A one-shot. Set in the middle of season seven, after... well, you know. More specifically, between 'Right Turn, Left for Dead' and 'Juliet Wears the Pantsuit'.
Sometimes you need bunny rabbits. And sometimes you need a best friend.
"You, bunnies, it's all emotional."
When Gus walked into the office, he didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
Shawn was asleep on the floor with his head on a cushion, surrounded by nine – no, wait; there was another one under the desk, chewing paper – make that ten adorable baby rabbits.
Gus cleared his throat.
"New clients?" he asked, as Shawn cracked an eye open.
"Oh, hey, buddy. I've been meaning to ask you. What do you think about getting a pet for the Psych office? I vote yes."
"No kidding." Gus bent down and picked up a fluffy Angora. He couldn't stop himself. The bunny nibbled on his sleeve for a moment or two, then settled down to sleep with a tiny yawn, lulled by his rhythmic stroking. "I think it's a bad idea, Shawn." The words were hard to say. Gus clung to his resolve with an iron will. How could anything be so ridiculously soft? It was like stroking a cloud.
"I can see that." Shawn gave a yawn of his own and sat up, dislodging the black rabbit that was sitting on his stomach.
"C'mon, son. We'd never get anything done."
"I know," said his friend with a blissful smile, and Gus actually found himself wondering why that would even be a problem...
Hastily, he put down the Angora.
"His name is Bert," Shawn supplied. "He likes girl bunnies, carrots and snuggles. And world peace, obviously." His eyes narrowed. "You're not happy. Why aren't you happy? I asked for the strongest bunnies they had."
Gus sat down beside his friend. Bert sniffed at his knee.
"What's this really about, Shawn?" he asked, though he already had a pretty good idea.
"Psych mascot," Shawn lied, looking away. "We don't have one."
"Yes, well, now we have ten, apparently."
"I know! Amazing, right?" His friend's smile was still radiant – but Gus knew enough to look past it, observing the pallor of his cheeks and the dark circles under his eyes.
Tread carefully, he warned himself. Shawn, in this state, was dangerously unpredictable.
He picked up Bert again and dropped him in Shawn's lap. "Try this one," he offered, taking shameless advantage of the baby's fluff-appeal.
Obediently, Shawn curled his hands around the miniature bundle. His fingers sank into its fur as he raised it up and held it gently against his chest. "Hello, you," he whispered.
"Shawn," he said. "I love these bunnies. I mean, I really, really love these bunnies..."
There was more. There had to be more.
"But you know what's going on here, don't you?"
Shawn stiffened and his grip on the rabbit tightened reflexively, causing Bert to nip him in protest. "Why don't you tell me, buddy?" he drawled. There was a storm in his eyes, dark and brooding.
Gus took a deep breath. "This is about Juliet. Are you still not sleeping?"
"Maybe..." Shawn gave a subtle shiver and the darkness was gone, replaced by an empty, mocking stare that was equally disturbing. "Turns out, rabbits are better than Benadryl. No side effects, either. Eight out of ten doctors ought to recommend them..." His grin was also lacking in something vital. "I had a good twenty minutes just now. Best nap I've had in days. Until you woke me up, of course."
"That's right," said Gus. "All of this is my fault." He regretted the words as soon as they left his mouth.
Shawn wilted visibly. "No," he confessed in a dull voice. "It's mine. I know that, okay? And so do you. Stop coddling me and give it to me straight. I want you to. I deserve it." He glanced down at Bert. "But don't raise your voice, 'cos you might upset the mascots."
"You want me to kick my best friend when he's down? In front of ten accusing pairs of bunny eyes?"
"Nine. Bert's asleep again," Shawn murmured.
"Stop that!" All at once, Gus lost his temper. Which was probably Shawn's intention, he realised fleetingly. Sometimes, the man was just plain self-destructive. "It isn't funny."
Shawn mumbled something that sounded like 'a little funny'.
"Juliet needs time to process what happened," Gus said urgently. "And maybe, so do you. Before you rebuild something, it has to get knocked down, right? But when it's rebuilt… Well…" What was he trying to say? How could he fix this for Shawn? "It's much better. She knows, Shawn. You don't have to lie to her anymore. Isn't that a good thing?"
"Wow." Shawn shook his head. "That's deep." He didn't sound convinced. Holding Bert up to his face, he rubbed the velvety nose against his own. "Maybe I'm done with romance. Maybe I want to be the crazy bunny guy. Have a house of my own and fill it with cute, fluffy animals."
"Really? A house of your own? Says the guy who hasn't stayed in one place longer than three months?" Deliberately, Gus focussed on the wrong detail, watching Shawn and waiting for the come-back.
"I was going to," Shawn protested bitterly, right on cue. "I moved in with Jules. Why on earth did I do that? I should have known better. Nothing lasts forever."
Gus relented. "You don't mean that."
"Yes, I do. I jinxed it, Gus. And now it's over."
"No. You had a fight. That's what couples do. It was inevitable, really."
"Couples like my mom and dad?" Shawn scowled as he put Bert down on the floor. "This bunny isn't working," he complained. "I need another one."
"Don't play the divorce card again." Gus folded his arms. "You can't blame them for everything that goes wrong in your life."
"I don't." The tilt of Shawn's head showed that he was still listening, in spite of his sulky denial.
"No, you're right. My mistake. So this isn't about your parents," Gus said pointedly. "It's about you; Shawn Spencer. What do you intend to do about it? And don't say 'crazy bunny guy' again. That's not a practical solution. Though it is very tempting…" Two little rabbits were trying to outdo each other and be the first to clamber onto his lap. He scooped them both up and placed them there together, in a happy bundle that felt oddly prophetic. Gus smiled at last and, when the words came, this time they were easy. "Juliet loves you. And you love her. This isn't over, Shawn. I've never been so sure of anything in my life."
They stared at each other. Shawn broke first. "We're due for a serious guys' night after this," he sighed. "Baseball. Barbecue. Beer - and lots of other stereotypical things that start with 'B'. But you're right, Gus. I'm not going to give up; not ever. I can't. It's Juliet…" There was a wealth of meaning in that simple sentence. Sounding and looking a lot more like his usual happy-go-lucky self, Shawn glanced around the room and his face brightened hopefully. "You think she'd go for a basket of ten adorable bunnies on her doorstep…?"
A/N: 'You should put a bunny called Bert in a Psych story,' said my animal-loving friend…
What on earth? Wait a moment… oh! Yes, of course.
Challenge completed! I hope you enjoyed it.
(P.S. Shuuuliet, look – I did it! A 'break-up' fic.)