The Finch and the Mockingbird by Emachinescat
A Psych Fan-Fiction
SUMMARY: Henry's past comes back to haunt him in the worst of ways when a psychopath bent on revenge goes after his son in a deadly game inspired by the dark themes of revenge in Harper Lee's 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' Now father and son must fight for their lives and for each other, because this guy is determined to kill a mockingbird: a snarky, faux-psychic mockingbird named Shawn Spencer.
A/N: This takes place in season four, after You Can't Handle This Episode but before Mr. Yin Presents, and there will be a few spoilers for Shawn Takes a Shot in the Dark and You Can't Handle This Episode. I don't own Psych or To Kill a Mockingbird. See author's note at the end of the chapter for more information about the story and chapter notes. I think I'm going to start posting any notes at the end of the chapter from now on unless it's necessary to put them up top, because I don't want to distract or take away from the story. Please review. :)
The Finch and the Mockingbird
Chapter One: Tweety's Had a Bad Day
"Dad, Gus's dad said he'd take us to the arcade—"
Eight-year-old Shawn Spencer froze at the kitchen's threshold, stopped short from his question at the sight of his father, decked out in his best suit and tie, hunched over at the table. His head was in his hands, and he didn't so much as look up when his son entered the room, the request – actually, it was more of a demand – for his father to let him go hang out with Gus without finishing his homework first dying quickly on Shawn's tongue.
This time, Henry looked up, and there was a look in his eyes that his young son couldn't quite place.
"Shawn. What do you want?"
Shawn blinked. "Uh…" Curiosity – not to mention the unsettling feeling at seeing his dad looking so vulnerable – got the best of him, and he abandoned his previous mission for the time being. "What's wrong, Dad?"
Henry shook his head. "Nothing you need to worry about, son."
Shawn furrowed his brow. "I can handle it," he insisted stubbornly, crossing his scrawny arms across his chest. "I'm not seven anymore." Henry snorted, but that was the only indication of amusement, and the half-laugh didn't even come close to reaching his eyes. Shawn took this as an invitation to sit down across from his dad and pry for more information, which was probably not what Henry had in mind, but Shawn was a stubborn kid and really didn't care. "So… is it a case?"
Henry sighed heavily, the weight of his problems seeming to make even the air around them heavy. "In a way," he said vaguely.
Shawn took a closer look at his father, the way he was dressed - that was a freshly pressed suit, and one of his best, and the tie he was wearing was the one that he only wore when he was testifying in court. "Oh," Shawn said. "A trial? Did the guy get out of his sentence or something?"
Henry shook his head wearily. "No, Shawn, the problem this time was that he didn't."
Shawn was thoroughly confused at this point. "So you wanted the bad guy to walk?"
"In this case, I don't believe that he was the 'bad guy,'" Henry responded shortly. "The evidence was circumstantial, the guy's lawyer was crap, the prosecuting lawyer was full of crap, but he sure knew how to work the court to his advantage."
"How do you know he was innocent?"
"I don't know, Shawn, because the other suspect – Herman O'Dell, who we believe actually did it – is ridiculously rich and powerful, has no real evidence against them, and the defense's lead witness is conveniently dead. But I – not to mention, over half of the guys at the station – feel that the evidence isn't nearly enough to condemn a man to 35 years, parole in 25. But the fact of the matter was that what evidence we had was enough, especially coupled with my testimony—"
"If you thought he didn't do it, why did you testify against him?"
"I didn't," Henry snapped, eyes hard. "I told the truth, and the truth was that I was not lead on this case, barely involved with the damn thing at all, but I turned out to be a key witness anyway because of something I saw on patrol connected to the accused – never mind, I'm not going into that, so don't ask, Shawn – and the questioning on the prosecutor's side was as sleazy and manipulative as they come. Even though I did nothing but state the facts objectively, he was able to twist them to his advantage, and the defendant wasn't able to regain any ground on the matter. And so a man's going to jail for something that I firmly believe he didn't do, and I had a major role in putting him there."
Shawn was quiet for all of fifteen seconds – quite the record for him, actually – before asking, "Why didn't you just not say anything to incriminate him?"
