Carlton slowly, reluctantly, pulls out of his partner, rolls onto his back on the damp, tangled sheets. The afterglow was wonderful but movement had become necessary. Shawn lets a soft “oh” escape from his lips. He’s very conscious of the empty space in his body, but something is missing from his heart and mind, too…maybe it’s his “psychic” curse of noticing and sensing everything. When Lassie is there, inside him, everything is perfect; the world is perfect. The whole world shrinks down to just the two of them: the bed shaking, the way Lassie clasps Shawn’s hand in his and burns through him with those gorgeous blue eyes as he climaxes. And Shawn knows, feels, deep in his heart, deep in his body, that Carlton cares, that he is there and he will stay. But the separation part always gives him pause. Even if they laugh about it; as one or the other gets a cramp and has to move, or has screamed himself hoarse and desperately needs the bottle of water on the nightstand, he can’t shake the slightly nagging feeling. Nothing can be this great forever. Happiness doesn’t last.
Shawn licks his lips, they feel swollen and chapped from all the kissing, heavy breathing, and…yeah, there’s that taste; undeniably Lassie…sweat and sternbush, a hint of gunpowder and leather. He realizes he’s a sticky mess and looks over at Carlton, lying next to him. His eyes are closed and his breathing has evened out, a satisfied smile on his face. He can’t sleep through the night like that, Shawn thinks, he will be stuck to the bedding with sweat and semen. Both of them could use some cleaning up…the better the sex, the more cleanup is necessary, in his opinion. At least this time there wasn’t any whipped cream involved; so it wasn’t their stickiest session ever. He heads to the en suite bathroom and runs the warm water in the sink, finds some bath cloths and towels in the linen closet, and grimaces at his hair in the mirror. Only bad thing about crazy, sloppy man sex…the hair cannot stay perfect. But it’s a small sacrifice.
Prettied up as well as he can be with the minimal supplies in Lassiter’s bathroom, he heads back to the bed and kisses Carlton softly while wiping him up with the warm cloth. He gets a moan and sigh in response and the blue eyes open, light and contented now but no less beautiful. “Hey you,” Carlton smiles. He stares at the window, trying to gauge the time by the filtered light peeking through the blinds. “How long was I out?”
“Not too long, Lassie…the night is still young!” Shawn throws the washcloth and towel towards the laundry basket in the corner; they bounce off the wall with a thwack and land in the bin of Lassiter’s gym clothes and dress shirts. “Can I interest you in another round?” He wags his eyebrows suggestively.
Lassiter sits up and smacks him in the arm. “No offense, Spencer, but I’m going to need a drink first. Maybe two.”
Shawn huffs and acts offended. “Nice, Lassie-ass; way to make a guy feel special”.
In spite of, or maybe because of, their intimacy, they still maintained the level of banter and fake annoyances in their private life as they did at the station. It was just the way they were. Lassiter thought Shawn would be freaked out if he went all lovey-dovey on him. He had been that way in his relationships with women; he felt like they expected it. But in the end, all the sugary floweriness had gotten him nowhere. They all dumped him anyway, no matter how sweet he was. So he still occasionally called Shawn by his last name, and Shawn responded by continuously thinking up new and ridiculous nicknames to tease his boyfriend with. The practice was familiar, comfortable.
Spencer was right, it was only 8:30. Too early to go to sleep; especially on a Friday night. He hadn’t expected to find Shawn at his house that evening, lounging and watching a movie, his body draped casually and invitingly across the couch. “Hey Lassie! Welcome home.” He stretched during the greeting and Carlton had noticed the way his T-shirt clung across his chest; the strip of tan skin above the waistband of his jeans. It was too much of a temptation after a stressful week. What started on the couch quickly required more square footage, and it wasn’t long before they ended up in the bedroom, leaving a trail of discarded clothes, shoes, and weapons in the hallway.
Carlton dressed in a t-shirt and gym shorts; no need for the boxers; just in case Spencer was serious about another round. Shawn threw on his plaid button down, ignoring the buttons, and pulled on his jeans. He reached into the fridge for a pineapple IPA, a special summer release from a local microbrewery, while Carlton pulled the bottle of Jameson from the liquor cabinet and dropped ice cubes into a highball glass. Shawn opened the back door that lead to the deck; eyeing the fire pit and Adirondack chairs. He turns towards Carlton with an excited grin. “Hey Lassie, let’s make a fire and make S’mores.”
Carlton gives him a confused look and raised eyebrow. “What are we, girl scouts?”
Shawn winks. “I can pretend, if you’re into that.” He sticks his hip out in a suggestive pose. “Gus’s sister still has her uniform, I’m sure she’ll let me borrow it.”
