A/N: Sorry if the last chapter got a little too heavy on the introspection; sometimes I just get carried away. Also, sorry if this one gets a little sappy at parts.
Shawn rifled through Lassie's cabinets, looking for anything vaguely resembling a waffle iron and coming up entirely short. How could a man be over forty and not have a waffle iron? Or a smoothie machine, for that matter, or a panini press. It was just a crime against nature. What did Lassie even eat?
But, resilient as always, he'd make do. He knew Lassiter's general kitchen layout, having scoped out his residence several times (all for the good of the public, he'd assured a wary Gus). Sure enough, he found the pans in the cabinet just below and to the right of the stove. They were all organized perfectly, from smallest down to the largest, fitting together so flawlessly that Shawn wondered if he'd ever done more than remove the store packaging and put them in the cupboard.
Grabbing two pans, and a skillet for good measure, Shawn noted the sound of running water upstairs. So Lassiter was a morning shower kind of guy. Good to know. He was half-tempted to go join the detective, lather him up and rub him down, but his stomach rumbled so loudly that it could've registered on the Richter scale. He realized that, despite his pretzel stick architecture escapades yesterday, he hadn't ate since he and Gus ordered Czech for lunch, before he'd been assigned to that club case with Lassie. It'd do everyone better if he made breakfast right now, not that he couldn't save the shower idea for later. Couldn't have all the fun up front.
He set about the kitchen, dropping the pans next to the oven with an unceremonious clatter that he was sure Lassie would hate as he moved to search through the detective's refrigerator. Immediately, he took in the contents–a jug of milk, some American cheese slices, an assortment of generic fruits, butter, leftover Chinese food, eggs, a motley array of condiments and a few beers. Sparse, like the rest of Lassie's house, but not as institutional. It at least had some variety.
Grabbing the eggs, milk, butter and some blueberries, he deposited them next to the stove, more gently than the pans, and moved to a cupboard next to the sink. He found all the dry ingredients there, and a couple of mixing bowls in the cabinet above the microwave. Some water made it into the coffee machine along with some grounds; he knew Lassie functioned way better when given caffeine. Spoons were his last discovery, several large wooden ones that screamed Lassie's sort of classic ideals.
Absently, he began to make up the pancake and waffle mixes, several different jobs as a diner cook rushing back to him like it was just last week. His body worked on autopilot, while his mind drifted over the entire kitchen, memorizing and processing the small details. He'd never actually been in Lassie's kitchen before (not that he couldn't get into the house if he didn't want to), but it seemed to reflect the rest of his house. It was simple, but not austere. There were small flourishes, almost afterthoughts, that made it look just a little more lived in than a display house.
Shawn couldn't help but frown at his surroundings. In the last few years, he'd gotten used to being surrounded by all the little trinkets that comprised his life on the road, haphazardly arranged throughout whatever apartment he happened to live in at the time. It was the accumulation of a life thoroughly lived, reminders of all the places he'd been. Lassiter's house was devoid of this sort of life and that, frankly, what was a life if you had nothing you wanted to remember from it?
Firing up the stove, he poured some batter into a pan and wrinkled his nose as he cracked some eggs into another (might as well make some eggs while he was at it). He wanted to give Lassiter some life, give him something to wake up for besides his job. Sure, his determination to save people was part of what Shawn found so attractive about the older man, but he could stand to loosen up a little bit. Not change entirely–Shawn was pretty sure that even the worst parts of Lassie were things he adored–but just relax a little.
And Shawn could do that, if Lassie would let him. He knew the detective was hard to get to know, all boarded up and walled off thanks to bad relationships in the past. It was just a little extra hurdle, if you asked Shawn, and he'd already made it further than most people could. After all, he'd managed to share a bed the detective after an intense dance, and no sex was had. Already, that was a first for both of them.
He flipped the pancakes and considered how he was going to make the waffles without an iron.
