Disclaimer: I know, you know, that I don't own the show Psych.
Author's Note: I have so much accumulated love for the Shules pairing. And after seeing the episode about their "adult vacation," I knew I had to write something for 'em. Dunno if it will mesh with future canon or not, but hey. Fanfics are just for fun, right? And for submitting others to one's own head-canon. ;3
Warnings: Shawn/Juliet. Does fluff need a warning? Alludes to season four's "Death is in the Air." (Also a brief shout-out to "Meat is Murder… but Murder is also Murder.") Crappy editing and general lameness, since I only read through it once. :'D /lazy
Juliet O'Hara, much like her boyfriend Shawn, had very strong feelings about breakfast. Unfortunately, though not unsurprisingly, their strong feelings weren't always congruent. For while they could agree that it was "always breakfast somewhere"—if only so that Shawn might cook dinner, once in a while—Juliet was a starch believer in eating healthily. Though she was never stupid enough to use the phrase "you are what you eat" with Shawn (who, depending on his mood, would either turn the saying into a joke about being sweet or into a quip about cannibalism), she did insist on laying a few ground rules in the hopes of keeping both herself and her beau in peak physical condition for… catching criminals. Amongst other strenuous activities that may or may not involve handcuffs.
So pastries, for example, were not allowed in her kitchen. Not as a substitute for a morning meal, anyway. Pancakes, while admittedly delicious, were a "sometimes" food. Anywhere else in the world, a waffle would be seen as a dessert, so those were a rarity, too, unless they were eating out. And any cereal kept in her cupboard was not allowed to have sugar listed as its first ingredient.
"And no, Shawn, 'high fructose corn syrup' does not 'technically make corn the first ingredient,'" Juliet sighed, brandishing the offending box of Honey Coated Rainbow Loops. The glossy cartoon unicorn on the box's front smiled winningly up at the young detective, trying to seduce her with innocent charm. It was a familiar tactic, most often utilized by Shawn. In fact, he was using it right now.
"I've heard it both ways," he returned flippantly, flashing her a boyish grin. In his hand, he balanced two ceramic bowls and a pint of milk. "C'mon, it's not like one bowl is gonna give you cavities. Diabetes, maybe, but you're entitled that much by virtue of being an American."
Juliet leveled him a flat stare, even as a touch of good humor quirked the corners of her lips. "Wow, Shawn. How thoughtful. Most guys get their girlfriends flowers or chocolates. You promise me debilitating diseases."
"Hey, of the three, which is gonna last you the longest?" Shawn pointed out, arching a meaningful eyebrow. "There, you see? I just care more than most guys. Now c'mon, let's eat," he encouraged, nudging the begrudging Juliet towards the table. "Most important meal of the day, breakfast."
Juliet rolled her eyes, trying to sidestep her boyfriend's gentle shoving. "And that's why I'll be having Wheat Flakes."
"Oh. We're out of those," Shawn informed, setting down the bowls. He then proceeded to pull out one of the chairs and gesture magnificently at the proffered seat, bowing like a butler. It was a bit out of character for Shawn to act so chivalrous so early; more out of surprise than anything, his girlfriend sat. Still, she felt herself frown at his announcement.
"I could have sworn I saw some in the cupboard last night…"
"Midnight snack. I was hungry," the P.I. said simply, sliding into the seat across from his lady love. His less than impressed lady love.
"The box was unopened."
"I was super hungry."
"And I think I bought two, last time I was out."
"Super duper hungry. And Gus was, too," a ridiculously somber Shawn intoned, passing his incredulous girlfriend one of the two empty bowls. The spoon that'd been resting against its pale lip clattering about as he pushed the dish across the table; he then waited with laced hands for Juliet to serve the cereal she'd seemingly decided to hoard. Juliet, in turn, scoff quietly, brow furrowing as she regarded the bright blue box.