"I was under oath, Shawn, and that would be lying."
"But if that guy's innocent, then it's not fair—"
"Doesn't matter," Henry said flatly. "Because the justice system has solved a bunch of problems, kid, but it's not perfect, by a long shot. And sometimes, the good guy goes to jail, and no matter how much you hate it, and no matter how unfair it is, sometimes even the best of the best can't get him out. But we have to stick with the system, because, nine times out of ten, the system works."
"But the other time, somebody's life is ruined," Shawn muttered, glaring at the tabletop. "It's not fair."
Henry reached across the table and gently grasped his son's arm. "Now do you understand why I'm frustrated, Shawn?"
Shawn nodded solemnly.
"All right, enough trial talk. Go do your homework."
Shawn studied his father for a long moment, trying to gauge how difficult it would be to finagle more information out of him and then sighed at the hard look in Henry's eyes, knowing he was beaten before he even began. "'Kay," he muttered, then added, "Can I—?
"No arcade until you finish your homework. And if I find out it's Gus's homework, and not yours, no arcade until you graduate the police academy. Understood?"
Shawn scowled. "Yes, sir," he muttered, but he didn't argue as much as he normally would, because his father still had that unnameable, haunted look on his face, and he didn't want to push it. Heart considerably heavier than it had been before he'd come to talk to his dad, Shawn trudged upstairs to get rid of the evidence of Gus's science report before his dad came up to check up on him.
Waking up to a call from his father at 6:30 in the morning was not Shawn Spencer's idea of a great way to start his Saturday. In fact, he'd go so far as to say that it was the worst wake-up in the history of wake-ups, including the time that he'd woken up, dazed, confused and in pain in the middle of the woods after having been shot and chased by a crazy ice-cream truck murderer.
Shawn would have just ignored the call and gone straight back to sleep, but upon being woken up, he realized that he really had to pee anyway, so he might as well make sure his dad hadn't fallen and broken his hip or something just as ridiculously old.
He should have just gone to the bathroom and ignored the call, but his brain was still fuzzy from sleep, so he answered.
"If you're not lying in the floor with a broken bone, I'm going to be ticked," Shawn declared in place of the custom "hello, how are you" associated with most phone calls.
There was only a second or two of semi-stunned silence (this was Shawn, after all) before Henry responded with a snort of derision, "Well, good morning to you, too, Sunshine."
Shawn groaned. "Can you make this quick, Dad? It's 6:30. You know I don't even think about being awake on a Saturday until well after noon."
"Sorry to disturb your much-needed beauty sleep, Princess," Henry said waspishly.
Shawn decided to make matters worse by admonishing, "There's no point in apologizing if you don't sound like you mean it."
"Oh, for the love of—" Henry snapped, luring a small triumphant grin out of his sleep-muddled son. "I think there's a cat around my house, and I need you to catch it."
Shawn blinked. He hadn't been expecting that. "I'm not animal control, Dad. I'm a psychic."
"You're not a psychic."
"Details. Why are you calling me at this time to tell me you have a stray cat, and why do you think I'd drive all the way over to your house just to catch it this early in the morning? Or any time of the morning, really?"
"Because you owe me one from that last case. And the case before that, and the case before that – and so on." Shawn huffed belligerently and loudly into the phone, but his dad ignored him as usual and plowed on. "Walked out of the house this morning and found a dead bird right in front of my door, Shawn. Some stray must've caught it in the middle of the night and – Lord knows why – decided to leave it on the welcome mat. I had to clean the damn thing up, but its diseases are probably still all over my porch—"
"Diseases? Dad, you're as paranoid as Lassie-face when it comes to lime disease. I think the big question here is if you gave poor Tweety a proper funeral?"
"Dumped it in the trash and scrubbed down the porch with cleaner," Henry retorted. "And if I find any more surprises, I'll go looking for that cat myself, so I expect you to get down here ASAP and find it yourself."
