I chose this story to start off with because it remains, to this day, my very favorite piece that I've written. I wrote it out after having seen the finale and after seeing the look in Jules' eyes in that penultimate scene, reflecting a careful thought process that got her from point A to point B, depicting every moment of interaction between her and Shawn.
It's no secret that I have a special affinity for Juliet's character. I find that the writers (save for Berman) rarely (if ever) write or fully flesh out her character when writing scenes for the show, and all we have are vignettes and snippets which hint at her past and her sense of being. We know that she is a woman dedicated to her job to the point of fully immersing herself in the role she portrays while going undercover, but at the same time, she's a real girly girl who enjoys pampering and fashion just like any other normal young woman. She's very pretty, very put together, and while she's very friendly, she hides a lot of herself behind walls which try to ensure that her heart is well-protected. In very many ways, also, Juliet is kind of like an eager little pup ready to prove to the big dogs just how ready she is for the big time, but this eagerness eventually simmers into a kind of professionalism that's admirable, culminating in the fact that even Lassiter respects her skills on the job.
Basically, Juliet is a character with a lot of untapped potential, and it's very easy to write her off as just another supporting cast member. But this potential, this gray area, I like to call it, is a fanfic writer's playground, and it's very easy with a character like Juliet to stray into Mary Sue territory, which is why I'm particularly proud of this piece. When I wrote this, I wanted to give the reader the experience of being with Juliet as she traversed from point A to point B, how she got from meeting Shawn to admitting that she liked him as more than a friend in the finale. In addition to this, I wanted to feature why she acted in certain ways during the whole run of the show by naming certain scenes and tying it into the general narrative of the story and of the show. Most importantly, I wanted to create a back story for Juliet that wasn't purely invention but would make sense given the little pieces of Jules that is peppered all throughout the show. Her sense of family--in that it is strong, but also can survive (and maybe is grounded on) the fact that they live on separate coasts. Her keen devotion to being a cop--it's more than just her job but her calling, and the fact that she looks young enough to have gone straight from the Police Academy to Detective, but we know that this isn't possible. Little things like this.
The style I used for this was influenced by the Joyce/Woolf stream-of-consciousness, and I find it flows better when I say the words in my head. There's a kind of rhythm buried deep in the cadence of the writing, and I hope it came across. I love the detached voice it espouses, very different from my usual descriptive or solely-dialogue style, but I find that it works on the level I want the story to achieve. It reads like a rundown of events in Jules' life without being overly detailed.
The first time Juliet falls in love, it is with the boy two houses down.
The first line, I absolutely love because it was the first thing that came to me when I started thinking about writing this story. I generally come up with stories two ways: I come up with a scene and write a story around it, or I come up with a gorgeous line and work from there. In this case, it was the latter.
At about 5 o'clock in the afternoon, Mondays through Fridays, she anxiously awaits at her window on the second floor for the precise moment when he walks by with his dog. She gives a happy sigh whenever she sees his curly brown hair appearing by her gate, his faithful Golden Retriever plodding happily by his side. He is 16. She is 6. One day he walks by, at 5:14pm, and Catcher, the dog, is nowhere to be found. Instead, he has his arm around a girl with blond hair. They are laughing, and her heart breaks for the first time in her life. She mopes for two weeks, then moves on to Jimmy Rodriguez, from her class. She shares her lunch with him until her interest wanes.
I cannot believe no one caught the 'Jimmy Rodriguez' reference.
Juliet falls in love many times over the years. With Bobby, the lifeguard. With Hank, the high school linebacker. With Don, the poet. She has a myriad of flings, and even becomes a real woman with the captain of the college debate team, in her own dorm room, when her roommate flies back home for an emergency visit. True love for them lasted five months.
Clearly, Juliet thinks she knows love. And then she meets Ted.
Ted is a finance manager she meets while working part-time at a diner near university, trying to earn enough to get her into the Academy. She serves him his coffee, and he asks for her number. Two years go by fast, and they even talk of marriage. She looks at him--mature, stable and talented--and she imagines that no girl could ever be so lucky as to have him in her life. She sees their future: a big house, living rooms straight out of Good Housekeeping, even-tempered and well-behaved children. She believes she has found her Mr. Right, and she is ecstatic when he finally asks her to marry him.
