A/N: I've been meaning to write a little extension to 5x02 for a while. The tone of this turned out a bit differently than I was expecting/hoping, but here we are.
Title comes from Tears for Fears' "Head Over Heels" (1986), which seemed appropriate for a piece about something else Shawn deeply loves...
Shawn didn't know why it had bothered him so much. After all, Juliet was right—working together on this case had been a total disaster. It's just that the use of the word "disaster" had stuck with him, and even as he tried to enjoy the tap recital, he kept thinking about it, and it stung a little bit.
After all, it's not like they hadn't worked together successfully before. Chief Vick had even commented, after the roller derby case, that they made a good team, and they did. Usually.
Usually, it was easy for them. Ever since Juliet's very first week at the SBPD, so many years ago now, there had been…something between them. Maybe it was a spark, maybe it was chemistry, whatever it was, it had resulted in a deep and abiding trust between them. Juliet always, always listened to Shawn, indulged his whims—no matter how ridiculous—and she never let him down.
He'd always tried to do the same for her, to listen to her ideas, follow up on her hunches, cover for her if things went awry (which they rarely did—Jules' intellect and quick-thinking skills were unparalleled), and prove to her and anyone who doubted her what an incredible detective she was, how worthy she was of the respect of all her colleagues.
But lately, he'd felt like he couldn't stop failing her. First, there was the night with Yin—well, that was the bulk of it, really—and then it had taken him ages to convince her to come back to work. Now that she finally had, apparently he'd ruined this case for her.
She was right, that was the thing. Of course he worked better with Gus, and she with Lassie, but it still nagged at him. He still just needed to find a way to make this right, to show her that they did fit together well.
And most of all, he never wanted to let her down. Not her.
After the recital, the four of them head off to dinner to celebrate—Lassiter protests that actually going out to eat with Shawn and Gus seems a little over the top, but it's clear to all of them that he doesn't really mind.
Shawn's a little quieter than usual at dinner, still a little bothered by Juliet's words, and it isn't until Lassiter reminds Juliet that there's still some paperwork on the case that needs processing that he begins to come up with an idea of how to fix things.
"Carlton, it's late," Juliet says. "I'll do the paperwork on Monday."
"Crime doesn't sleep, O'Hara," he says firmly.
"No," she counters, "but I do."
"It won't take that long if we just do it," he says. "Especially after spending the whole day on this…," he pauses, Gus shooting him a warning look. "…Dancing thing."
Juliet sighs, shaking her head. "No, I'll take care of it," she says. "Besides, we all saw you solve an additional case in front of those kids up there."
"You sure?" Lassiter asks, but they can all the hopefulness on his face.
"No point in both of us going in," she sighs. "Besides, I have to admit I've missed the processing a little bit."
A slow grin spreads across Lassiter's face. "But don't get any ideas," she says, wagging a finger at him. "By the time I've finished tonight, I'm sure I'll be over it."
Juliet slides out of the booth, waving at Shawn and Gus. After a moment, Lassiter gets up as well.
"This was actually fun, Guster," he says. "Thank you." With that, he's off, too.
Gus looks at Shawn as they stand up and leave the restaurant. "I'm pretty beat from that workout," Gus says. "But do you want to watch a movie? I rented Fandango."
"Rain check, Buddy," Shawn says. "I've got something to take care of."
"Must be important, if you're skipping out on Judd Nelson," Gus comments, but Shawn is already gone.
By the time Shawn arrives at the police station, night has fallen in earnest. The night patrol cars are gone, no doubt out on duty, and the only light in the bullpen is on Juliet's desk, where Shawn finds her, just putting a final signature on the paperwork.
He stands in the shadows for just a moment, just watching her work, reveling in how good, how right it feels to have her back in the station, and then taking an extra second to just admire her, her soft blond curls falling over her shoulder and down her back, the look of concentration on her face, the way her nose scrunches up so adorably when she's thinking about something. He can't see the faint freckles across her nose from where he's standing, with the lights all dimmed, but he smiles thinking of them, of everything that makes her Jules. What's the word, radius…radiator…radiant? Oh, who is he doing this for? Gus isn't here to tell him he hasn't heard it both ways, and he knows the word he's looking for is radiant. Yeah, radiant. That's his Jules.
Well, not his, not exactly, but the fondness he feels for her in this moment makes it hard to push the 'his' out of his head.