Shawn grimaced. He didn't like the idea of his father chasing some poor tabby around the yard, waving a gun at it and telling it to cease and desist or it would be brought in for questioning – or worse – and he heaved yet another dramatic sigh into his father's ear. "Fine. I'll come arrest Sylvester for you. But in his defense, I don't think he cracked and murdered Tweety. He was framed, probably by the duck—"
"Well goodbye to you too, Sunshine," Shawn mocked into the disconnected phone, echoing his father's words from earlier. Since his dad had already hung up, though, it was a hollow victory, so he tossed his phone onto his mattress, yawned loudly, and shuffled off to the bathroom, irritated that he had been woken up so freaking early to go on a cat-hunt, and the only consolation was that maybe the imaginary Mrs. Pickles would soon have a real, furry, feline friend.
Shawn arrived at his dad's house forty-five minutes later. He'd managed to borrow a live trap from the local animal shelter (he'd borrowed cat toys before – long story – and hadn't returned them, so he'd given them Gus's watch that he had forgotten at Shawn's apartment yesterday as insurance). Needless to say, Gus didn't know about this. He'd also run by the Walmart and grabbed a couple of cans of Fancy Feast. He and Gus had started a "Save the Strays" cat-catching service when they were thirteen, and he'd learned a lot from the experience that lasted a grand total of three days. It had ended tragically with Shawn in the emergency room with twelve stitches and a concussion (when the cat had scratched him, he'd fallen back and hit his head on a rock), but Shawn had discovered that the best policy to catch a cat was to let the cat come to you, and not the chase-n-jump approach.
His dad was on the porch when he parked his motorcycle in the drive. As he pulled off his helmet, Shawn called out, "I hope you don't plan to sit there and sip lemonade while I do all the work."
"No, of course not," Henry said.
Not trusting this suddenly generous manifestation of his father, Shawn narrowed his eyes. "Really?"
"Nope. I'm going to have a beer."
"Oh, ho, ho, funny," Shawn said sarcastically, unloading the cage and cat food from the back of his bike. "Isn't it a little early for a beer, Dad?"
"Isn't it a little early to be back-talking the guy that helps you with your cases?"
Shawn made a face but was too tired to argue. "Okay, I'll find your poor, framed puddy-tat."
"Cats catch birds, Shawn. This one just did what was in its nature."
"Yet you condemn him for following his instincts," Shawn admonished, setting up the live trap near the base of the porch, right next to the stairs.
"No, for leaving the product of his instincts on my front porch," Henry shot back, but Shawn was already up the stairs and barreling into the house, cat food in tow.
"I'm using your microwave!" he announced, letting the door flop shut behind him. "Stupid Sylvester," he grumbled as he dug through his father's cabinets for an old bowl, finally surfacing with a small, chipped red one that looked like it had seen better days. He poured the cat food into the bowl, popped the bowl in the microwave, and less than two minutes later, the cat food was in the trap, the meaty scent stretching across the yard.
Shawn dusted off his hands and plopped into the chair opposite his dad's. "Okay, kitty cat's good as caught."
Henry raised his eyebrows. "That's it? You're just going to set the trap and call it quits? After all that fuss…" He shook his head, obviously used to Shawn making a big fuss over little things.
"That's why it's called a trap, Dad. It traps the animal so that you don't have to catch it yourself. Trust me, by the end of the day, your whiskered friend will be the newest resident of Hotel de Trap, and you can –" Henry shot him a dark look, "—I mean, I can take him to the shelter tomorrow morning. Easy. Now, what's for breakfast?"
"You think I'm going to feed you, kid?" Henry chuckled.
Shawn grinned cheekily. "You usually do. And I think I smell sausage."
"That's the cat food, Shawn," Henry said in a flat tone, shaking his head in exasperation. "And I ate breakfast before I called you. But I have some leftover bacon and eggs. I guess I can spare'em."
Shawn smirked at his dad's retreating back, knowing that he was secretly pleased to have some company for breakfast.
Halfway through his breakfast, Shawn got a call from Gus, asking him to come to the Psych office.
"C'mon, Shawn, Gus can wait a few more minutes," Henry griped. "I didn't cook all this up so you could waste it."
