you know this is our time when we go sit at Starbucks and read the paper while making rude comments about people that treat the baristas poorly!”
“No, guys… I didn’t change my schedule. Focus.” She took a loud sip off her coffee mug. “We’re still going to go to Starbucks, Gus. I don’t mean that I’m ‘running late’… I mean I’m… Late.” She over enunciated, looking intently at both of them.
Shawn shook his head; “I don’t follow. Gus? Little help?”
Gus’ eyes were wide, staring right at her. After a long pause, he said; “You were supposed to start yesterday.”
“And I didn’t. I also skipped last month… but I thought that it was maybe because it was a stressful month.” She licked her lips, “And do I even want to know how you know that?”
Gus shrugged; “I keep track on my Google calendar so we make appropriate plans.”
“That is both really sweet and a little creepy.”
Shawn butted in; “Okay, still lost here. What are we talking about?”
Juliet looked him in the eyes and sighed. “Shawn, I might be pregnant.”
He stared at her a long moment and then looked down at his hands. With a loud and sudden sigh, he leaned forward and asked; “When can you take a test?” It’s not the first scare he’s been part of, but somehow it’s the scariest and least expected.
“I picked up two tests last night.” She replied quietly, “I’m going to do one before we leave and then another one in two weeks regardless of what this one says. It’s just a preliminary because I did skip last month… and it’s technically possible…”
“I thought you were on the pill.” Shawn cut in with an obvious note of frustration, unable to look at her. “You said you were on…”
“I am!” She sighed loudly. “It’s not always a hundred percent, okay?”
“You’re on the progestin only pill.” Gus shook his head slowly, “Those are only proven to be ninety-five percent effective and two months ago you were sick…”
“I get sick sometimes, it happens. I didn’t forget.” Juliet shot back.
Gus sighed, “Did you take antibiotics for that ear infection?”
“I don’t know… I mean…”
“I need to know, Jules… what kind and for how long?”
She closed her eyes and tried to remember, taking it had briefly become part of her routine and she was working a lot of long shifts at the time. “Full course, basic amoxicillin. What does it matter, Gus?”
“What did I tell you about watching your medications? I’m a professional… I could have told you that there’s a slim chance the antibiotic could affect your birth control.”
Shawn butted in; “Okay, so like ninety-five percent minus…” He raised an eyebrow, “How much chance are we talking here?”
“That’s not the way it works, Shawn. There is no set number.”
“So we’re still looking at pretty low odds that this is actually more than a bit of stress, right?” Shawn shrugged.
“Way to be supportive, guys.” Juliet sighed and crossed the room, retrieving a small, narrow box from her purse. “Shawn, set your watch. I’m going to go pee on the stupid little stick and solve this case.”
Shawn smiled hesitantly as she stormed out of the room, “I know she’s upset and everything, but it’s kind of cute to hear her declare she’s gonna go pee on something.”
“You’re a sick man, Shawn…”
“You love me. How long do I set the timer for?”
Gus tossed him the instructions and got up to wait for her beside the bathroom door. “What are we gonna do if you are?” He asked quietly.
“Trying to pee here,” Juliet answered coldly. “Please, just leave me alone for a second? Do you know how hard it is to do this right?”
“A couple years ago I had had to do a drug test every Monday afternoon because Shawn had my boss convinced that I was a recovering drug addict.”
Juliet was silent for a long moment. “Okay, maybe you know… but I’m a little bit nervous here.”
Gus nodded even though she obviously couldn’t see him through the door. “If you are, we’re here for you. At least I know I am, and I’m pretty sure Shawn’ll get over the denial pretty fast.”
“I don’t want to talk about it right now, Gus.” She flushed the toilet and came out with the stick sitting in a bright pink Hello Kitty paper cup. “Just, hold on to this and tell me if it has a plus sign or a minus sign when Shawn’s watch goes off.”
Gus held the cup like it might be on fire, out at full arm’s length, and then followed her back to the living room. “I mean it though; maybe we should discuss this… even if you aren’t.”
“She’s not, Gus.” Shawn replied calmly, “I mean, there’s a very slim chance…”
“We’re not talking about it,” Juliet put her foot down on the matter. “Let’s just wait and see what the stick says and then I’m going to go to work like this isn’t happening and then tonight you two have your monthly date night and I can think about whatever the results happen to be.”
“Jules…” Gus licked his lips. “We’re not… I mean…”
“We’re here for you, our super special Princess. Especially if you’re bearing our freakish love child.”
“It’s not freakish, Shawn. It’s a baby… babies are a beautiful thing…” Gus shot back.
“Both of you shut up right now, please.” Juliet hissed, staring at Shawn as the timer went off on his watch. “Okay, Gus… what are we looking at?”
Hands shaking, Gus tipped the cup away from him and withdrew it by the plastic end. “Are you sure you want to know?” He licked his lips, not yet looking at the answer.
“Gus!” Jules groaned, “Just read it. Plus or minus?”
He lowered his eyes, and bit into his lower lip, looking at Shawn.
“Oh boy.” Shawn muttered quietly. “It’s positive.”
“Gus?” She breathed, “What does it say?”
He nodded slowly, “Plus sign.”
Juliet inhaled sharply and then let out a low whine. “Okay… okay, fine. Okay. This doesn’t mean anything for sure. I have to test again in two weeks and then we can go from there.”
“Jules…” Gus stepped in close with Shawn already rising up off the sofa. “We should talk about this.”
“No.” She shook her head, “Not until we know for sure. We don’t talk about it. We don’t mention it to anyone – I mean it, Shawn.” She looked to him, eyes wide. “Nobody hears about this until we know for sure.”
Exactly twelve days after the test, nobody had breathed a word about it… but they were thinking about it. Every time they were alone, eventually an awkward silence would fall between them – either in pairs or when all together – and it was clear where their mind was. Gus and Juliet’s date night rolled around and Gus had asked to spend the night in. He made dinner, a very well-done steak and baked potatoes and then they’d skipped the movie and went straight to laying in bed reading a stack of comic books.
“God, I haven’t laid in bed reading comics since I was a teenager,” She grinned, rocking gently against Gus as she flipped the page on an X-Men back issue.
