A/N: I saw on Tumblr ages (like, literal years) ago a little post about someone having a headcanon about Shawn and Jules watching movies together, prior to his comment on the phone to her during "Shawn and Gus of the Dead", and it's been rolling around in my head ever since. I can no longer find the post about it though, so if this was your headcanon, please let me know and I will absolutely credit you.
The title of this work comes from the song "Breakfast in America" (1979) by Supertramp, off the album of the same name, which is one of my absolute favorite albums by anyone, ever.
I don't own Shawn, Jules, Psych, or any of the movies mentioned in here. And technically (as mentioned above) I guess I don't own this idea, either, although all of the execution and writing is mine.
I hope you enjoy!
Shawn's not really sure how it happened.
Well, of course he remembers. He remembers everything, every moment, every movie, every conversation. But if he tried to trace how they got here from where they were, he can't really say what changed, or when.
It all started the night they wrapped up the sorority girl case. Juliet had seemed fine, as she'd driven away from Wispy Sunny Pines after turning down Shawn's offer to join him and Gus for pizza, but Shawn had worried about her. It was a new thing for him, worrying about someone. In fact, before Jules, he couldn't remember worrying about anyone, really, except his mom in the early days after she'd left.
But he couldn't shake it, as he sat in Gus' apartment eating pizza. He kept seeing Jules in his head, how hard it had been to pull that axe from her hands, how her eyes had seemed so sharp, threatening, while the paleness of her face and the way she hardly seemed to realize Shawn was even there revealed that beneath her exterior, beneath the self-defense skills she'd learned at the academy, she was just scared.
That night was the first night he'd called her.
After the pizza, he'd left Gus' almost abruptly, and almost as soon as he opened the door to his own place, he'd had his phone pressed to his ear, the call already connecting.
She'd answered on the second ring-very clearly, as Shawn had anticipated, not sleeping like she had claimed she would be. "Shawn?" she asked in confusion.
"Hi, Jules," he said. "Did you know Beverly Hills Cop is on channel seven right now?"
"You're calling me to tell me what's on TV?" She asks. "Shawn, you know we all get the TV Guide in the paper, right?"
He sighs. "You're right, Jules," he says, feigning defeat. "Look, I just got a little freaked out over that case, okay? Being in that mental hospital was creepy, especially after what Gus and I saw happen there, and I can't sleep."
"You can't sleep?" she asks. Another question, but the confusion is gone from her voice this time. Instead, she's incredulous.
They both know he's calling for her.
"Like I said, I'm freaked out," he says. "But Beverly Hills Cop is on, and I'm gonna watch it, and I wouldn't mind if you wanted to, I don't know, stay on the line with me while I do. It might make me feel better, you know?"
"Huh." She says, and she's not even trying to hide her disbelief anymore. She clears her throat, and Shawn can picture what the decision looks like on her face. "Well, if you're really scared, Shawn, I guess I can do that for you. But only because it's a great movie."
"A classic," he agrees.
"And I don't want…you…to be creeped out anymore, or anything," she adds hastily.
He smiles. "Thanks, Jules, I owe you one."
After that, there'd been no more mentions of the case, just laughter, Eddie Murphy impressions, and a constant exchanging of commentary on the film, each trying to top the other's narrations of what was going on on the screen.
Juliet had been silent for a few moments by the time the credits rolled, and for a second, Shawn felt a flash of worry, until he realized he could hear her breathing gently over the phone.
"Jules?" he whispered.
She made no response, and he smiled. Clearly, she'd felt safe enough, relaxed enough, to fall asleep. The worst was over. "Goodnight, Jules," he whispered, before ending the call and heading off towards his own bed.
They hadn't mentioned it, the next day at the station, but when he saw her as he walked in, she'd smiled softly at him, giving him a little nod, a slight blush rising in her cheeks. Her shyness in that moment endeared her to him more than he expected, and it threw him off a little bit, causing him to almost stumble right into Lassie.
"What's wrong with you, Spencer?" Lassie demanded, jumping out of the way.
"Uh, the spirits were warning me to keep you on your toes, Lassie," he responded. "You're welcome."
He didn't need to look at Jules to know she'd understood that he was a little flustered too.
But he hadn't expected anything to come of it, really, expecting instead that that movie night was just a one-off, almost his duty, as a friend, to step up for Jules. Yes, he'd been surprised by his need to comfort her, to protect her that night, but it was a one-time deal. He'd certainly never expected it to happen again.
It did, though. Two weeks after closing the sorority case, they'd all gotten involved in a drug deal gone terribly wrong, down at a warehouse by the waterfront. They'd gotten the perps, but shots had been fired, and a colleague from the SBPD had fallen, right in front of Shawn. As the coroner arrived, Shawn, Lassie, and Jules had stood around almost numbly, looking at each other. They were all shaken by it, and they all knew it.
