|One Hat, Two Hats, Three Hats, Four
Author: brightblue PM
Sometimes a hat is just a hat, even though it changes your whole life. Shules.Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst/Romance - Chapters: 4 - Words: 5,856 - Reviews: 12 - Favs: 19 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 07-06-08 - Published: 07-04-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4370221
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Shawn is brooding in the dark at Juliet's bedside.
It has been three days since her surgery. Three days of being relieved that Juliet survived. Three days of wondering just what the heck he was supposed to say to her: Um, good afternoon, Jules. I'm so glad you survived. So glad that it made me realize how deep my feelings for you run. All the way down to "true love," in case you're interested. But, in the future, please don't ever jump in front of a bullet for me. Okay? Thanks. Pineapple smoothies all around!
This, he'll call it his proactive plan to avoid spewing cheesey declarations of love and soul-wrenching apologies at a sick woman's bedside, has meant three days of avoiding talking to Juliet without at least three other people in the room. Preferably people with handcuffs and weapons, lest he give in to a romantic or flirtatious impulse and need to be shackled and put down. (He's put a temporary embargo on flirting with Jules until he figures this whole thing out. It hurts, probably her more than him, but it's for their own good. Presumably.)
So, yeah, he has chickened out at exactly one thing in his life. (Okay, two, if you count that poorly executed tattoo idea.) But this is all uncharted territory for him and something he knows he can't screw up. Plus, he still feels guilty for the whole situation. And, if forced to admit it, a whole lot scared of this newly acknowledged I'm-in-love thing. What if Juliet doesn't feel the same way? Even worse, what if she does?
"Shawn?" Juliet's sleep-addled voice stirs him from his thoughts. He quickly drops the hand of hers that he had been...keeping safe…while she slept.
"Jules!" The quiet tone of his voice does nothing to hide his genuine surprise. It is well past visiting hours on the recovery unit. He hadn't planned on Juliet being awake during his late night vigil. At all. He wipes his palms on his jeans. There's no escaping now. All the things he's wanted, or not wanted, to say to the detective bubble up in his brain, threatening to erupt in one spectacular display of word vomit. His kingdom for a muzzle. "You're awake!"
"What are you doing here?" Juliet's forehead crinkles in an adorable way as she tries to make herself more comfortable, moving her bed into an upright position. She takes a few gasping breaths. The pain Shawn sees etched across her eyes makes him reconsider his previous observation. In pain does not equal adorable, even for Juliet.
"Visiting you. Isn't it obvious?" He bites back a grin as he watches Juliet's mind click. Heavy drugs and pain don't make logical thinking the easiest process.
She frowns, suppressing a yawn. "But…it's the middle of the night…"
"Yes, it is. And?" Shawn leans back in his chair and folds his arms behind his head. So far so good. He can do this. Juliet looks at him as if he were crazy.
"And…I was sleeping?" She self-consciously adjusts her hospital gown, mindful of the IVs to which she's still attached.
Shawn grins. "Like a baby kitten."
Juliet shakes her head, almost as if trying to knock some sense into herself. "Okay, first of all, 'baby kitten' is redundant. Second of all, I still don't understand why you were sitting here watching me sleep. Aren't visiting hours over? Why hasn't a nurse kicked you out yet?" She ends her rant wheezing for air, but waves off the oxygen mask Shawn tries to pass her way.
He deftly side-steps her questions, craving more of their familiar banter. "Why, Jules, it seems like you're not happy to see me. I'm wounded." He gives her his best kicked puppy expression, clutching at his heart for good measure.
Juliet is predictably flustered by his remark. "Of course I'm happy to see you, Shawn!" A smile breaks across his face. "Just not at—"she squints at the clock "three o'clock in the morning?! Shawn!"
"Hey! It's not my fault your room is Grand Central Station! I just wanted a little one-on-one time with you, Jules!" He doesn't add that he was too afraid to have that time be when she was conscious. Baby steps, now.
"But I was sleeping!" Her voice is a notch louder than Shawn would like. He ignores Juliet's scowl when he shushes her, keeping one eye trained on the door for a nurse. He's a little worried Juliet is going to disregard her doctor's orders and jump out of the bed to pummel him. Which he probably deserves for about fifty percent of the thoughts running through his head. He fishes for one that's family friendly.
"I was just protecting you from the boogey man, Sleeping Beauty."
A pretty flush paints Juliet's still too pale cheeks. She drops her head, fiddling with her blanket. "Shawn, I don't need you to protect me," she says softly, sternly.
Struck by her comment, Shawn falls back in his chair. Catching Jules' eyes again, he is surprised at the tenderness they hold. Almost as if she knows she struck a chord with him. Isn't he supposed to be the psychic in this scenario? He hears a buzzing in his ears. He opens his mouth and closes it, trying not to notice the lump that's moved into his throat. Dude, he is not about to cry. He isn't Gus.
He debates for a moment whether to go for the flippant remark or the truth. The truth triumphs; he's fresh out of flippant remarks and never got that muzzle he bargained for. Besides, there is no time like the present and the dim light of the quiet hospital room is about as romantic as things are likely to get for awhile. There's even a whole forest of flowers to help set the scene.
Now, he just has to keep himself from saying everything.
"Jules…" He finally begins and this is harder than he thought. Images from the last few days invade his head. He takes a take deep breath. "Can you promise me something?"
"I can try," Juliet replies earnestly.
He clasps her hand in his. He is relieved when she doesn't pull it away. As he leans on her bed from his chair, clutching her hand, he knows it must look like he's begging. Which he sort of is. "Promise me that you won't ever jump in front of a bullet for me again. And by bullet, I mean anything including, but not limited to, a knife or sword or throwing star or Chuck Norris or anything trying to kill me."