"…I didn't even know they made this anymore," she commented offhandedly, fingers slipping over the raised edges of the unicorn mascot. Prize at the Bottom of Every Box! a garish, glittering star-shaped sticker proclaimed from the far right corner. Juliet snorted, flipping the box around to check out the jumble of simplistic games on its back. Despite herself, she could feel a wave of nostalgia lapping at the corners of her brain; so many mornings spent trying to find hidden messages in silly, four-by-four crosswords. "This used to be my favorite cereal, when I was little. They gave away the best decoder rings."
"You don't say," Shawn replied, his retort so ridiculously innocuous that Juliet was half-surprised he didn't start whistling to himself, like they did in old cartoons. With another snort, she glanced up to remind Shawn that there was no possible way he could have known this— so stop pretending—, but felt the words become laughter when she found him with his fingers lingering beside his temple.
"Oh, come off it," she snorted, leaning across the table to gingerly smack the fake psychic. Shawn flinched, features contorting into a feigned mask of offence. As he rubbed his wounded arm, his girlfriend rolled her eyes. "You probably just asked Ewan—what're you doing?"
Laughing, Juliet relinquished the box when Shawn reached over and began tugging on it, having apparently grown tired of watching her wave around food she had no intention of eating.
"Providing," Shawn answered simply, ripping open the top of the box and shaking a healthy portion of unnaturally-colored grains into Juliet's bowl. Once he was satisfied by the small mountain of processed sugar before her, he started pouring a meal's worth of loops for himself, as well. "Because I am a man and have manly instincts. And those manly instincts drive me to provide food and shelter for my mate, much like the majestic squirrel."
"'Provide shelter'?" Juliet echoed with a smirk, eyes sweeping leisurely across the landscape of her apartment. Shawn noticed the look, offered a conceding shrug, then cheerfully amended:
"It drives me to provide food."
"Undoubtedly paid for with Gus' credit ca—"
"It drives me to provide milk for your cereal," Shawn pronounced importantly, as if he'd never dreamed of suggesting anything else. With an unnecessary flourish, he slopped a liberal amount of said liquid into Juliet's bowl, watching as it immediately turned a questionable shade of purple. "And possibly spoon-feed you, if that's what it takes to make you eat before it gets soggy. Because mixed tocopherols and beta carotene tastes gross when soggy."
"And if I'm going to ingest chemicals that will rot my innards, I might as well do it when they're at the peak of their crunchiness?" Juliet surmised, sardonic smile widening as Shawn all but forced the utensil into her hand.
"Exa'ly," he chirped, shoveling down a mouthful of the stuff. Cheeks puffed out in much the same fashion as the squirrels he'd previous alluded to, Shawn offered her an encouraging beam, looking adorably sleep-rumbled in his sweatpants and t-shirt. That happy grin widened all the more as Juliet finally consented to take a bite. "Waste not, want not."
Though this newly proposed philosophy undoubtedly contradicted Shawn's natural desire to amass everything from candies to newspapers, trashy romance novels to buttons left on the ground, he enforced the rule in Juliet's kitchen with unusual vehemence. That was the say, whenever Juliet tried to buy more cereal, the boxes "mysteriously disappeared." And sans a box of whole wheat Cheery-Roos that somehow wound up in the Psych office (to many pleas of ignorance from both Shawn and Gus, even as the latter feasted), the healthier cereals were never seen again.
"You're the one that's always telling me to make sure we're actually out of whatever-it-is-we-plan-to-buy before spending more money," Shawn reminded, shaking the half-full box of Honey Coated Rainbow Loopsin front of Juliet's face. He seemed a touch affronted that she'd only been nibbling at the cereal, rather than gouging herself on it whenever the mood to eat struck her. In Juliet's defense, that was because she'd thought her boyfriend would want to finish it off, being the breakfast aficionado that he was. She'd mostly been abstaining out of niceness. But now that she thought about it, if Shawn had really gone out of his way to find her favorite cereal from childhood, maybe it was a little rude that she wasn't eating more of it. And it was really good…
"Fine," Juliet sighed extravagantly, slumping in her spindly chair as if this demand was a huge inconvenience. Which—taking into consideration that Shawn had decided to have this conversation at her desk in the SBPD— it might have been, any other day. But it'd been slow today, with only paperwork and Carlton's occasional, oftentimes inappropriate griping to fill her time. "I'll eat the cereal."
