A/N: This is what happens when you get a bad combination of a random spark of inspiration & insomnia, and are listening to Bon Iver. I own nothing (of course), but it's fun playing in someone else's sandbox sometimes. Just an innocent little one-shot.
Shawn had never been particularly good at long-term relationships. Lassiter wasn't too great with short-term ones. These facts should have never mattered because in a perfect world, there would never have been any relationship between them. No need for overlap whatsoever. Their lives should have ideally stayed mutually exclusive. Shawn would've continued being the guy women chose for rebounds, Lassiter would have gone on awkward dates that ended with him sitting at the table alone and asking for the check.
But perfect worlds didn't exist and sometimes it takes two people together to realize just how lonely they are apart. Neither of them was entirely sure how it happened since there really wasn't a first date or someone sitting by the phone waiting for a call or even a note that asked the other to check 'yes' or 'no' to the question 'do you like me?' They weren't even really friends at the onset--at least, Lassiter refused to say they were. Months passed; clothes migrated from Shawn's apartment to Lassiter's house and vice versa There were toothbrushes occupying formerly empty slots in the designated bathroom holders. Shawn had even begun to beat Lassiter's records on his confiscated Wii, coming up with cleverly raunchy names for each one he took first place in.
Around month three or month four, Lassiter finally decided to talk to Shawn about what was going on. He enjoyed the other man's company far too much for his own good (though his constant references to John Hughes' movies or awful renditions of Hall & Oates hits sometimes made him question this sentiment). But he knew Spencer never took anything seriously. Which was a recipe for disaster when you took everything seriously. The adage might have been that opposites attract, but Lassiter knew that when it came to someone he was going to risk everything with, he needed actual reciprocation and not just lust.
And that was how Lassiter felt. Shawn had nothing to risk. Lassiter had a career, he had a life and a reputation. But he also had a heart. And despite outward appearances and his general surly demeanor, he had no desire to be hurt again. It was why he still called Shawn by his last name most of the time. First names meant familiarity and intimacy. Which he was fine with, but only if Spencer was too.
The talk came on a Saturday night. Lassiter had wrapped up a case (begrudgingly with Spencer's help, though the faux-psychic was allowing the police department slightly more autonomy these days) so he had the weekend free of anything work-related. Shawn had bemoaned the fact that Gus was going out with his secret girlfriend again, but Lassiter was relieved that it could be just the two of them. He hoped that the threat of a serious talk wouldn't send Shawn running. Henry had warned him the month prior, at the very awkward dinner where Shawn had all but blurted out that the two of them had been doing whatever it was that they had been doing.
Shawn had been given a time to show up, but Lassiter knew that Shawn operated more like a cable guy--there was a two-hour window in which Shawn would show up and you just had to be there the entire time, whether it was convenient to you or not. Which made cooking for Spencer incredibly difficult; if he started too early, everything would need to be reheated in the microwave when he finally showed up. Too late and they inevitably gave up and ordered something.
Perhaps it was the tone of Lassiter's voice over the phone or maybe Shawn had finally changed his clocks for daylight savings time, but he showed up almost right when he was supposed to. Which meant the food was done, warm, and ready to be eaten. Shawn had a key these days, so he let himself in. Though, he would've let himself regardless of having a key, which was why Lassiter had given him one to begin with.
"Lassie, I've got the first season of True Blood and I've got the second season of Mad Men," Shawn announced, since Shawn entering could never just be a low-key event.
Lassiter shook his head, spooning some of the sweet & sour chicken that he'd made onto a plate. "You know how I feel about vampires," he replied, slightly frustrated that Spencer hadn't seemed to understand the significance of this particular night.
"Yeah, but they don't sparkle or anything. And there's just a ton of sex and violence, which I think both of us appreciate," Shawn said with a leer, looking at Lassiter with interest.
"Spencer, I thought I told you to only bring yourself. No distractions?" Lassiter groaned, handing off a plate to Shawn.
Shawn set down the dvds he'd brought, took the plate and grabbed two beers from the fridge, heading over to the table. "Yeah, but you tell me to do a lot of things I don't do. So I didn't think you actually thought I was going to listen to that."
Lassiter grabbed a plate for himself and chopsticks for the two of them, joining Shawn at the table. "I guess it is my fault that you don't follow directions," Lassiter sighed. He realized he hadn't brought over a drink, but Shawn slid an opened beer over towards him.
"I'll forgive you. But only because it looks like you put extra pineapple in this sweet & sour chicken." Shawn smiled, picking up a piece of the fruit and sticking it in his mouth.
Lassiter looked down at his plate, but wasn't able to think about eating yet. "Shawn, I want to talk about something--"
"It must be important if you're calling me 'Shawn,' usually I only get that out of you when you're talking in your sleep," Shawn said, his grin faltering slightly as he chewed on a piece of chicken.
Exasperated, Lassiter just glared at him.
Shawn stopped chewing and lowered his chopsticks. "Oh. It is serious, then?"
Lassiter nodded. "I'm not really good at dodging the point like you are, so I guess I'll just be blunt about why I wanted you here tonight."
Shawn nodded, looking as if he was about to make some witty retort, but quickly realizing that now wasn't the time.
"What are we doing?" Lassiter asked earnestly. "And so help me, if you say eating--"
Shawn grinned, shaking his head. "Lassiepants, you know my verbal quips so well."
"Shawn, I'm serious," Lassiter said. "For once I was hoping you could be too."