“What? Jesus, Spencer, you don’t have the legs for it! Besides, I don’t have any marshmallows”.
Shawn looks disappointed. “I’ll bring them next time I come over. Write them on the shopping list”. He points to the magnetized notepad attached to the fridge. Carlton squints at it. He recognizes his own handwriting: milk, eggs, detergent…below the standard supplies are a long list of strange items written in purple ink. “Lucky Charms, Skittles, Hot Pockets, Creamsicles…the fuck, Spencer; how do you live on this crap?”
“Mock if you must, Lassie, but that diet has contributed to Thisssss…” He makes circular motions around his chest and abs as he draws out the ssss’s for effect. “Besides, if you are what you eat; you know you wouldn’t mind if I was a giant Creamsicle. “ He sidles up to Lassiter in a walk reminiscent of his dazzle and stretch routine and whispers into his ear. “You know you would lick me up and down until you got to that cream.” He licks Lassiter’s cheek, darkened with a five o’clock shadow, and gives his ass a solid squeeze.
Carlton blushes and breaks out into a rare wide and genuine smile. He raises his glass to his boyfriend. “Okay, Shawn, you got me there. Now let’s go enjoy that sunset.”
The men head out to the deck with their drinks, extra beer and ice in a small cooler and a bag of pretzels (Snyder’s of Hanover, naturally) Shawn pulled from the cabinet. Lassiter brings the Jameson bottle along; it’s half empty anyway. For a while, the two men sit in relative silence (aside from the crunching of pretzels), watching the waning sun give way to darkness over their beloved Santa Babs.
Contrary to appearances, Shawn is thoughtful; mindful may be a better word…well, he can be thoughtful, too, as evidenced by his earlier treatment of messy Lassie. But he thinks a lot, sometimes too much, most of the time too much for his own good. It can be a curse; it would be easier if he really were psychic; maybe he would have more faith in himself and believe in better outcomes and happy endings…fairy tale type happy endings; not the kind they busted the cheap west side massage parlors for. It was his doubts and fears that sent him running in the wind on his Norton years ago. Doubts that he would find happiness; fears that if he did, he would somehow destroy it. He could not, would not, repeat the mistakes his parents had made. So he kept it light, kept it casual, forcing himself to run every time he found himself becoming attached to something…woman, man, city, job, whatever…until something pulled him back here, back home. Maybe he was just tired of running. Maybe it was Gus. Yes, it was Gus. The one reliable constant in his life; his absolute best friend ever. And once they started Psych, he forced himself to stay. They were living their childhood dream; sharing adventures, solving crimes, making a little money. He was even reaching a strained equilibrium with his dad…Henry was kinda fucked up and his fucked-up-ness had kinda trickled down to Shawn. But his experiences on the road made him realize he could not run forever. So he came back home, confronted his past and family history; vowed to make it an example of what not to do; instead of repeating it. The detective work and daddy issues were relatively easy to deal with. The success of the Psych agency served several purposes…it proved he could utilize the strange lessons of his childhood in a positive way. He could show up Henry; piss him off, and make him proud, all at the same time. It was fun, and for the first time since his mom left long ago; he felt happy here in Santa Barbara, and began to appreciate the sentiment, “there’s no place like home”.
He looks over at Lassiter, who seems lost in his own thoughts too; his glass drained of whiskey with only a few melting ice cubes left. Carlton’s sapphire gaze is fixed on the sky; a peaceful, content stare. Shawn leans over and whispers, “There are over four…hundred stars in the galaxy.” Carlton turns and looks at him quizzically. “But none of them shine as brightly as your smile,” he concludes; raising his beer bottle and offering a smile of his own. Shawn’s smiles are just as bright, but they appear more often than Lassiter’s do. Shawn realizes just how much he appreciates those rare smiles, how they warm his heart (and he can’t lie, sometimes other organs, too). He knows Lassiter’s smiles are a gift, and a reward. Carlton doesn’t often speak of his childhood; but the rare glimpses Shawn has gleaned through cases and the occasional heartfelt talk painted a picture of a repressed spirit, someone who, like Shawn, became driven by his fears. Where Shawn took flight, Carlton opted for fight. His success as a police officer, and later as a detective, was driven by a desire to protect and fight for what he had. The stockpile of guns he had hidden around the house guaranteed he was always prepared against any dangers, and Shawn’s observant eyes had picked up traces of Lassiter’s possessive vigilance in situations where he, Jules, Gus, and even Henry were in danger. Carlton protects what he loves; it’s what he tried to do as a child, for his mom and Lulu, and he does it now, for his community and city and “family”. Shawn and O’Hara were absolutely his family; his partners in love, life and work…Gus and Henry were family by default; because they were important to Shawn; and anything that was important to Shawn was now important to him.