Gus smiled and leaned closer to her, barely paying attention to his Batman graphic novel. “I know, I thought you could use a change of pace.”
“Thanks, Gus… it’s been a crazy couple of weeks.” She didn’t have to say it, Gus knew all too well what she was talking about. Sighing heavily, she turned the page again. “So, how long you think Shawn’ll hang out in the living room before he gives in and follows us in here?”
“Considering we’re not supposed to know he’s here? Probably another ten minutes or so.”
Juliet laughed and pressed a gentle kiss to Gus’ chin. “Thank you, Gus… I know you’ve probably had a really hard time keeping Shawn in line about… you know what.”
“Actually… he’s been pretty quiet.” It’s the truth, Shawn’s eyes had said more than enough, though. He was distant, thinking more than he’d probably thought about anything in a long time. He knew Shawn was scared, they both were – they weren’t used to Juliet not wanting to talk about something that mattered at least a little bit. “I’ve been thinking, though…”
“Don’t.” She closed the comic and rested her palm against his cheek – forcefully turning him to face her. “Please, just don’t.”
Shawn gently knocked on the door before opening it; “I know it’s your time and I’m interfering and all that, but I was really… really bored and it was really quiet in here so I wanted to make sure you two kids hadn’t gone and suffocated Gus with a pair of pantyhose in an erotic experiment gone bad.”
“Shawn!” Juliet groaned, holding up her X-Men book before trading it out for a Green Lantern. “We’re reading.”
“Great works of literature, I see…”
“Don’t you dare knock comics on our night, Shawn.” Gus shot back, both eyebrows raised; “Need I remind you what we did on my night with you?”
“Hey, you used to love bumper boats!”
“When we were ten! Do you have any idea how much bacteria is in that water, Shawn? There isn’t a shower hot enough to kill some of it.”
“Boys! Enough.” Juliet groaned, “Shawn, either pick up a comic or get out.”
Shawn rolled his eyes and lay across the foot of the bed, plucking an old Batman out of the center of the pile. “We could do something together.”
“We are doing something together now.” Gus replied, making a point of loudly turning the page.
“That’s not what I meant.” Shawn rubbed his hand gently over the back of Gus’ leg – catching on his pants. “I could show you my Green Lantern.”
“Was that a come on?” Jules half-laughed, “Because it didn’t really make any sense.”
“Hmm.” Shawn replied, “Perhaps my Little Superman? The Batpole?”
“Shawn, you remember when I agreed to kick you when you said something humiliating?” Gus asked calmly.
“What? No? OW!” Shawn winced as Gus’ foot connected with his hip. “Right… got it.” He grumbled, rolling out of bed. “Fine. You’ve forced me to break out the big guns…”
“Was that a Punisher innuendo?” Juliet raised an eyebrow at Gus, “I’m getting a little hint of Punisher there… not bad…”
“I’ll be over here getting naked if anyone wants to join me.” Shawn called out, a touch of desperation in his voice as he peeled off his t-shirt. “You know, if you’re not too busy getting your geek on to notice a very nude man in your presence.”
Both pointedly ignored him, Juliet taking her time finishing the story before finally giving in and rolling onto her back to see him perched, fully naked, in a chair near the bed. “Shawn…”
“No, go ahead. I can wait as long as it takes.” He replied, shaking his head. “You two do that thing you do and I’ll just hang here and watch.”
Gus sighed and gathered up the comics; “Shawn, you realize the whole reason we started doing individual date nights was so that we got a little time apart to be romantic when it wasn’t the three of us, right?”
Shawn raised an eyebrow, looking at him quizzically. “Your romantic time is reading? Come on…”
“Shawn. It’s our time. I made dinner, we’re engaging in a mutual interest that you don’t happen to share.”
Suddenly it dawned on him; “Oh! I get it… Gus, sorry man… I didn’t realize Smooth Gus was laying down some moves… good on you, buddy…”
“Wait, what did I just miss?”
“Nothing.” Gus answered her, opening his eyes wide at Shawn. “We were reading, Shawn.”
“Reading.” Shawn repeated, complete with air quotes. “Got it. I won’t get in between your pages, my friend… I’ll just liberate the keys to your apartment…”
“No, Shawn…” Juliet sighed, looking at them both. “You’re here already… you should stay.”
Gus sighed and then put away the comics, even as Shawn clambered back into her bed. “Yeah… may as well.”
“Don’t worry, Gus. Tomorrow after work we can go see that new show at the planetarium. I bet if we go early enough we can get the seats that vibrate when a comet passes,” Juliet offered.
“Yeah, Gus… you two can rock the planetarium…” And totally get him out of going for their next date night. “It’ll be fun!”
“You always give it up so easily for him.” Gus looked to Juliet and smiled, “All he has to do is take his clothes off, while I’m still running game over here…”
“Nobody said you had to.” Juliet grinned, laughing under her breath. “You know you had me at Aquaman and the promise of a bubble bath and jammies later on.”
“We can still totally do bubble baths and jammies.” Shawn cut in. “There is always time for jammies.”
Letting himself give in, Gus unbuttoned his shirt and then took it off, hanging it over the edge of the dresser. “Unlike certain people, I am a gentleman. I think the polite thing to do is wait until you’re invited to take your pants off… not just strip down and offer myself up like a piece of meat.”
“I’m okay with being a piece of meat,” Shawn grinned, fighting really hard not to make a bun joke. “As long as I’m your piece…” He turned his eyes toward Juliet, “And yours. Because really, what good is meat that isn’t shared?”
“Shawn, have you been drinking?” Juliet smirked, “Or are you just trying to make one of us find a way to shut you up?”
“Can it be a little of both?”
Juliet shook her head and looked back over to Gus as he folded his trousers on top of his shirt – keys, phone and wallet already in their spot beside them. “I don’t know, Gus, what do you think?”
Stripping off his undershirt, Gus let out a soft sigh. “I think it’ll just encourage him.”
“Oh come on! You know you love it when I get naked. It’s whimsical.”
“Shawn, what have I told you about using that word? Nothing about seeing you randomly walking around naked is whimsical; not here, not in the office, and definitely not on the boardwalk.” Gus sank back down into the bed with Juliet tucked between he and Shawn.
“Okay, I’ll give you the boardwalk – but that was a dare and dares are by their very nature things of whimsy.”
