A/N: Guys, Shawn ended up way angsty-er in this than I thought he would be, I don't even know how that happened. This also ended up being much longer than I was planning. Still, I hope you enjoy it!
As usual, I own nothing related to Psych or these characters.
Shawn's not sure why getting Juliet's voicemail catches him so off-guard. After all, it's three in the morning, and there's no reason why she should be answering her phone. And, if she's sleeping, it means she's not dwelling on the events of three days ago, like he is, and that's good. He doesn't want that for her.
Still, he can't pretend he's not disappointed. He lost his momentum when he heard the tone, and the voicemail he ends up leaving is stilted, ramble-y, like the one he left for Gus, except this one makes even less sense, probably. He says something about the beach, and about hoping she's sleeping, and that he hopes the cuts she got during the warehouse incident are healing nicely, because if she keeps wearing the bandages, Gus will think she's a mummy and won't go anywhere near her.
When he hangs up, he feels even worse. It had helped at first, hearing her voice on her voicemail away message, but the second he'd heard the tone, his heart had started beating too fast and he didn't know what to say.
And it was okay—after all, what he wanted to say wasn't a voicemail kind of message, anyway—but still, now Juliet will hear it, and she'll be concerned, and he doesn't know what he will say to her, the next time he sees her, since they haven't even talked about what she did for him, still, and he still feels so guilty.
In the end, he only stays out on the beach a little longer—looking out at the water helps; it always has, ever since he was a kid trying to escape his dad's house—but eventually he sighs and texts Gus, asking him to pick up the warehouse case check from the police station when he's out on his route tomorrow.
He's just not ready to see Jules yet, even though so much of him wants nothing more than to see her, hold her in his arms, right this second, even. He needs more time, though. In a way, he's grateful that she didn't answer her phone, because now that he has hung up, he's lost his nerve—he's terrified again. He knows he's actually not at all sure about what he wants to say anymore. He just has to be sure he gets it right, when he finally talks to her. He needs to know the exact right thing to say to her about everything, because this is Jules, and she deserves the very best of him, even though he's already failed her in so many ways.
So he knows Gus will go get the check, and that will buy him a little more time. But he's going to have to talk to Jules eventually, and then he's going to have to know what he wants to say.
He heads back to the Psych office, and it's not until the sun has risen and Gus has confirmed that he'll pick up the check that Shawn falls back into a dreamless nap in front of the TV.
Juliet, meanwhile, is confused. The voicemail from Shawn was bizarre—she has no idea what to make of it, but she's starting to really worry about him. He doesn't answer when she calls him back, and he was so quiet after they'd made it out of the warehouse, sitting silently next to her, holding her hand, not even trying to flirt with her like he usually would. And there was something different in his eyes—something a little like fear, shock maybe. She kept catching him studying her as the medic bandaged the cuts on her face, and there was something deep in his gaze, yet gentle, too, like she was made of glass and he was afraid she'd shatter.
She normally loves when she catches him looking at her so intently; it usually washes over her, like sinking into a warm bath. This time, though, there's something wrong in his eyes, and it scares her. Shawn never lets on that he's afraid, not like this.
A few times he'd opened his mouth, as if to say something, and then closed it again. In the end, he hadn't said anything at all, which made Juliet certain that something was bothering him. She'd tried to give him a reassuring smile a few times, and he smiled back, but it never reached his eyes. She could see how shaken up he was.
At the time, she'd tried to chalk it up to the fact that he'd almost died, but now she's not so sure. Between his face then and the weird voicemail, there was definitely something bugging him, and that something had to do with her.
She tries not to dwell on it as she drives to work, but she can't seem to get him quite out of her mind. Not that that's a surprise, exactly, she's never quite able to get him off her mind, even on her best days, but this is different. She can't shake the idea that something is wrong, and she can't stand the thought of that. Still, she reassures herself, he has to come in to the station to pick up his check at some point, and he's never been able to make a visit to the station without stopping by her desk, so she'll see him, and then it'll be okay. He'll be okay. He has to be; after all, this is Shawn.
All morning, she remains distracted, looking up from her desk every time someone moves in the bullpen, which drives Lassiter nuts.
"O'Hara, would you stop looking at me?" He exclaims, noticing for about the thirtieth time that Juliet's aimless stare around the bullpen has landed in his direction. "What is going on with you today?"
"Sorry, Carlton," she says, shaking her head. "Just tired, I guess."
"Well, get it together," he says. "We've got a lot of work to do."
"Right," she answers, nodding. "Of course."
She doesn't, though, and she's half-convinced herself to use her lunch break to just go see Shawn, figure this out, when Gus strolls into the station. She immediately makes a beeline for him—perhaps she can just ask Shawn to go to lunch with her, and then they can talk this weirdness out.
But Shawn is nowhere to be found.
"Gus!" She exclaims, surprised, "Shawn's not with you?"
"No, he told me to pick up the check while I was out on my route," Gus explains.
She frowns. "Huh."
"Hmm? Oh, no, no. Not wrong, exactly," she bit her lip. "I just got a weird voicemail from him last night, that's all. He was down at the beach or something. It was pretty late, too. I guess I just got a little worried."