Juliet squeezes his hand. "Shawn, you know I can't do that," she frowns at him regretfully.
"But why?" Shawn grips her hand harder.
"It's my job," she sighs and he knows she isn't telling the full truth.
Shawn shakes his head. "Fine, I know, it's your job when it comes to everyone else. But when it comes to me, can you please let me take the bullet? Because if you hadn't pulled through this like a superstar, then…" He trails off, unsure how much he is ready to say.
Juliet inhales sharply. She traces her thumb on his palm. "Then what?"
He looks her directly in the eyes, surprised at the wetness he sees there. "Then I'd be totally and completely lost, Jules," he offers, tracing his fingers delicately over her palm. He takes this turn in their relationship at full speed, no more wasted time thinking.
Juliet swallows audibly, blue eyes wide. "Shawn…remember what we decided about mistakes?"
"The only mistake would be to not give us a chance," he says firmly. Because whatever else is running through his head right now doesn't matter. There will be time enough for all that. He just needs to know that he has Juliet. That they are moving forward together. Then, maybe, this all might be worth something and he can finally sleep tonight.
Juliet hastily swipes at her eyes with her free hand. For a long second, he's afraid she's going to reject him. She won't even look at him. At last, clutching desperately at his hand, she chokes out: "I was so scared he was going to shoot you, Shawn." And then she laughs through her tears, as if she can't believe what is happening right now.
His heart races. He wants to do a happy dance right then and there. She loves him! He rains kisses on her hand. Juliet's eyes finally meet his. She is beaming. Seeing a mirror of his own happiness in Jules' face, Shawn allows himself to crack a smile.
"Let's make a deal, okay?" He can't stop looking at her, memorizing every aspect of this wonderful moment. He's glad for his eidetic memory because he will forever remember with perfect clarity the awed sparkle in her eyes and graceful curve of her lips.
She nods eagerly. "Okay."
"How about we promise to not get shot, okay? And to avoid things that might get us severely hurt or injured like abandoned houses, street fights, zombies, and Lassie before he's had his daily dose of caffeine?" He threads his fingers through hers, flashing his most playful grin.
Juliet tilts her head, an amused smirk playing on her lips. She gives his hand a tug, urging him to sit on the bed next to her. He happily complies. "Shawn, as much as I would love to promise that, you know I can't. I have to do my job. I love my job; it's part of who I am. If you can't accept that…"
"I can accept that," He affirms because deep down he understands. It sucks, but part of what he loves about Juliet is her bad-ass detective-ness. That doesn't mean he won't do everything in his considerable powers to keep her safe. But she doesn't have to know that.
"And," she continues, "I know who you are, and that means that you would find yourself lost in the Trouble Forest even if you had a map to get out." He snorts at her choice of phrase. She studies him carefully, face soft. "But, that only means that we should have no regrets, right?"
Shawn nods eagerly, scooting closer to her. "Right, no regrets." His voice trails off as he leans in some more. His eyes slide shut. He leans in even further, nearly breaking his close-talking record of near-kisses with Jules when—
Shawn is stunned when he ends up with his lips to Juliet's hand. Well, that was surprising though not entirely unexpected. He sits back with a, "huh?"
"We can't have our first kiss like this, Shawn!" Juliet protests, falling back onto her pillows. She grimaces in pain.
"Like…what?" He is utterly confused. And he was so close!
"I'm in the hospital! I can barely catch my breath long enough to speak, let alone kiss you! I'm all gross because I haven't showered in four days. I have tubes coming out of my arms. And it smells weird in here. This is not romantic!" Juliet ends her tirade breathless.
He can't exactly argue with that. Well, he could…but something tells him that it would not be a good start to their relationship. Relationship. Oh wow. He hadn't really thought about it like that before. Strangely though, it feels okay. Right, even. He takes a deep breath. Or two.
Shawn leans back in his seat, arms up in surrender. Though now, as ever, he can't resist the urge to whine, "But Jules! It is a romantic situation. We just took a huge leap forward in our relationship after a near-death situation. There are flowers and mood lighting and me, looking all studly. It's like the final scene in every movie!"
Juliet gives him a harsh look. "You can take me on a date, Shawn. One date. And then, if that goes well, we'll revisit the kissing thing."
Shawn pouts. Inside, though, he's secretly amused by Juliet's stance. He finds it rather endearing when she becomes a total raging maniac about things. "Okay, fine, whatever. But only because you're the one in the hospital bed."
Juliet nods her agreement. She looks at him hopefully. "I'm getting discharged tomorrow."
"Well, then, perhaps I'll bring by take-out and DVDs? Gus scored me Cop Rock bootlegs! We can have a little super-detective, gun-shot-recovery, indoor picnic?"
"It's a date." Juliet sticks out her hand. Shawn shakes it. "Now get your butt out of here so I can get some sleep without a stalker-psychic hanging over me."
Shawn salutes her as he jumps off the bed. As he moves to leave, he can't help but swoop in and plant a kiss on her cheek. And her other cheek. And her forehead. Juliet sighs happily as she sinks into her pillows.
As Shawn exits the room through its only door, smile impossible to contain, he can't help but notice that there are no hats in the hallway. But, honestly, he has so many other things to think about right now. Who cares about hats?
Well, except for that hair net on the orderly…. Does a hair net even count? Yes, yes, it definitely does.
After an impromptu celebratory dance, Shawn tosses his keys up in the chair, catches them with a low whistle, and struts out to the parking lot.