After all, if you asked Shawn Spencer if he'd ever been in love, he'd never admit to it, but even he knows that there's something to the fact that he'd never described a woman as radiant before, even in his own head. That's the thing about Juliet, though—he's never met anyone like her, and that's why her absence had been so deeply felt, why he'd wanted so badly to make her first case back go smoothly.
But it hadn't. So now he's here, ready to make it up to her by any means necessary, because the one thought that he can't stand is the idea of him and Juliet not being good together…uh, not being a good team, he corrects himself mentally, but even he rolls his eyes at himself at that.
The truth is, he just cares. About them as a team, but mostly about her. He's not sure how or when it all happened—and for Shawn, that's new, he's never been oblivious to all the clues in quite the same way before—but he's never been so aware of someone, the way he is with Jules, before.
If he were honest with himself, if he were really ready, really going to name it—he's head over heels. He has been for a long time. But he shakes the realization away as soon as it comes. For now, he's just here to make sure everything's okay between them.
Realizing that it's a little creepy, standing there watching her, even though he's only been there a moment, he clears his throat, announcing his presence, crossing the bullpen to her desk.
"Shawn?" she asks, confused. "What are you doing here?"
He places the box he's holding on her desk, the one he'd driven around on his bike to almost every bakery in Santa Barbara to find, since they'd nearly all been closed this late at night. "I come bearing cake," he says. "Well, a cupcake. Which always actually seemed like kind of a different category to me, even though that doesn't make any sense-."
Juliet cuts him off, looking confused, but she's smiling. "Shawn, you brought me a cupcake?"
He nods, and he just now realizes he probably should have thought of a way to explain this to her in advance, even though that's really not his style. "Remember Drimmer?" he asks.
Her face scrunches in confusion again. "Drimmer? The murderer, Drimmer?"
Shawn scratches at his chin. "That's the one. He—he brought you a cupcake, remember? You were so excited about that, and then you said that us working together this week was a disaster, so I just thought—I mean, you never called him a disaster-." He trails off, suddenly at a loss.
Juliet laughs in surprise. "Shawn, Drimmer is a murderer! And he almost killed you! And Carlton! No matter how hard our partnership was this week, it didn't even come close to working with Drimmer. And I didn't call you a disaster, I called this case a disaster, which…it kind of was."
He shrugs. "Still," he says. "I just—I should've made it easier on you, your first case back and everything. I mean, especially after all that's happened, and all the stuff you just went through."
He tries not to think back to that night that Juliet was kidnapped, when he'd gone to save Abigail rather than being there at the clocktower for her. He didn't regret saving Abigail—she needed to be rescued too, of course—but he knows part of him will always be haunted by the fact that he couldn't be there for Juliet.
He sighs. "I wasn't there for you, that night, with…with Yin. And then, this case—I just didn't want to let you down."
He doesn't meet her eyes. That's the crux of it. He never wants to let Juliet down, not ever.
She sighs, quiet for a moment, and then she gently reaches over to him, pushing his chin up with her fingers until she's looking at him. If her hand lingers there against his cheek for a second too long before she drops it, neither of them mention it.
"Shawn," she says softly. "You didn't let me down. Not this week, not ever since I met you."
He half smiles, but it's not enough for her. She steps a little bit closer to him. "And certainly not that night with Yin."
He opens his mouth to protest, but she continues.
"That night," she says, "you did what you had to do. And you sent Gus, even though I know you would have wanted him with you. I didn't—I didn't misunderstand why you did that. And then, you harassed me, the whole time I was at City Hall, all those questions about cases, the pineapple smoothies…"
Shawn starts to protest, but Juliet holds up a hand.
"It was a nice harassment," she says, amusement tugging at the corners of her mouth. (God, why can't he stop looking at her mouth?) "All those days you wouldn't leave me alone," she shrugs, "I know you were just showing me that you cared."
"Jules, of course I cared!" he breathes, and she realizes that this is the most sincere moment she's had with him since that day that she almost died of Thornburg. The realization makes her heart beat a little bit faster, not that it wasn't already racing ever since the moment he'd appeared at her desk.
"I know," she says. "And you never stopped treating me like a normal person. Even this week, for instance, when Carlton didn't want me back out in the field yet, who stepped up and believed in me?"
Shawn nods in mock solemnity, and the sincerity breaks just a little. "Buzz."
She laughs, but looks sternly at him. "No." Then she pauses, seeming to think better of it. "Actually, you know what? Probably, but I'm not talking about him."
