When Gus walked into the office after a week-long sales trip and found Shawn making faces for a camera mounted on a tripod, he immediately assumed the worst. It seemed like the safe thing to do.
"Hey, buddy!" Shawn greeted him with a friendly wave, holding the smile and pose long enough for the camera to capture them with a blinding flash. "You feel like slipping into the skin of world-famous photographer Bruton Gaster and taking the rest of the pictures? This wait three seconds thing is killing me."
Gus was shaking his head from the third word on. "The rest of these? How many pictures of yourself do you need?" A horrible suspicion darted into his mind, saving him from wasting any time later on trying to figure out how the whole mess started. He mentally patted his brain on the back. "Are you internet dating?"
"No!" Shawn scoffed as if such an idea had never even crossed his mind. His face grew thoughtful. "Although . . . I probably could use this thing to meet some delightful ladies."
Gus knew what his success rate was at nipping things in the bud. Still, the effort had to be made. "What thing?" he demanded.
"Oh, Gus," Shawn sighed. "You with your manual typewriter and your analog clocks and your Just Say No poster. Come into the twenty-first century. The future is the present, and it doesn't bite."
Gus allowed himself a pointed glance at his wristwatch and an indiscreet eyeroll.
"What I'm talking about is . . ." - Shawn loved dramatic pauses, especially when they were totally uncalled for - ". . . 'LiveJournal.'" Finger-quotes and all.
"You're putting pictures of yourself online? Do you want to be stalked?"
"Give me a little credit, man; I'm not putting our full names on here."
Gus kept quiet until he knew he could control the volume of his voice. "What do you mean, 'our'?" No finger-quotes.
"It's not for me, it's for the business. A way to go global. Look." He swung the laptop around, and Gus could see, in big blue font, Welcome to LiveJournal, sgpsych!
"SG Psych? StarGate Psych?"
"Shawn-Gus-Psych!" Shawn corrected, then steepled his fingers like Sherlock Holmes had in that movie they'd watched while taste-testing the different colors of M&Ms. "But let's talk for a sec about why your mind went there. Is there a con coming up?"
Gus bristled at the tone. "Yes, I enjoy genre television."
"The first step is admitting you have a problem."
"I'm not the one writing an epic Matt/Julie first-time story and crying when Friday Night Lights canon invalidates it." Before Shawn could rebut that with his regular rallying cry of but their love is so pure!, Gus held up a hand and continued. "So why are you taking pictures of yourself for the Psych LiveJournal account?"
Shawn eyed Gus warily for a moment before succumbing to his regular enthusiasm. "For the mood theme!" He waved a list at Gus; Gus could see about eighty words in three columns, many with checkmarks next to them. "I've done most of them. I gotta say, man, some of these are just ludicrous." He turned the page back to himself, looked down at it, and burst out laughing.
"What?" Gus asked, resigned to his fate and walking over to the camera.
"Ludicrous is next on the list," Shawn said, gazing into a mirror as he teased his hair up and out. When he started to draw wrinkles on his forehead with an eyeliner pencil, Gus decided he would officially ignore all preparation rituals, take the pictures without comment or complaint, and never have to think about this again.
That was when Gus noticed that the camera wasn't theirs. A knot formed in the pit of his stomach. That knot never lied. "Shawn," he asked, calmly and patiently, "whose camera is this?"
Shawn turned away from the mirror, surprised. "It's ours, man. Nice, isn't it?" He turned back and caught Gus's eye in the mirror. "Go us!"
"Are you going to tell me how you could possibly afford this? This is a couple thousand dollars at least."
Shawn whipped something small and plastic from his pocket and pretended to comb his hair with it. "Corporate credit card, baby," he crowed.
"Your credit isn't good enough -"
"Yours is. Must be that steady job you've been holding down." Shawn tucked the plastic rectangle back into his pocket carefully.
Gus breathed slowly and deeply, trying to calm himself. A camera like that would be good for photographing evidence; it wasn't a complete waste, however self-indulgent it clearly was. Through the reassuring whoosh of his own inhalations and exhalations, he could hear Shawn humming a tune that was obnoxiously familiar, but he couldn't place it. "What are you doing?"
