Gus still wasn't quite sure how Shawn had managed this. Somehow, through an insane amount of persuading and perhaps a bit of bribing, Shawn had managed to con a good deal of people to come up with him and Gus on their annual extended camping trip. Some of these people Gus had no idea why Shawn had invited. Lassiter, for example. But, then again, Gus supposed Shawn did really enjoy annoying the hell out of the poor Detective. Along with Lassiter had come Juliet, Chief Vick, Buzz, Gus' parents, and Shawn's dad. Shawn had tried hard to convince his mom to come as well but his mom apparently had pressing work at the moment and couldn't make it to town. This didn't diminish Shawn's bright and perky mood, of course.
They were all gathered around the campfire at the time, enjoying the cool evening breeze. Henry was over at the table, busily getting dinner ready for the group. The Chief was a ways away, out of earshot, talking on her cell phone. Despite Shawn's very vocal protests against any contact with the outside world, the Chief had insisted. Though she was willing to go camping, she still had work to do. Gus' parents were awkwardly trying to help Henry get dinner ready by setting the table or grabbing something from the animal-proof box. However, they were mostly only succeeding in getting in Henry's way.
Buzz, Lassiter, Juliet, Gus and Shawn all sat in foldout chairs around the fire. Buzz was in a regular t-shirt and jeans, face beaming and enjoying himself like a little kid on Christmas. Lassiter, much to everyone's amusement, was stubbornly still wearing a suit, looking quite awkward in such a causal chair. Juliet's hair was somewhat of a mess, thanks to the festivities earlier in the day which had included quite the competitive game of outdoor volleyball, but her eyes sparkled in an excitement she hadn't felt in years. Gus was rather enjoying himself by staying quiet and observing. Every now and again he would contribute to the animated conversation among the friends, but mostly he would sit back and watch.
Shawn himself was on fire. It was a wonder he was able to sit so still in his chair. He could hardly believe himself that he'd managed to get so many people to come on the camping trip and the triumph and adrenaline had him acting more like a kid than usual. His laughter was everywhere, as well as his sarcasm and ego. Honestly, it was his enthusiasm that was making everyone else (well… not counting Lassiter) have the time of their lives.
"Oh, my gosh!" Jules exclaimed in response to a hilarious story involving an awkward encounter between Buzz and a girl he had dumped in high school. "That totally reminds of this game… Have any of you guys played the game 'Honey, I Love You'?"
Lassie groaned. "That is a terrible game, O'Hara!"
Buzz laughed. "I love that game! I'm horrible at it, but it's so much fun!"
Jules was beaming. "It's not a terrible game, Lassiter!" she insisted. "And I think it'd be amusing to see you play it." She turned to Shawn and Gus. "Do you guys know the game?"
Shawn's eyes were dancing. "I've never heard of it," he told her, leaning forward. Jules gasped, obviously getting ready to explain the rules.
"Okay, so, one person is 'it,' right? And this person… let's just say it's me… goes up to another person, we'll say you, Shawn, and I say 'Honey, I love you. Would you please, please smile?' And I can be as dramatic as I like and add things to it and… well, pretty much do anything to ham it up. Then you would have to say, without smiling and/or laughing, 'Honey, I love you, too, but I just can't smile.' If you succeed in saying that without smiling or laughing, I'm still 'it.' But if you smile or laugh before saying the response, I win the round and you're 'it.'"
Shawn was grinning from ear to ear. "I have a feeling I'll like this game. Is everyone playing?" He glanced around quickly but before anyone could reply, namely one certain disgruntled detective, Shawn smacked his knees. "I'll start us off."
With a gleam in his eye, Shawn critically observed all those sitting around the fire. A light bulb practically appearing above his head, Shawn stood up decisively and walked purposefully towards his victim.
Lassiter groaned. "Spencer, don't you d—"
"Lassie," Shawn said dramatically, falling to one knee in front of him and grabbing the detective's hand. "I… I know… things have been… complicated… between us…"
With a loud guffaw, Jules smacked a hand to her mouth. Buzz was already doubled over. The corners of Gus' lips were twitching wildly. Lassiter… looked murderous. Undeterred, Shawn continued.
"I know… I've probably been giving you… a lot of mixed signals, too… But… but, the thing is… Honey… I love you. Would you please… please smile? For me?"
There was a long pause before Lassiter opened his mouth. Quickly, Shawn interrupted with another, drawn out "Please?" A strange noise came from the back on Lassie's throat and his lips twitched. Shawn stood up, throwing his arms in the air triumphantly.
