Disclaimer: I do not own, nor am I in any way associated with, Psych (or Star Trek).
AN: A Heart on my Hand asked for a Shules story. It took me a while to get an idea for one but I finally found one during tonight's episode. That being said, spoilers for Thrill Seekers & Hell Raisers. And kudos to anyone who recognizes where the rabbits' names come from.
Rabbit Care For Children
One tiny kitten, its eyes barely open, stumbled over to the water feeder and drank greedily while its brothers and sisters slept nearby. Juliet sniffed at the scene and turned away. It was definitely too soon. She hadn't had the heart to get a new cat after Mr. Mittens died, and when Miss Lyon passed just a few weeks ago she'd been left completely cat-less. She'd thought perhaps it was time to find a new companion, but she just couldn't imagine owning another cat. She wandered along the wall of glass cages, considered other options. She'd never understood the cat vs. dog debate, maybe she could get a puppy.
"You're just the cutest thing ever! Yes you are! Yes you are!"
Juliet stiffened at the familiar voice. Given the direction it was coming from there was no way she could get out of the pet store without being seen. Steeling herself she whirled around with a "Shawn!" that sounded much perkier than she felt, only to freeze the moment she actually saw him. He was standing beside the bunny pen, holding a grey and white spotted rabbit to his chest. He seemed to have been in the process of petting and cooing at it but now his face was a mask of shock Juliet was sure mirrored her own.
"Jules," he said slowly, glancing between her and the rabbit. He rolled his shoulders back and seemed to be adopting the most manly pose possible while cradling a bunny rabbit. "What's up?" he asked in his I'm-being-a-tough-man voice.
Juliet shook herself and approached him. "I --"
"Oh my gosh!" Shawn cried, his eyes going wider than they had been moments ago. "I completely forgot! I am so sorry, Jules."
"About what?" she asked.
"Miss Lyon," he said sadly, reaching out a hand to rest on her arm. "When it happened we were all weird because of Abi--"
"We were never weird, Shawn," she insisted, her voice a bit too harsh. He dropped his hand and she bit her lip, embarrassed. "Anyway," she said slowly, "who is this little guy?" She reached out to scratch the rabbit behind the ears, focusing on it instead of Shawn.
"This is Ethel. She likes long hops on the beach, pirate movies, and lettuce."
Juliet smiled. She was never sure just how much of Shawn's crazy ramblings were jokes and how much were actually divined but she was pretty certain that this time he was just playing with her.
"Well," she said, scratching the rabbit under the chin, "I'm sure she'll find a guy who loves all those things. What are you doing here?" she added, glancing up at him.
He watched her pet the rabbit almost lazily for a moment before blinking and saying, "Oh! You mean me?"
"I can figure out why Ethel is here," she pointed out with a wry smile.
"I got in a fight with my Dad," he admitted, clearly embarrassed.
"Aw, Shawn, I'm so sorry. Wait. That doesn't explain why you're in a pet store speaking baby talk to a bunny rabbit."
"Of course it does!"
She looked at him incredulously, waiting for him to fill her in.
"Rabbits are the most soothing animals in all the universe. They're like tribbles, only instead of being born pregnant they get the joy of actual sex. Try one," he added.
She looked down into the bunny pen. Most of them were sleeping but a brown spotted one was hopping about eagerly, butting its head into the side of a black one. The black one flicked its ear but otherwise ignored the spotted one.
"I'm serious," Shawn said. "Pick up a rabbit and tell me it doesn't make you feel better."
She frowned at him but did as he instructed. Since the spotted one was the only one who wouldn't be seriously disturbed by the move she chose him. She didn't want to have a sleeping rabbit be so frightened that it peed all over her shirt. She cupped one hand under its tail and held it to her chest much the way Shawn was. For a moment his eyes clouded and she could almost read his thoughts, "If only I could be that rabbit," before the look disappeared and he smiled at her, his usual jovial self.
"Isn't that better?"
She looked down at the little brown ball of fur. It definitely was better. It wasn't the same as holding Miss Lyon or Mr. Mittens, but there was something utterly satisfactory about holding a rabbit. It didn't demand to be held just so or petted, it just sat quietly, letting its warmth and fuzzy cuteness seep into her and heal her hurts.
"You know," she said, "it really is. I was thinking of getting a puppy, but maybe I'll get one of these guys."
"I think that is a great idea," Shawn said sincerely, using a much less pompous variation on his wise psychic voice. "Claudio there seems to like you a lot."
"Claudio?" she echoed.
"He also likes pirate movies, but prefers riding in cars to hopping on the beach. Though he does love lettuce."
"I think we'd better keep these two apart then," Juliet joked. "Two out of three, they're almost a perfect match." The memory of a long ago dating survey popped into her mind and she quickly turned away, just in time for a pet store employee to come up, asking if they needed any assistance. "No," Juliet said sadly, "not today." She set Claudio back into the enclosure, avoiding Shawn's stricken gaze. "I'm not ready," she insisted before hurrying out of the store.
Two days later she came home from work to find a cage on her front porch, Claudio inside munching on a head of lettuce. On top of the cage was a book, Rabbit Care for Children, and a note saying only, "You'll never be ready. You just have to take the chance."
"I did," she muttered, not thinking about pets at all. Claudio moved, rustling the newspaper at the bottom of the cage and getting her attention. She looked down at him with a warm smile. "Let's get you inside."
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