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The Best Worst Date

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Gus was a traditionalist: dinner and a movie, followed by taking Shawn back to his place, where he'd spread rose petals over the bed. Shawn would mock him, Gus was sure, but he'd also be secretly touched that Gus had gone to the effort. Actually, knowing Shawn, he already knew and had moved on to the stage of figuring out how to incorporate the rose petals into sex. The point was, it was their first anniversary, and Gus had planned it out to the very last detail.

These plans had not included a murder investigation.

"Come on," Shawn said, "this case fell into our laps! Literally!"

"He fell into the table, Shawn," Gus corrected, because Shawn misused words far too often.

"Details," Shawn said dismissively, but his charming grin had long since lost its efficacy. Gus had already seen it many, many times.

Gus and Shawn had agreed prior to leaving the office that they were not working tonight unless there was another dinosaur case, and Gus was adamant that unless he got a Triceratops named after him, they were going to see their movie and go home to have sex like a normal couple. "We are giving the police our statements and then leaving. Our movie starts in an hour."

"Fine," Shawn huffed. "Don't say I never do anything for you."

Gus valiantly resisted the near overwhelming urge to roll his eyes and went to give Buzz his statement. "Yes, yes, and then he fell into my lobster bisque," he said, keeping a careful eye on Shawn, who was waving his hands and saying, "Wrong, wrong, wrong. Do you enjoy being wrong all the time, Lassy?"

"Excuse me," Gus said and walked over to Shawn to put a warning hand on his shoulder, grip tight.

"But, uh," Shawn said, eyeing Gus's implacable expression, "I really can't help you. We have a, uh, a thing."

"Oh," Juliet said. "This is your—"

"Yes," Gus said, and Juliet returned his long-suffering gaze with a better you than me smile.

"You've already given your statements," Juliet said, "so you can go." Juliet was Gus's favorite co-conspirator.

Usually, Shawn would be Gus's favorite, but Shawn was giving Lassiter this look that quite clearly read Help me out here; I can still help you.

Because Juliet was Gus's favorite, she matched that look with a I am your partner, but don't think I won't hurt you glare, and Lassiter erred on the side of not pissing off the person who actually carried a gun. "You can go," Lassiter allowed. "But don't leave town."

"Don't leave town," Shawn muttered mostly to himself as Gus dragged him away. "Don't leave town. Can you believe him?"

Gus didn't think Shawn was actually looking for an answer, but he said, "The person I can't believe here is you. Did that case look like there'd be a dinosaur involved?" Gus stopped. "There wasn't, was there?"

Shawn opened his mouth, and it was obvious that his first impulse had been to lie, but that he couldn't follow through when faced with Gus's great and terrible hope to uncover another find, because he closed his mouth again, patted Gus on the shoulder, and said, finally, "Maybe next time, Gus."

The dollar theater out by the boardwalk (misnamed: admission was actually three dollars) was still playing the new Star Trek movie, and Gus and Shawn were still in disagreement over whether Gus was Karl Urban and Shawn was Chris Pine, or Shawn was Zachary Quinto and Gus was Zoe Saldana.

"You only wish you were as cool as Spock," Gus said, putting extra butter on the popcorn for Shawn. "Though I will allow that I'm as bad-ass as Uhura."

"Are you trying to say that Kirk isn't cool?" Shawn accused, juggling their drinks and the red vines he'd bought Gus.

"Kirk thinks he's cool," Gus said, "and that is definitely you."

Shawn made offended sounds as they walked into the theater, but was subsequently distracted by the requisite haggling over seating.

"Proper posture is important, Shawn, and you can't get that with your head tilted at a ninety degree angle," Gus said.

Shawn said, "So is being able to see!"

They settled finally on four rows back and actually made it halfway through the movie this time before disaster struck.

"This is why we can't have nice things," Gus said as they walked to the car.

"I said I was sorry," Shawn said as he opened the passenger door.

"Not sorry enough to remember to turn off your phone," Gus said, buckling himself in. "At least we weren't hiding from a possible murderer this time."

"See!" Shawn said. "There's a bright side to this."

"We can also never go back." Gus turned the key in the ignition and wondered despairingly, "Are there any theaters we haven't been thrown out of?"

"It would have been rude not to answer," Shawn said, which is what he'd repeated to the other theater goers, the usher, and the manager, though by now it was less insistent and more sulking, and Shawn glared out the passenger window like the scenery had wronged him somehow.

Gus sighed. "Do they really need you for this case?"

Shawn turned to stare at Gus for a moment, then undid his seat belt and clambered over the gear shaft, because Shawn never did these things by halves, to land in Gus's lap. He wrapped his arms around Gus's shoulders and said, "You are the best boyfriend ever," into Gus's mouth. Then, mouthing at the underside of Gus's jaw, "No, they don't."

Gus was torn between making out some more—whatever else Gus might say about him, Shawn was very good at distracting Gus with kisses—and reminding Shawn that he was not going to revoke the no car sex rule even on their anniversary, because unlike Shawn, he'd never included "be arrested for public indecency" on his bucket list. He was starting to tilt toward the latter when Shawn pulled away and said, "Let's go home."

Gus cleared his throat as Shawn shifted awkwardly back into his own seat. "If you're sure," Gus said.

Shawn grinned, and okay, maybe Gus was still a little bit affected. Warmly, Shawn promised, "I am."

