“He totally ditched us!”
“I believe he only ditched you, kid.”
Shawn spent a few more seconds mooning at the door while his father scooped dark grounds into the filter before hitting the switch to start a pot of brew. In moments, the bubble and pop began to generate the bitter sweet aroma of percolating coffee. Accepting, finally, that Gus wasn't going to return with an apology and a gift basket of mixed fruits, Shawn sighed and slumped his way to the table. Being trapped with his father, alone, always gave him a headache and he rubbed at he beginnings of pain pricks starting behind his eyes.
Thanking the invention of the minute cup, Shawn took the mug set before him and gulped a steamy mouthful before wincing at the burn sizzling over his tongue. Attempting conservative, he'd seen it in practice after all, he blew on the next sip before lapping at the dark liquid.
“Since when do you enter pie baking contests?”
Stirring cream into his own cup, his father sat down across from him before taking a sip that didn't scald the top layer of skin from his taste buds. “Since the prize is five grand.”
Shawn tipped his head. Fair enough. He rubbed his eyes before dropping his head to the tabletop. He should have followed Gus out the door rather than linger behind to get the full benefit of his pout. The headache was just getting worse and he felt the pie induced tickle returning to his throat too. His dad really was trying to poison him – he was sure of it now. This was retribution for Shawn gluing all the drawers shut on his desk last week.
“You couldn't go for something traditional like coconut cream or marionberry?” His voice muffled against the table and created a warm haze around his face.
“Kid, everybody entering this thing is going to be baking cherry and blueberry pies. I need something that will stand out.”
Shawn snorted. “Well trust me, it stands out. It stands out like a hooker in church.” The snort did nothing for the pain that had moved to rest behind his eyes and he spared one hand to rub at his temples.
His tongue traveled across his teeth, loosening small remnants of pie filling and crust along the way. After dinner mint it wasn't but waste not want not and in spite of the flavor oh so bizarre it was kinda growing on him. Maybe if he jazzed it up with Cool Whip or some rocky road ice cream. A lot of rocky road ice cream. And some fresh fruit. Of course, dad owed them a cut if he won since he'd made them unwitting participants in his little Pepsi challenge. Granted, that suggested there was more than one flavor to sample. Never mind, the point was, Gus didn't deserve a share of the cut after all considering he'd only taken, like, two bites. And plus he'd been Donny Ditcher.
His head wobbled when he lifted it again and he propped a hand against his forehead to prevent it crashing down. So maybe Gus had a point about the all nighter John Cusack movie marathon. Even though he'd actually kept his promise to exclude the Journey of Natty Gann to avoid the waterfall of Gus tears. Well and he always hated it when the wolf ditched everybody to go live the high life with its backwoods brethren. But he certainly didn't cry. He didn't even mist up. Not even a little.
And didn't dad ask him something a few minutes ago? Oh yeah. Now he remembered. “Huh?”
The eye roll was so undeserved. “I asked if you were okay.”
He sniffed. Coughed. And grimaced at the icky contamination usurping his taste buds. “I feel great. Spectacular. Slightly nauseous from Death by Duran Duran pie but otherwise peachy as a well ripened halogen tomato.”
“I think you mean harlequin tomato. And you sure as hell don't look fine unless you've started wearing rouge.” Grabby fingers pushed against his cheek before he could dodge – the chilly digits moving up to the smooth skin above his eyebrows. Shawn batted at them before sinking back to his arms.
“I don't have a fever I feel fine I'm going home.” He was quite proud to manage three lies in under two seconds. Now dad would insist he stay and offer up bowls of homemade chicken noodle soup and fluffy heated blankets and Shawn would wobble weakly as he stood, protesting the overprotectiveness while he allowed himself to be led to the couch for a night of poppa pampering.
“You're a little warm but I highly doubt you're dying. I wish you'd told me you were sick before you started touching everything.” The choking cloud of Lysol wrapped around his shoulders in a chilly mist as his father began wiping down all the surfaces in the kitchen. “Do me a favor, kid, and try not to cough on anything else on your way out. I'd rather not serve the judges Rhinovirus cream pie.”