"Well...he's—" Gus hesitates, "he's been having nightmares."
She swallows. "What kind of nightmares?"
"Not too sure," Gus lies. "I just know that going down to the beach seemed to help last night."
"The beach seems like a weird place to be in the middle of the night," Juliet comments idly.
"Well, he slept at the Psych office," Gus says. "But going down by the water probably calmed him down. It has since we were kids. He called me from there, too."
Juliet nods, distracted again. "Has he…been having the nightmares a lot?" She asks, trying desperately to sound innocuous.
Gus hesitates again. "A couple of days. Since…well, you know. Since what happened at the warehouse."
She nods again, remembering the look in Shawn's eyes as he'd held her hand. Something about that case is definitely bugging him, and she feels her stomach tense up again at the memory of how upset and un-Shawn-like he'd been that night.
Gus glances at her, seeing the obvious worry on her face. "He'll be fine, Juliet," he says gently. "Knowing Shawn, he's probably got some crazy plan to beat the nightmares away, like putting on a Val Kilmer marathon so he won't sleep for four days or something."
She forces herself to laugh, to ease the moment. "Yeah, that sounds like him."
"He'll be glad to hear you were asking about him, though," says Gus, giving her a look that she's come to recognize quite well. It's Gus' trademark you-two-think-you're-so-sly-but-I-know-exactly-what's-going-on-here look, and he's given it to her and Shawn on many occasions. It always makes a little thrill of hope surge in her, but today she's still a little too worried to do much more than smile weakly back at him.
"Don't play it up for him, Gus," she teases. "I'll call him back, anyway."
"I won't have to," he responds, "Shawn will build it up enough for himself; I'm sure he'll be calling you two minutes after I tell him I talked to you to ask why you were inquiring so intently about his well-being."
She laughs, rolling her eyes, and then says goodbye to Gus. Maybe Shawn will call, and this really will be nothing, and they can go back to just teasing each other, and he'll be okay.
But he doesn't call. She spends the afternoon hardly thinking about work at all, instead going over her conversation with Gus in her mind. So, Shawn's been having nightmares. There's got to be something she can do…
Shawn isn't going to let this be the fourth night of nightmares in a row. He's just not. He hadn't been able to bring himself to call Jules back when she'd called, and he knows he won't be able to until he's free of this, until he can stop hearing the pop of gunshots in his mind from the dreams every time he thinks about her. (And he thinks about her a lot.)
He heads back down to the beach once he gets tired. It's already close to midnight, but he doesn't mind. Maybe the water will calm him down again, enough that he could fall asleep later and avoid another night of terror.
But it's colder tonight, and the wind has picked up more than it did the night before. He's just settling into his bench, burrowing into his sweatshirt, when he hears someone approaching.
"Hey," a familiar voice says.
He turns, and there she is, looking beautiful as ever, her cheeks flushed from the wind, holding a blanket and a thermos. "Jules?"
"Mind if I join you?" she asks, already walking towards him.
"Well, you're going to have to share the blanket," he says.
She smiles, heaves a mock-dramatic sigh. "I guess."
She drapes the blanket around them so it's half around his shoulders and half around hers and hands him the thermos. "Hot chocolate," she says.
Shawn takes it, feeling warm all at once for reasons that he knows have absolutely nothing to do with the blanket or the thermos. They're both quiet for a moment.
"So," she says.
"So," he agrees, trying desperately to think of something funny to say, something to make her think everything's okay and he's completely fine.
But he comes up empty. He just doesn't have it in him, not tonight.
"I got this weird voicemail in the middle of the night last night," she says, smiling at him in the way that always leaves him powerless, her eyes scrunched up in an impossibly adorable manner. "You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you?"
He shakes his head, "I don't know, Jules, I've heard telemarketers work crazy hours these days. Gotta put food on the table, you know?" It's lame, but it's something.
"Is that right?" She asks. "Huh."
He sighs, knowing he owes her a bit more honesty, but he's not actually ready to completely give it to her yet. "Look, sorry about that. I-I wasn't expecting to leave a voicemail, I was just exhausted."
She nods slightly, but looks at him in disbelief. "Shouldn't you have known I wouldn't answer, though," she asks, "being a psychic and all?"
"You know it doesn't work like that, Jules," he says, laughing. "If it did, I'd only ever call my dad when I knew I'd get his voicemail."
She laughs, too. "I see."
She says nothing more for a moment. Shawn takes a drink of the hot chocolate, trying to calm his nerves a little bit. He's still not sure what Jules is doing here, or how she knew where to find him, or what he can possibly say to her to explain how tortured he's been since the night in the warehouse.
"So," he finally says, passing the thermos to her and watching her take a sip, "do you want to explain why you came to find me, or should I let—" he screws up his voice so it comes out high-pitched and squeaky, "eighth-grade Jules do it?"
She shrugs. "I saw Gus at the station today and he told me you might be down here. I just thought I'd take a shot."
She doesn't realize what she's said until she hears his sharp intake of breath. "Oh—I—that was just an expression," she stammers, unsure of why she feels so awkward.
He nods. "It's okay, Jules."
