Word Count: 1590 words.
Notes: Shawn/Lassiter. Written for lipstickcat.
Summary: Carlton heard about the crash the morning after it happened, from a wide-eyed Juliet and sombre Chief Vick.
Carlton heard about the crash the morning after it happened, from a wide-eyed Juliet and sombre Chief Vick. Spencer's motorcycle had been involved in a collision, spun off the road, crashed into tree, and now he was in a coma.
At first he'd thought it was an elaborate practical joke. Spencer was emulating that new TV show he kept raving on about and when he woke up, in a carefully timed three minute limit after Carlton's arrival, he'd start speaking like Huggy Bear. But no, when Carlton visited his hospital room, Spencer was hooked up to expensive medical equipment, and it didn't matter how many favours he cashed in, there was no way he could have set this up with that much detail.
He looked lifeless and pale lying in the hospital bed, so unlike himself, and Carlton felt a pang of sympathy that unnerved as much as it surprised him. The thought of not seeing Spencer every week danced through his mind, but instead of the joy he had expected to feel in so many previous daydreams of this eventuality, he just felt sick. He had grown to rely on Spencer a lot the past few months. He'd even come to look forward to his presence. He replayed conversations they had for reasons other than coming up with the perfect rebuttal, and thought about new topics to discuss, should they ever get the chance.
He sat by the bed for a while, smoothing his hand down the crisp cream sheet by Spencer's hand, but left when Henry showed up with Guster in tow. It didn't seem right that he should be there alongside friends and family when he was neither.
When Carlton was told Spencer was awake, he didn't immediately rush to his room. He took at least half an hour. He was gratified to see Guster had gone for much needed sleep, and the nurses said Henry had gone to collect Spencer some clothes. The room was empty save for Spencer sitting eating lurid green key lime pie.
"They told me you came before," Spencer said with an inquisitive tilt of his head. He twirled his spork around his fingers and quite obviously avoided looking Carlton directly in the eye. "How come you only came once?"
"I'm head detective for the SBPD. I had better things to do than to watch you sleep."
Spencer didn't verbally respond. He lifted a sporkful of pie to his mouth and Carlton watched as he barely swallowed before he was lifting another sporkful, and another.
"You'll make yourself sick if you eat so quickly."
"I haven't eaten for three days."
Carlton moved the tray away. "Just take it easy, won't you?"
Spencer glared --- an expression that looked remarkably wrong on his normally relaxed features. "Why? So you can assuage your guilt by protecting me?"
Carlton stood up and looked down at Spencer. Crashes did often make people react in the strangest ways, so it seemed fitting that the strangest person he knew would start to act relatively normal. But he couldn't fathom why he was acting like that towards him at this moment.
"I'll see you later."
Carlton spent the next week wondering what he'd done wrong. Was there any reason he should feel guilty? Was it simply because he hadn't visited Spencer more? But it wasn't like Spencer to get that angry over something so trivial.
After the eighth sleepless night, he couldn't handle the constant self-questioning anymore, so he found himself outside Spencer's room again during the early morning visiting hours. Unfortunately, Spencer was nowhere to be found. It occurred to him he may have been moved, and he was about to ask a nurse when he heard a high-pitched "weeeeeee!" and turned around in time to see Spencer zooming down the perpendicular corridor in a wheelchair. A loud and angry orderly was chasing after him, shouting, "you're gonna kill someone, you crackhead," which Carlton reflected was what he often thought when Spencer was around.
He waited for fifteen minutes, but Spencer never returned, and when Carlton went looking, he saw him racing kids from the cancer ward. He didn't think it would be polite to intrude.
He visited again the next day because he realised he may never have another hour of rest if he didn't. He appeared outside Spencer's room once more, and this time Spencer was in, licking the knife he had used to spread jelly on his toast. He didn't look especially happy to see Carlton, and didn't stop licking the blade. Carlton fixated on his tongue for a moment before speaking.
"Why are you angry with me?"