Shawn put his seatbelt back on, Gus shifted the car into drive, and they pulled out. They made it to the first light when Shawn said, "Hey, actually—"

"Changed your mind?" Gus asked wearily, but if he didn't want to be practically married to the world's weirdest workaholic, he never would have started dating Shawn. It wasn't like Gus hadn't known exactly what he was getting into.

To his surprise, Shawn looked mildly embarrassed and said, "Actually, I need to drop back by the office."

"You forgot my anniversary gift," Gus said evenly, though inwardly he was feeling incredibly smug. "Check the glove box."

Because this was not a memory Gus wanted to have while at the wheel, he took a right into one of the boardwalk's parking lots and pulled to a stop in the first available parking space. Shawn looked at Gus with no little amount of suspicion and opened the glove box, which held Gus's proof of insurance, two atlases, driving gloves, the tiny white box wrapped with a blue ribbon Gus had grabbed from Shawn's desk when Shawn forgot, and a small white envelope with the word "YES" written in Gus's neat hand. Shawn pulled out the envelope instead of the box, and Gus knew he'd surprised Shawn, because Shawn's hands were shaking a little, and he was hesitant as he opened the flap and pulled out the ring Gus had placed carefully inside.

"When did you—" Shawn said, then closed his eyes. "The week after I bought yours, when you went out for dinner with Joy." Shawn opened his eyes and grinned. "How long did you know?"

"That you were going to stick around? Or that you wanted a Boston wedding?" Gus brushed a hand against Shawn's cheek. "Shawn, I knew you were serious about staying when you put my name on the office lease." He smiled against Shawn's mouth. "And I knew you wanted to marry me when we were eight and you gave me your last stick of pineapple gum."

Of course, then Shawn was too hyper with joy to be cooped up in a car for even the short drive to Gus's. Shawn made Gus stand on the beach while Shawn knelt with his little white box held in front of him, while off to the side the waves crashed and around them the sun set. Shawn said, "C'mon, Gus, I didn't get the chance to actually ask," because Shawn had his traditionalist moments, too.

This might have been something of a Kodak moment if not for the sound of Juliet's voice somewhere behind him, calling, "Stop, police!" and Lassiter following that with, "I really will shoot you!"

Gus turned just in time to be crashed into by some small, wild-eyed white guy, and they fell over directly into Shawn, whose flailing arms prevented anyone from standing until they were flanked on either side by Lassiter and Juliet. Juliet kept her firearm trained on the suspect, while Lassiter subdued and handcuffed him. He looked remarkably satisfied as he said, "Good job, Guster," like this was one of those few cases where Shawn and Gus weren't annoying the hell out of him and instead were making their contributions quietly. Gus wondered if Lassiter even noticed he and Shawn were still on their date.

Lassiter heaved the suspect up and led him toward his car, and Juliet holstered her weapon and said, "How did you know he'd flee to the beach?"

"Psychic, remember." Shawn tapped his head significantly, and Juliet looked at Gus with an expression that said at once, You have my sympathies and I hope you're very happy together.

Juliet gestured at Shawn's hand and the glint of metal that caught the sunlight and said, "I take it congratulations are in order?" like she hadn't helped Gus and Joy pick out the ring.

Shawn beamed. "He's never been able to resist me."

"Sure, Shawn. That's it exactly," Gus said kindly, because sometimes he let Shawn have his moments of being incredibly, extremely wrong, especially when Shawn smiled like that—not like he was trying to be charming, but like he'd already been charmed by Gus and his awesome skills at planning. Shawn scooped up the box from where it had fallen in the scuffle, dusted off the sand, and presented it to Gus with a flourish. "You do have your moments." This, at least, was even true, and Shawn's smile widened when Gus pulled out the ring and slid it on.

"I was considering a ring pop," Shawn said, "but—"

"Your dad taught you better than that," Gus finished for him.

Shawn looked startled. "He didtell you."

"Your inability to remember to clear your browser history told me," Gus said. "He just made sure you knew my ring size after I called him."

"Oh." Juliet had already turned to go, and Shawn said, "Hey, we still get our fee, right?"

Juliet laughed. "You know you weren't actually hired on this case, right?"

Shawn shrugged. "Worth a try." He wrapped an arm around Gus's shoulder and said, "Home, Jeeves."

"Call me Jeeves again and I'll give you back your ring," Gus said warningly.

Shawn apparently knew about Gus's secret weakness to his kisses and took advantage accordingly.

Much later, sprawled under the covers and with rose petals sticking to his skin, Gus cautiously asked, "Did you really know the killer would go to the boardwalk?"

Shawn's face was pressed to Gus's shoulder, and Gus could feel Shawn's smile as he said, "Don't be ridiculous. Of course I didn't, but I couldn't actually admit that it was all an improbable coincidence. I have a reputation to maintain."

"You also have a place on the couch if you don't stop being such a smug asshole about it," Gus said, because he was happy to have his arms wrapped around Shawn, bathing in the afterglow, but Shawn was unbearable if Gus didn't stop his nonsense before Shawn got on a roll.

"You like it," Shawn said, and Gus very carefully did not reply. After a moment, Shawn levered himself up to say, "You wouldn't really—"

"Don't test me, Shawn," Gus said, but even he had to admit his voice was fond. He pulled Shawn back down, and Shawn went easy, curling into Gus like a cat might tuck into a pillow.

"Next year," Shawn said sleepily into Gus's shoulder, "no cases. I promise."

"Next year," Gus replied, threading his fingers through Shawn's hair, "you're getting me a dinosaur."