always two syllables in love
Everything about eighteen-year-old Shawn’s life sucks. His parents are divorced, his control freak father got the house, his mom had to move ridiculously far away and his best friend in the world is leaving for college.
As they walk home together on the last day of senior year, Shawn gripes, “I can’t believe you’re leaving me for something as lame as more school.” That’s a lie, of course, because Shawn saw this coming when they were nine.
“I’m not leaving for another two months.” Gus says for the fourth time that day. “We have all summer.”
“Whatever.” The reply is sullen. Gus rolls his eyes but can’t help the exasperated smile. He bumps his shoulder against Shawn’s as they walk.
“I’ll be home every holiday break and you know you’ll be visiting me on weekends, sometimes.” He frowns. “But not if I’m studying. Or when I get a girlfriend.”
“I don’t want things to change.” Shawn declares, mere seconds from a full blown sulk. Gus sighs and grabs Shawn’s elbow, turning him so that they’re facing each other.
“Stop acting like the world is coming to an end. Everything will be fine.”
Shawn takes a step closer, invading Gus’s personal space.
“There’s no way to know that.” He insists.
“You’re being ridiculous.”
Shawn reaches out, rests his hands on Gus’s waist. He tilts his head and leans in, eyes focused on his friend’s face. (Later he’ll think that he shouldn’t have hesitated right then.)
For a single breath he thinks Gus is going to close the space between them. Instead, his best friend stumbles backward, out of his reach.
“Sorry.” Shawn mumbles, eyes on the ground. He doesn’t need to hear the speech, really, he gets it and he can’t bring himself to look up again, doesn’t want to see the look on Gus’s face, so he just runs. Runs as fast as he can, pausing five blocks away to hop on his bike and doesn’t stop until four years and half the world has flashed by.
the intricate and erotic works of a watch
Shawn knows everything about Burton Gustor. In fact, if there was a degree program in Gusology, he’d have a doctorate or five by now.
Gus is as predictable as the setting sun. He is a creature of pattern and habit. Shawn loves and hates this personality trait. He loves it when it means Taco Tuesday or being corrected with actual facts or when Gus absolutely won’t let him get himself killed. He hates it when he gets a text like “player scored some digits” because he knows exactly what the next day will entail- it’s always the same.
Gus shows up to Psych in the late afternoon, freshly showered and smelling deliciously manly. He’s wearing his stupid date jeans- the ones that ride low on his hips and make his butt look amazing. Shawn doesn’t want to notice that fantastically sculpted ass. It makes it hard to keep his hands to himself.
As the rest of the afternoon passes, he has to see Gus check his perfect white teeth every fifteen minutes. Has to watch as he massages lavender oil on his scalp, making it gleam becomingly in the early evening sun. Can’t help but stare as he stands in front of the mirror, fiddling with his shirt, fastening and unfastening the top three buttons, offering tantalizing glimpses of his collar bone.
Shawn distracts himself with snarky insults and pop culture references.
Finally, the pre-date ritual comes to a close. Gus pauses by the door, turns to him (with only one button undone) and says, “How do I look?”
Shawn’s answers always depend on how much trouble he’s having not pinning his best friend to the nearest wall.
Then comes the hardest part.
Gus smiles at him. It’s happy and hopeful and it hurts every time.
It’s not the I might get laid tonight kind of hopeful either (Shawn could handle that). It’s the this might be the one I fall in love with type of hopeful.
Shawn calls a hollow, “you’re gonna rock her world, buddy!” and waits ten minutes before following at a discreet distance. He’ll never admit how many of those dates get neatly sabotaged before dessert.
but you constructed boxes where things hurry away from their names
Sometimes Shawn wonders what his life would be like if he didn’t have his “gift”. Most of the time, he thinks he’d be bored to death.
He’s lost count of how many childhood dreams he’s gotten to live out because he always knows how many hats are in the room.
Occasionally, on days he notices too much, he thinks he might be happier without it.
On those days, he wants to be as unobservant and ignorant as everyone else. He wants to believe that Gus is his absolutely straight, off limits best friend. This whole unrequited love thing would be so much easier if it were actually unrequited.
He doesn’t want to see the way twelve-year-old Gus studies a circle of their classmates or how he pauses before delicately spinning the bottle, only thumb and forefinger resting on the glass.
He doesn’t want to see all the times Gus leans in, mouth only millimeters away before scrambling back, away from him, face clouded with panic.
He wishes he doesn’t notice that Gus leans backwards every time Shawn is in his personal space, eyes averted and breath held like he’s in physical pain.
He can’t stop seeing the way Gus’s eyes linger on him, expression a familiar mix of need and lust that’s quickly followed by a flush of shame and a self-recriminating glare at the floor.
Worst of all, he doesn’t want to see the way Gus looks at him when he thinks Shawn isn’t paying attention. It’s a look of sadness and longing that makes Shawn want to hate him a little. They’re both miserable because Gus is too tangled up in denial to find his way out of the closet.
Of course, Shawn is painfully aware of all of these things and it’s enough to keep one vicious kernel of hope alive. It claws its way into his chest, wraps tendrils around his heart and squeezes until every thought hurts.
hollowing my chest without ever touching me
Juliet is the only person that makes him think getting over his best friend is an actual possibility. He loves her enough to want to that.
When he tells her the truth about his abilities, he breaks both their hearts. He tells himself this bout of honesty is about opening up to her, about her deserving to know. It is definitely not about self-sabotage or the unhappy line of Gus’s mouth when he found out Shawn was going to propose.
