A/N: Yeah, this is officially a series/'verse. Millerverse? Millerverse. It contains exactly zero dancing or Glenn Miller, but it's still a continuation from In the Mood and Sunrise Serenade, so the theme naming continues. This is likely going to be a five-parter, never mind the other Millerverse pieces I'm working on. My brain just hates focusing on too few things at once.
It was a little more than twenty-four hours into their relationship when the first real freakout hit Carlton.
Really, it wasn't all that dramatic–there was no yelling, no fighting, no debilitating effects that made him unable to fully function for hours afterward. Nothing like the freakout he could've had. Just a sort of thud, like slamming into a brick wall, and then the feeling of sinking, very suddenly.
He was at the station, filling out booking reports, minding his own damn business and only thinking about his planned date with Shawn every second or third thought. Really, he hadn't thought about it much, not a lot beyond the usual self-deprecating marveling that he'd snagged a date with anyone, let alone someone as good-looking or popular as Shawn Spencer. The whispers of a freakout hadn't even crossed his mind since that moment after their bust when he'd just stopped caring and made this happen.
All that changed when Shawn sauntered past his desk, regaling a filing clerk with his (apparently generous) contributions to their night club arrest. Silently, he prayed that Shawn would walk on by, not even spare him a glance, maybe maintain a newfound level of professional courtesy around him (even though he knew he'd have better luck hoping a meteorite hit him); at the same time, he really wanted to leap up, grab the psychic by the shoulders and kiss him furiously, just to make sure Shawn really was still his.
He knew he couldn't do that in the station, of course. That was potential career suicide when he didn't even know how long this would last. Maybe one day, when he knew exactly how stable this was going to be, but for now, he held his urges back.
So when Shawn stopped next to him, ruffling his hair as he told the filing clerk how handy Lassiter had been in apprehending the criminal at the club, the detective immediately felt his whole body tense. His hand froze mid-word on his report, resisting the strong urge to either yell at Shawn for bothering him or kiss his stupid mouth shut. The younger man's hand settled on Lassiter's shoulder, thumb rubbing absently back and forth as he detailed an elaborate victory dance that Carlton had definitely not done after the perp was booked.
That was when it hit him, weight on his chest a like herd of elephants making it impossible to breathe. He was sinking, drowning, being dragged down in a sea of realization. Here Shawn was, just parading around the station, once a safe haven of peace and justice for Carlton, telling his ridiculous stories that couldn't even be realistic in some sort of backwards alternate universe. He had enough good sense in him to leave out any details pertaining to their post-arrest activities (though Carlton seriously doubted he had any more good sense than that), but Shawn's words only served to make the detective very suddenly hyper-aware of just whom he had a date with, who he'd shared a bed and a fairly intimate dance with.
Shawn Spencer. Eternal braggart. About as mature as a six-year-old. Had some sort of incessant need to one-up Carlton, and Carlton alone. Couldn't keep his mouth shut for the life of him. Ladies man and all-around flirt.
Carlton was insane, plain and simple. There was no other way to rationally explain his sudden acceptance of the thoughts he'd been having about the unnaturally irritating department psychic. Lassiter considered himself to be a generally upstanding citizen, with a firm resolution and no-nonsense attitude about most things. Shawn was the very opposite, a flighty man-child who couldn't take anything seriously and drove Carlton nuts more often than not.
They just couldn't make it work; either Shawn would leave out of boredom or Carlton would strangle him in frustration. They were too dissimilar, too at each others' throats and on each others' nerves all the time. How involved they'd already become, the kisses they'd shared, was madness enough without considering their tenuous future.
The sudden absence of warmth on his shoulder drew his thoughts back to Shawn and the filing clerk. He glanced up, saw Shawn's mouth moving, but couldn't quite focus enough to make out the words. Blood still echoed in his ears, heavy thoughts coursing through his mind and dragging him down further from the blinding light of his interest in Shawn, but he could see the younger man smiling, glancing coyly to Carlton. The psychic pressed two fingers to his own lips, then to Carlton's cheek; the filing clerk just watched this with general disinterest, almost bored with the commonplace occurrence of Shawn harassing Lassiter, before following the psychic as he walked away.
The spot where Shawn's fingers had touched his cheek was still slightly warm, and that was all Carlton could think about. It was a breath of fresh air, like being pulled from the water just before the blackness on the edge of his vision took him. All the positive things he'd felt, dancing pressed up against Shawn, waking up next to him, came to Carlton in a rush. The doubts still lingered on the edges–just being the way he was, he wasn't likely to get rid of those doubts quickly–but they seemed minuscule now compared to how Shawn could make him feel just by being Shawn.
He was affectionate, open, understanding. He was fun and free and willing to love every imperfect part of the older man. He made Carlton try harder at everything, whether he liked it or not. He was everything Lassiter needed in his life that he'd never been willing to try before. And if he wasn't willing to change his outlook now, he was never going to find anyone to be with, not for real.
So as crazy as it seemed, as different as they were, he needed Shawn. He wanted Shawn. Shawn balanced him out, and vice versa (or so he liked to think). They were good for one another, could be so much better men if they gave it a chance.
He didn't know how many times he'd have to go through this particular brand of freakout in the course of their relationship, as long as it would last, but to be fair, it was probably the most important freakout. He just didn't know that yet.