A/N: This was written in response to a challenge on PsychFic.
Twenty-two year old Shawn Spencer sighed to himself as he reached the manager's office.
"Mr. Spencer, I believe you got the eviction notice?"
"Mrs. Jacobs, all I need is another week-"
"You said that three weeks ago. I know you've already packed your stuff and the furniture is the building's. Get out by tonight or I call the police."
Shawn bit his lip and nodded. He knew it was over now.
"I'll be out in an hour."
She nodded curtly and turned back to her paperwork, a gray strand of hair falling over her horn-rimmed glasses.
Shawn walked through the bleak halls with flickering florescent lights with his hands in his pockets.
He reached his door and pulled out the key and walked in.
He didn't own much stuff with him, really. He had a backpack and duffel bag of his own stuff. His clothes, hygienic necessities, and his walk man and small collection of CD's in his backpack, along with his bank-account info, and a few other legal documents – his necessities. The duffel just had the less necessary clothes, an airplane blanket and pillow, his own squishy bead pillow shaped like a pineapple, and a few books and US travel guides and his Zagat Guide.
He was holding his pillow, though, the pineapple one.
How could he screw up again? He had a great job, well paying. He was a cross mix between a commercial agent and secretary for a politician, but who cares? It paid great!
Then Shawn, getting so goddamn bored, just let loose his mouth on his boss, and walked out before he could get fired.
Shawn was really going to have to work on it. But stress needed outlets, and he had a lot of it. His way was goofing off and cracking jokes, but around there, the stress was so high that jokes could make anyone break and that just made it worse.
So, Shawn went for his failsafe method. He dropped his face into his pillow until he was almost smothered and about to pass out from lack of air, when he let loose a soul wrenching scream.
Of course, no one could hear it – after all, he was screaming into a pillow, but it helped a little bit.
He could and would scream and scream until he felt like passing out from lack of air, then he would look up, take a few deep breaths, and do the same thing again.
Screaming into a pillow – story of his life.
He screamed through his jokes and called out for help, for someone to help him get up on his feet, through goofing off, but no one could see his silent screaming and anguish. Because that was what he was good at – lying. And he couldn't drop his mask and armor, lest he get hurt by someone who could see him, see his emotions, and see the truth.
Of course, that means that no one could hear the screams behind the jokes, and thus no one thought to reach out and help him up, and that left Shawn crawling through the mud for his life.
But this time the screams lasted longer. He realized that the pillow was turning wet where his eyes were and he didn't care. He just screamed in utter silence in self loathing.
Couldn't he do anything right?
He finally got a grip and bit his lip hard as he shouldered his backpack and the duffel bag, and walked back to the office and wordlessly left the key on the manager's desk.
Out in the parking lot, he barely squeezed the duffel into the space under the seat of his bike, and hopped on before starting the bike and driving off.
He drove for quite a while…in fact, he started at midnight towards Atlanta and when he stopped in some small town off a high way, the coffee shop he stopped in was just opening.
He was normally unable to sit still for quite a long time, but at the moment he was too dead beat, so he sat on a stool at the counter and looked up to the girl serving.
"Anything, really," Shawn said. "Just needs caffeine."
She girl smiled. Shawn really wished she had a nametag. But he watched her answer a text message on her cell from her school bag and saw a notebook on it, with a name under the 'Property of' tag on the front. He also saw all the pictures on the front that basically told him of her life.
He watched her move, and realized that though she wasn't wearing anything, she must have sprained her wrist. He also saw her blinking away a tear from the message and look professional again. She had set the cell phone down but looked towards a picture on the notebook which had name and her name circled in a heart.
She came back with a small coffee pot and poured him a mug, setting down the pot.
"There you go," she said. "I'm pretty sure this could resurrect the dead."
"Thanks, Cindy," Shawn said. "So, how's life at St. Edward's College?"
"How did you know?"
"Does it matter?"
"Are you stalking me?"
"I don't even live here. But no, I'm not stalking you. Your mom, dad, and two brothers would get pissed, not to mention your boyfriend, Danny."
"You must be psychic!"
"I wish. What softball game did you hurt your wrist at?"
She gasped, but she had to take another order, but Shawn was halfway through his second glass of coffee when she came back.
"So, traveler?" she asked. Shawn nodded.
"Headed towards Santa Barbara."
She smiled and nodded, and they talked for a while more.
"I have to get going," Shawn said, finishing off his fourth cup of coffee. "But thanks. I wish I could leave you more than a dollar for a tip but I'm pretty much broke."
"It's okay. I don't meet many smart people in this place like you. A good conversation is good compensation."
"That's catchy," Shawn said, smiling. "Good luck on the English degree."
"Thanks!" She called out before he left.
He loved the feeling of being out on the road, but around five, he had to stop. He found a nice hostel that gave you private rooms for $18 a night.
He flopped into bed, exhausted. He felt a bunch of stuff in his pocket and started pulling them out.
First a wallet, then a key chain, his pocket knife, and a stick of gum. He laid those on the small cot by his pillow and laid his head back to sleep.
But sleep evaded him.
Great. Two days with no food or sleep. All he had in his stomach was a lot of coffee, and a catnap from laying his head on the counter on the coffee place.
He looked through his wallet, and had $47 dollars left in it. He also didn't have enough energy at the moment to get up.
He blinked and shut his eyes, a small frown forming on his face from nowhere in particular.
Shawn was supposed to be the world happiest guy, but right now he wanted to curl up into a ball in the corner and die.
Where was a nice, dark corner when you needed one?
He started up at the ceiling, use his airplane blanket on top of the thin blanket from the hostel. It wasn't cold, but Shawn was shivering, though it was probably out of sadness.
After all, he was the world's biggest screw-up, right?