To her credit, Juliet tries really hard to stay. She all but begs to be convinced into trusting him again. She loves him enough to want to forgive him.
In the end, she can’t quite manage it and he really can’t blame her. There are tears on her face when she kisses him goodbye.
He never asks her to keep his secret but when she does it anyway, he knows he’s never going to forgive himself for what he’s done to her.
He doesn’t even fight back when Lassie punches him in the face because they both know that he deserves it.
desire turns us into ghosts
The bar is closing so he slams his last three shots all in a row, surveys the crowd and drags home the first guy who catches his eye.
From some corner of his mind, Sober Shawn calls him pathetic for doing this again. Drunk Shawn tells him to fuck off and sticks his tongue in a stranger’s mouth.
The body beneath him is warm and willing and good enough for now.
He kisses a mouth that isn’t quite full enough and closes his eyes. Imagines smooth brown skin under his hands. Pretends the responsive moans are an octave lower. Ignores the scent of coconut shampoo and thinks next time he’ll spray his sheets with lavender before going to the bar.
Shawn is nice enough to give the guy a reach around as he buries himself as deep as possible. With every thrust he recalls memories of conspiratorial grins and disapproving frowns, affectionate laughter and a constant, comforting presence at his side.
He thinks of stolen kisses and the solid warmth of his best friend pressed against his chest. He comes with Gus’s name on his lips.
Shawn wants this to be enough, wants these moments to fill the gaping hole in his chest.
He doesn’t know what else to do.
something’s about to happen
Shawn always feels ridiculous when planning over-the-top, romantic dates. Gus loves them so he puts in the effort but he seriously doesn’t see the point. All their dates (and a surprising number of work days) end with one or both of them naked on the nearest flat surface.
One year anniversaries are a big deal though, even to him. He needs this date to be perfect.
He cleans their apartment and Psych to his boyfriend’s standards even though shoving everything in closets or under the bed would have been way easier.
He decorates the office with flowers and candles, uses an actual table cloth and real dishes on the table. He makes every single one of Gus’s favorite foods. A large amount of them involve pineapple or jerked chicken.
Gus is understandably skeptical of a romantic anniversary dinner at the office. Shawn expertly ignores his complaining and has the smuggest smile when his partner falls into a shocked silence as he takes it all in. He doesn’t even make fun when Gus’s eyes go a little misty.
After dinner, Shawn is grinning from ear to ear, bouncing on the balls of his feet as he suggests they take a walk on the beach. Gus is stuffed and didn’t plan on moving for at least a week but says yes anyway because he likes to pretend he actually has a choice. Besides, he can tell Shawn has something planned.
They meander aimlessly down the sand, talking about reality shows and arguing over whether Hercules or the Hulk would win a hotdog eating contest.
Somewhere between why this was the worst year of Survivor yet and “He’s half god, Gus, there’d be no contest”, Shawn drops to one knee.
Gus stares at him wearily, assuming this is some kind of joke because everyone who has ever met Shawn knows he’s a commitmentphobe. He figured moving in together was the best he was going to get for at least five years.
Shawn pulls an action figure out of his pocket and holds it up like an offering.
“Burton Esteban Gu-“
“That’s not my middle name, Shawn.”
Gus ignores the long suffering sigh with all the grace he can muster.
“Burton Roberto Gu-“
“Look, I can’t do this with you right now. I’m sorta in the middle of something.” Shawn says sternly. Gus rolls his eyes and gestures for him to continue.
“Will you do me the honor of marrying me?” he asks and tries handing He-Man to Gus. Gus gapes at him for a while, unsure whether to laugh or smack him.
“Don’t play, Shawn!” he says finally. “That’s not something to joke-“
“No one’s playing.” Shawn replies and carefully pulls the action figure in two. A thick gold band rolls into his palm and he holds it up. “It wouldn’t fit in the T-Rex’s mouth. That was totally my first choice.”
Gus is gaping at him again, mouth opening and closing soundlessly. This is not the reaction Shawn was anticipating and icy dread pools in his stomach.
“Are you sure?” Gus asks quietly. He tries to remember if he’s said anything to imply Shawn had to do this. His boyfriend may be terrified of commitment but Gus also knows that he’s more afraid of abandonment. Gus doesn’t want him to do this if it’s only because he thinks he has to.
“Two hundred percent sure.” Shawn laughs and wonders if he’s the only one who hears the hysteria in it.
“Anything more than one hundred percent is impossible and you know-“
“Four hundred thirty seven percent-“
“I’m sure. Really, really sure. Like, thirty years sure.”
Gus gives him a vague kind of nod and tentatively takes the ring but doesn’t put it on.
“Is that the diamond from your grandmother’s ring?” he asks.
Shawn’s knee is starting to hurt and this is going so far off script that he’s considering making a run for it. He climbs slowly to his feet and nods an affirmation.
“Does your dad know you did this?” Gus demands suddenly and gives him a if-one-of-us-is-getting-killed-over-this-it-sure-as-hell-isn’t-going-to-be-me look.
Shawn decides not to mention the half dozen jewelry stores he’s dragged Henry to in the last month or that he’d been such a nervous ball of indecisive annoyance that his dad had finally shoved him into a chair and told him exactly what to do.
“I guess I mentioned it.” He answers instead and takes a step backwards. He thinks he can be on his motorcycle in forty seconds flat.
In one fluid motion, Gus slides the ring onto his finger, snatches a handful of his boyfriend’s shirt and tugs him into a tight embrace.
Relief hits Shawn so hard that his legs shake a little.
“I guess that means you’re marrying me?” he ventures.
“You know that’s right.” Gus murmurs against his mouth.