She says yes, and waits for her life to begin.
Days fly by, and wedding preparations commence. She wonders why planning for the rest of her life to begin seems so tedious. She and Ted get into fights over budgets and invitations. She starts to see what a life with him will lead to--and starts to dread it. Images of white picket fences begin to fade, and four months before the wedding, they call it off. Clean break. She wonders why losing her true love doesn't leave more than a bad taste in her mouth and a throbbing headache.
I like this whole exposition on Juliet's backstory. In addition to Shawn and Juliet's story, I wanted to convey what I think to be Juliet's notions and beliefs about love and how it evolves by meeting Shawn. At the very core of this story is Juliet and how she feels about Shawn and how he slowly but surely changes how she understands love and relationships in general. For Juliet's previous dalliances, especially with the Ted character, I wanted to show that she's loved before, but she's self-aware enough to know that this person might not be IT for her, if you know what I mean. She isn't damaged enough to have gone through an absolutely terrible relationship (although I have a soft spot for those kinds of fics), but she seems the type to have 'loved and lost' the wrong person, being so guarded about relationships in general. Her outburst in the 'Bank' episode reveals just exactly what she looks for in a guy--the cookie-cutter kind that provides for the family, although our Jules may be given to flights of fantasy every so often (she IS female, FGS).
So there, I wanted to convey all of this, but in a narrative that was straightforward and kind of deadpan, if you will, focusing on the mundane and ordinary thoughts rather than the emotional drama of a breakup. And that brought home the reality (to Juliet) that this wasn't as big a deal as she used to think it was after all.
After finishing the requisite two years of policework in the corny blue uniform, she takes her detective exam and passes with flying colors. Policework fulfills her. It makes her whole as Ted never did, as Ted never could. While she continues to date and to have flings, she realizes that her job is her first priority and feels pride in the good work she does. A year passes almost without notice when she opens the paper one day and sees that he is getting married. She immediately asks for a transfer and on the plane ride down to Santa Barbara, she wonders why she is as affected by it as she is. She wonders whether she made a big mistake in letting him go, but as the plane descends into just as sunny California, she knows that it is not the knowledge of love but a reminder of failure that makes her run.
The juxtaposition of love and career is a typical device in Juliet-centric fics, and it's something I use heavily in this fic. I think, for Juliet's character, it's a particular area of conflict between herself and Shawn that is always emphasized on the show, highlighting the opposing sides from which they approach certain things. Shawn himself notes that he has a certain distaste for the profession, and his interest in a girl so defined by being a police officer is one of the reasons why I love writing the Shawn/Juliet dynamic and relationship. With that in mind, I really wanted to highlight that Juliet is not merely a 'cop' by name, a side dish to the Lassiter character, but a good cop in her own right, which is something that Shawn has to come to terms with if he ever wants to have anything with her.
On her first day on the job, she meets him. He is quirky and annoying and he doesn't seem to want to stop talking, but when he smiles at her she can't help but smile back. He and Gus are her first real friends in Santa Barbara, and being so far away from Miami, they give her a home. They bring her chow mein when she's shaky and give her Funions when they find out that she has never tried them before. With them, she can be herself--she can be Jules.
Ah. And here is the big first meeting. This is where the really difficult part begins, because I love tying in fics with what is happening in 'real-time' Psych world. However, it's sometimes difficult because of the little inconsistencies in character development in the hands of the different writers per episode. One episode could be laden with lots of Henry/Shawn interaction and resolution, and then the next episode could show them at each other's throats once again. Likewise, one episode may be blatantly Shawn/Juliet, followed by an episode with little to no Shawn/Juliet interaction at all. It's not really a problem I have with the show per se, because I love the show's writers in general, but it makes explaining the interactions in fic rather difficult.