So what was this supposed to be? He certainly knew where he wanted it to go, if his many years of meticulous fantasizing were any realistic indication, and he had a decent feeling about where Lassiter would like to take it. After all, neither of them had woken up and proceeded to freak out, so last night (or this morning, depending on how you looked at it) wasn't some sort of aberration.
Lassiter may have been in denial for the last five years, but he'd somehow gotten over that last night, and thank god for that. There was only so much Shawn could do to try and woo the detective before it turned into a job, and he didn't want Lassie to be work for him. Sure, work was generally fun for him, but he quit work after a while, after he mastered the job and got bored. He didn't want Lassie to be something he'd conquer and move on from.
He scrambled the eggs, grabbing some cheese from the fridge to tear up and toss into the pan. Finished pancakes were flopped onto a plate as new ones were poured out.
Shawn thought about how he'd woken up this morning, with Lassiter's warm lips pressed to his; a swarm of butterflies seized his rumbling stomach. He wanted more mornings like that, a hundred thousand more days waking up tangled in Lassie. It would be perfect, all the challenge they had now without the hard edge of repression.
But that begged the question, what were they? Just because Lassiter was okay with him staying over and making breakfast, didn't mean he was ready for a relationship. They weren't enemies, never had been, but that didn't make them friends before this, not exactly. Sure, they didn't hate each other, even sort of liked each other in a very secret way, but that didn't constitute friendship.
Of course, all that subdued sexual tension could've had something to do with that. Maybe things could be different now, since no one was pretending anymore. They could antagonize each other, sure, but that was just how they rolled. Now, they could be honest, and maybe that meant they could have a real relationship.
Maybe. He didn't peg Lassie as a one-night stand kind of guy, but since they hadn't had sex, this really didn't fall into that category. For all he knew, this was all Lassie needed, and it was all over now. Or, just as likely and way more awesome, this was the prelude to something real.
The second round of pancakes was flipped, and the eggs scooped onto yet another plate, garnished with more cheese that instantly began to melt.
It wasn't even twenty-four hours in, and Shawn was already trying to classify their situation. Even worse, he was failing. He had no idea what to consider he and Lassiter, seeing as most of his relationship expertise involved the first through third dates, and even that was pretty spotty after the first date mark. With Lassie, he'd skipped the first date entirely, as well as any ensuing sex, which put him entirely out of his element.
He didn't really date. Dating meant being tied down in one place indefinitely. It meant being with one person indefinitely, falling into a routine that became predictable. Predictable meant boring, at least in Shawn's world. Abigail had been the one exception to prove the rule in his whole life, and she had been anything but predictable. She was the one person who'd actually left him wanting, the one who ran off to do things that were important to her life. He understood her need to go off and do her own things, and more than understood when she broke up with him. Most people weren't capable of dealing with the life of a cop, or even a psychic consultant for the cops.
A bright idea hit him, and he hurriedly gathered a few things to make some proper waffles.
But that was part of what made Lassie extra special to him, too. He was already accustomed to and aware of every danger associated with the life that they both chose. Between them, there would be no awkward adjustment between civilian and police life. Well, Lassie would still probably worry, since Shawn was technically a civilian, but he'd get used to it because, deep down, he understood Shawn did good work. If he didn't understand that already, he would've had Shawn fired a long time ago.
There was no way Lassie didn't want a relationship, Shawn reasoned. After all, he'd been the one in control last night, ordering the younger man around in a way that was frankly kind of freeing. (And hot. Pretty hot.) And he wouldn't have brought Shawn back to his house, danced with him or allowed him to sleep there if he was wholly against a relationship. That would just be lunacy.
The first of the waffles turned out pretty well for being made with such jury-rigged tools. Another optimistic batch made it into the pan as he heard the water quit running and Lassie's footsteps hit the bathroom floor.