Shawn twisted his lip in disgust. “Gross visual there dad. Thank you for that.” Literally, figuratively, and cruelly ignored, he made sure to cough wetly and heavily on everything within hacking reach on his way out. The heavy sigh behind him wasn't as satisfying as an angry explosion of cussing but irregardless, the old man should have known better. How long had the man been his father? No excuses unless he'd finally slipped into senility. Which, given that pie...
The journey back to his apartment was a haze of buzzy numb autopilot. It was still warm enough out that he didn't miss his jacket as he bypassed the freeway for the less crowded ocean view drive.
No sign of Juliet's car when he parked but he vaguely remembered her saying something about reports or... something. Eh, he'd call her after his shower and pester her until she came home. Maybe she'd even tell him what she was working on. Maybe he'd have an itty bitty psychic vision to help her out. Maybe she'd be so grateful she'd want to pay him back...
The shower was everything he could have hoped it would be. Steamy, hot, wet. All those other adjectives that described steamy, hot, and wet. He stayed under the spray until it began to turn misty, cold, and... wet. He was also glad to have invested in the super large, super fluffy bath towels as he wrapped one twice around his body after stepping from the cubicle. The one he wrapped around his hair was more of a challenge – tipping back and forth in a massive beehive of white terry as he slapped damp toes towards the bedroom.
Employing the hair dryer for maximum dryness, certainly not because the soft warm airflow felt really nice as it traveled over his chilled limbs, Shawn dressed in his sweats and a T shirt before bothering to look for his phone.
After finding it wedged down between the bed mattress and frame, he dialed Jules while crawling into the curled nest of blankets. Early for him to go to bed, he decided he could live with that in favor of continuing the comfort theme for the evening. Besides he was damn tired and his bed was so so bouncy.
After the third ring and before he ended the call, Shawn discovered his “comfort theme” would be both one-sided and completely unfulfilling. Which, a year ago, would have been the norm. He'd have whined to both Gus and his father, sure, something he fully intended to cash in on in any event – deserters. However, that was before he'd welcomed... okay, beseeched, pleaded, cajoled, begged like a lovestruck third grader to his hot new teacher to just notice him for God's sake and the shiny red apple he'd placed on her desk! Juliet had drawn out her deliberations over his extended wooing, both of them taking breaks from the courting game to catch some sideline action, the game further delayed by that unfortunate halftime incident involving a dangling chair and a giant-ass countdown timer... and the fact that Shawn had been seeing someone else at the time... Whatever, the point was, he liked it when Juliet was in his bed every morning. He liked it when he fell asleep with her arm draped over his waist. He really liked it when she suggested they could be a little late to work when the alarm went off. Okay, so he was the one that usually... always... suggested that but the point, again, was that... he wanted Jules to make it better and she was stiffing him!
And his whole thought process on the matter had contained more innuendo and double... possibly triple entendres than he had the strength to dwell over with a tired and slightly dirty smirk.
Well he knew of at least one other person who'd feel sorry for him and kiss his boo-boo! Where was his phone? There, under the pillow. Dude, it had been out of his hands for like, two seconds... whatever.
Nice, picking up after the first ring...
“Goose! I wasn't expecting you...”
Wow, was that a bag of manure that had just been dumped over his head?
“Oh, honey, I didn't mean it like that! I love hearing from you! I was just waiting for a call from someone and it's kind of important...”
“Oh. Well this... isn't. Anyway I... I'll just call you back another time.”
“Ok, sweetie. Say hello to Juliet for me, okay?”
“Bye, Mom. I lo...” The call disconnected. Shawn coughed into his fist and dropped the phone to the quilt. Then he grabbed it again and set it on the table beside the bed.
And now he was thirsty.