"That was a laugh!"
"No, it was not, Spencer!" Lassie argued, completely serious now. Jules shook her head, laughing.
"No, no, Carlton. That was a laugh: you're it."
Lassie glared at the group, folding his arms angrily before snapping his attention to Buzz.
"McNab!" he barked. Buzz couldn't help but grin.
Lassie sat back, satisfied. "Too easy."
Still grinning, Buzz looked around at the group, his eyes falling on Gus.
"Sir?" he started. Gus raised an eyebrow. "This might be a bit awkward, but—"
Gus snorted, hiding his mouth. Shawn stared at him, disappointed. "Oh, come on, dude!" Shawn exclaimed. "That was pathetic!"
"Who starts a confession of love with 'this might be a bit awkward'?" Gus pointed out. "I wasn't expecting it!" Ignoring any further remarks from Shawn, Gus took the opportunity to glance around and pick out his victim… when he realized there was only one person who hadn't been touched yet. Gus chuckled to himself. This would definitely bug the hell out of the fake psychic.
Smoothly, Gus stood up and stalked up to Juliet. Brushing his nose instinctively, Gus nodded his head at her.
Juliet bit her lips. Behind Gus, Shawn had gone completely still, erasing his face of any emotion. His muscles were tense as rock. He told himself over and over it was just a game but… well, there was a reason he hadn't gone straight for Jules on his first round. It was all part of a plan… subtlety was sometimes a good method. Not one he used often, but it worked every now and again.
"Y'know, so, I was thinkin'," Gus continued, still using his same routine he used on every girl. "It would really make my day if you would smile. Just your usual, radiant smile. That's all I'm askin', babe. Just a smile."
Not a sound was uttered from the small group, the tension high as a rocket. Finally, Jules cleared her throat. "Honey. Or babe, if you prefer," she said stiffly. "I love you, too. But I just can't smile."
As if a dam had been broken, the tension in Shawn's body left and he sank down in his chair, laughing. "She got you, Gus! She got you!"
Jules was now smiling wildly, her eyes sparkling in triumph. "Practice," she explained. "I play this game a lot with my family. My dad's the only one who can get me to crack anymore. It really annoys everyone."
Irritated, Gus turned to Shawn who was still smiling evilly at him. "Shawn?"
"Yeah?" Shawn asked intently. Gus sat down in satisfaction.
Shawn blinked. "What? Wait, wait, no!" The smile was gone now. "No, no, that's not fair!"
Lassie actually barked out a laugh. "Oh, I believe it is, Spencer. I believe it is your turn."
Shawn glared at Lassie. "Aw, Lassie, you don't have to be like that. I'll tell you I love you anytime." Without waiting for a reply, Shawn rigidly set his sights on Jules. Juliet caught the look he was giving her and shook her head, immediately wiping the grin off her face.
"I told you, Shawn. My dad's the only one who can get me to smile anymore. You might as well not try."
Shawn smirked. "Well, you've never played with me, have you, Jules? I'm pretty sure my charms will make anyone break."
Jules folded her arms stubbornly. "Do your worst."
Shawn stood up and casually walked over to her. "I plan to." With a sudden release of energy, he flopped onto her lap, swinging his legs over one side of the chair and wrapping his arms around her neck. Buzz let out an involuntary gasp and starting giggling like a schoolgirl. Gus coughed, shaking his head. Lassie's jaw dropped.
"Spencer, get off Detective O'Hara's lap!"
Shawn completely ignored Lassiter and starting stroking Jules' cheek. "Jules…" he whispered huskily. "Jules, I love you." Jules' jaw was hard as stone and she stared hard into the fire. Shawn grinned. She was trying hard not to smile. "Your eyes are so beautiful with the fire reflecting in them, did you know that? And your skin… so smooth…" Jules starting grinding her teeth. "You know what would improve such a flawless face? A smile. A sparkling smi—"
"What in the world am I seeing?"
Whirling around at the tone in the sudden voice and jumping off of Jules' lap, Shawn saw Chief Vick had gotten off her cell phone finally and was now staring at him in pure shock. Shawn grinned at the Chief and glanced behind him at Jules who was doubled over, laughing. Shawn threw his hands in the air.
"YES!" he bellowed. Jules glared at him through her laughter, her gaze falling on the Chief.
"Not fair!" she yelled good-naturedly. "I would've won!"
Shawn only smiled at Jules smugly. "Well, you didn't. And I did."
A/N: I love reviewers and live for constructive criticism!