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Eleventeenth-Hour Decision

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12:00 A.M.

Shawn stares at the numbers on the clock, but they don't change. He gets up, careful not to wake Jules, goes to the bathroom to splash water on his face. He stares at himself in the mirror, baggy eyed and stubbly, looking more tired than he feels. He wanders downstairs, avoiding looking at the SBPD calendar Juliet talked him into buying. (He'd wanted the SBFD calendar, but no, he had to support the department he worked with. It wasn't enough that he supported them on all their cases, he had to help them financially too? That was like giving back his own pay! But Jules had insisted.) He ends up looking the calendar over without meaning to.

Buzz is Mr. July, smiling guilelessly even as his hands creep towards areas best left for Mrs. McNab's eyes only. Shawn stifles a giggle, looks down - right at the date.

July twenty-third.

Today's the day.

It's not like he needed the calendar to remind him, of course - Shawn's powers of recall are inconveniently awesome enough to not let him forget anything he's learned, even if he never wanted to know it in the first place.

There is one way to combat his memory, and that's to use his other powers against it. Thanks to dear old dad, he's functionally omnipotent! He figured out a while back that means he can make himself forget things if he wants. But he has to want really really hard, with no doubt in his head.

Today, there's nothing but doubt shaking up there.

"Shawn?" Jules. "Shawn, it's three in the morning, what are you doing still up?"

Three? Shawn glances at a clock (though he doesn't need to; it's one of those reflexes he hasn't yet unlearned). Sure enough, it's the witching hour. "I... lost track of time," he answers truthfully. "Sorry."

"It's alright." She slips her arms around him and he leans back against her, treasuring this. The Q don't have anything like this. After a minute, he turns around in the circle of her arms and kisses her quickly. She responds, and when he leans back some unknowable (no it isn't) amount of time later, there's a heat in her eyes. "Come to bed?"

His eyes go briefly to the calendar again, but if she notices his hesitation she doesn't say. "Right behind you." Following her up the stairs, he asks, "You have the day off tomorrow, right? Because the things I want to do to you tonight are gonna leave behind some aches that are slightly not safe for work."

Jules laughs, rolling her eyes. Answering the question he already knows the answer to, she says, "Yes, Shawn, I've got the day off. This surprise of yours had better be good," she warns him playfully. "Carlton and I were going to follow up on the Bradbury widow; if you hadn't convinced me two months ago to ask for this day off - "

Shawn cuts her off with a kiss. "Trust me," he breathes against her lips, "it's gonna be a day you'll never forget."

One way or another.

Juliet is only momentarily thrown by Gus's presence in their kitchen six hours later; Shawn gives her extra points for reacting so subtly without any caffeine in her system, but takes some away because Gus is here literally all the time. Still, a seven out of ten's not bad. He tells her so, gets a coffee-flavored kiss for his trouble, and then the three of them spend a few minutes debating where they're going to go for breakfast.

Shawn argues in favor of churros ("They're like Mexican doughnuts! When is that ever a bad breakfast decision?") absentmindedly; most of his attention has again gone to that calendar. Buzz stares back at him, wide-eyed and innocent. The effect isn't as spoiled as you would expect by his shirtlessness.



Too late, he realizes that his attention drifted away completely. Stupid calendar. Stupid day. Stupid Q omniscience. "Hm?" Gus and Jules are giving him mildly concerned looks. "Sorry guys, I was just a little distracted." He nods toward the calendar.

"By Buzz McNab?" Jules asks, skeptical.

But Gus gets it. He nods, slowly. "His pectoral muscles are oddly entrancing."

Uh. "Not quite what I meant by distracted, buddy." Shawn grabs Gus by the shoulders, pats the right one once, twice. "But it's good to know you're becoming more open and honest about your sexuality. It only took you, what, twenty years?" He looks to Jules for support; she raises her eyebrows and wisely says nothing.

"You know that's not what I meant, Shawn," Gus snaps, backing out of his grasp. A little pissed off, he glances at the clock, then at his watch to double-check its accuracy. (They're both twenty seconds off, in opposite directions.) "Are we going or what? I've got an appointment at - "

"Gus," Shawn whines plaintively. "I told you to free up your schedule today!"

