Summery: A Psych Christmas fic. Carlton is prepared to spend Christmas evening alone at the office when he finds mysterious package on his desk. Three guesses as to who it is from.
Warning: See, Santa? No bad language or sex here. Boys kissing boys, though.
Disclaimer: Psych and all related characters are the property of USA Networks and a bunch of other people in suits. Please don't sue.
Carlton, despite what many observers thought, loved Christmas. He loved the glow of the advent candles during Sunday mass. He loved the smell of cinnamon and gingerbread that filled the cafe he stopped at every day for his morning cup of coffee. And he especially loved being the one to catch the grinches that appeared every year to steal change from the bell ringer's red kettles and baby Jesuses from outdoor nativity scenes.
He would have loved much more if he had someone to spend it with, however. Christmas day wasn't meant to be spent alone in an empty police station, catching up on paperwork, he thought as he entered the bull pen. It was meant for family and food and light and warmth and—
Presents. Presents like the small box sitting in the middle of his workspace wrapped in green-striped paper and topped with a large red bow.
Nobody knew I was coming into the station today, Carlton realized. He hadn't wanted people's pity nor their half-hearted holiday invitations, so hadn't told anyone that his plans for the day included listening to his police scanner and eating Chinese take-out at his desk.
"MERRY CHRISTMAS!" a handmade card sitting on top of the box announced as he made his way closer to his desk. Carlton lifted the card gently from the box and opened it. Nothing. No note from his mysterious Santa Claus. No clue as to how whomever it was knew he'd be spending his holiday alone at his desk.
He gently ripped the paper off the box, removed its lid and peeked inside. His stomach clenched in anger. A snow globe. Another damn snow globe. Shawn (along with half of the entire department) had given Carlton snow globes that first year they met. And apparently, someone in the station still thought the gag was funny.
He picked the snow globe up gently with the tips of his fingers. The globe was about the size of a grapefruit and sat on a mahogany base beveled with tiny ornate snowflakes. The plastic snow had been disturbed when Carlton picked up the globe and, as it settled back to the base, he was shocked to find a miniature version of himself in the middle of swirling bits of white and gold. Little Cutout Carlton was dressed in a bright blue snowsuit ... or at least that's what Carlton assumed he was wearing. It was hard to tell with Little Cutout Carlton crouching in fear and attempting to protect his head with mittened hands. The look of terror that marred Little Cutout Carlton's face was easy to make out, though.
Little Cutout Carlton wasn't alone in the globe. There was a Little Cutout Shawn standing on the right, his face split by a wide grin. Little Cutout Shawn was dressed in a lime green snowsuit and was holding a tiny plastic umbrella high in his stretched out arm.
A flush of embarrassment and anger coursed through Carlton's body. Of course. Shawn Spencer. The man delighted in mocking him. He wasn't going to take a break just because it was a holiday.
Carlton none-too-gently set the globe back on his desk and fell into his chair. He can't give it a rest, can he? Not even on Christmas. All of the touching, all of the nicknames and all of the snide comments about his height, his Irish hairline, his ears, his so-called good looks, Carlton could deal with that. Deal with the ordinary, everyday taunting from Shawn. But, for a reason that Carlton didn't want to reflect too deeply on, this cruel mockery of holiday merriment hurt.
He tossed the wrapping paper and ribbon on his desk in self-disgust.
A piece of yellow paper fluttered from the mess and fell at this feet. Carlton leaned forward to pick the slip of paper up. It was another card. A pineapple-shaped card. Sharpie-drawn diamonds criss-crossed the front of the card and curled green ribbon sprouted out of the top. "Carly" was written across the front in a messy script.
Carlton flipped open the card. Taped to one side was a photo of him and Shawn after one of the department's softball games that appeared to be cut out from the station's newsletter. They both were dusty and smelly, and their uniforms streaked with grass stains. Shawn had an arm thrown around Carlton's shoulder's, beaming into the camera. Carlton stood close to him, arms crossed, giving Shawn a sidelong glance. His mouth was bent in a crooked grin which, while not as blinding as Shawn's, lit up his face. "TEAM SHASSIE KICKS ASSIE" was written in large block letters underneath the photo.
