A/N: I don't own Psych, Juliet, Shawn, Declan, or any of the other characters mentioned here.
For spoiler-ish reasons, my notes on the title of this piece appear at the end of this story rather than here at the beginning.
Juliet watches the ceiling fan rotate above her head, trying to will herself to go to sleep. Declan had wanted her to stay over at his house tonight, but she had insisted on driving back to her place, claiming she needed to get some things done around the house.
The truth was, she couldn't stand the guilt of another night of lying awake next to a sleeping Declan, in his bed, while she tried to chase thoughts of Shawn away.
In her head, it makes sense that she should move on. She and Shawn just never got the timing right, and sometimes that just happens. And Declan isn't a bad guy. He's smart, and he's kind, and he's mature, and he cares for her.
But he isn't Shawn.
He isn't Shawn, and somehow that seems to overshadow everything, ever so slightly discoloring every single one of Declan's myriad of positive attributes.
She sighs and rolls over, playing over today's events in her mind. She had watched Shawn, behind Declan's head, through the glass of Declan's driver's side window, as he picked her up at the station. She had seen the way Shawn had started to step towards the car, then faltered, hanging his head a little, had seen the way his eyes widened in pain as Declan leaned over to kiss her.
She'd tried to give her attention over to Declan as he leaned towards her but found that she couldn't; her eyes were still glued on Shawn, who was trying not to look at her.
She could still see his face in her mind, even now, his wide, sad eyes, his mouth hanging a little bit open. He had looked…defeated, in that moment, and that wasn't a look that Shawn Spencer wore very often.
She had wondered, then, for the first time, if Shawn seeing her with Declan felt the same way to him that seeing him with Abigail had felt to her.
She would never wish that feeling on him. She wouldn't wish it on anyone, but especially not him.
It had been a long time now since Shawn had been with Abigail, but she remembers those feelings so well, the ache that was somehow physical, in her bones, when she'd see them stroll into the station, holding hands. She remembers the pain at the drive-in, sharp and fast, like she'd been punched in the stomach, everything in her crying out to make this dinner proposition so much more than a kiss on the cheek, a casual letting go. She remembers how hard it had been to silence that voice in her head, the one that was telling her to pull him towards her as soon as she walked into the concession stand that night, kiss him full on the mouth, whisper into him that she didn't know why she'd waited so long, that she'd wanted him for ages, that she was finally ready to be happy.
She remembers trying desperately not to cry as she looked at him that night, how she hadn't even been able to hold the tears back until she got to the car. She remembers watching them fall into the dirt as she unlocked the car door, then onto her hands, later, as she fumbled with the keys to get into her apartment.
She remembers telling Carlton the next day that she was having cramps, knowing that his distaste for knowing anything about the female experience meant he wouldn't look at her too closely, wouldn't notice that her eyes were still a little too puffy, wouldn't know that the pain she was sure was still so evident in her eyes was, in fact, from a broken heart.
She remembers looking at Chief Vick once, who had caught her watching Shawn for a little too long as he walked with Abigail out of the station, their hands tangled together, joy written on his face. She remembers the way sympathy and understanding had passed through the Chief's eyes, remembers the gentle nod her mentor had given her, remembers the way she had closed her own eyes for a moment and simply nodded back, professionalism and discretion be damned.
She remembers how it felt hearing that Shawn had been shot, remembers his broken voice on the phone, remembers how she'd frozen when he'd said "I love you", unable to say it back, not because she didn't love him, but because she did, so much, and she refused to believe that this would be their final conversation, refused to believe she wouldn't one day get the chance to say those words to him face-to-face, over and over again, as many times as she wanted. And she remembers hearing him say Abigail's name to her as he hung up, how her heart, which had been wrung and broken in so many ways over the preceding weeks, had somehow shattered even more than she thought possible.
She remembers choking out the instruction to save Abigail, that night on the clock tower, Yin's hands on her neck. She remembers hoping Shawn knew that that instruction—which was probably to be her final words—was her final act of love towards him, the sacrifice she was willing to make if it meant that he could go on being happy. She remembers staring at the ground below her on that tower, knowing she was about to die, his face the only thing she could think about. She remembers hoping against hope that he would show up, that he would pick her, that he would save her.
She remembers when he didn't.
She remembers her confusion, the other time she'd almost died, that day in the hospital, Shawn's speech about the cereal box prize. She remembers the shaky surge of hope as she thought she understood what he was trying to say, how she'd been just a moment away from standing on her tiptoes, pressing her lips to his, just to know—finally know—what that felt like. She remembers, instead, sadly watching him walk away, trying to communicate to him with her eyes through the glass pane of the hospital window that she understood, that she knew he wasn't ready, that she was willing to wait, even though it hurt, because she was so sure of what this thing could be.