She sighs. "Look, Shawn, these last few days, I—I feel like you're angry with me or something."
He can't help it—he laughs. "Angry at you?!"
She looks a little hurt, and it makes his heart clench. That came out wrong.
"It's just," she says, "you were so quiet after what happened the other day, and then I haven't seen you since, or heard from you, even, except for that weird voicemail last night."
He shakes his head, trying to figure out what to say. A moment passes in silence.
"You know, Jules," he says at last, looking out at the water instead of at her, "you did save my life the other night."
She looks at him, simultaneously confused and relieved. "You're upset because I saved your life?" She asks. "Is that all? I'm a cop, Shawn. It's what I'm supposed to do."
"I know, I know," Shawn says, shaking his head. "And I know it sounds ridiculous. But God, Jules, do you know what almost happened? Do you know what would have happened if—?" his voice breaks on the last word.
She looks at him, her brow furrowed. "If what, Shawn?"
"If I'd let something happen to you?" He lets out a breath. "Jules, I brought you in there, I didn't warn you in time, I just lay there as that bastard hit you, and then you almost died because he wanted to shoot me."
Juliet is silent for a moment, but Shawn isn't finished.
"I can't stop seeing it, Jules," he says softly. "Every night, since. The gun misfired, thank God, but in my dream it doesn't and I almost let that happen to you in real life."
She looks at him, but he's not looking at her; his gaze, instead, is directed out towards the water, but Juliet can see that his eyes are glassy.
"Hey," she says, gently, putting her hand on his. "It didn't happen, though. I'm here. I'm not going anywhere."
He sighs, shaking his head, but he still doesn't look at her.
"Shawn," she says, "look at me."
He doesn't, for a minute, but then slowly turns his head, his eyes still filled with tears. It takes a moment before he pulls his gaze up to meet hers.
"Shawn, what happened in there wasn't your fault," she says. "I can't believe I even have to tell you that, actually. You were tied up, Shawn. Literally! What were you supposed to have done?"
He shakes his head. "I shouldn't have gone in there."
She considers this, nodding slightly. "No, next time you should wait and call me first, probably. But hey, Lassiter did get to tackle that one perp, and it's always nice for him to get that aggression out."
Shawn smiles weakly at her, but then turns away again, putting his head in his hands.
"But Shawn," she continues, "there's something else you need to know, okay? And maybe I should have told you this from the get-go, but…" she pauses, taking a deep breath. "I—I didn't do it because I'm a cop, you know."
Shawn takes his head out of his hands and tilts it up at her, looking confused. "What?"
"Shawn, you're not the only one who would never forgive himself if something happened," she says.
He still looks puzzled, turning his gaze back to the water. She can almost see the wheels turning in his head. "You mean…?" he mutters, trailing off.
"I—I wasn't being a cop, when I jumped in front of that gun," she says. "I mean, I'm always a cop—" she feels her face growing warm, "but you know what I mean."
She sees the wry smile she adores quirk up on his profile—God, she's missed that smile, even though it's only been a few days-as he continues to look out at the water. "Jules, what are you trying to say?"
"What I'm saying," she says slowly, "is that I wasn't thinking about duty, Shawn, I was thinking about you, and how if he shot you, I just—." Now she's the one not finishing her sentences.
"Well, I couldn't let that happen," she finishes lamely. Because my world would end, but there's got to be a way to say that that won't freak him out.
Shawn is quiet for a moment, but he's still smiling softly.
"Shawn," she tries again, "what I mean is—if I had the chance to do it again today, I would. I would do it again every single time. And not because of me being a cop. And not because in the end, I didn't get shot. I would do it… because of you. I would always save you."
Shawn looks at her, and without pausing to think about it, wraps his arms around her, pulling her into his chest. He holds her for a long moment, relishing the feel of her in his arms—so alive, so okay—and tries to convey in his embrace all the emotions coursing through him, all the love for her he feels, not because she saved him, but because she's Juliet, and he doesn't know what he could have ever done to deserve her.
And even more than that, he finally understands now. This is where the intensity in her eyes came from. She hadn't saved him because of her obligation as a cop, she just chose to. She wanted to save him.
"Well," he says finally, realizing he has to say something as he lets her go, "someone's got to make sure I make it home to Gus, after all."
She laughs. "I guess it's going to have to be me."
He loves making her laugh, watching her laugh, but he knows the joke isn't enough for this moment, for what she just told him. He just doesn't have the words to respond to her, for once.
At last, he turns back to her, presses his lips to her shoulder as they gaze out towards the water together. "Thank you," he whispers. It's not enough, not nearly enough, but it will have to do for now.
She smiles gently and then relaxes into him, resting her head on his shoulder and pulling the blanket tighter around them. He takes her hand, squeezing it, before resting his head on top of hers.
They fall asleep like that, resting against one another, their fingers intertwined. There is more to say, of course. There always will be. But for now, they rest.
This time, there are no nightmares. She is okay. They are okay.
A/N: Fin. I hope you enjoyed this! I love having these crazy kids dance around each other for forever, so close to figuring it out but just not there yet. I hope Shawn's angst didn't feel too out of character.
Thank you so much, as always, for reading, and please feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you thought!