Juliet interrupted, quelling the argument. “I’m going to pretend that as a police officer I did not just hear you admit to indecent exposure and say that I’m willing to roll with the offer… but you know what I want.”
“Sexy fun time?” Shawn replied with a nearly innocent smile?
Gus shook his head and rolled his eyes; “Cuddles, Shawn. It’s cuddle o’clock.”
“And then sexy fun time?”
Juliet pouted. “I swear, Shawn. Is that all you ever think of?”
“No?” He replied innocently, nuzzling into her chest with a low purr. “I also think about… food and TV and movies and work…”
“We get it, Shawn… just lay off a little, okay? It’s inappropriate.” Gus muttered, shooting him a dirty look over Juliet’s shoulder. “Think about bath time.”
All three of them had known by the time she took the second test that it would be another plus sign. Juliet wasn’t just late… she’d skipped completely and couldn’t eat much of anything without feeling sick to her stomach. The next Friday, they all sat anxiously in the waiting room at her gynecologists’ office – pretty much the last place any of them had expected to hang out together.
“The vagina is a crazy wonderland, Gus…” Shawn knelt beside a detailed replica of the female reproductive system, complete with removable parts. Gus was watching him poke at the model while Juliet stared at her phone and pretended to be checking her email. “I mean, really… a purple thing? We don’t have a purple thing…”
“That’s the uterus, Shawn. That’s where the baby gestates.” Gus shook his head, unsurprised when the bulbous purple mass popped out, taking the whole system down with it.
“Oh God… I don’t think it’s supposed to do that.”
“Guys, please stop.” Juliet sighed, looking up at Shawn. “And please don’t talk about the vagina… ever.”
“I understand, Jules.” Gus put his hand gently on her wrist, letting his fingers rest against the side of her hand. “You’ll have to forgive Shawn; he slept through the week of Sex Ed back in the eighth grade.”
“I know how it works, Gus…” Shawn sighed, picking up the pieces and attempting in vain to reassemble them. “And I didn’t sleep the whole week; I vividly remember demonstrating how to put a condom on a banana.”
“Nobody asked you to demonstrate.”
Shawn shrugged, “What can I say; I was precocious and had an affinity for safe fruit.”
“I’m pretty sure that’s not how your Dad felt when the instructor called and complimented your advanced knowledge.” Gus rolled his eyes, realizing Juliet wasn’t even paying attention to them.
“I watched a lot of training videos in my youth, Gus.”
“Only because the only adult material you had access to was creepy seventies porn.”
“Funny, you never seemed to mind…” He continued to fumble with the model only to send an ovary rolling under the waiting room chairs.
“Guys!” Juliet groaned loudly, “Shawn… just leave the vagina alone, okay?”
“Let me fix it.” Gus squeezed her hand once more before slipping off the chair to retrieve the wayward ovary and bring it back to where Shawn had managed to remove every single piece.
“This puzzle sucks. There’s not even a guideline or anything… is there a box we can look at?”
“It’s just the female anatomy, Shawn…” Gus proceeded to quickly assemble the pieces, finally snapping the uterus into place. “You don’t have to go reenacting that scene in that movie…”
“Bravo.” A slow clap came from the door that had apparently opened at some point in the course of their bickering over the precise placement of the right fallopian tube. “Most guys just leave it on the table and wait for my assistant to put it back together.”
“Dr. Levin! Thanks for seeing me on such short notice.” Juliet smiled, rising up out of her seat to greet him.
The older, white haired man rubbed his short beard and then gave her a friendly hug. “I got your message and had the girls clear a space, you know I’ve always got time for Santa Barbra’s finest.”
“Do you; uh… hug all of your patients, Doctor?” Shawn stood up with a suspicious eye on his light blue scrubs and open white lab coat.
Juliet rolled her eyes, “Doctor Levin has been my gynecologist since I moved here, I’m sure you have a close relationship with your doctor.” Knowing Shawn it was still the pediatrician he’s been seeing since birth.
“I haven’t seen a doctor outside of the hospital in fifteen years, and I’m as healthy as a horse…”
“Having a close relationship with your doctor is perfectly healthy,” Gus stepped in, slipping Dr. Levin his business card. “Burton Guster, Central Coast Pharmaceuticals – not here on business…” he raised a flirty eyebrow, “today.”
“I’m Shawn Spencer, psychic – technically for hire.” Shawn extended his hand for a rather cold and clammy handshake. “I can tell you just got out of surgery…”
“Hardly psychic, I am an OBGYN. I delivered triplets this morning.” He smirked, shaking Gus’ hand before hitting the Purell dispenser and letting them back into the examination area.
Shawn rolled his eyes and took Juliet’s hand, Gus walking behind both of them with a somewhat critical eye as he looked around the facility.
“So, Miss O’Hara – seems like you’ve had a pretty interesting couple of weeks.” The doctor snatched her file out of a rack hanging from the door of the exam room, “What’s going on?”
“Well, I skipped my period last month and then when I was late I took the first test and came up positive and then positive again a few days ago.” Juliet perched on the end of the exam table, handing her purse to Shawn who took to standing by the door while Gus sat in the chair beside her.
The doctor nodded, “I reviewed your urinalysis this morning and it does confirm that you are pregnant.”
Juliet sighed and nodded. “I’m still considering my options,” she said quietly, looking down at her hands. “I don’t really know what to do from here.”
Gus’ hand reached out and slipped inside hers, squeezing gently once more. He looked up at Shawn and raised his eyebrows, nodding to the other side – finally smiling when Shawn stepped around the doctor and took her other hand awkwardly.
“Well, normally I’d suggest following standard procedure and then going from there.” The doctor stood up and retrieved a pair of clipboards – one pink, one blue – and handed Juliet the pink one. “The first thing I need is a full medical and social history. I know we already have some of this, but a lot of it will be new. Family history, hereditary disorders and the like. There are also consent forms for HIV testing…”
“HIV? Nobody’s got HIV in this room…” Gus stepped in, only to be immediately cut off.
“As well as all the other standard forms. I need you to fill out this one, and the father to do one as well.” He looked at Shawn, and then Gus, “I don’t suppose one of you two is the father?”
“We both are,” Shawn answered.