Lassie himself would probably classify everything he'd just named as lunacy. He was possibly the most emotionally repressed person Shawn knew; it was almost certain that, up in the bathroom, Lassie was simultaneously decrying his sudden lack of sanity and wishing he'd given up on it a long time ago. It just like Carlton to beat himself up when you couldn't change the past. They couldn't go back in time and jumpstart this relationship sooner, no matter how obvious it all seemed now. He just had to do his best to prove that this could be a good future for them.
If you asked him, they'd been avoiding this for far too long and while there was an unsettling chance that they'd kill each other eventually, he wanted to see if this could actually work. Besides, death was only the next great adventure according to Dumbledore, and he wasn't the greatest wizard of a generation for nothing.
The latest round of waffles were flipped out onto a plate just in time for Lassie to come padding down the stairs, bathrobe swirling around his pajamas and still-wet hair already halfway coiffed. Shawn turned to smile at him, a plate of waffles in one hand and spatula in the other.
"You actually made waffles," Lassie said, sounding genuinely surprised and maybe, just maybe, a little pleased. The detective glanced up from the waffle array, blue eyes sparkling as he smiled slightly. "You didn't happen to bring a waffle iron with you last night, did you?" Shawn gasped, spatula hand snapping to his chest in mock affront.
"How dare you accuse me of such a thing," he replied. "I'll have you know I made those all on my own, you heretic. I take offense to your lack of faith in my waffling skills." Lassiter, leaning on the back of a chair, just smiled at Shawn.
"Yeah, yeah, Spencer, I get it," he said back, voice light and dismissive. "I'll never question your ability to pull something out of nothing again." Shawn grinned and pulled out a plate for each of them, along with a couple forks and some syrup that Lassie could ponder the origin of for a while.
"I'll hold you to that," Shawn grinned as he handed a plate to the detective. He immediately scooped a pile of eggs onto his own plate, while Lassie grabbed a pancake and two waffles, which ended up doused in syrup. They traded places after a second, moving around the kitchen together like it was natural. Shawn pulled the creamer and sugar for Lassiter, doing his best to make sure the detective realized just how normal this felt, that he wasn't the only one who felt like this was an everyday occurrence.
"Thanks," the taller man murmured, pouring himself a cup and adding his unholy volume of cream and sugar. Shawn didn't drink coffee, didn't need his brain amped up any higher than it already was, but he distractedly wondered what Lassie's mouth would taste like with that coffee on his lips. He found himself staring at those lips, reliving the moment he woke up with amazing clarity, and for once thanked Henry for this ludicrous talent.
Lassiter cleared his throat loudly, drawing Shawn's attention back up to his bright eyes.
"Get a little lost there?" he asked mirthfully. Shawn blinked, a grin spreading across his face as Lassie went to sit down.
"Does it count as being lost if I'm right where I want to be?" he asked back, loving the way the tips of Lassie's ears turned a light shade of pink. The detective just took a drink of coffee to hide the small smile Shawn's words evoked, not that he could hide much from the fake psychic. Embarrassed as he seemed, Shawn knew that Lassie actually liked the affection. It wasn't often he was treated as something other than a cop.
After a second, Lassie opened his mouth to respond, but, all the poor timing in the world centered on them, Shawn's phone began to ring just then. It was still stuffed in the back pocket of his jeans, which were now pooled in a pile up in Lassie's room. Meaning that he'd have to leave, if only for a moment. Damn.
A moment of indecision passed as he glanced between the detective and the stairwell before Carlton nodded at the stairs; Shawn took this opening to jog upstairs and grab his phone just before it went to voicemail.
"Shawn, where are you?" Gus demanded the moment Shawn answered his call. The psychic, already on his way back down to the kitchen, held the phone away from his face for a second, wincing at his best friend's tone, and then gingerly placed it back up against his ear to reply.
"Dude, aren't you on your rounds or something?"
"You didn't call to try and convince me to skip work for lunch today, Shawn. I got worried." Well, that much was definitely true. Shawn usually called to cajole Gus into going out to lunch with him, never mind that he knew Gus' worried voice like he knew every single Billy Zane movie, even that one about the purple guy with the ring in the jungle. This was classic 'I'm worried about you but also fairly annoyed that I'm worried about you' voice. Shawn just chuckled.