"I did, but Dr. Bhattacharya can only meet with me today. If I don't make this meeting, I could lose his whole practice. That's nine percent of my sales, Shawn!"

Shawn sighs. It isn't like he hadn't seen this coming. He sees everything coming, so long as he wonders about it in advance. It's been that way for years, but he keeps hoping that something will go unaccording to plan, that his omniscience is fallible, that today isn't going to end the way he knows it will. "Fine, the Waffle Hut is on the way to your doc's clinic, we'll go there."

"You know that's right." Gus does a little dance in celebration of waffles - but only a little one, since Juliet is right there and all. (Dude needs to learn to open up around her, she's not going anywhere anytime soon.)

"And after that?" Jules wonders.

Shawn grins. "You'll see."

"Going to the Psych office isn't really my idea of a good time, Shawn," Juliet says around a bite of jerk chicken. Swallowing, she recalls just how much time Shawn spends there, and tacks on a perfunctory, "No offense."

"None taken," Shawn declares magnanimously.

"And I don't really see how you could call it a surprise, either," she continues faux-contemplatively, fishing for an answer.

"Well," Shawn says, drawing out the word a few extra seconds to allow himself time to take in the scenery. The sky is clear and blue, the sun bright, the weather hot and breezy, the boardwalk just barely on the comfortable side of crowded. All in all, a good day to be one's last. "As you will soon see, Juliet, it is not the office that we are going to the office for, but something inside the office."

It takes her a couple seconds to parse that. "You got me a gift?"

"Of a sort." Shawn, weighed down by an extra container of jerk chicken (for Gus) and a basket of fries quatro queso dos fritos (also for Gus... okay, mostly for Gus), puts on a bit of a juggling act to get the keys to the office out of his pocket, into the lock, and then out again. Jules watches with a little grin on her face as he tries to get the door open, despite now having four things to juggle, but it doesn't take her long to take pity on him and open the door herself. "You should probably get comfortable," he calls over his shoulder as he sets down the food. "It's going to take me a while to find it." Shawn wanders back towards the storage areas, casually flipping on the police scanner as he passes it. It's nothing but static at first, but Shawn only has to think about channels currently in use for the right one to come to mind. He adjusts the scanner the next time he passes it, and the signal clears up beautifully, though it's still quiet.

Hopefully it stays that way.

He digs around in the larger of the two closets, not looking for anything in particular. Once enough time has passed, he'll decide on what to look for and know near-instantly where to find it, but for now he's definitely stalling. Just a few more minutes, that's all he needs.

"You know, Shawn," Jules calls out to him from across the room, "if this is going to take a while, I could always go over to the Bradburys' restaurant, see what Carlton's done with the case while I've been off. It's only a few blocks from here."

"Is it," Shawn says absently. Just a little longer...


"Hey, Juliet. That chicken for me?"

"And half the fries quatro queso dos fritos too. How did your meeting go?"

"Mmph? Weawwy - ahem - really well, thank you for asking. I think his clinic might increase ordering enough to get me through to a higher commission rate."

"Gus, that's great!"

"Yeah, 's alright. Where's Shawn? I thought he had a surprise for me."

"Halfway to Narnia by now, it feels like. Whatever the surprise is, he must have lost it."

It is taking longer than he'd expected. Hope rises in Shawn's chest, fluttering on the delicate wings of baby butterflies. Maybe...

Bam bam - blam!

"Did you hear that?"

"Sounds like shots fired." A series of rustles and clicks - Jules unholstering her gun. (It is so hot that she brought it with her, something Shawn intends to tell her if this ends well for him.) "Gus, call 911, I'm gonna look into it."

"Look into what?" Shawn asks, popping his head out of the closet.

"Didn't you hear the gunfire?" Juliet asks, already halfway out the door. "Coming from down... towards the Bradburys' restaurant." Her expression falls, her face pales, and she races away. Gus, already talking to the 911 dispatcher, is unexpectedly right on her heels.

Shawn follows them out the door and down the boardwalk, already knowing what they'll find. He's seen it play out in his head too many times to forget.

Sure, for him that only means once, but it was a very memorable once.