"You know I don't do serious so well," Shawn said, looking down at his plate. He started pushing around one of his pineapple chunks with his chopsticks, keenly aware how intently focused Lassiter was on his actions at the moment. "I don't know what you want me to say, Carlton," he said after an awkward silence that seemed to drag on.
Lassiter looked down at his own plate. This talk they were having, he'd had it with plenty of other people. He'd had it with Victoria, but that had gone infinitely better than how this felt to be going. He wasn't sure whether to be proud or embarrassed that it had been over a decade since he'd last had to define a relationship (or lack thereof) with someone else.
Shawn cleared his throat and Lassiter looked up. "I don't like putting deadlines on things. Or really any time-related terminology. Because once you do that, once you think to yourself, wow, this person is an all-or-nothing kind of person, then you start to over think things. And then I get claustrophobic and I've got to run."
Lassiter hung his head. He'd expected this reaction from Shawn, but a small part of him had hoped that something about them together would be different enough that he could call it what it was instead of having to tiptoe around admitting it.
"You think this means I want out, don't you?" Shawn asked. He frowned slightly, which Lassiter wasn't used to seeing. "Have I ever given you any indication I wanted out?"
"I have it on pretty good authority that you don't give warning. When you want out, you just take off." Lassiter finally set down his chopsticks, no longer interested in eating the meal he'd made for them.
Shawn shook his head. "I don't know why I even said anything to my dad. He warns everyone I have a relationship with about how unreliable I am and how I'll just end up hurting them--"
"Well, isn't that what happens?" Lassiter asked, an intensely accusatory look in his eyes.
"I could count on a parrot's foot how many relationships I've had that have lasted longer than this has. Every single one of them ended because we started bringing up time frames. Like marriage and families and careers and single-family homes. I think I'm allergic to the thought of picket fences and 2.5 children and Saturday morning soccer games."
"Shawn, I'm not asking you to settle down and start a family with me. And there's no fence around this house," Lassiter replied, realizing that this 'American dream' sort of thing was incredibly chafing for someone like Shawn. Which was ridiculous, because public opinion had taught him that there was absolutely nothing American about the sort of relationship the two of them had.
At this Shawn smiled again. "Which is why I was hoping we wouldn't have this ridiculous discussion."
Lassiter shook his head. "It's not ridiculous. I'm…I'm putting a lot on the line here. I can't imagine you'd understand."
"Is this because you're afraid to tell people we're a couple and we like, care about each other and mushy stuff like that? And the possibility of me saying adios at anytime would just leave you looking like a fool?"
It wasn't often that Lassiter actually thought that Spencer might be psychic (and over the course of the past few months, Shawn had all but admitted that he wasn't), but sometimes Shawn was so adept at picking out what was exactly on Lassiter's mind that he couldn't help but give credence to the charade. "Not that I would look like a fool," Lassiter said softly.
"Lassie…Carlton," Shawn said, trying to hide the plea from his voice.
Lassiter looked up. Instead of that mischievous grin, he was met with a sincere smile. It almost looked out of place on Shawn's stubbled face.
"I can't promise I'll never hurt you, because people who care about each other can never make that promise. That's what happens when you trust someone enough that you give them that ability. And that sucks, but I know you appreciate honesty," Shawn said, holding Lassiter's gaze. "But I absolutely swear that I won't go anywhere without taking you with me."
It was Lassiter that ended up breaking the gaze and looking down at his plate. He hated to admit that yes, he did in fact feel vulnerable sometimes. Especially when it came to relationships. But he supposed everyone had their fears about commitment. And maybe the whole point of relationships was to prove to someone that you didn't have to be afraid of being lonely. That yeah, ok, you were screwed up, but this other person was too and you two could be perfectly happy being screwed up together.
Stuck in his reverie, Lassiter didn't even notice Shawn get up and walk over to him. It was only when Shawn leaned down and kissed him that he realized that he'd finally gotten some sort of serious answer to his doubts. There were a lot of things you couldn't trust about Shawn Spencer, from the words that came out of his mouth to the smirks he gave, but when he was kissing you, you knew he meant exactly that.
When Shawn finally broke the kiss, he left Lassiter with the taste of the tangy sweetness of the marinated pineapple on his lips. Shawn ran his fingers through Carlton's hair (he'd grown it out a little since Shawn had casually mentioned not liking his buzz cuts), a satisfied smile on his face.
"Why don't we finish this awesome dinner you made," Shawn said finally. "And then we can skip the dishes and the vampires and the men in nice suits and just go straight to bed."
Lassiter raised an eyebrow. "Straight to bed? It's only nine o'clock."
Shawn laughed and shook his head. "You're kidding me, right? I kiss you like that and you think I just want to cuddle up and go to sleep? Sometimes I doubt your commitment to sparkle motion."
At this, Lassiter allowed himself to finally laugh too. "Thank you," he said, picking up his chopsticks and finally taking a bite of his dinner.
Shawn had already reached the maximum capacity of food he could fit in his mouth, so his response was nothing more than a garbled mess. But Lassiter understood that he was questioning the appreciation.
"For finally taking something seriously," Lassiter replied.
Shawn swallowed and washed down the food with a swig of beer. "Oh, don't mention it. But it's not something you should get used to either."
Lassiter smirked. He was perfectly willing to get used to Shawn's antics and his inability to take anything seriously. Because that meant that they had a relationship in which they could get used to each other's idiosyncrasies.
He didn't even care if it ended up biting him in the ass one day. For now, he was willing to risk it all with Spencer. And that nagging, worried voice in the furthest corner of his mind could just deal with it.