The older man regarded them with a look Shawn had come to quickly identify as akin to his father’s ‘no, really’ expression. And then Juliet answered, “It’s a complicated relationship. I’ve been taking the pill religiously and there’s really no way to know who it didn’t work for.”
“No problem, I’ll just need both of you sign a consent form and we can do a quick blood draw. Thankfully, you are an ideal candidate for amniocentesis.” The doctor nodded, standing up to retrieve a pair of consent forms.
“No.” Juliet shook her head, licking her lips. “I don’t want to know.”
“We’ll still have to establish it for our records…” Dr. Levin started, only to be cut off again.
“No, you don’t. You can take both of their case histories and work under the assumption that any genetic disorders present in either of them could be a possibility.” She looked him square in the face, fully in control of the situation. “I won’t consent to it.”
“You heard the woman, Doc. And you know how she is… if she says ‘no’, she means it…” Shawn shook his head, accepting the first blue clipboard with a smile.
“She does have the right to refuse, and I’m sure knowing that it could only be one of the two of us makes it easier than if she didn’t know at all,” Gus added.
Somewhat reluctantly, the doctor retrieved another set of forms on a blue clipboard and handed it to Gus. “Okay, I’m going to go check on the ultrasound technicians and see if they’re ready for you. Go on ahead and work on filling those out and I’ll be back to check on you on a few minutes.”
“Way to go, Jules…” Shawn grinned once the door closed with a loud click and they were alone in the room. “Nobody ever needs to know… not even us.”
Gus snorted. “Shawn, as soon as that baby’s born, we’re gonna know.”
“Well yeah, I mean… if he or she ends up with great hair then it’s all me – and if they grow up to have great diction and a tendency to obsessively document things we’ll know it was your little swimmers.”
“Shawn, that’s not how it works.” Juliet chided, already working through the second page of her case history. “We’ll know as soon as the baby is born.”
Shawn shrugged, “Not necessarily, I’ll have it be known that I was born without a wisp of this perfect hair. Bald as my father…”
Gus looked up and blinked several times. “Okay, Shawn… I don’t take pleasure in this… okay, I kind of do… but…” He licked his lips and asked, in all seriousness, “Are you really that stupid?”
“I’m wounded, Gus…”
“Think about it, Shawn. If you and I had a baby, what would it look like?” Juliet stepped in.
Shawn considered it for a moment, imagining something similar to the face morphing technology he’d seen once on a late night talk show.
“It’d be white, Shawn.” Gus answered.
Suddenly it dawned on him… he actually, honestly, hadn’t even considered the difference. “Well, I mean… of course if it was Gus they’ll have… delicious caramel colored goodness.”
“Guys, it doesn’t matter.” Juliet set the pen down and rubbed her eyes. “If… and that’s a big IF because I haven’t even made the decision yet… but if we decided to go through with this it’s not gonna matter. We’re in this together, right?”
“Of course.” Shawn’s free hand brushed over her shoulder as he continued on the front of the first page. “You know I’m good for whatever you want to do.”
Gus swallowed hard. “When you say you haven’t decided yet… what do you mean?”
“I have a lot of thinking to do about this whole thing, Gus… I mean, are we really ready for a baby? It’s awfully soon and… well… I don’t know…” Juliet shook her head. “I need to think about it some more.”
“I get that, and I’m here for you if you need someone to talk to… but you aren’t seriously considering…”
Shawn stepped in; “Don’t say it, man. You know it won’t go well.”
“No, go ahead, Gus… I’m listening…”
“You know how I feel about… life…” He shifted forward in his seat, looking up at her.
“Gus, not your body.” Shawn whispered loudly through gritted teeth.
“Not yours either, Shawn.” He shot back.
“Boys…” Juliet sighed, “Gus, I will take your feelings into consideration.” She gently stroked over the top of his head before picking up her pen again. “Let’s just get through this and then we can go get lunch at the taco stand, okay?”
“Ooh, tacos!” Shawn smiled, “its guacamole Friday.”
Everything had mostly gone back to normal, Juliet was working a thankfully lighter load than usual and Gus and Shawn did their best to just keep things as relaxed as they could. More than anything, they waited for Juliet to tell them what they were going to do about the increasingly pressing situation. Almost two weeks after the appointment with Dr. Levin, she’d ended up sitting in the car with Carlton all night on stakeout. The boys were upset that she’d agreed to go, but she’d taken great care to make sure they didn’t follow her after the last several debacles they’d caused trailing them on a case they weren’t on.
By ten o’clock, everything had more or less settled down. The cruiser was parked in an obscured lot beside a Circle K and Carlton was working on his third refill of the night. “You’ve been drinking water all night; want me to get us both some coffee?” Lassiter asked quietly, looking her over.
Juliet shook her head, finishing her bottled water. “No… I’m, I’m trying to quit.” She smiled weakly, “Maybe some decaf?”
“Right… you know drinking decaf you may as well be drinking water?”
“Ugh, I know… maybe juice? Juice is good.” She added; “Orange juice. Please.”
“Nobody drinks orange juice on a stakeout,” he replied. “You can go back on your whole ‘I’m better than you because I’m giving something up’ kick after we nail this bastard. I need you awake and alert – that means coffee.”
“No, Carlton. No caffeine.” She sighed and took his mostly empty travel mug. “I’ll go; I need to use the restroom anyway.”
“You went sixty-three minutes ago. There’s no way you need to go again. I’ll know if you bring me decaf.”
“Why would I do that?” She looked at him and sighed, “You really think I’d do something as petty as give you the wrong coffee simply because I’m annoyed that you’re insisting I need caffeine?”
“Well…. I do now.” He raised an eyebrow, “I’ll go; I’ll get you your damn juice.”
She unbuckled her seatbelt and already had the car door open. “No, I mean it. I really need to pee.”
He sighed. “Fine. Get me some nachos and… uh… maybe a couple of jerky sticks – not Slim Jims.”
“No Slim-Jims. Got it.” She sighed and made her way back to the convenience store. It wasn’t her fault, without fail her bladder had taken on a mind of its own. Not that Carlton knew that, of course. She hadn’t really found a way to tell him and given that she hadn’t even decided if they were keeping the baby yet even mentioning it would likely be difficult at best.