Juliet had called Shawn that night. This time, the film was St. Elmo's Fire.
They both knew that didn't really matter, though.
Somehow, from there, they'd gone on just like that, until the calls were happening nearly every week. Somewhere along the way, they stopped bothering with excuses of being scared, an unspoken understanding that they just wanted to talk, to make each other laugh, to hear each other's voices as they fell asleep, to be together without defining it, because if you don't call it a date, it doesn't count, right?
Sometimes, they found themselves largely ignoring the movie, and Shawn was surprised by how easy it was to talk to her. He liked making her laugh; the ripple of joy he felt wash over him every time her laughter rang through the phone surprised and thrilled him every time. He liked their other conversations, too, liked learning about Miami and her brothers and which parts of the movies they watched had been her favorite growing up, which lines made her laugh every time, how she still cried when Goose died in Top Gun.
(He still cried at that part, too, but he didn't tell her so.)
They both consciously tried to steer themselves back into the movie when they got too far off-track, though. It was too dangerous, otherwise. Shawn can't quite pinpoint the moment he realized they were spending more time getting back on track with the movie than they were actually commenting on it, but it made him smile inexplicably every time he noticed they'd worked their way off-topic yet again.
They carried on, like that, week after week, never acknowledging in the station how long they'd spent laughing the night before. It wasn't dating, though, he reminded himself. It was very clearly not dating. It was two friends, together, watching movies, not even hanging out in person. And if it was getting harder for him to focus on the movies—movies he loved, by the way—and harder still to see Juliet as merely a friend (they were well past colleagues at this point), well, what did that matter? For now, they were friends.
After all, he reflected later, months into their movie nights, he'd never expected it to go anywhere. Well, not like this, at least. He'd never allowed himself to even imagine this, Jules on his couch, her face pressed into his shoulder like it was now.
No, this had come completely out of nowhere, hadn't it?
Somehow, the previous week on the phone, he'd discovered that Juliet had never seen The Shining.
"Jules," he said, "there are absolutely no excuses to have not seen The Shining."
"Of course there are," she said. "I'm not a horror movie person, anyway."
He gasped. "Jules, that's not a horror movie horror movie, it's The Shining! It's a classic! You can't be a grown adult in this country and have just…not seen it! That's…that's blasphemy!"
She laughed, and Shawn could see in his head the expression she'd be wearing, the frown that had a little laughter in it, her nose scrunched up in a way that drove him absolutely crazy. "You do know that's not even close to what blasphemy is, right?"
"Blasphemy's not a strong enough word, then," he retorted. "Come on, Jules, it's The Shining. You've got to watch it with me."
"I don't want to watch it!" she cried, laughing.
He sighs, impatient. "We've been over this, there's not a choice in the matter. It's mandatory viewing."
She laughs again.
"Look, Jules, you can't just go around having not seen it," he says. "How would the people of Santa Barbara feel knowing one of their finest, a public servant, no less, had never seen this film? I'd certainly be alarmed! In fact, I am alarmed, as a citizen of Santa Barbara. What are they teaching you in the academy, anyway?"
"I'm sure the people of Santa Barbara can put on their big-boy pants and get over it," she comments drily.
"Maybe," he says, "but that's not something you want to mess with, Jules. And besides, what if I can't get over it, being rejected by you like this?"
Juliet pauses, perhaps for just a beat too long, and Shawn knows she's wondering what he meant, exactly, by his choice of words. He's not entirely sure what he meant, either, but her answer somehow feels really important.
"It really means that much to you?" She asks, and the teasing is still present in her voice, but a little less, somehow, than it had been a moment before.
"It's practically a federal law," he answers. Don't get too serious. This is about the movie.
She sighs. "Fine, the next time it's on, you can call me."
"Oh no," he says, "that's not a phone movie, that's an in-person movie. I'm not gonna not be there for your inaugural viewing."
She laughs again, giving in easier than he thought she would. "You're on."
And now here they were. They'd started out on separate sides of the couch, Juliet holding one of Shawn's pillows in her lap. She needed something to hold onto, during scary movies, she'd explained, and though Shawn had immediately opened up his arms in response, she'd rolled her eyes, instead picking up the pillow and showing it to him in an exaggerated motion.
As it turned out, though, Juliet was very much not a horror movie person, and as the movie had gone on, somehow she and Shawn had gotten closer and closer together, neither of them acknowledging it, but neither of them minding.
By halfway through the movie, Juliet is hugging Shawn's arm in addition to the pillow on her lap, turning her face and pressing it into his shoulder every time she gets scared. Shawn stays perfectly still whenever she does this, not wanting to startle her away, while he silently prays that the movie will be even scarier than he remembers, and maybe then he can just slip his arm around her, pull her into his chest instead of just into his shoulder. Maybe then, it won't be a big deal if he holds her, grabs her hand, makes this movie night…well, maybe not the last in-person one.