"All of it," Shawn pressed, thrusting the box into her face and giving it another shake.
"All of it," Juliet agreed amiably, carefully prizing the box from his hands. "Well, all of it that you haven't already reduced to dust."
With that, she pulled out the lowest drawer of her desk, retrieved a stored bowl and spoon, and poured herself a generous serving of the cereal. Shawn, for his part, watched his girlfriend do this with a degree of reverence that one usually reserved for the pope, or the president, or (in his case) obscure 80s movie stars.
"You store breakfast supplies. In your desk," he stated, gawking and wonderstruck, as Juliet popped a few colorful loops into her mouth. She chewed in affirmation, amused.
"That does seem to be the case."
"You… I just… Oh my God." Ever the drama queen, Shawn lifted his hands to his heart and stumbled backwards a foot, as if freshly struck by Cupid's arrow. "This is why I love you."
Juliet cocked her head a fraction, bright eyes sparkling with unvoiced laughter. "The only reason?" she queried lightly, resting the tip of her spoon against the curve of her bottom lip. She'd be able to taste strawberry gloss on the next few bites, but that was a small sacrifice in the face of Shawn's equally-teasing gin.
"No, but it's certainly up there, now. Wedged firmly between the way you sing in the shower and your ability to burp the alphabet when sufficiently drunk."
The young detective considered this, as if mentally assessing whether or not this was an agreeable arrangement of her skills and tendencies. After a moment of sober consideration, she blew a hot breath against the bowl of the spoon, loosened her grip on its handle, and murmured: "And if you were to find out that I can do… this?"
Shawn gasped in gleeful pleasure as Juliet proceeded to balance the spoon off the tip of her nose.
"Madam, you are exquisite. You must let me paint you."
"Are you still planning on painting me?" Juliet called through half a swallow of cereal, politely hiding her mouth with the back of her hand as she impolitely shouted mid-chew. Lounging in the lazy sort of way indicative of a Sunday morning, she leaned back in her chair and peered through one of the surreptitiously opened windows that separated the main Psych office from its foyer. "'Cause from what I can tell, it's either that, or you're just plain old spying on me."
"'Spying'?" Shawn spluttered in notable indignation, though whether this was in response to Juliet's accusation or just his usual reaction to having been caught, no one could say. "Certainly not. If I was spying on you, you'd never have noticed me. I'd be all in black, blending in perfectly with my surroundings."
Juliet half-considered informing Shawn that he'd confused spies and ninjas, but after a quick glance around the cheerfully decorated room decided instead to address the issue of his possible colorblindness. As sarcastically as possible, of course. "Would you be donning this outfit before or after you totally redecorated this place?"
"Probably after. Redecorating is messy, and black shows everything," Shawn sniffed, poking his head through the little port and giving Juliet and her snack a proper once-over. "How much cereal is left in that box?"
"Couple of bowlfuls," Juliet replied, weighing the box in a hand. Then, after casting Shawn a suspiciously prying glance, she placed the unicorn-encrusted package atop her lap and hugged it to her chest, possessive and protective. "And if I'm doing all of the work, by the way, I'm getting the ring."
Shawn blinked once, taken aback and half-hanging through the casement. "Sorry?"
"The ring. The prize," she clarified, though she didn't believe for one second that he didn't know what she was talking about. His expression was justtoo artlessly bewildered to be genuine. Brandishing the box again, she pointed at the sparkling advertisement, which never would have escaped the notice of one as observant as Shawn. "At the bottom. I figured out your plan—you were going to have me eat all of the cereal, then sweep in and steal the toy at the end. Well, think again, mister. You had your chance to split the spoils. That decoder ring is mine."
She'd expected resistance. A bit of petulant whining, if only for show. But instead, Shawn considered her decree for a long moment—face scrunching up in a typical display of histrionics— before accepting Juliet's declaration with an easy grace. "Mmm, fine. Whatever you find at the bottom of the box is yours."