Carlton pulls more ice from the cooler and hands Shawn another pineapple IPA. More Jameson. He will need it because a scary thought has been on his mind, and he may finally have the balls to say it. He had no idea how he ended up here, in this situation, with this person. It perplexed him, and sometimes frustrated him with its mystery. He could not tie it up and summarize it neatly like a crime report; so he finally resigned it to be some sort of cold case he could never figure out. In spite of all the differences and annoying habits and the fact that he was now an accomplice to lying to the chief about his boyfriend’s “psychic” abilities, he had never felt more at peace than when he was with Shawn. Even when he was married to Victoria, he never felt comfortable, he was always waiting for the other shoe to drop, and when it finally did; he can’t say he wasn’t surprised. But Shawn…Shawn was easy. Okay, especially in THAT way, which certainly made life more pleasant overall, but just in general. He took things in stride; didn’t seem to freak out or be disturbed over Lassiter’s weird habits and obsessions, accepted him as he was and didn’t try to change him. But strangely, Carlton found himself changing, because of Shawn’s presence. He laughed and smiled more; tried not to get sooo stressed out that he was forced to calm himself with target practice on the neighborhood squirrels…in fact he even accepted Shawn sharing his popcorn with them at the far side of the backyard. A few months ago those squirrels would have been systematically executed, but now he found himself watching them and smiling; because he thought of Shawn when he saw them.
He gulped the remnants in his glass; whiskey, and partially melted ice cubes whole. The sound distracts Shawn from his examination of the night sky. “Geez, Lassie, don’t choke! At least not on ice cubes…now, I have something else in mind you can try to swallow whole later on…”
“Dammit, Spencer. Be serious for a moment; will you?” Shawn is puzzled by the change in tone. Carlton empties what’s left in the bottle into his glass; remembering that night not too long ago at Tom Blair’s Pub, when he first admitted to himself, and Shawn, that he didn’t hate him, that in fact, he was astounded by him. Since that day he has continued to be astounded, amazed, aroused, impressed…still annoyed sometimes, occasionally aggravated, but rarely livid. Everything one would expect in a normal relationship. The liquid courage loosens his tongue again, and before he knows it; the words spill out. “Shawn, would you like to move in with me?”
Shawn laughs; a nervous habit he has that he sometimes despises. It is his way to deflect intense feelings with humor. But Lassiter remains quiet and the blue eyes turn earnest and hopeful. “Um, Lassie…are you sure? Because I’m kind of a messy roommate; I mean; you’ve seen the kitchen in the Psych office…” he trails off at the realization that his boyfriend is serious. He peels at the label on his IPA as a distraction. “Like, really? Live together?”
“Yeah, live together.” Lassiter purses his lips and taps his fingers on the arm of his chair; he’s come to a conclusion but he’s not quite sure how to express it. “Look, I know this…thing…we have may not last forever. I’m obviously not good at relationships and you don’t seem to have any sense of commitment towards anyone but Guster…so our track records aren’t the greatest.” He sighs and grabs a handful of pretzels, then looks over at Shawn again, who still looks stunned. “I never thought I would say this, Shawn, but you make me happy. And in a world where I can get shot or you can get shot on any given day; why not just take all the happiness we can get? I mean, what the hell are we waiting for?” He shoves a few pretzels in his mouth as if they would dam up the feelings and sentiment pouring out of it.
Shawn hides it well, but his heart is soaring. He doesn’t want to seem overly enthusiastic. After all, casual is his thing and if he suddenly gushes forth all the hearts and flowers and singing birds that are taking over his soul right now, not to mention the butterflies in his stomach; it would blow his whole cover. He could never play that game with Lassiter again. The cat would be out of the barn door or whatever (yes, he’s heard it both ways). His feelings would be out there; real and live and evident. But fuck, yes; he has wanted this moment. For a long time. He knew Carlton would have to be the one to initiate it, because as much as Shawn wanted it, he couldn’t say it. Then it might be jinxed and doomed and the whole enchilada might just be destroyed and the magic between them might never happen again. “Yes,” he finally says. “Yes, I will move in with you so we can be luvvaahhs in the night and day and all the time!” He opens his arms wide in triumph, waiting for a hug.
Carlton rubs his brow and lowers his head. What the actual fuck has he done?
“If you ever…refer to us like that again, Spencer; I swear to God I will shoot you!”
*Note...Lassiter shoots at squirrels with a pellet gun or his old Daisy Red Ryder that Hank from Old Sonora bought for him. I don't want anyone to think he's firing heavy ammunition in a residential area!