Shawn nods. "You're talking about a psychic with the hair of Billy Zane and the brilliance of Val Kilmer?"
She frowns. "You do know Billy Zane wears wigs, right? I'm pretty sure he's bald in real life."
The glimmer in Shawn's eyes disappears, like a child who has just learned that Santa Claus isn't real. "What?"
Juliet gulps, biting back a smile. Okay, so he doesn't know about the wigs. "Kidding! I'm just kidding."
Shawn shakes his head. "Jules, we don't joke about things like that."
She smiles, and they're silent for a moment, the mood shifting again, pushing them back towards something more serious.
"What I'm saying is, Shawn," she says, putting her hand on his shoulder, "just because this case didn't go as planned doesn't mean that we don't have each other's backs."
She realizes her mistake a moment too late. Her hand on his shoulder trips her up, and suddenly she realizes just how close they are standing to one another. If she leans forward just a tiny bit, they'll be "close talking", and just a little bit beyond that, her lips would meet his.
Closing the gap is more tempting than she wants to admit.
She looks at Shawn, surprised to find that he's looking as shaken up as she is, his eyes wide. It's hard to tell in the dim light of the darkened station, but she's pretty sure he's blushing as much as she is. She wonders if his heart is beating as fast as hers too, if he can hear hers.
Still, they don't move away from each other, lost in the moment together, looking intently into each other's eyes. She wills him to close the gap between them—Shawn, if you're psychic, this is the time to read my mind—and she's frozen as she looks at him, hoping for more, hoping she's not the one to decide. Is this it? Is this the moment, finally, that she's been waiting for ever since that night, so much like this one, when he'd first approached her in a darkened station and made some joke about parrots?
"Well," he says quietly, so close that she can feel his breath on her lips, "I guess you wouldn't want your cupcake to get cold."
She understands instantly—this isn't going to be their moment. He's pulling back, letting her call the shots, using the cupcake line as an excuse—they both know it wasn't warm to begin with (any warmth in the room is surely emanating from her cheeks at the moment). And even though she doesn't want to step back, she knows that maybe this is the right thing. She's just getting back to work, after all. It's not the right time to start…this…with Shawn, even though she knows her reservations are collapsing, and it feels like it's really only a matter of time at this point.
But he knows, as well as she does, that she does need a little more time, and once again, he's showing her how much he cares about her. They both want this—she's almost certain of it—but he isn't going to push her. He's going to wait until she's ready, and the realization makes a wave of love for him wash over her. If she'd thought it was hard to resist a second ago, she had no idea. It's getting harder and harder to deny how strong the pull is towards him, and in moments like this, she feels like she's in way too deep. It's amazing that she's able to turn away at all.
She swallows, stepping back, watching Shawn suck in a breath, his eyes closing for half a second. She knows he's disappointed, and she is too. Part of her—a part of her that's larger than she's willing to admit—feels the wave of regret she was expecting, and she wants to pull him close to her again, close the gap she never should have left between them.
But she doesn't.
Instead, she opens her bottom desk drawer, where she has leftover unused cutlery from too many days of takeout lunches at her desk, and finds a plastic knife.
She cuts the cupcake in half, placing half on a napkin for him. "We'll share it," she says, smiling up at him, willing herself not to look at his lips again.
He splutters in protest, and she smiles again, thinking suddenly of all the people who wouldn't expect Shawn Spencer to be such a gentleman. But he is—he always is, for her, and pretty much everything he's said and done since he walked into the station tonight proves it.
"You earned it," she says, pushing the cupcake towards him, "partner."
Then, so quickly that he's half-convinced it didn't really happen, she leans up, kissing him on the cheek. Before he can react, she's walking away, off to file the paperwork down in the file room, and he wonders for a moment if she, like him, is doing so to keep from giving in to the temptation of the moment.
Shawn sinks into her abandoned desk chair, his hand unconsciously reaching up to his cheek to touch the spot where she'd kissed him, where he can still feel the ghostly imprint of her lips, like he had for months when she'd kissed his cheek at the drive-in.
He sits there, shell-shocked, his eyes closed, for once in his life not even interested in the cupcake, remembering how he'd once described Juliet to Gus—an enigma wrapped in a little blonde riddle . Indeed.
Oh, he's in for it now.
A/N: Like I said before, this turned out not quite how I wanted it to, so I'm a bit nervous about this one! Would love to hear any feedback that you might have! Thanks so very much for reading, as always!