And this should have been the end of it. It would have been the end of it, were it anyone else. But no, this was Shawn and Juliet—and Juliet knew Shawn too well not to notice how easily he'd conceded defeat, even to his girlfriend. And the detective in her couldn't help but notice how he'd oh-so-subtly changed her words before agreeing…
"Shawn," she said in gentle warning, head tipping forward and brow arching suspiciously. Distantly, she recalled a conversation from their past—telling in many ways, but for the purposes of this discussion, just the one. "Did you steal the prize?" she demanded, placing her food on his desk and preparing to turn the package over—
"I just made sure no one took it first," Shawn returned hurriedly, making Juliet pause. Faintly startled, Juliet glanced from the cereal to her boyfriend, scrutinizing his stubbly face and the sheepish smile tweaking his lips. There was something in his voice—an embarrassment, an honesty. In an instant, the exchange had gone from lighthearted to… oddly heavy. There was something poignant and meaningful lurking just-beneath the surface of this mid-morning chat; Shawn's flustered grin calmed as Juliet's hands slipped from the box, leaving it be.
"It's still yours. The prize at the bottom," he promised, back to his usual, sunny self. "You just gotta learn to be patient, Jules. Really good things are worth waiting for, every once in a while."
But of course, at the end of the day, patience was still a rare virtue in this city of vice.
"No, Shawn, I'm not done with it, yet," Juliet said flatly, not bothering to wait for the inevitable question upon answering her cell phone. "Uh huh. Yeah. Yes, Shawn. …do you actually know what a serving size of cereal is? It's like a cup. …no, not that sort of cup. No— 7-11 Slurpee cups are not a proper serving size of anything. Not slurpees, not cereal. No, I— Shawn. Shawn, I'm at a crime scene! I am literally less than two feet from the entrails of a dead man. Splattered all over a wall. Can't we talk about this later? Okay. Yeah, bye."
The young detective rolled her eyes as she slipped the phone back into her pocket, fully aware of Carlton's probing gaze. "Yes?" she prompted wearily, just so her partner could get whatever snarky retort he'd prepared out of his system.
"Does your boyfriend always act like this when you borrow his things? Or does he just get cranky when he misses his nap, like most five year olds?" Lassiter asked, in the snide drawl he liked to use whenever he thought he was being particularly clever. The tone alone was enough to drive his companion to utter exasperation.
"I didn't borrow anything. He was checking to see how much cereal I've eaten," Juliet corrected defensively… only to belatedly realize that was the worst defense ever. She regretted telling the truth in less than an instant; it just made Shawn sound crazier than ever. Which, unfortunately, Carlton also noticed.
"Wow. It's great that you're with such a Lucky Charmer," he quipped, the hard line of his mouth cracking into a smirk when he realized the true depths of his wit. Encouraged by his own snappy comeback—and not at all discouraged by Juliet's shoulder-sagging groan, or the way she immediately began stalking towards the door—Lassiter pressed enthusiastically onward, pausing only to mentally insure that this next zinger was as good as the first. By all accounts, he seemed to think so. "But that Spencer should really get a Life about some things. Sometimes, I think you should just tell him…"
He slid his tinted shades into place, striking an impressive pose. "…Cheerio."
Next door, a disgruntled neighbor of the deceased had turned up the volume on their television set, clearly hoping to drown out the SBPD's racket; the opening of CSI: Miami blasted through the crime scene with the eardrum/brain/body-shattering clarity one was generally only privileged to when standing beside amphitheater subwoofers. Juliet rapped on the thin wall of the apartment, counting slowly backwards from 10. "Sir," she shouted. "Sir, if you could please keep it dow— Carlton, take off your sunglasses! We're inside, for God's sake!"
"But we're leaving. We'll be outside."
"And he misses, because he forgets that the 'hoop' isn't as big and fat as his own gaping mouth," Gus interjected, cackling when the little colored loop of processed wheat bounced off Juliet's chin and fell through a couch crack. Shawn, his fingers still folded in a flick, frowned in mock irritation, glaring at his best friend.