"Sorry, buddy, I didn't mean to freak you out. I just had other things going on."
"What other things? You finished that pretzel stick model yesterday, and I took away all the Pringles so you couldn't start building them into Big Ben or something while I was at work."
"Please, Gus, Pringles would make a terrible Big Ben. If anything, Big Ben would be Tootsie Rolls and graham crackers," Shawn snorted. It was just common sense.
"You know that's right," Gus replied automatically before falling back into his annoyed worry. "You still didn't answer my question, Shawn. Where are you?"
"I'm really touched by your concern, man, I really am, but you don't have to be worried." He glanced over to Lassiter, who was alternating between watching this exchange and eating a pancake. "I'm in pretty much the safest place possible." At this small compliment, Lassie gave him an unexpected smile that in turn made Shawn smile.
"You're in the Watchtower satellite that the Justice League uses to monitor Earth?" Gus asked confusedly, jarring the fake psychic from the shared smile. Shawn could almost hear his friend's brow furrowing.
"What? No, Gus, don't be a hula-hooping mariachi band. Of course not."
"Don't try telling me you're in the Avengers Tower, Shawn. You know that's not as safe because it's not in space, and–"
"Gus, Gus," Shawn interjected, cutting off a rant he'd heard enough times to repeat verbatim. When he knew Gus wasn't going to continue, he went on. "Really, I'm okay. I'm just wrapped up in something else today. I thought you'd be happy that I didn't interrupt your other job for once." Gus sighed, loudly and almost entirely in an attempt to make Shawn feel bad. It had stopped working back in high school.
(Except for that time at Legoland, but they had vowed never to talk about that again.)
"I guess you're right, Shawn," Gus acquiesced, not sounding one bit happy about it. "But we're still on for Korean take-out and Square Pegs tonight, aren't we?"
"Pffft, duh," Shawn snorted. "I'd never miss Sarah Jessica Parker night. Talk to you later, buddy?"
"Later," Gus responded, and then the line went dead. Shawn hung up his end and stared at the phone for a second before setting it aside on the counter and looking back to Lassie.
"Sorry 'bout that, Lassiekins. Gus is a worrywart sometimes." The detective raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. Shawn took a moment to take a bite of his pancake. Not too bad, if you asked him; Lassie didn't seem to be spitting them out, either, and he trusted the older man to be honest about these sorts of things.
"So," the detective began, thought trailing off into nowhere. He seemed to be thinking through something in his mind, but the thoughts never made it into words. Shawn watched this process for a second before swallowing his mouthful of food and jumping in.
He'd never had this talk before, never gotten far enough to even receive one. With Abigail, it had just sort of happened, but this–this was entirely new to him. A challenge, one that made his insides feel like a skating rink for drunken lemurs, but a challenge he was willing to jump into nonetheless. Lassie was a challenge he wanted to face, and that meant having this conversation.
"So," Shawn repeated, twirling his fork on his plate nervously. There was no good way to broach the subject easily. Instead, he just glanced up at Lassie, eyebrows raised. "How was last night for you?" When the detective's eyebrows shot up, Shawn realized exactly what he was implying, and backtracked, all while smothering a small smile. "I mean, how was the dancing, and the sleeping? Not the sleeping together sleeping, because we didn't actually do it, but–" Lassiter thankfully held up a hand, ending Shawn's rambling before it really gained momentum.
"I liked it," he said simply, meeting Shawn's eyes evenly. The calm of those two true blues settled the lemurs in Shawn's gut, and somehow, all the tension in the room dissolved.
"Good," Shawn smiled. "So did I."
"No regrets?" Lassie ventured, never looking away.