Spencer shrugged. "I'm not. I've just finally realised something about us."
"And that is?"
Spencer spoke too quickly, his words almost garbled, but Carlton heard every word. "We're not friends. We never have been and we never will be. So why should I bother with pleasantries, give you a nickname, try to make you feel included, if all I'll ever get for my trouble is you being a Lasshole?"
Carlton opened his mouth to speak, but no sound came out. He sucked in a breath and stood, finally managing to construct a response.
"I'm sorry I wasted your time."
He left without a backwards glance.
When Spencer was dismissed from hospital, there was a party Carlton wasn't invited to, and presents he wasn't asked to spring for. He told himself the sensible thing would be to stay the hell away, but he couldn't fight the urge to be involved, so when everyone was cavorting around inside, he snuck around the gate and loitered by the tree in Henry's back yard. Spencer came out into the moonlit space after half an hour, still hobbling and in need of a crutch, but in better condition than Carlton had seen him in weeks.
"I know you're here," Spencer called out, and Lassiter wondered for a moment if he really was psychic, or whether he just had good eyesight. "Why did you come?"
"I wanted to see how you were."
"Really? Or were you hoping to bump me off, a la Alexis Carrington? It would be so much more dramatic if it were at my recovery party. He's alive! No, wait... dun dun dun."
"No. I wanted to see how you were," Carlton reiterated. He squared his shoulders. "Shawn, I know we don't always get along, but we're not always at each other's throats. At least, I'm not always at your throat. The only reason I didn't visit you more when you were in the coma was that it disturbed me seeing you in that condition."
"That's not the world's best excuse. In fact, it's veering into a category all its own, just a hair's breadth above worst. I call it 'penultimately craptacular'."
"What do you expect from me? By your own admission, we're not friends. Why is it so bad I didn't spend every waking hour by your side when you wouldn't even register if I was there or not?"
Spencer gritted his teeth."Because I got into that accident riding to your house. I was coming to tell you --- forget it. Forget I said anything. No reason, none at all, don't let the gate bust your ass on the way out."
Carlton shook his head and gripped Spencer's shoulder firmly. "Say it. I wanna hear."
"I like you."
Carlton frowned. This was the big revelation? This was what had turned his life upside down? "I like you too, what's the problem?"
"I like you like this," Spencer said, a second before he was yanking Carlton's head down to his own and kissing him with a speed heretofore unseen. He gripped into his hair and held Carlton tight, and Carlton didn't exactly know why he was opening his mouth and arching into it, but he was.
"Oh," was all Carlton could say when Spencer relinquished hold.
Spencer rubbed the back of his neck. "Yeah."
"Did you wanna grab a coffee or something?"
"I rarely kid. You know this by now."
"Even after my grand revelation?"
"I figure, you've already jumped me once tonight. If I'm really lucky, you'll do it again."
Spencer smiled and looked more like his old, jovial self.
Carlton returned the smile, ignoring the unfurling of fear and anticipation in his stomach. "I'm really glad you're okay."
"I'm glad you're glad."
"Maybe next time you want to tell me you dream of getting into my pants, you should text me instead of racing down the road, ignoring the speed limit."
"I wasn't going to say something as crude as that. I was at least going to use such delicate phrases as 'do the horizontal cha-cha-cha' and 'dance the buttock jig.'"
Carlton helped Shawn stumble down the sidewalk. "It's nice to know your sense of humour wasn't damaged with the rest of you. I thought for a second they'd given you a personality transplant. They're not going to miss you at this party, are they?"
"It wouldn't be the first Shawnebration I've stepped out on. And it probably won't be the last. But, just in case, could you put the pedal to the metal?"
"Has anyone ever told you that you should slow down?"
"Everyone who's ever met me, but if I did that then I wouldn't be the delightful scamp you know and... like."
Carlton couldn't argue with that. He started the car and decided he was going to have to be the one in charge of pacing this new and terrifying relationship. For some reason, he didn't mind.