Why did the kitchen have to be so far away? Arms and legs splayed on his mattress, Shawn wriggled as the comforter knotted under the small of his back. So maybe Jules had a point about making the bed. He was too hot to move. And not in the “I'm too sexy for this shirt” sorta way either. Okay, possibly he was both though the sweat currently deactivating his hair gel might also be crimping the sexy factor a tad. How was it that women swooned over a perspiration bespeckled, half naked Daniel Craig but the minute any non Grecian god, him, got a little spotty in the pits it was all nose wrinkles and “ew, Shawn, you need a shower”?
Oh, but a shower would feel so good... A cold shower. A freezing shower where he could see his breath.
Maybe it was time to try Jules again. Although if he pestered her too much she'd get pissed and he'd be sleeping alone for more than just one night. Now who could he piss off as much as he wanted and it wouldn't injure their relationship one bit? In fact, it would only help their relationship?
Thumbs scrolled and dialed.
“Spencer, what the... dear God, you sound like you swallowed a porcupine.”
“Not this time, but I've been known to swallow swords as part of my community outreach.”
“How about you swallow a...” The rest of the comment was lost in the sound of a muffled smack. Ah, Lassie, sitting too close to Jules and her being all protective too. Clearly this phone call was Shawn's best idea so far that evening.
“What do you want, Spencer?”
Oh the can of gummi worms that had just been opened with that inquiry! What would anyone want in this situation? Bored passing of time? Certainly – though phone sex would have to wait till Jules was feeling chatty again. Although...
“What are you wearing, detective?”
He was pretty sure that was gagging on the other end, and then the sound of muffled shuffling.
“Shawn, leave Carlton alone.”
Shawn grinned. “Jules!”
“Seriously, Shawn, what do you need?”
He pushed up to the headboard and licked his lips before raising an eyebrow.
“What are you wearing, detective?”
The snort was a somewhat positive response. Juliet's voice was sultry when she replied.
“A gray, poly cotton blend pantsuit with a white silk blouse, buttoned up to the neck.”
Shawn settled against his pillow pile. “Ooo... naughty! Well I'm currently sporting a T shirt with a small tear on the hem and a pair of citron blue boxers that are sculpted to my masculine form.”
“You realize that citron is a shade of green?”
“Stay with the fantasy, Jules.”
“Right, sorry...” He could hear tapping as she continued working on her report. She was humoring him, knowing he'd just keep pestering if she tried to blow him off for the second time.
And there went his mind to dirty places again.
Granted, their conversation sorta made that okay, though...
He'd meant to move them on to undergarments. Her undergarments specifically while really hoping the word “commando” would crop up in the conversation, but a sudden attack of coughing got in the way.
He whooped out the last grating hack, cleared his throat, and manned up.
“I feel icky.” He pouted even though she couldn't see him. It helped.
“Aw... how about a scalp massage whenever I can get away?” He didn't expect her to sound amused, though her offer made up for what could have been perceived as uncaring. But Jules was never... rarely... maybe only sometimes uncaring. But only if she was super busier than she was at the moment. Which was busy enough by half since it was keeping her from his overheated side.
“Ummmph... that would be awesome.” And he wanted it right now cause just the suggestion made him feel all melty and tingly.
They managed another three minutes of gumdrops and Sweet Tarts before the Grinch stole all their candy and reminded Jules that she was on the city's payroll. That left exactly nobody to talk to.
Well, not nobody. He had lots of people saved to his phone. For example, he could always call Gina Raypack. She would probably listen if he promised to have her babies.
His pillow felt clammy under his head. It sucked. It sucked a lot and he wrestled it from beneath him and pitched it to the foot of the bed before grabbing the Jules scented one instead.
The phone calls, even the ones under thirty seconds, had been the ass save he'd needed them to be. But the moment he'd had the conversation cut out from under him he'd been dropped right back in the Gobi desert of his own body. He should have grabbed a bottle of water before rolling into bed but that would have required planning ahead.
He hated planning ahead.