Shawn turned again, shocked disbelief all over his face. "Dude! The mood is ludicrous. Clearly, I am doing my Luke Perry for the camera. I mean, let's face it, it's hard to find something more ludicrous than a guy with a receding hairline and forehead wrinkles playing a high-school junior." He squinted and leered dopily. "Plus, I lost the eBay auction for a Dark Helmet helmet, so I can't go all 'Ludicrous Speed' meta, you know?"
Gus rolled his eyes and took the picture.
He rolled his eyes as he took horny, morbid, and creepy, too.
"Ah, at last." Shawn sighed expansively.
"We're done?" Gus asked, rolling the kinks out of his neck. Shawn cracked his neck from side to side. The camera just sat there, gleaming expensively.
"Not so fast, my technophobic friend," Shawn answered. "There is one mood that has been eluding me all day. It has become . . . my white whale."
"In one day?" Gus restrained himself, dialing a belly-laugh down to a snicker. "I've seen you do indifferent, awake, and creative. Tell me, Ahab, what's stumping you?"
Shawn brightened at the mention of each past success, until he closely approximated glee, then visibly deflated. "Quixotic," he admitted. "I haven't had a single brainwave for quixotic. You have to help me, Ishmael."
"Are you going to keep misquoting from CliffsNotes, or can I get a moment to think?"
Shawn's only answer was a sarcastic bow and an impatient wave of his hand. Gus paced for a minute, then leaned against one wall, still pondering.
"Gus, that's it!" Shawn darted across the room to pick out a snow globe from his (slowly) growing collection. "This is perfect. Look at that cute little windmill in here. And what could be more quixotic - keeHOEtay-like, if you will - than tilting at windmills?"
Gus just stared in disbelief, then started ticking points off on his fingers. "One, your dad should sue CliffsNotes for all they've got. And two, Don Quixote is a work of Spanish literature. And this snow globe purports to be from Holland." He grabbed it from Shawn and turned it upside-down. "But it was made in Taiwan."
Shawn grinned hugely at him. "Gus, Gus, Gus. That whole speech just shows how quixotic you really are."
"What? No, it doesn't. And I'm not letting you put a picture of me on any website."
Shawn looked absolutely dumbfounded; it was an interesting variation on his interpretation of flabbergasted. "Really? Now? When the white whale is within our grasp, now you want to change the plan? For shame, Queequeg."
"Fine," Gus gritted out. "Let's just get this over with. I'm starving."
"Hold her steady," Shawn said as he scampered back to stand behind the camera, and Gus obligingly raised the snow globe to eye level. "Maybe lose the top button on that shirt. No, no, less evil eye. Ready? On three. One . . . two . . ." and then Shawn darted back over, put his hand on Gus's arm, and tilted him. "Oh, that's a keeper!" Shawn beamed as the flash went off.
Gus did paperwork while Shawn loaded the mood theme (the quixotic picture ended up okay, just Gus and the snow globe, and a hint of Shawn's hand in the corner of the frame), took one last picture (of the Psych sign for a default icon), and filled out sgpsych's interests (psychics, charlatans, and unsolved cases, then all the models and actresses Shawn could think of).
When all the preliminaries were done, Shawn made about twenty posts in a row, featuring the moods he was proudest of. "Just for you, buddy, I'm feeling quixotic," he said as he posted the last one.
"Whatever, Shawn," Gus said. "I'm still starving, and I need to finish these expense reports."
Shawn just smiled and put away all the props he'd used to such striking effect. The laptop dinged its new message sound effect. "Going global, Gus!" Shawn yelled, skipping back to the computer. "Join me for this historic moment."
Gus gave up on paperwork and stood next to Shawn. The email was open. I just friended you, sgpsych - welcome to lj! I only have one question - who's the quixotic cutie?
Shawn cycled through depressed, outraged, accepting, and serene. Gus stayed on smug.
As always, I'd love to hear what you think.