Gus is a good friend, but he is bigger than that. He makes inappropriate comments and constantly flirts with her as well as other women, but all it does is make her chuckle. He is loud and obnoxious and egotistical to the point of ridicule, but she is a detective and she knows enough to see beyond this facade he portrays for other people. She would like to think she is not like 'most people' for him. Even if he's scared of pointy things, he rushes into the most dangerous situations if he sees that people can be saved and justice can be served. She sees the worry in his eyes when she is in danger, and the effort he makes when he tries to get her to laugh when her spirits are down. She feels humor between them whenever they lock eyes and they characteristically raise their eyebrows and roll their eyes at each other's antics and comebacks. She feels tension whenever they look at each other in those unguarded moments of curiosity and warmth.
I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a big fan of dialogue, mainly because I don't do it as well as other people do. If I write fics with dialogue, it is mostly entirely in dialogue. When I write stories, I listen to the voices talking in my head, and most of them communicate via thought rather than voice. I tried to look at the progression of the show from Juliet's eyes, so the rest of the story will be easily divisible into seasons 1, 2 and 3. And they read very similarly to what happens on the show, so no real need to explain every instance. But if anyone asks me to clarify anything, let me know :)
But even as she notes all this, she debates within herself. She tells herself that to pursue a fling with him would be an unmistakeable conflict of interest, and that her job is the only thing making her happy. She does not want to go back to Miami, back to Ted and his happy bride, to her family with their confused sympathy, to the police station where people are colleagues, not friends. She needs this job, she needs this place, and she needs her friends. She needs him to be her friend, and even when she catches herself looking at him with a surprising amount of affection, friends is all she wants to be. They don't need to ruin a good thing between them, borne from familiarity and regularity. She knows, intellectually, that he and she would not work. She wants a man like Ted, someone dependable, mature and responsible. She wants a life of security. She wants to be happy that way.
And then she screws up.
I love single-line paragraphs, especially after lengthy paragraphs which write/read like monologues because of the emphasis it creates after such a long string of thoughts. I use them either sparingly or generously, depending on the kind of fic I'm writing.
On the night he comes over, still wearing the stupid leather vest, he makes the first real attempt to change things between them, and she is more flustered with panic than she is with heat. She tells him it's a mistake, and she feels him swallow, hesitating, before he agrees with her. They step back, and she is sure that both of them are wondering whether the mistake they were trying so hard to avoid was in trying to avoid the mistake in the first place. Things go back to normal, but she knows that he knows that what is between them is not the same. She sees it in the way he looks at her, and she is sure he feels it in the way she is always worrying about him. He is still quirky and annoying, but ever since his mom came back, she sees a change in him. He is growing up and taking responsibility and though he still wisecracks and makes jokes that no one but Gus laughs at, she respects him just a little bit more. She drives him home after their high school reunion, and he gives her the strangest look and half-smile before he turns and walks into his apartment. On their impromptu couple skate, as they skate lazily around the rink, their hands brushing and not quite touching repeatedly throughout, she realizes that she has always admired him as a fellow detective and as a friend, but now it goes beyond that. Now, she begins to respect him as a man.
This revelation scares her, because once she starts taking him seriously, it won't be long before it snowballs into an avalanche of emotion that will end in heartache. She meets a man with dashing gray-streaked hair and an authoritative voice and decides to go out with him. She should have known he would find out about it, but she does not realize how big of a deal he makes of it. He disrupts an entire operation, which could have completely turned on him, but he manages to pull through once again. Even in the midst of her frustration, she cannot help but shake her head in amusement. She could have returned Gus' footwear in other ways, but it is the excitement of the day, and the knowledge that he simply wants her to be happy with whoever she dates, that convinced her to forego Mario's bread for plumped-up ballpark franks.
For some strange reason, I find the difference in the bread (between Mario's bread and ballpark franks) an apt metaphor for Luntz and Shawn, and I use it a lot, not just in this story but in a lot of my Shawn/Juliet stories.
Things between them gradually go back to normal and she is glad. Sort of. Of course, she ignores the little flutters in her stomach when he smiles the same smile he's been smiling at her for almost three years at that arson investigator. And she can't help but hear a tiny voice screaming at her to tell April that there IS a problem when she is asked if there is anything wrong in dating him. To top it all off, she cannot explain the way her back gets up when she hears about him having a fling with Gus' sister, or the fact that watching him hug that little girl made her smile at him in a way she has never smiled at anyone before.
