Shawn's lips were warm and dry, resting gently against Gus's for a beat, another, and Gus was shaking inside, unsure what to do with his hands, whether to press back into Shawn, and he couldn't make up his mind before Shawn pulled away.
Shawn laughed. "It's not a big deal, Gus."
They were sixteen, Shawn's parents were asleep upstairs, and the credits to Day of the Dead were trailing across the screen. Gus had a life plan that involved college, a nice girl, and two kids, not falling in love with his male best friend and having it actually be reciprocated. It didn't involve Shawn leaning over and touching his mouth to Gus's as casual as breathing, like he wasn't shifting Gus's entire worldview here, twisting his heart on its axis to point Shawn's way once more.
"It's not a big deal," Shawn repeated.
Gus wanted to say Yes it is and I want it be and I want this, but—
Shawn smiled self-deprecatingly and said, "I thought it would be fun."
"Fun," Gus said numbly.
Shawn punched him lightly in the shoulder and said, "Yeah, fun. That thing you need more of in your life."
"Kissing people is not fun, Shawn—" Gus began hotly.
Shawn laughed. "You must be kissing the wrong people."
Then they got into an argument over the people Gus and Shawn had kissed before, which somehow transitioned into whether Cat Woman or Wonder Woman would win in a fight, and when Mr. Spencer finally came downstairs to tell them to turn in for the night, Shawn and Gus were beating each other with the couch cushions and laughing.
It wasn't that Gus envied Shawn. Shawn was poorly insured, easily distracted, overly stimulated, and needed to catch a ride from his dad or Gus on the (many) days that his motorcycle was in the shop. His relationship with his family was generally strained, and he had a terrible predilection for getting involved with serial killers and murderers—and dragging Gus into it. No, Gus did not envy Shawn.
But sometimes—Gus thought it might be nice to assume that easy air and live life without concern. Gus memorized statistics and read news articles and—worried. Joy knew, and Leonard had known—had walked in on Gus and Mark Day at a poorly planned mixer that had turned into an extremely ill-advised kegger their first year of college—and Gus was pretty sure Shawn had figured it out somewhere along the way, because Shawn noticed everything about everyone around him. It didn't come up very often, and when it did, Gus wanted it to be serious, to mean something. It was well over a decade later, and it still wasn't fun to Gus the way it was to Shawn, who treated his entire sexuality like a never-ending joke to be played on other people.
"This is Raul," Shawn said, hanging an arm around their latest client. "We're running away to Boston together to open a taco stand."
"Actually, he's helping me find my lost Labrador," Raul said, smiling, "but for the record, Shawn, I would not object to running away together."
Shawn's smile was so charmed and delighted that Gus thought he might sprain something with all the eyerolling.
"It's like it was meant to be," Shawn said.
"Meant to be a disaster," Gus muttered to himself, but when Shawn looked over with a curious expression, Gus smiled indulgently and said, "You two have fun. I need to go finish my route."
Gus would never want Shawn's life. But sometimes—he had to admit to himself, listening to Shawn tell Raul about his psychic method as he walked out the door—he wanted to be part of it in a way that would never happen.
Gus genuinely liked women. Mira had been a whirlwind that swept Gus away, Jessica had been genuinely endearing, and Ruby had been one of the most amazing people Gus knew even as she convinced him to take part in activities he would much rather watch from the safe distance of television. Gus liked women, and Shawn liked women, and this was why Gus was hopelessly confused by Shawn's, "But you date women! I've seen you!"
"Yes, Shawn," Gus said with far more patience than he actually felt at the moment considering that he had now quite literally lost count of how many of his dates Shawn had driven away, and while he genuinely liked women, he'd also genuinely liked Robert, who'd said, "You told me you were single!" and stormed out of the restaurant.
"But you—that was an actual date! I thought you were kidding." Shawn looked caught between embarrassment over having ruined the date by accident—though Gus thought he'd probably have no problem if it were on purpose—and indignation over not having known.
"Do I usually joke about taking a potential new boyfriend to a nice restaurant?" Gus asked wearily. "What did you think was going on here? That I was with one of the company clients?"
"But—" Shawn waved his hands and stole Robert's seat, grabbing one of the unused forks to dig into the creme brulee, because Shawn didn't believe in letting desserts go to waste. "But we joke about that stuff all the time."
"No," Gus said. "That's you. You joke about it."
Gus flagged down the server while Shawn examined him with a thoughtful gaze, like he was rethinking every past moment in light of this new evidence. Gus gave the server his credit card, and she paused to glance at Shawn and ask, "Will he be ordering—?"
Gus shook his head. "No, we'll be leaving once I get the receipt."
Shawn had apparently decided to play nice, because he didn't contradict Gus, just said, "Can we get a doggy bag for this?" pointing at the creme brulee with his fork. Once she left, Shawn said, more quietly now, "But when—in high school when I'd—"
"Right," Gus said. "No one can reject you and be attracted to men. It's why Wendy Mueller and thirty other girls from our graduating class were all lesbians."
"Pretty sure Wendy was," Shawn said, still strangely subdued. "But—"
Gus had never been able to resist that look from Shawn, and he huffed out a sigh before he said, "It's different for me."
"You swing both ways!" Shawn said. "I don't see how that's different, or how you could have failed to share this information a little sooner."
"For me, it's serious," Gus said. "You know that. I don't do casual. And I did tell you. I told you seventeen times I was going on a date with Robert tonight alone. I should have known better."
"Telling me is like an invitation," Shawn agreed. Then, "I'm sorry about your date. If it, uh, if it makes you feel any better, this creme brulee is awful."
Gus laughed, because of course Shawn would think that was a proper apology, throwing himself on the hand-grenade of sub-par desserts.