Carlton popped her door open when he saw her make her way across the parking lot again fifteen minutes later with plastic bag of treats, the big tray of nachos, and his freshly filled travel mug. “Looks like we’re in for a long night.”
“Still nothing, huh?” Juliet slid into the seat with a slight groan, kicking off her shoes.
“You received a text message with a photo of two grown men in a big teacup.”
She’d suggested they head out to the pier for some new attractions that were being opened that weekend. Apparently they’d taken her suggestion to heart. She opened up the message and sure enough, a photograph of Shawn & Gus riding the teacups with ‘love you and miss you – Gus totally hurled on the crazy dance’ had been followed up with another from Gus’ number of Shawn eating a giant cone of cotton candy that said; ‘guess who really threw up’. “They’re not used to me being away all night without following along.”
Lassiter made a somewhat disgusted but mostly non-committal sound in the back of his throat. “Yeah… I guess I’m obligated to ask how your weird little… thing… is going.”
Juliet smiled and sipped at her juice, swiping a chip from his fakey nachos before handing them over. “It’s… complicated, but good.”
Carlton nodded. “Are you hungry? There’s still pizza left – you barely ate your half.”
“Ugh, no.” The thought of cold pizza made her stomach lurch almost as bad as the smell of hot canned cheese. “I’m fine. I had a big lunch.”
A drawn out silence passed between them as she quietly sipped her juice and then nibbled another nearly-stale tortilla chip as Carlton tore through the nachos before they could congeal. Eventually, Carlton asked; “Yeah… I may have seen you throw up most of your lunch this afternoon.”
She frowned, “It happens, my stomach has been really tricky lately.”
“Of course not, I’m perfectly fit and healthy for duty. Just… don’t worry about it. It’s under control,” she cautioned, digging her bare foot against the floorboard. She was starting to get the impression she should tell him, she knew he wasn’t an idiot, but when it came to women’s problems he was even less intuitive than Shawn.
Lassiter nodded, sipping his coffee as he finished the last of the gooey chips on the paper tray before depositing it in the plastic sack with the rest of their garbage. “How’s the heartburn?”
“Good, actually, not bad at all – haven’t had a flare up since yesterday.” She realized midsentence that she hadn’t told him she was having heartburn issues. “I’ve been taking the Tums with calcium.” She really hoped he’d simply seen the big bottle of them on her desk and put it together.
“Mmmhmm. And, uh… the…” He licked his lips and talked into his travel mug; “…the tenderness in your, um… breasts?”
“Carlton, if you’re trying to say something, you should just say it,” she shot back, realizing he’d pegged it right on the money. Figures he’d put it together eventually… though she’d really thought he would take longer to get it.
He shrugged; “Simple question. Feel free to answer if you like.”
“My breasts are fine, thank you for asking… I think.” She sipped her juice and looked out the window. “What tipped you off?”
“You never throw up and didn’t exhibit any other flu-like symptoms. Two weeks ago you brought in a bottle of Tums that quite frankly puts mine to shame and have been popping them like tic tacks when we’re in the station.” He continued to list off the symptoms. “You’ve been drinking milk with your lunches. You take your shoes off every time you sit down. Just now you told me you’re quitting caffeine and I’m pretty sure you fell asleep at your desk yesterday.”
“I wasn’t sleeping! I was just… resting…”
“When were you planning on telling me, O’Hara?”
She sighed loudly. “I don’t know, I don’t even know what we’re going to do about it.” She replied, staring back out the window. I just found out for sure two weeks ago.”
“How far along?”
“Doctor thinks probably soon before I missed the first time… so… eight or nine weeks? We’ll have a better idea after the next ultrasound at the end of the month.” She looked back at him to see him staring blankly at the hotel they were watching. “Guess I’ve got to figure it out pretty soon.”
He nodded and licked his lips, turning over a large jerky stick in his hands. “You should be careful; I mean… if you do. This can be a pretty stressful job for someone who is… delicate.”
“Carlton, have you ever known me to be delicate?”
He shrugged; “I’m just saying that if you want to go through with this you should probably put in for light duty and look at leave in a few months… you don’t want to figure things out and then get kicked in the shins.”
“I’ll go light duty when I’m ready. Right now it’s not an issue.”
He closed his eyes and stated simply; “The chances of spontaneous termination are increased by age, stress, caffeine, and alcohol. Given that you’re over the age of thirty, you’ve already got one strike against you.”
Juliet blinked several times, taking a few more sips of her juice before feeling the familiar clutch of heartburn. “That’s… really strange that you know that.”
After another long pause, a light turned off in the hotel and Carlton made note of the time and circumstances. “Shortly after Victoria and I got married, there was… an incident. We didn’t mean for it to happen, but she wanted to go through with it.” He cleared his throat, forcing back an obviously difficult thought for him, “I didn’t think we were ready yet, we were young and I was still patrol… hadn’t even taken the sergeants exam yet. I wanted to wait until we were more comfortable and we fought about it… a lot.”
“Oh no… Carlton… I didn’t…”
“Nobody knows, all right? It doesn’t matter now, anyway. Right about three months in, she came to bed crying and we just knew… it wasn’t meant to be.”
Juliet swallowed hard, blinking back the sting of tears. “It… Carlton, it wasn’t your fault.”
“It doesn’t matter if it was, it was – that was a long time ago.” He perked up a little, shaking his head. “But if you’re serious about this, don’t wait too long, okay?”
She nodded, wiping her eyes. “You…” she let out a soft sigh, “what do you think I should do?” Not that she needed his validation, it was an honest question… and one she hadn’t even asked the boys.
“O’Hara… you’re my partner. I can’t stand Spencer, and I tolerate Guster because he treats you respectfully and doesn’t annoy me on a daily basis. I’m probably the last person you want to ask that question.”
“I mean it, Carlton… as my friend, do you think I’d be a good mother?”
“You’re intelligent, insightful, emotionally stable, and an excellent shot. Of course you’d be a great mother.” He made brief eye contact and smiled slightly before looking back down at his notes. “I think any man, even one of those clowns, would be lucky to have you as the mother of their child.”