"I don't think you cooked it for me, Dad, but I can attest that you did put it in the microwave and push a couple of buttons for me. And as flattering as that is, Gus sounded a bit freaked out. I'm going to make sure he's okay."
"Check that trap before you go, at least," Henry called as Shawn waved and headed out the door, moaning about the pressures of successful cat-napping or some such nonsense. He rolled his eyes almost affectionately as he set about clearing the table. His son was an idiot.
The cat wasn't in the trap, but there were a few very excited flies buzzing around the bowl of cat chow. Shawn decided that Sylvester was probably busy trying to clear his name, so he'd let his dad call him when the cat was in the trap, and then he'd worry about getting it to the shelter later. Or maybe he'd take it to Buzz. Nabby would probably love another cat.
Gus was standing outside of the office, well away from the door and in front of the window when Shawn pulled his motorcycle up to the office. Gus had a disturbed look on his face, similar to the one he got when he came too close to a dead body.
"Gus, don't be two crayons short of a Crayola 24-pack," Shawn ordered as he dismounted his bike, took off his helmet, ran a hand through his hair, and walked up to his best friend. "You look like you've seen a cadaver."
"I have," Gus said, his voice weak. He looked ready to throw up.
Shawn's eyes grew wide. "Gus! Buddy! Do we have a case you haven't told me about?" He gasped. "Or did you finally snap and kill somebody?"
"I'm not doing this with you right now, Shawn. There's been a brutal murder right in front of our office."
Shawn spun around, sure he would have noticed a dead person sprawled across the sidewalk in front of the office. "There's no one there, Gus. Dead or alive."
"Look closer," Gus all but whimpered. "He's a little guy, but he's there. Everyone's been skirting around him since I got here."
"So… the black-hearted pedestrians are walking around an invisible murdered midget?" Shawn tried to clarify. Gus glared.
Shawn looked at the ground, and that's when he saw the feather. There were feathers all up and down the boardwalks and sidewalks in Santa Barbara, because there were a lot of birds flying around, so Shawn wouldn't have thought anything of it had the cat fiasco with his father not happened this morning. Without thinking, Shawn brought a hand to his head and said, "I'm sensing that Tweety wasn't fast enough to get away from Jerry this time."
He knew his cartoons (obviously, since he'd been referencing Sylvester and Tweety all morning to his father), but it was always fun to get a rise out of Gus. "First of all, Shawn, I know you're not psychic." He ignored Shawn's frantic shushing, because there was no one close enough to hear their conversation, and anyway, Shawn was just being annoying now, and Gus didn't feel like putting up with him. "Secondly, it would be Tweety and Sylvester, and furthermore, Tom is the cat and Jerry is the mouse." His glare intensified a couple of mega-watts. "And you know that just as well as I do, Shawn."
"C'mon, son," Shawn teased, smacking Gus on the chest. He moved closer to the door, squatting down when he saw the small bird less than a foot away from Psych's front door. He hadn't seen it before because Gus had been in the way. It was a brownish-gray little guy, small enough to easily fit into Shawn's hand. Its wings were darker than its body. Its feathers were ruffled, but otherwise it could be sleeping, except Shawn didn't think that birds just lay down on the ground when they slept with their little black webbed feet sticking up in the air. A pang of sympathy overtook Shawn. As much as he joked, he loved animals and hated seeing them dead. He still hadn't quite come to terms with his pet lizard's death when he was a kid.
Shawn reached out to turn the little guy over, but Gus grabbed his shoulder, finally venturing closer to the tiny carcass. "No, Shawn," said Gus. "You'll get bird flu, and I am not sitting by your contagious bedside while you waste away from disease."
"You and my dad, honestly," Shawn griped, but he dug his pocketknife out of his pocket anyway and flicked it open, using the flat of the blade to flip the bird onto its belly. There were no signs that the bird had been mutilated in any way, or carried around by a cat or attacked by anything, so it could have died from natural causes. But right on their doorstep? Right after his father had found a dead bird on his porch? And the feathers were fluffed oddly, many going in the opposite direction, like the bird had been held by something bigger than itself, but not in a mouth, but by something with opposable thumbs… King Kong, maybe? But human made a bit more sense, so he didn't mention his far-fetched theory to Gus just yet… namely because he didn't want Gus to wet his pants.