"No, he misses because his so-called buddy broke his concentration at a critical juncture… and, at the risk of sounding childish, is a big-fat-cheating dookie head."
"That's just what you get for being cocky, and bragging that you have 'intimate knowledge' of the goal," Gus taunted, undeterred and unoffended as he wriggled into the plush of his seat, legs braced and eyes narrowed as he assessed the distance between himself and the detective. Juliet, for her part, couldn't quite remember how her and Shawn's playful food fight—if one could really call flicking spilled cereal pelts at one another from across the room a legitimate "food fight"—transformed into a serious sporting competition between the two P.I.s. Neither was she sure how she'd wound up the designated goal in this game. But it was a slow, rainy Saturday afternoon, and Shawn had forgotten to pay the cable bill again. So really, it was either this or Go Fish, and they'd all learned the hard way to never play any sort of board/card/pickup stick-based game with Shawn.
"Well, my knowledge is intimate," Shawn countered, shoving bodily against Gus in retaliation. Gus smacked his shoulder in response, but seemed unwilling to forfeit his turn by allowing this to become an all-out catfight. "For example, I know that the goal prefers orange-colored pieces, so she's probably gonna spit that blue loop of yours right out."
"What is, not eating your pieces or not liking the blue loops?"
"What do ladders have to do with anything?"
"The latter. As in the last stupid-ass thing that came out of your mouth."
"It's racist to not like blue candy coloring? Dude, you refuse to eat brown M&Ms."
"You know I used to have nightmares where I turned into an M&M! And I was delicious! I refuse to perpetuate cannibalism, even if it's just dream-based."
Temporarily distracted by his own bemusement, Shawn glanced away from their intense competition to gaze musingly up at the ceiling. Gus, eyes wide in warning, had become preemptively irked by what he recognized as an oncoming tangent. "…is it really cannibalism if you're only eating yourself?"
"Human flesh is human flesh, Shawn."
"I guess we have to go arrest Lassie, then. I've seen what he does to his cuticles… Munching away. Like a zombie. And not just because he longs for brains."
Choking on laughter that she did not approve of (Carlton really didn't deserve to be the butt of so many jokes), Juliet began to smile… but quickly quashed the expression when the boys started making strange, falsetto noises of protest. Their squawks seemed to indicate that she was showing bias by changing the shape of her mouth/the goal. Though both men were convinced she was favoring the other. Logic was a rarity, in these parts.
"Well, c'mon, then," she encouraged, tipping her head back into position and waving a prompting hand. "I'm gonna starve before you guys finish rambling at this ra— ah," she exclaimed, pleasantly surprised as another tasty cereal loop landed on her tongue. "Nice one."
Victorious, Gus preened, swiping the side of his nose with the bravado of an NBA star who'd just sunk their 10th three-pointer. Shawn, on the other hand, pouted like a toddler who'd just stumbled over his own plastic basketball hoop.
"This isn't over," the fake psychic warned, lining himself up for his next lob. Which wound up bouncing off of Juliet's nose. Mostly because she'd ducked away, still busy chewing her current prize. "Hey!"
"That's 2-15," Gus crooned, grinning appreciatively at his detective friend as she tried to stifle a snort of laughter.
"That didn't count. And you can't count. And now I want some Count Chocula."
"Tough. This is the only cereal we've got," Juliet teased, picking one of the pelts Shawn had bounced off of her cheek and tossing it back at him. Her aim was, unfortunately, as bad as his; it landed in his hair and stuck there. "You still haven't let us buy anything else."
"That's 'cause this is all we need," Shawn returned mysteriously, gesturing towards Gus to confirm this fact. Gus nodded, poker faced and suddenly serious.
"Well, we'll need more, soon," Juliet informed, leaning across the coffee table to give the box a shake. Cereal dregs rustled about inside the plastic sleeve; they were a bowl away from being out. "I guess you'll have to wait for Count Chocula a little bit longer."
"Worth it," Shawn sang, popping another cereal bit into the air and catching it with a grin.
'Worth it' indeed.