"Well, that's a loaded question," the younger man shot back. "Do I regret not seeing Back to the Future Part Three a fifth time in theaters? Definitely. Do I regret not making you dance with me sooner? Without a doubt, yes. Do I regret dancing with you last night, or snuggling up with your astonishingly warm body afterward? Not one bit." Lassiter seemed to frown at the mention of their extended period of feigned ignorance, like he had in bed earlier, but it vanished as Shawn went on, replaced by his little smile that Shawn loved more every time he saw it.
"Me either," the lanky man replied, sipping at his coffee. "So..."
"So where's that leave us now?" Shawn filled in, finally throwing the question out there. Honestly, it probably could've waited until after breakfast, but he was impatient at his best, and now that he had Lassie, elusive Lassie, within his grip, it was gnawing away at him, this hunger for the truth. He had to know if this would work out, had to know if he could actually have Carlton Lassiter.
He was the one person who didn't take his crap at face value, who forced him to try his best just because it was the right thing to do, not because it was part of living up to some ideal. The person who Shawn saw so much value in, even if Carlton didn't see it in himself. Shawn could see the good man buried under a lifetime of overbearing family life and relationships that didn't know how to handle stubborn, surly men. Shawn could see every positive and negative, and wanted them all.
So, yeah, he had to know before breakfast was over, or he might think himself into a coma.
"Where do you want that to leave us?" Lassie hazarded slowly. Shawn inwardly groaned at the detective's sudden withdrawal of control. Where was the Lassie that ordered him around? Not that he could always be bossed around, but it was fun to put up a fight.
"C'mon, Carly, don't play games with me like that," Shawn jibed, packing a bite of cheesy eggs into his mouth. "I want this to be more than this. I wanna go dancing with you every night."
"No more clubs," the detective replied reflexively, fork pointed at him to drive his point home. A slow grin had already taken over his face, though, spreading like an infectious disease that Shawn would willingly catch if it meant kissing Carlton again. "But I wouldn't mind dancing again, either."
Finally, his answer. The lemurs in Shawn's gut did little happy dances, and Shawn barely resisted the urge to do the same. Some voice in his head saying it wasn't manly, or something. Whatever. He'd totally do it later, in front of that naysayer Gus.
"Awesome," was his simple, if not euphoric, reply. The large grin on his face made it hard to say much else, so he gave it a minute to settle down as Lassie grinned back at him, sipping coffee all the while. "Maybe not dancing again so soon, though. Dinner, here, tomorrow night? I'll bring the tandoori chicken and the Hill Street Blues DVDs, you bring the wine?"
"Sounds great." Carlton grinned back at Shawn. The fake psychic took a moment to reciprocate as he made his way around the island to plant a firm kiss on the older man's lips. As far as second kisses went, Shawn rated it at pretty spectacular, with Lassie applying just enough pressure at all the right times and Shawn moving his tongue into the other man's mouth boldly. Pulling apart after a minute or so, Shawn let his tongue linger across Carlton's lower lip; he thought he heard the detective moan, ever-so-slightly. The younger man himself smiled: coffee tasted amazing when it mixed with syrup on someone else's lips.
Or maybe it was just Lassie's lips. He'd have to try again to find out. But not now, he noted as his stomach rumbled. He'd barely eaten anything, what with this talk getting in the way and all. Lassiter glanced down to the younger man's stomach, a wry grin forming on his lips.
"Go eat something, Shawn, before that beast devours us all." Shawn did as he was told, moving back around to his plate to stuff the rest of a waffle into his mouth. Lassiter just kept grinning and went back to his coffee, leaving Shawn to quietly marvel.
He had Lassiter, sort of. They had a date planned. Which, ergo, meant they were dating. As far as 'catch and date Lassie' plans went, this one was pretty spontaneous, since most of it was almost entirely out of his control, but Shawn wouldn't discount it as a victory. After all, here he was, eating breakfast with a willing Lassie who'd just agreed to date him. It was a victory any way you looked at it, and he'd take it, as long as it meant having Carlton.