Somewhere between the time Gus drags her away from a comforting day of reading magazines in her apartment (saying he had personally asked her to come because he needed her to be there) to witness him lead the Thunderbirds into the game, and the time she, heart beating wildly in her chest, takes a chance and takes her shot to save his life, she realizes that she wants him to be her friend, but also so much more. She wants to be the first thing he thinks of when he wakes up, before his busy mind starts to work overtime. She wants to be able to exchange stories about what happened during their days as they drive home from work. She wants to be the one who makes him stutter, and the one who makes him blush. Most of all, she wants to be the one he decides on for keeps.
Ah. Latter part of Season Three is a gold mine for Shawn/Juliet moments, really, what with "Christmas Joy", "Six Feet Under the Sea", "Any Given Friday" all the way up to "Yang." I'm actually pretty unhappy with the way I rushed through this part because I wanted to give more depth, or more exploration to why Juliet would suddenly feel this way for Shawn before the whole realization happened. But at this point, I already felt like delving into it, or discussing it, any more would make it smushier than I would like the story to be. So bleh. We leave it at that. I would like to say the title of the story didn't come up until I wrote that final line, because I really love the idea of both Shawn and Juliet deciding on each other rather than falling rapturously in each other's arms. I mean, of course, theirs would be a real ROMANCE and not just a decision, but come on. We're all aware that both are pretty and fanciable individuals in themselves, but WHY would Juliet choose to be with Shawn, and WHY would Shawn choose to be with Juliet, rather than anybody else? This is what I meant by the line 'deciding on for keeps.'
She does not love him, not yet, but she thinks that she could. She thinks that she will. It is inevitable. She sees the way he looks at her, and the way his eyes warm in ways that have nothing to do with lust (not completely) and everything to do with affection and companionship, a friendship enriched by so much more. It is the best thing, the richest thing, to realize just how precious a love borne out of friendship truly is. And for the first time, she sees security in a different light. It is not having a job to secure money to buy a nice house; it is to find a job you love and with it, build a home just right. It is not a room straight out of Good Housekeeping, but a messy, lived-in, trinket-filled explosion of memories. And it is not in marrying a man with the discipline to raise well-behaved intelligent children, but in finding the one person to spend the rest of your life with and raising a noisy and energetic family, who will love and be loved unconditionally.
I stuck in the line about 'best and richest things' because it was the strongest and most revealing line during Juliet's whole speech in the third season finale. That line was the basis for this whole fic, really. And, well, to be honest, these are the things about the relationship between Shawn and Juliet that make this pairing resonate with me, the whole love out of friendship thing. I'm a real sucker for it :P
When Mr. Yang comes back into town, seeing him keep it together as best as he could while the life of his mother was hanging in the balance, brought everything into perspective for her. She knows she has to tell him, and to tell him soon. Words jumble over and over in her head, and she curses the fact that her wit is deserting her at the most inopportune moment. She gathers all of her wits and sits in the car for awhile, nervously smoothing hands over her hair and checking her make-up for the last time. Her palms are sweaty and she realizes that she has never felt this way with Ted, or with Hank or Don or Cameron or the myriad of other men who have come before him.
He is Shawn.
And Juliet smiles as she steps out of the car. She is playing for keeps as well.
Hahahah these last few paragraphs! *hits head on the wall* I don't really know what I was thinking, writing the ending that way. To this day, I don't know just what it was about the Mr. Yang debacle that made her want to tell him right then and there that she wanted to take him out to dinner, but that's the way the show was written, so who am I to change canon?
And there. That line. "He is Shawn." This is the first time she even mentions his name, but we all knew who she was talking about in the first place. This line isn't for the readers though--it's for Juliet. It's for her to realize that the person she has feelings for is his own person, and it's not exactly the notion of the person who she wants to be with but the person himself. And, for Juliet, that's Shawn.
THANK YOU FOR READING :D