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Story Notes:
Disclaimer: I do not own Psych, nor do I own any of its characters, settings, trademarks, or related material. Psych and all related materials are the property of their respective owners. The plot and original characters of this story are my intellectual property. I am not associated with Psych, its creators, or any involved parties. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Chapter Notes:
This story was written as a gift for my good friend marniewings, commissioned by our own dear Checkerz. I hope you like it. :-)

"I have to do it," Carlton Lassiter thought as he stood in front of the mirror in his bathroom. "It has to be tonight. It's now or never. I have to tell her. Tonight. But how? How could I possibly do this?" He leaned his forehead against the cold glass of the mirror as he smoothed out his silver striped tie. "It will be tonight, while we're at the beach. I'll be wearing this tie, and she'll be wearing...something. I don't even care what it is. And I'm going to do it."

He walked out his front door and took a deep breath. It was still early in the evening, but the air felt cold and damp like mist and the setting sun threw stripes of red and gold through the luminescent green of the trees. "I'm going to do it. Tonight."

On the drive to pick her up, he felt sick and hated himself for every second of it, clutching the steering wheel of his black Ford Fusion as if taking out his self-doubt on the car would squash the butterflies gnawing at his insides.
Most of the time, he was a reserved and unemotional person who had no respect at all for fine art, but when she stepped onto the porch and into the dimming light he wanted to cry.
"I have to do it now," he thought as he watched her brown hair caress her shoulders, blown by wind.
"Hello," he said, eyes widening as a sliver of ice cut through his heart when she smiled at him like some radiant light was inside her and trying to slip through to him.

He thought about doing it right then, about telling her then and there what was on his mind, what had been tearing him apart for days and days, but he just couldn't do it. She started to talk to him about some trivial thing and he couldn't help it; he blew her off and cringed at his own cowardice.

He drove her to the restaurant and she tried to talk to him and all he could think was, "Now, you idiot, do it now!" But he couldn't do it there, couldn't tell her in front of all those people and the waiters and the white table linens and the tall white candles in the center of the table...
And he knew he'd disappointed her, he could tell from the way she acted, from the little hurt looks she got when he failed to laugh or smile or nod or respond at all in any of the appropriate places. He could tell from the way her inner light kept dimming and growing softer, softer. He thought about doing it but he saw the way she looked at everything around her and the way she looked at him and he just couldn't do it.

And then it was back to the Fusion and for a moment he even thought, "Well, if I'm going to mess up everything else tonight, why not just do it in here?" Lassiter started to panic at that thought, at the thought that he might never get another chance again. He glanced at the rearview mirror and saw the fear in his melting-ice blue eyes and the reflection of the pair of eyes next to his, her eyes, her beautiful eyes. "I have to do it tonight," he thought. "Failure is not an option."

He needed more time, but there was only one more place he could think of to go.

The park bench.

The park bench where he ate his lunch every day, with the crashing sea and the annoying waves of people and the famed sea air and the seagulls white against the purple sky. He took her there, and when he saw her glancing around in curiosity and confusion, said, "I know you're upset at me for not being more...present...tonight."
She opened her mouth to say something, probably something nice, because that's the kind of person she was, but he held up a hand to stop her. "Let me finish."

He took a deep breath. "I don't know how or why, but you made things...different. You made my whole life different. And..." He cursed quietly, looking at the stars in an appeal for help. "I'm not good at this. Heaven only knows that I'm not good at this. But I need you." He looked into her kind eyes. "Jennifer," he said, and the name felt like music on his lips as he dropped to one knee, not caring that the pavement was wet. "Will you...?"

His voice caught in his throat and he couldn't finish the sentence. He had to look down at the dank gray concrete because he felt his eyes beginning to sting, and he prayed that he wouldn't cry and look like a fool and a failure in front of this woman he loved so much.

When he finally had the courage to look back up, her eyes were just as wet and she was trying to talk, but couldn't seem to get anything out. He stood up and took her hand, feeling that it was icy and trying to warm it by twining her fingers in his. She leaned forward and managed to whisper her answer in his ear, and he held her close, knowing that this night truly would be the beginning of his happily ever after.
Chapter End Notes:
And in case you were wondering, this little short thing is actually a fanfic of a fanfic! For more information, please see Checkerz and marniewings' story "It's A Gift." :-)

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