Juliet sniffed and forced herself not to cry… mostly successfully. “I don’t know… I’m just… things are so unstable right now. And everything’s good with the boys but we’re not even living together and we talked about getting a house but with a baby coming that means we’ve pretty much got to step that up too… and Gus is just so nervous about everything… and Shawn… God…”
He froze when he heard her let out an audible sob; “Look, between you and me… and by that I mean it never leaves this car and you never even think of it again… Spencer’s not that bad. I mean, you could do a lot worse.” She sobbed again and he added; “Guster’s practically a woman so it’d be like having a second mother.”
“I’m being serious here!” She sighed, once more swabbing the cuff of her sleeve against her eyes – smudging her makeup. “There’s no way we’re ready to have a baby.”
Carlton drummed his fingers against the steering wheel; there really wasn’t much someone could say to that sort of outburst, really. “What exactly makes you ready for that sort of thing? I mean, when the chief had her baby she was a lot older than you are now and she still wasn’t ready. You’ve got two fathers… and… and me here to help you out. How much more ready do you want to be?”
The mere thought that he was putting himself out there hit her hard… he was really taking it seriously, and probably freaking out a little bit on the inside. “I don’t know, I just kind of figured I’d have everything figured out by this point. You know, married, have a house, a new car…”
“You’re not Barbie.” Carlton shrugged, “If it means that much to you, marry whichever one is responsible and take out a mortgage – there’s several nice, secure places not far from the station in really good neighborhoods that are cop friendly.”
She’d considered marriage, but only briefly. The thought of getting married was about the furthest thing from her mind… even further than actually going through with her own personal after school special. “They’re both the father, Carlton… if we’re doing it at all, we’re doing it together.”
“Yeah. Right.” He sighed, finally ripping open the jerky package and offering it to her. “Jerky?”
Juliet shook her head, pushing it away. “No, I’m fine.”
Another awkward pause passed between them and Lassiter asked; “Who else knows?”
“Just us and the guys, of course, and my doctor.”
He chewed on the strip of nearly flavorless meat, eyes once more fixed on the hotel where the suspect was staying. “For what it’s worth, if I was in their place I’d want you to go for it.”
“We should be with her.” Shawn frowned, gripping tightly to the rollercoaster’s safety bar. “I don’t like her being out there alone all night.”
Gus rolled his eyes; “She’s not alone, Shawn. She’s with Detective Lassiter. And, she’s a well-trained police officer. She’s probably the safest pregnant woman alive.”
Shawn let out an audible groan at the word ‘pregnant’; “Okay, let’s just focus on the rides and not think about that.”
“You do realize we’re gonna have to deal with this, right?” Gus sighed, watching the carnies loading on the remaining passengers onto the coaster – it was a slow night, but they always let the ride go a few extra times around the track when it was quiet at the pier. “She’s not gonna get any less pregnant, Shawn.”
“I know… I know… you just say it like’s it’s no big deal… I mean… it’s a baby, Gus. Baby. You, me, Juliet… baby.”
Gus’ eyes went wide as he forced himself to settle into the thought, not even blinking as the rollercoaster started the ascent up the high ramp that always made him nervous. “Yeah, it’s a big deal… I got that.” He sighed; “What are we gonna do about it?”
“We can’t do anything about it, that’s the problem.” Shawn shrugged, scooting as close to Gus as he could in the small front car. “It’s her decision, I guess we just sort of roll with whatever she wants to do.”
“What if she doesn’t want to do it, Shawn?” He looked over at him with sad eyes, “I can’t deal with that…”
Shawn paused, considering it for a long moment before asking; “What if she does?” And then with the loud roar of the track rumbling underneath him, the roller coaster began its downward zoom – neither of them sure if the sinking sensation was the ride or the thought twisting their stomachs.
Gus went silent for a second, one hand sliding across the cold metal bar until it clasped tightly over Shawn’s clenched knuckles. A scream rose in his throat halfway through the circuit and he squeezed his eyes shut; letting it soothe him as he let loose in the way that one only really can while screaming bloody murder on a rollercoaster.
When the coaster pulled into the station and locked down at full stop, Shawn gave Gus a long moment to come back down before they were ushered off and stumbled toward the concessions. “This is crazy.” Gus shouted, his ears not yet adjusted to being off the fast ride.
“I know, but we’ll be fine.” Shawn replied loudly, holding onto the sleeve of Gus’ shirt as he led the way toward something to drink and probably some snacks.
Raising an eyebrow, Gus leaned slightly against him and asked; “Are we talking about the rollercoasters or Jules?”
“Does it make a difference?” Shawn shrugged and leaned back – guiding Gus onto a picnic table; “You want a soda?”
Gus nodded and leaned back against the table, closing his eyes as Shawn left him to relax and gather his thoughts. After a long moment, he felt the cold plastic cup being pressed into his hand and said; “You’re being really weird about this whole thing, Shawn… usually you’re the first person that wants to talk about things that give me a headache.”
Shawn sat down beside him and laughed uncomfortably, focusing on digging into a large cone of wispy pink cotton candy. “Guess it’s like you said, one of us knocked her up and she’s not gonna get less pregnant. We can’t do anything about it without her figuring out if we’re going all the way.”
Letting out a soft whine, Gus slowly opened his eyes and sipped the cold drink. After a long, awkward silence, he plucked a large chunk of pink floss off the cone and asked; “What do you want her to do?”
That was the question of the moment, did it really matter? “I don’t know.” He replied quietly, stealing a sip of Gus’ Diet Coke. “I guess whatever happens I’m gonna roll with it.”
Gus scoffed; “You would.”
“What, you’re gonna bolt if she decides she’s not ready?”
He sighed loudly, pushing up on his feet. “Come on, let’s hit the Crazy Dance.”
“Answer my question, Gus.” Shawn didn’t move, his voice unexpectedly serious despite coming from behind a mostly decimated cone of cotton candy. “Would you really back out on us now?”
“Don’t say it like that, Shawn.”
“How else would I say it? You’re seriously considering walking away if she doesn’t want to go through with this?” Shawn’s eyes narrowed to disbelieving slits; “Man, I thought I knew you…”
“I never said that, you’re putting words in my mouth.” He sighed loudly and sat back down; “I don’t know what I’d do, okay? I mean… we’re not ready for any of this – but I know that maybe it was meant to be this way. The chances of this happening at all were pretty slim; I don’t think it’d make sense not to keep on with it. God doesn’t make mistakes, Shawn.”