She was still so sure of it, that was the thing. She'd tried to talk herself out of it, but in the end, this was the sticking point, this was the hold up on her relationship with Declan. There was nothing wrong with Declan.
But she wasn't in love with him.
And ordinarily, at this stage in a relationship, that wouldn't be such a problem. It was still early, after all.
But ordinarily, at this stage in a relationship, you wouldn't still be in love with someone else. And that was a problem.
Declan cares more for her than she does for him, and she knows that, and it isn't fair to him. And maybe it isn't fair to her either, to keep throwing herself into this relationship, trying to make it work, trying to make it right, trying to make it erase the part of her that had made peace with the fact that her heart had long since belonged to Shawn.
But Declan is reliable. Declan is stable. Declan has never gotten lost in the middle of an extravagant speech to her, never stammered, never gotten shy and nervous without warning and tried to recant the sweet things he said to her.
Shawn has done all those things, more than once, and damn it, it just endeared him to her all the more.
And Declan doesn't make her laugh, not really, not like Shawn does. He'll say something witty now and again, but not like Shawn. He doesn't make her laugh uncontrollably, doesn't make her smile so hard her cheeks hurt, doesn't make her feel warm from the inside out from a simple aside or muttered one-liner meant only for her.
But Declan, she tries in vain to remind herself, is gentle. Declan is sweet. He thought before he spoke.
And yet, Shawn's sweetness exudes from him too, in ways he'd probably be embarrassed if he knew about. Some of his sweetest moments had resulted from times he clearly hadn't thought at all before opening his mouth, like when he'd stepped forward and taken the blame for her mistaken hunch during the roller derby case, insisting it was his error so she wouldn't have to take the heat, not thinking—or perhaps not caring—what the Chief or Lassiter thought of him because of it.
She thought of the way he'd shown up at city hall, day after day, when she'd taken on temporary assignment there, bringing her pineapple smoothies or little trinkets to spruce up her boring city hall desk, easing her back into feeling comfortable with police work slowly, but mostly just showing up for her, every day, so that she understood that he still remembered why she was on temporary assignment, and moreover, he still cared.
All the good qualities Declan had, she thought, frustratingly, Shawn had too. Sometimes even more so.
Well, there was one thing.
Declan had been hinting all week that he had a big surprise for her. He was ready, he wanted to commit to her. And the thing about Shawn, the one thing about Shawn that made a difference now, is that he wasn't, was he? Sure, he might be jealous, he might be upset that she was with Declan, he might even love her back, but, hell, it had been five years that she'd known Shawn, and frankly, she deserves someone who could be sure of her. She deserves to not have to wait anymore. If nothing else, she deserves to have someone that could make her heart finally stop feeling the puzzling combination of pain and joy every time the Chief announces they'll be hiring consultants, or, at the very least, she deserves to have someone distract her from that.
She might never get what she truly wants. But Declan is here, and…and can't that be enough? If she tries hard enough, can't she convince herself that being loved by Declan is enough to get by on? Is it so wrong to just let herself be cared for by someone who wants to commit to being with her?
She loves Shawn. She knows that, and she owns that, and even saying it to herself, accepting it, gives her a little relief. That love for Shawn might never truly go away; she might not ever be able to talk herself completely out of it. It might just always be there, buried in a place in her heart that she simply won't allow herself to go to.
Well, not when she's with Declan, anyway.
But then again, for now, is it so bad if she lets herself go there? If here, by herself, in the privacy of her own room, where she can see the sky begin to lighten ever so slightly outside her window; here, where there is no sleeping Declan beside her, she goes to that place? Is it so bad, she wonders, as her eyes drift closed, finally, if Shawn's face is still always the last thing she sees in her mind before she falls asleep?
Is it so bad if she lets herself dream about him a little, doesn't stop herself from dozing off with his face still fresh in her mind?
She doesn't stay awake long enough to decide. But when morning breaks, as she slowly drifts awake when the sun comes up, she will smile softly at the memory of her dream, and she—and she alone—will know what choice she made.
A/N: I chose to take the title from the song "Memory" by Barbra Streisand (1981), even though that song is totally a joke to me now, thanks to the movie School of Rock. Still, I thought it was appropriate for a number of reasons, since Juliet's memory is so important here, and the lyrics of the song fit quite well thematically with this piece.
As always, I am so grateful to you for reading this, and I would love to know your thoughts, so please feel free to leave a review! Thanks so much for taking the time to read my work!