"Hey, what kind of bird is this, anyway?"
"Mockingbird," Gus answered without a beat.
"Don't be ridiculous, Gus. You know mockingbirds aren't real."
"Shawn," said Gus irritably. "What are you talking about? Of course mockingbirds are real!"
"Everyone knows that mockingbirds are mythical creatures from The Hunger Games, Gus."
"You're thinking of mockingjays. Mockingbirds are the state birds of Tennessee, Texas and Florida."
"Then what are they doing in Santa Barbara?"
"You are an idiot, Shawn."
"Hmph. Regardless, I've heard it both ways," Shawn declared petulantly.
"What? The mockingbirds or that you're an idiot? Because I can assure you that there are no two ways about that last one."
"My, my, you're a cynical little sidekick today," Shawn observed, and before Gus could protest that he was nobody's sidekick, Shawn got to his feet and said ominously, "I bet there wasn't actually a puddy-tat leaving presents for my dad this morning after all."
"What the heck are you talking about, Shawn?"
Shawn unlocked the Psych door, taking care to avoid the bird on the sidewalk. As Gus ineffectively tried to suppress a high-pitched whine at the back of his throat, Shawn said, "I'll explain later, buddy. I'm going to call Woody and ask him to pick up our poor little feathered friend here."
"You're going to ask the coroner to come get a bird that wandered in front of the office and died?"
"Dude, you know I don't handle it well when cute, fluffy, potentially disease-ridden animals die. And you obviously aren't going to get it. Besides, I need to find out how it died, what killed it. I've got a feeling that something more is going on here than what we're seeing."
"You're being unusually cryptic this morning," Gus said slowly, eyeing his best friend with slight suspicion.
Shawn gasped and halted from dialing Woody's number. "What did you call me?" he needled his friend, "You take that back!"
Gus didn't respond, only shook his head and stalked into the kitchen area to find some snacks as Shawn finished dialing. A few seconds later, Gus could hear Shawn from the kitchen, talking to the coroner. "Woody! Hey, I've got a teeny favor to ask you . . . No, Woody, it doesn't involve skinny dipping . . . or mayonnaise."
A/N: I'm alive! And while I'm still going to complete my other WIPs, I'm here with an all-new story, one that's been months in the making! The great news: It's completed. All 17 chapters plus an epilogue have been written to ensure that you will, for once, get timely updates from yours truly. I plan to update every Wednesday, on schedule, as promised! From now on, I will not begin posting on a story until it has been completed in its entirety. Which this one has. So.. you can expect regular updates. Which (I hope) means you'll be leaving reviews regularly, too, because your feedback is VITAL to my survivor as an author.
So, quick note about this story: You do NOT have to have read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee in order to understand it. Shawn's never read it, and he figured everything out just fine (not really; he had to go through a heck of a lotta whump in order to figure it out...). Everything you need to know about the book will be told in the story, but I urge you, if you haven't read this classic, do so - it is well worth the read! I for one adore the book, and I couldn't help but come up with the idea of a crazy, revenge-seeking scholar trying to mirror the idea of killing a mockingbird by going after the child of his enemy, just like what happens in the novel.
As for the date in the 'young Shawn' part, I've given up trying to figure it out. I thought I had the math down, but then 'Cloudy with a Chance of Improvement' aired, and apparently Shawn was a baby in 1981, and I had figured that he'd be maybe six or sevenaround that time, so... whatever. I don't even know if the writers know how old young Shawn is at this point... though we rarely get to see him anymore. :(
So... the setup. Nothing huge happened in this chapter, but the stage is being set. Things really pick up very, very soon. And there will be much Shawn whump to come! I'll plan on updating in a week, but if I get enough reviews, I'll probably cave and post the next chapter earlier lol. I'm not very good at waiting... It just about killed me to wait until I was finished with this one to start posting!
Please review - your feedback is much needed and appreciated. We're in for quite a ride, so hold on tight and get ready... This is an adventure that you won't want to miss. :D