Shawn nodded to himself, considering his response. “Are you really ready to be a dad?” Shawn’s voice rattled with his own obvious uncertain answer to that question; “Are we ready?”
“Have we been ready for anything that’s happened to us, ever? You can’t be ready for it – you just do it.”
Satisfied with the answer, Shawn stood up and reached out to help Gus back onto his feet. “Come on, bet you hurl like those kids on Problem Child 2.”
Juliet went to the second ultrasound alone; things had begun to become disconnected with the boys as she tried to make a concrete decision one way or the other. The measurements put her at just over ten weeks as expected and so far everything had looked good. Determined to stay in the field a little longer, she held off on getting the ball rolling on a light duty permission form.
She’d agreed to meet the boys for lunch after it was over and waited, as usual, at an outdoor table – most of her focus taken by a grainy ultrasound image the technician had printed off and told her to keep as the first ‘photo’ of their baby. Shawn arrived alone over a half hour late.
“You could have called.” Juliet sighed, shifting in her seat as Shawn kissed her quickly.
“I know, I know… I just got to talking with Gus and we lost track of time.” He smiled, somewhat hesitantly. “He’s got a meeting that came up – said to go ahead and do lunch without him.”
“Talking or something else?” She asked bluntly. “Because if you weren’t here because you two were too busy…”
“Talking, Jules. With the Chief – we just closed the Kochanskey case. Turns out you were dead on the money… oh, and the money was on the dead guy the whole time.”
“On the dead guy? Wouldn’t that have been noted in the report?”
“Not until Woody cut him open and found a rather interesting looking bag of diamonds in his large intestine. If he hadn’t been shot, it would have killed him within hours.” Shawn shrugged. “Anyway, how did it go at the doctor?”
She shrugged and sipped her water, watching an elderly couple walk past before answering; “Just over ten weeks.” She paused and then continued; “Everything looks good.” Juliet passed him the picture, smiling when he flipped it upside-down and furrowed his brow at it. “Turn it over.” She scooted her chair around beside him, leaning against him as she pointed out the limited identifiable features.
“Wow… kind of looks like a little alien.” Shawn laughed, “I mean… it’s definitely a boy though, right?”
Juliet smiled and let herself remain leaned up against him, enjoying the contact they’d had less and less of since they found out. “We won’t know that for a while yet.”
“Oh.” He nodded quietly, waving away the waitress subtly when he saw Juliet’s eyes close, her head nuzzled against his shoulder. “Doesn’t matter, I mean… if we decide to go through with it I’m cool with either.”
“Yeah?” She asked softly.
“Of course, yeah. If it’s a girl, Gus wants to name her Magnolia. I figure we can be normal and just call her Maggie…”
“Aww.” Jules rocked slightly. “You guys really want to do this, don’t you?”
“We both know I can’t tell you what to do, Jules. It’s your decision to make… there are options.”
“I know, but what do you think?” She asked quietly, rubbing her hand over his arm. “I don’t know what to do and it’s only gonna get harder the longer I go.”
Shawn considered his words carefully, and then gently closed his hand over hers. “I think we should talk about it.”
“We’re here, let’s talk.”
Forcing back the urge to agree with her and just get it over with, he squeezed her hand even tighter. “You know we can’t shaft Gus like that. He’s part of this too, isn’t he?”
“Of course he is… I just… I want to do it now. What if I don’t want to do it tonight?”
“We’ll do the same thing we always do when you don’t want to do something.” Shawn smirked and pressed a kiss against her forehead. “Gus and I have ways of getting you to crack… don’t think we won’t use them just because you’re carrying our love child.”
“Fine.” Juliet relented and pushed herself up into a more comfortable position on the metal chair. “In that case, you can buy me lunch.”
“Anything your heart desires, pickles and ice cream? Ranch Combos with sriracha? Taco Bell?”
“Ugh.” She wrinkled her nose, “You watch too much television. The only thing I’m craving is a big plate of real nachos like at that one place.” Which, of course, would have made her gag a week previous. “You know, with the real cheese and sour cream and beans and guacamole…”
“Say no more, my princess – I know exactly where to go.” Shawn grinned, offering her a help up as he stood – not entirely surprised when she refused the assistance.
“I’m not big as a house yet, Shawn, I can get out of a chair on my own.”
“Of course you can.” He nodded, “Can I drive?”
“On two conditions. Number one, you will not touch my radio. And number two, I will be in possession of your cell phone at all times.”
“Sure…” Shawn gave her a quizzical look, “What’re you gonna snoop in my text messages, because I swear I only send the really dirty ones to Gus.”
Juliet sighed and handed over her keys. “No, because you were seen texting and driving last week in the Blueberry and if I hear about you doing that again I’ll tell Gus.”
Shawn frowned briefly, he was most likely guilty of anything she said he’d been caught doing and there was that one time he was trying to text Gus that he’d borrowed the car while he was sort of kind of already driving it. “I promise.” He held up her keys, “On your Hello Kitty keychain, I do solemnly swear I will hand over my phone and all control of the in-car entertainment system.”
“Good enough.” Juliet smiled, settling into the low seat with a gentle groan. A comfortable silence fell between them and eventually Juliet said; “I want you to know that terminating the pregnancy is off the table as an option. I’m taking it all the way… one way or another.”
A soft smile tugged at the corners of his mouth, but he suppressed it – the last thing he really wanted to do was tell her what to do or even imply that he thought she was making the right choice. Not until she knew for sure what she wanted, at least. “Gus will really appreciate that.”
“It means you’re gonna have to deal with me being annoyed that I can’t work, fat, swollen, leaking, and disgusting for months.”
“I’ll make sure to pick up plastic sheets and remember to lift with my knees.” He replied easily, “And to tell you every day that you are not disgusting and are a beautiful, wonderful goddess among goddesses.”
“Too much?” He flashed an innocent smile.
“Laying it on a little thick, yeah.” Juliet nodded, “But I appreciate the thought.”
He shrugged as they pulled out onto the road. “I mean it, though. I’m jazzed about this… you’re gonna be a beautiful mom. You already are a beautiful mom.” He briefly looked at her, a slight blush across his ears telling her he wasn’t just trying to ease the discomfort. “You’re my hot milf or whatever the kids call it these days.”