For now, though, it's enough, her letting him this close. It's enough to see how cute she is, as she pulls back from her grip on him, turns her face towards him in awe. "How are you not terrified right now?" She asks.
He laughs, but before he can answer, a psychotic Jack is hacking his way through the door on-screen.
Juliet gives a little yelp and hides her face behind the pillow she'd been holding on her lap.
"Jules," he says, a little laughter in his voice, "you see scarier stuff than this every day."
"It's different," she mumbles, her response muffled behind the pillow she's holding in front of her face.
"How? If anything, this should be less scary, since you know it's just a movie!"
She takes the pillow that's covering her face away for a second to give him a look, and she's so cute he almost can't stand it. "It just is, okay?"
Without thinking about it, he brushes her hair back from her face where it's fallen into her eyes as she'd given him side-eye, tucking it behind her ear. He's not exactly surprised by the gesture—it's not like this is the first time he's been tempted to run his fingers through Juliet's hair—but it was completely involuntary, and he's not sure how to read her expression as she looks at him. He hadn't meant to touch her so overtly, and her wide eyes confirm that she hadn't expected him to.
He's struck for a moment by how pretty she is. She's always beautiful, of course, any idiot can see that, but sometimes it just hits him, and he's always thrown a little off balance when it does. So he backs off, the right choice, consciously steering them away from the road his unintentional action could have taken them down, a road he's not ready to admit he might want to take, and one he's not at all certain she's okay with. He clears his throat, dropping his hand, not looking at her.
She looks down for a minute, blushing, and then—thankfully—the action picks back up on screen and she's absorbed back into it, but all Shawn can think about is her shoulder that he can feel pressed against his, how her hand is just inches away, how they're so close but they're just not ready and he knows it, and he wants to respect it, but at this moment, it is not easy.
Somehow, in a blur, they make it through the rest of the movie, Juliet keeping her head in the pillow at all the scary moments now, never returning her face to Shawn's shoulder. She lets their arms stay pressed against each other, though, and he's not sure what to make of that.
As the credits play, she looks at him, her face still pale. "Well," she says, "we are never watching that again."
He laughs. "It'll grow on you," he says. "An American classic."
"By whose standards?" She asks, throwing her hands in the air. "There is not a chance in hell that I am ever going to watch any part of that again."
He smiles. "Come on," he says, nudging her as he stands up from the couch, "we're going for pancakes."
"Pancakes?" she asks, glancing at her watch. "Shawn, it's late."
"First of all, late is the ideal time for pancakes," he says, "everyone knows the best time to go to a diner is the middle of the night. And second, what, are you kidding me, Jules? Like you're going to be able to sleep now?"
She purses her lips, considering. "Fair point."
He holds out his hand to her to help her stand up from her burrow of pillows on the couch, and she takes it. If Shawn was unprepared for the feeling of touching her hair, touching her hand is somehow so much worse. The spark of contact at her hand in his is too much, somehow, and he almost drops her hand with how unexpected it feels, and yet the absolute last thing he wants to do at that moment is let her hand go.
And now he's thrown off-kilter again (how does Juliet O'Hara keep doing that?!) and they've still got the night stretched out before them, no more possibility of couch cuddling but also no movie to act as a buffer; just him and her, at a diner, in the middle of the night. He's overwhelmed by it, how he suddenly feels like he's in high school again, his nerves in overdrive, only this—Jules—is so much better than anyone he'd imagined then, which actually makes things worse, since he's amazed by how much he cares about this, how badly he doesn't want to screw it up by taking things further than she's ready for, no matter how much he wants to.
And he does want to, he realizes, as he watches her pull her hair back, putting her jacket on. But that's not what scares him. What scares him is realizing…he's not going to coax her into this. He's going to let her take this as slowly as she wants, even though he's starting to realize that his mental protestations against falling for her have long since lost their hold on him, his pretenses wavering every time she looked at him, every time she'd buried her head in his shoulder.
"You ready?" she asks, smiling over at him, and he's hit again with a wave of affection for her, how she can be so beautiful at this time of night, her hair in a simple ponytail, a crease mark on her face from Shawn's pillowcase. Oh, this is going to be much harder than he thought.
Pancakes? He thinks dazedly, almost laughing, as he watches her grab her keys. What was I thinking?
A/N: I still struggle so much with writing Shawn, so the second half of this two-shot will be in my comfort zone, which is writing Jules. Also, I know I've mentioned Shawn and Jules going for pancakes in another fic, and I really can't explain why I'm so into that.
As always, reviews are very much appreciated, especially since, like I said, writing Shawn is always hard and terrifying for me, haha. Thank you so so much for reading, and I hope you'll look out for part two!