Juliet only pauses in the doorway of the restaurant for a moment before lowering her gun and going to Lassiter's side. Gus stays in the doorway and squeals quietly at the bloody mess that is Widow Bradbury. He doesn't take long to recover, though he does have to turn away before telling the 911 dispatcher what he's seen. Shawn passes him slowly, like he's wading through a pool of marshmallow fluff, and sees for the first time with physical eyes the scene he's long since memorized.

Lassiter sprawled across the floor, a single red stain besmirching his crisp white shirt, a growing pool beneath it staining his suit jacket. Glassy eyes staring sightlessly upward, not seeing Juliet hovering above him, begging him to tell her what happened, to tell her that he can hear her, to tell her anything.

Shawn could tell her everything.

The widow killed her husband, a cruel man who'd done cruel things for far too long. Once it was done, she panicked, tried and failed to make the gunshot wound look like a work-related accident so insurance would pay out. (That's one of two reasons the restaurant is empty today. The other is to allow the employees time to grieve before returning to making subpar sliders and overly seasoned french fries.) Shawn hadn't been invited on the case - they hadn't needed him, it was that open and shut.

Or it would have been, if Lassiter hadn't come to ask the widow some incriminating questions just as she was about to get rid of the gun.

"The address is... I don't know," Shawn hears Gus say regretfully. "But it's a restaurant, Bradbury's Burgers? You need to get an ambulance down here, ASAP. And..." Gus glances inside, makes a face at the widow's body. "And probably a coroner too."

Shawn's head is full of butterflies, his skin is covered in fuzz. Lightning runs through his veins, and nothing quite seems real. He wonders what his body knows that his brain doesn't, and then he knows it too. "They'll never get here in time."

"Don't say that!" Juliet croaks, throat too choked up with tears to allow her to shout at him properly. "Carlton, look at me, you're going to be fine, just - "

"No, he's not." He'd expected to react differently. To scream, or cry, or keep living in Denial City, WI the way he has for the last... how many years? A stupidly large number. "He's going to die."

"Shawn!" Gus hangs up the phone, giving him a disappointed look before telling Juliet, "The ambulance is on its way."

"How far out is it?"

"Five, maybe ten minutes?" Gus shrugs, looking worried. "The dispatcher said they'd hurry."

Juliet frowns. She thinks the difference between five and ten minutes could mean Lassiter's life, the way he's bleeding. All the pressure she's putting on his chest could be for nothing. She could lose her partner, right here. (She will. The difference between five minutes and ten doesn't matter, since at best he's going to bleed out in three.)

Gus is pretty sure he's about to watch a grown man die. He wants to look away - the blood's making him queasy - but this is Lassiter. He owes the dude at least this much.

Lassiter... Shawn falters. He hadn't thought about this, what it would mean to stand here and know his last thoughts as he died. It's so much harder than he could have imagined.

Shawn walks over to him, crouches down, and stares him in the eye. Lassiter's breathing sharpens and his eyes clear, and Shawn suddenly knows this is going to be the last thing Lassiter sees: Shawn, looking down at him, expression empty - practically bored - and completely unsurprised.

And it's that, of all possible things, that decides it.

Shawn sighs; he wishes he'd known this in advance, it would've made this day much less stressful. He reaches out and cups Juliet's face in his hands, kisses her. "I love you." She stares at him strangely, but he's already moving on. He stands up, grabs Gus's head in his hands and kisses him too. (On the forehead. Gus doesn't deserve to have his last memory of Shawn be Shawn weirding him out.) "Love you too, buddy." He looks down at Lassiter, whose breathing has gotten raspy; he's going to start choking on his own blood soon. "And as for you... we'll talk later."

"Shawn..." Gus sounds weirded out; Shawn guesses that was inevitable. "What are you talking about?"

One last thing occurs to him. "Hey, can you apologize to my dad for me? I know I wasn't supposed to do this, but... as it turns out, I can't just stand by and watch."

"Shawn, what are you doing?" Jules is crouched on the floor, slightly bloody, pale and worried. It's not how Shawn thought she would look the last time he saw her. And maybe it won't be. But it'll be the last time he sees her seeing him as Shawn, and that matters almost as much to him.

He smirks, though his heart isn't in it. "I'm gonna save Lassiter."

With a snap of his fingers, time stops, and Shawn vanishes into thin air to do just that.