After that, Gus went out with a Mandy, two Morgans—one woman, one man—and a Trish, who'd turned out to somehow know Shawn and left halfway through the appetizers. Even absent, Shawn's date ruining superpowers were still in effect. Psych had five more cases, and it was obvious Shawn was starting to get bored, distracted and forgetting to put on a show.
"Yeah, your partner is ripping you off," Shawn said. "Check the expense account yourself and you'll find she's almost skimmed enough to do a runner."
"But," Lily Perkins, terrible judge of character, said in an indignant voice, "we've been best friends for three years!"
"Just so you know," Gus said once Lily had stormed off to confront her partner despite Gus's sound advice to call the police, "I'm not concerned about your ever trying to steal from me, but if you did, I would sic Jules and Lassiter on you so fast."
Shawn grinned. "You already keep me in pineapple and Skittles, plus you're the one who does the accounts."
"You could help with that," Gus said pointedly.
"I could," Shawn agreed, though it wasn't anything like an offer. "Smoothie run?"
"Only if you order your own this time," Gus said. "I'm done sharing."
"You wound me," Shawn said.
"Not yet I haven't," Gus said.
They called Juliet on the way so she could make certain their client didn't turn into another victim—or become a murderer. Gus hadn't seen anyone so angry since—actually, since yesterday when Shawn attempted to infringe on the pirate ring case. Juliet had had to remind Lassiter to keep his weapon holstered and that there was no such thing as justifiable homicide.
The beginning of Gus's sophomore year, he called Joy and said, "I, uh, I thought you should know—"
"What's up?" she said, and he could hear her close the door, could picture her settling on the bed and curling up to listen.
"I'm bi," Gus blurted out in a rush, and he could almost see her nonplussed expression, the way she tilted her head as if to indicate she heard him.
"Do you—" She paused. "Do you want to talk about it?"
"Not really," Gus said, and it was a relief, to have it out there, to have said the actual words. It was the first time he'd identified himself—articulated it—properly. His freshman year, after he'd abandoned Mark to talk with Leonard, he'd said, "Kind of both?" when Leonard had said, "So you date—"
But Leonard had been the one to say it, and Gus had just nodded. Talking to Joy, it was like he was reclaiming a part of himself, and he simultaneously felt lighter than he had in a very long time and like he was going to throw up.
"If you don't want to talk about it," Joy said, "what would you like to talk about?"
"How, um, how are classes going?" Gus asked, and they chatted for a good twenty minutes.
Before she said goodbye, Joy said, "Gus, you know—you know that I love you no matter what, right?"
"Even if I join an a capella group?" Gus asked.
Joy snorted. "That's a secret you're hiding from no one. Mom found your Hammer pants over the summer when she did laundry."
"So here's the thing," Shawn said, walking into Gus's apartment and already talking, not so much as a hello, like they were in the middle of the conversation and Shawn hadn't just let himself in again without knocking and walked into Gus's bedroom as he was getting dressed for dinner with someone else. Gus was really going to have to find a better hiding spot for his key. "You're the only person who has been there—put up with me—for, well, practically our entire lives. We have a lease together, and you're the first person I call when I have concert tickets, and you claim me on your taxes. And I thought—I always thought it would perfect if only you—" Shawn waved his hands as Gus stared at him with wide eyes. "And you are! And it would be!"
"I don't want to go through life always wondering what if," Shawn said, stepping closer, and Gus could not believe that Shawn was doing this to him. "I don't want, thirty years down the line, for, for you to be married to someone else while I—"
"Oh my God," Gus said with horror when Shawn put his hands on Gus's shoulders, and this was so typical.
"Come on, Gus," Shawn said in the same tone as when he wanted Gus to put his real job aside to work for Psych or to ditch his plans with other friends to spend a weekend with Shawn in Mexico or—
"Shawn, I have a date."
"Cancel it," Shawn said, and Gus would almost believe the blithe tone if not for the fact that he could feel Shawn's hands trembling against his shoulders, could read the panicked twist to Shawn's mouth that said he was maybe two minutes from bolting.
"You always do this," Gus said. "Everything's going perfectly fine, and then you—you swoop in with your wide eyes and ridiculous hair—" Shawn released Gus's shoulders to pat at his hair, looking equal parts indignant and insecure, "—and you convince me that I want to swan dive off your dad's roof or chase after murderers or—" Gus stopped, shook his head. "I can't do this. Not if it's—"
This time, it seemed, Shawn understood. "Yes," Shawn said, "it's fun. But it's—" He waved his hands again. "Fun doesn't mean it's not serious, too."
He leaned forward and rested his lips, warm and dry and stupidly perfect, against Gus's; he touched one hand to Gus's neck. Shawn stayed there a beat, two, and Gus couldn't do this, but when Shawn went to pull away, Gus pulled him back. Gus parted his lips and pressed his hands into Shawn's ridiculous hair.
"Fine," Gus said when he finally could bring himself to stop kissing Shawn, "but I'm not living with you until you learn to use a hamper."
Shawn's smile was so bright it hurt to look at. Not for the first time, Gus wondered what he was getting into, but—for once—he decided to put off that concern for another day, reeling Shawn back in for another kiss before he called to cancel his date.
Gus's parents opened the door, and his mom said, "You didn't tell us you were bringing Shawn!" They had finally gotten over the Joy debacle, and Gus wondered briefly how long it would take them to get over this. "You said you were bringing a date." She glanced around, but Gus's dad stared straight at Shawn with understanding dawning in his eyes.
Gus wrapped his hand around Shawn's, trying for casual, and Shawn cleared his throat, said, utterly serious for once, "He did."