Carlton's gaze drifted back up to the heavy globe sitting on his desk. He studied the two cutouts sitting in the plastic snow bank. Little Cutout Shawn's arm was held high, hoisting his tiny umbrella above his—no, Carlton realized. Not his head. The umbrella was too far to the left to be covering Little Cutout Shawn's head. It almost looked to be covering ... Little Cutout Carlton's head?
Curious, Carlton carefully picked up the globe, gave it a quick shake and set it back down on his desk. White and glittery-gold snow swirled around the cutouts before beginning their slow descent back to the globe's base. Carlton watched as the flakes landed gently on the umbrella above Little Cutout Carlton's head and slide harmlessly away. Not a single fake snow flake touched the tiny cutout.
He gave the globe two more quick shakes. Each time the plastic umbrella Little Cutout Shawn held hoisted above his head protected Little Cutout Carlton from the flecks of snow.
He turned his attention back to the folded card in his hand. The smiling photo of Shawn and himself looked up at him. On the other side of the card, Shawn had scribbled a messy note.
"Dear Lassie," it began, "in the event you and I should ever find ourselves trapped in a giant snow globe, don't worry, I'll protect you. Love, Shawn." A winking smiley face sat underneath Shawn's signature.
A smile (a smile that he tried with all his might to restrain) slowly spread across Carlton's face.
"I still don't understand your snow globe hang-up," a familiar voice stated, startling Carlton. "But I'm hoping you'll keep that one around."
Carlton started, struggling to keep from dropping the globe. He turned to see Shawn standing across the pen, a Santa hat on his head and his arms laden with grocery bags. Carlton looked down at the globe held tentatively between his fingers and back up at Shawn.
"I've seen worse," he replied, attempting to sound casual. "What are you doing here? I thought you normally spent the holidays with Guster or your father."
Shawn approached his desk and set the plastic bags down. He began to pull out containers of food: a small rotisserie chicken, Tupperware filled with mashed potatoes and green beans, and a plate with two slices of pecan pie. Carlton's stomach growled in response to the enticing aromas.
"Gus is with his family. I've harassed them enough today," he said simply as he set two places at Carlton's desk.
"And your father?"
"Henry can take care of himself."
Carlton set the globe back on the desktop. "How'd you know I be here?"
Shawn didn't say anything. He just smiled and tapped his finger on his temple.
"Psychic," Carlton said drily. "Of course."
"Despite the fact you're a complete unbeliever, the holiday spirits like you, Lassie. The Ghost of Christmas Present told me I was needed here."
Carlton felt a warmth that had nothing to do with Christmas cheer spread through him. He gave a nervous grunt of acknowledgment. "Well, thank them for me. And thank you for…" his tongue felt thicker all of a sudden, causing his words to fall clumsily out of his mouth.
"Not the globe," he fumbled, "but for, you know, your promise that you wro—The card! " he finished loudly. He took a calming breath in, then out. "Thank you for your gift."
Shawn just grinned, his face as bright as it appeared in the photograph in his card. As bright as Little Cutout Shawn's. And the smile grew bigger as he leaned in close and placed a kiss on Carlton's lips. It was soft and tasted of more sugar than any holiday cookie Carlton had ever eaten.
"Merry Christmas, Carlton," he said, eyes twinkling.
When the shock of Shawn's action wore off, Carlton felt his face ease into a warm smile. He leaned forward to place a kiss of his own, brief but filled with gratitude, on Shawn's lips.
"Merry Christmas, Shawn."
A/N: Awww...it's incredibly vain to "awww" at your own work, but I can't help it. I'm feeling particularly Christmas-y at this moment. Christmas-y and food-poisoned. A safe and warm winter to everyone!