Juliet's jaw drop a good inch as she stared into her flake-filled bowl, gawking at the prize that'd just tumbled from the container's dark recesses. It was a ring all right—exactly as had been advertised—, but not the cheap plastic sort she'd been expecting. Instead, the silvery band glittered with a diamond-bright sparkle beneath layers of fibrous, sugar-coated dust, resting innocently atop a rainbow-colored marshmallow.
Beside her at the table, dressed in pajamas nearly as wrinkled and worn as her own, her boyfriend was grinning. Anxiously, perhaps, but with a genuine excitement and love that had Juliet's heart pounding. And her eyes prickling. And her cheeks warm.
"Shawn…?" Juliet whispered, voice cracking with emotion as Shawn reached over—almost slipping off the edge of his chair— and gingerly plucked the beautiful piece of jewelry out of her breakfast. Her mind raced at a million miles a minute as he carefully brushed the worst of the powdered cereal from the band. "Shawn, what're you…? You don't really…? Oh my God."
He had slid from his seat entirely. He was on one knee, now.
"Do you remember that time we talked about prizes?" Shawn asked gently, offering her the ring with an expression of nearly-concealed terror. But not terror at the idea of commitment, as it might have been in the past. No, Juliet knew that look; this wasn't it. This was an expression of nerves and trepidation and fear of rejection, half-smothered beneath confidence and common sense and a smoldering look of adoration that left Juliet breathless. "Not this past week, I mean. A few years ago. I told you that I could never even wait for my prize at the bottom of my cereal— I always turned the box over. Partly because I sucked at waiting. But also because Gus is like a human garbage disposal and I was always afraid that he'd accidentally eat the toy. But… but seriously."
Shawn swallowed thickly, reaching out to wrap his hands around Juliet's. His fingers were shaking nearly as badly as her own; the realization had Juliet's lip quavering, her chin trembling. "All my life," he continued, voice low and rough with rarely-conveyed candor, "I've been bad at being patient. Like I said before, I didn't wait for my decoder ring or my FrankenBerry action figure when I was a kid… and I really, really shouldn't have waited so long to tell you how I felt. But at the same time… At the same, I've realized that there is some truth in what people say. You know, about good things coming to those who wait. Because Jules, you— everything about you, and this, and us, was totally worth waiting for. Worth fighting for. The years we spent with other people, or just missing each other, or being stupid, sometimes felt like having to choke down whole grain bran… but in the end, it was worth each miserable bite. Because it helped me appreciate things, you know? You appreciate things you work for. And each heartbreak and close shave got me closer and closer to you—to the prize. But now that I have it, all I know is I don't wanna miss out on—"
What he'd said was true: Shawn had learned a great deal about the importance of patience over the years, taking cues from and following the lead of levelheaded Juliet. But the best relationships are always a two-way street… So it was no surprise, really, that Juliet had since come to appreciate the beauty of desperate spontaneity. With a squeaked squeal, the young detective yanked her boyfriend—no, fiancé—forward by the shirtfront, crashing their mouths together and silencing Shawn with a passionate kiss.
And with tongue.
Some prizes, after all, are worth the wait. Others are too wonderful to wait for.
"Of course, you realize that using an engagement ring sort of makes it sound like marrying you is my prize. Egotistical much?"
"I could have proposed with the decoder ring, but people kept telling me that girls are like magpies: they respond better to shinier things."
"Not the point I was making, but… Hey, didn't I call dibs on that decoder ring?"
"No, you mentioned this cereal came with the best decoder rings, then I promised you whatever was at the bottom of the box. I'd already traded out the decoder ring, at that point. So that technically made it fair game for me to take."
"Curse those technicalities. Though admittedly, your pinkie has never looked less coded."
"Thank you for noticing! And hey, you get an engagement ring from a cereal box. It seems only fair that I should get one, too. Equality of the sexes, and all of that."
"So long as you don't plan on getting our wedding rings with box-top points."
"Don't be ridiculous, Jules. I'm saving those for something important."
"Oh yeah. Matching Apple Jacks t-shirts."