It was another week before they all managed time alone together where they weren’t either exhausted or focusing more on making sure Juliet was doing alright. Over a Chinese takeout dinner, Juliet was digging on Lo Mein for the second day in a row but they didn’t mind, Juliet finally broke her near silence on the matter.
“Guys, I want to talk about it.” She said calmly, tucking her chopsticks into her nearly empty carton. “Now.”
Gus looked up from his chicken and broccoli with a mildly confused expression. “Right now? While we’re eating dinner?”
“Sure, babe… if you’re ready, we are.” Shawn nodded.
“Shawn, we’re eating, there’ll be time to talk about it later.” Gus looked at him critically and then back to Juliet, “We can wait as long as you need to.”
She groaned in annoyance. “Gus, listen. I want to do this right now.”
“Maybe I’m not ready to talk about it.” He replied quietly, stabbing a particularly large chunk of chicken with his chopsticks.
“You’re ready.” Shawn rolled his eyes offering him a bite of his orange chicken. “Here, try this...”
Without pause, Gus let Shawn feed him the bite. “It’s getting late…” He continued to protest.
“Gus.” Juliet raised both eyebrows to him and sighed. “I’m going to carry the baby to term.”
“Oh.” He relaxed slightly, swallowing the bite. “I thought that was orange chicken, Shawn… they used tangerines.” He looked back to Juliet, “So… what’s left to decide then? Why do we need to talk about it?”
“Cheap bastards.” Shawn shook his head, “Oh well…”
“I want to know what you guys think about whether we want to keep the baby or go the adoption route.”
Gus sat back and dug his chopsticks against an empty corner of his paper carton, staring down at the smears of brown sauce. “It’s not my place to say.”
She rolled her eyes again and let out a frustrated growl. “Guys, this is your baby too – like it or not I want your honest opinion and no matter what you say I really want to know what you think about it.”
Shawn was the first to offer a near answer. “Either way it’s kind of a big deal for me. I mean… my Dad doesn’t even really believe we’re all together and when he finds out you’re pregnant, no matter what I’m both on his bad side for knocking you up and potentially back on his Christmas card list for maybe giving him a grandchild.” He shook his head, forcing himself not to make a joke of the very serious topic; “I can’t imagine not going through with this or not being here for you and the baby.”
A slight smile crossed her lips. “Guess I didn’t really think about Henry… I mean, I’m sure he’ll notice as soon as I’m showing if we don’t tell him first.”
“Probably Lassiter too.” Gus added.
“I told him while we were on stakeout.”
Shawn’s eyes widened, “Wait, wait a second here… I thought we were on a strict hush-hush about this?”
“He’s my partner, Shawn. After you two, he’s the most important relationship in my life.” She defended, “And he called it after my eighth trip to the little girl’s room in eleven hours.”
“You do pee a lot.” Shawn replied, innocently enough.
“Mmm, you know that’s right.” Gus offered a fistbump only to have it denied.
“Dude, she’s pregnant. Pregnant ladies pee a lot and eat weird food and throw up. I know you’ve been watching Fifteen and Pregnant.”
“It doesn’t matter how much I pee, guys. Focus. Please.” She sighed again, taking another bite of noodles and bok choy. “Gus… what about you? Do you think we’re ready for this?”
“No.” He replied quickly, shaking his head. “I think it’s the dumbest thing we could possibly do and there’s no way that any of us is prepared to be a parent.”
“Gus…” Shawn shot him a dirty look, “What the hell, man?”
“But…” He continued loudly despite Shawn’s interruption. “…I think we should go through with it.” He focused his eyes on Juliet, forcing it out despite his apprehension about the topic. “There’s a lot of love here and we can learn as we go. I mean, we can’t be any worse than those Hollywood parents.”
“Yeah, that’s setting the bar high…” Shawn added sarcastically.
“All I’m saying is that I think we can do it. I think, Juliet, you’ll make a perfect mother and Shawn can be the fun Dad that makes sure I don’t end up out of my mind like his Dad and screw the kid up with too many rules.”
The guys waited quietly for Juliet’s response, watching as she stared down at her lingering noodles. After what seemed like ages, she quietly said; “I’m pretty sure I feel the same way.” The truth of the matter is, she’d figured as much when she met Shawn for lunch the week before and watching the way they behaved both together and separately with her only solidified the matter. If they could make her feel at ease with the whole situation, even when she’s wasn’t even sure what she wants, then maybe they could make a good team.
“Hey,” Shawn said quietly, reaching across the table and taking her empty hand. “I love you, Jules.”
“Me too.” Gus echoed, taking away her container and setting it down to grab her other hand. With a near-smile, he reached out to Shawn and took his hand also. “And you, Shawn. Even though you make me crazy.”
“Same.” Shawn smiled.
Juliet laughed and squeezed them both tightly. “I love you both. And… I think we’re gonna be awesome parents.” Slowly, she lowered their hands to the table and then let go; “But if you’ll excuse me… I need to pee…”
They watched her leave and picked back up their paper boxes, quietly scraping at the leftovers. Shawn finally broke the silence; “I can’t believe we’re going to be fathers.”
Gus chuckled in the back of his throat. “I can’t believe any of this is happening at all. We don’t know the first thing about having kids.”
“It can’t be that hard, I mean… our parents were pretty much clueless and we turned out okay.”
Gus forced back the urge to poke a hole in that already sieve-like argument. “You really can’t imagine not going through with this?”
Shawn shrugged; “I don’t know… I guess it just feels right. What you said about things happening for a reason made sense to me… I guess it’s just time.”
“I’m scared to death,” Gus admitted quietly, sure to drop his voice to a whisper. “You realize that nothing is ever going to be the same again, right?”
“It never is.”
“We can’t afford a baby, Shawn.”
“Sure we can, if we pool our resources… maybe rent a house together…”
“A baby and now a house too? Shawn, we can’t do this… this is too big…”
Shawn noticed the panic and offered him another bite of the cooling really-tangerine-and-not-orange chicken. “We can do this, buddy.” He leaned in close and pressed a kiss to his lips as he chewed. “The three of us can do anything.”