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The door banged open suddenly -- and so violently that it hit the wall, rebounded, and smacked whoever had opened it in the face. Henry heard a muffled "ow" before the door opened again, this time much more sedately. He held the newspaper he was reading over his face in an attempt to hide his smile. "What is it this time, Shawn?" he asked. "Need my help on another case?"

Shawn looked affronted. "I do not need your help, thank you very much," he said. "I am a veritable crime-solving machine! In fact, Gus and I just wrapped up a big case down at the traveling circus involving an elephant, a missing ringmaster's whip, and three trained monkeys. And, no, they don't let just anyone drive one of the little clown cars around. I checked. It hardly seems fair, if you ask me; Gus is clearly highly-qualified in the clown-car driving department. What he drives around in every day is practically a clown car already, am I right?"

Henry blinked at this outpouring of nonsense. Either Shawn was way too highly caffeinated for this time of day (no coffee stains on his shirt or coffee-breath, so probably not), or.... He folded his newspaper and set it aside. "Shawn, just tell me. What is it?"

"Nothing! Can't a guy just want to hang out with his..." his voice began to falter "...formerly estranged father reason at all?" Henry raised an eyebrow at him. Shawn folded like a lawn chair. "Yeah, okay, I have to tell you something, Dad. Just...promise me you won't freak out?"

Henry frowned. Shawn had done a million and one flaky, bizarre, or just plain crazy things over the years, and had never once worried about Henry possibly freaking out over any of them. What on earth had he gotten himself into now? "All right," he said slowly. "I promise not to freak out."

"Good," Shawn said. "Now. Okay. The thing is." He began to pace.


"Well. You know I haven't really been seeing anyone since Abigail and I broke up, right?"

Oh. It was this conversation, then. Henry found himself relaxing. "Whatever you say, Shawn."

"Except that I kind of am. Uh. Seeing someone." Shawn looked a little bit like he was about to be sick. It must be serious. A bit of teasing was definitely in order.

"Kind of seeing someone? How do you kind of see someone? Are you wearing a blindfold on your dates?"

"Ha ha, Dad. Okay, fine, I'm definitely seeing someone. Someone who's smart and funny and good-looking...really good-looking...chocolately brown eyes and a magnificent, perfectly shaped head...." Shawn's eyes got a little dreamy and unfocused for a minute.

"Hmph. I was beginning to think you'd never manage to rope Gus into going out with you. It's about time." He picked up his newspaper and began to read.

After a few minutes, he put it down again. Shawn was making strangled noises and the expression on his face closely resembled a stunned fish. "Are you still here?" Henry asked mildly.

Shawn pointed a waggly, accusing finger of doom at him. "How could you know that?" he demanded. "There's no way you could possibly know that! We haven't told anybody yet!"

Henry gave him an "oh please" look. "Who do you think you're talking to, kid? You two are practically living in each other's back pocket, you almost finish each other's sentences -- you go on monthly bunny-cuddling dates to the pet store, for God's sake!"

"We've always acted like that," Shawn protested.

"But you've never had a serious conversation with me about the person you're dating while wearing what is quite obviously Gus's shirt before."

Shawn looked down at his shiny purple shirt like he had no idea how it had ended up on his body. "Huh," he said.

"'Don't freak out,'" Henry muttered. "Like I would. I've only been expecting this conversation since you were fourteen years old. Of course you have my blessing."

A slow, jaw-cracking smile spread out over Shawn's face like the sunrise. "Thanks, Dad," he said.

Henry waved his hand irritably. "Whatever. Just do one thing for me -- keep all the mushy details to yourself." He knew his son. There would undoubtedly be mushy details.

"Okay, Dad."

"And," Henry found himself adding, without quite meaning to, "be happy."

Shawn stuck out his hand for his father to shake. "It's a deal," he said.


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