He had a million jobs since high school. He didn't even bother with college, whereas Gus just graduated not too long ago. He was trained to do almost anything since he was a child and yet here he was, doing nothing.
He doubted many people would even acknowledge knowing him with the way his screwy life was going.
He sighed and sat up, switching on the side lamp.
Shawn entertained himself by tossing up the pocket knife while letting his thoughts wander.
How did all of this happen in less than a week?
But Shawn already knew the answer. Because he was Shawn. Plain and simple. It seemed he was only born to make everyone else miserable and make their lives worse. What else?
Shawn was really starting to doubt his purpose on this planet. He tried running away, but he always seems to be found, he was always tracked down, and he always, after way too long, ended up back in his home town.
He flipped out the largest blade and watched it glimmer in the lamp-light.
Maybe he could leave…run away for good…make everyone else's life happier and easier, right?
He rolled up his sleeve a little and looked at his wrist. Didn't take much effort…just a lot of bravery and only a bleak future to look forward to. He didn't think anyone would really miss him.
Okay, maybe Gus would. But even if he did, Shawn knew that Gus's life would be easier.
Shawn, on impulse, pressed the blade down lightly and slid it across his wrist.
For some reason, Shawn was less surprised that he actually did this and more by the fact he didn't feel the pain from this…just a little sting which faded quickly.
Shawn swiped the blade once more under that and once more under that, and once more again.
Four cuts, bleeding, parallel to each other, and close to each other.
He just stared at the cuts, and all the blood dripping off his wrist and onto the floor.
Shawn could do the same thing over…just pressing harder down…right? He knew he would save the world of him…
He sighed. Shawn was really screwed over, at the moment. He must've been going crazy if suicide seemed like a good option.
And ever after that thought…it still was.
He sighed. At the moment it was possible – if the question was why, his was why not. He didn't really think he would be missed. His fight with Gus, his dad, the fact that he couldn't even keep up a home. He's left places before hand…but he's never been evicted. He was pretty sure it had to be bad to get that bad.
Yep…he was a giant screw up.
He pressed down.
He pulled up –
And pressed down again.
Pulled up –
And then he jumped. The noise gave him a heat attack, he dropped the knife, his wrist still bleeding like crazy. What was it?
Since when could he not immediately recognize his best friend's ringtone practically before it rang?
Since when did I consider suicide an option?
He pulled out his phone and watched it ring.
But he already knew who it was.
After all, it was his best friend's ringtone, right?
Don't answer…don't answer…just finish the job…don't answer…
Shawn pressed the button.
"Shawn! About time you answered. I called your house twice and-"
"I was evicted."
"WHAT? What do you mean you were evicted?"
"Lost my job."
"Two weeks ago."
"Shawn…another screw up."
Shawn figured he was safer from something slipping out of his mouth if he remained as monosyllabic as possible – for him, anyway.
"So, Shawn, how are you?"
Like the world's biggest screw-up, like I'm worthless, and like I'm useless and ruined enough people's lives that I'm not even remotely caring that I'm about to kill myself.
"You sound tired."
I'm tired of my life and I'm tired of me.
Shawn could just imagine Gus rolling his eyes.
"So, if you're jobless, does this mean you're coming back to Santa Barbara?""Not…quite…sure…"
"No plans? Get over here!"
Gus laughed at the accent he used and Shawn almost laughed, too, but suddenly didn't feel like it – actually, he just felt a little light headed…though from the large pool of blood in the dent in the floor below him, it didn't take long to figure out why.
Just get off the phone and finish the job.
"Well…Gus…love ya'! Er…"
"Shawn, please get over here – it's been ages, and I miss you – really, I do! I can't wait to see you."
"You don't miss me. You said I made your miserable and ruined your life, remember?"
"Shawn…about Anne…I don't blame you for not telling me about her, and I'm sorry I yelled at you…she was the one who cheated on me. But please, come home? We had an entire fight over the phone and I want to make it up to you!"
No, you don't. It's not worth it. You can't miss me…please, don't…then I'll feel worse…
"You don't miss me."
"Oh, shut up, of course I do! Get your ass over here, all right?"
Shawn looked down at his wrist. He so desperately wanted to escape, to help himself. He wanted to do something for the world and that something was to get rid of himself. He would make his dad proud if nothing else because he finally did some good for the world.
He just wanted to run and never come back.
DAMNIT! Why did I say yes? I could've just-
Shawn sighed. He could do it now. He just…couldn't. He refused to make promises he can't keep.
"You're a life saver, Gus."
"You know I am! Well, I can't wait to see you, and you sound like you could use some rest…so get it! Good night."
And with that, Shawn hung up.
He picked up the knife, just shy of the blood on the floor, and look at his own blood on it…and pressed down on his wrist, softly, one last time.
But then he wiped it on the edge of his black bag and closed it and grabbed a bandage left over from when a co-worker got hurt and wrapped it around his wrist.
He went to the front desk and got a few cleaning supplies without saying why and cleared the blood…like it was never there.
And then, finally, he slept, even if only for a couple of hours.
He got up the next morning and didn't bother to eat, just drained a coffee, got on his bike, and drove.
About two days later, Shawn walked into the right apartment right apartment…hopefully. He had put on a fresh set of clothes (the newest in two days) and had cleaned himself up and replaced a few bandages, all a little while ago, and he knew he was as clean as possible for him.
The two wrapped each other in 'manly' bear hugs and stepped back.
"Want me to get you anything?"
"Uh…just a coffee. I haven't gotten a full night's sleep in the last three days combined."
"Or eaten," Gus said jokingly. But at Shawn's thoughtful look, his eyes widened. "You haven't eaten in three days?"
"Slipped my mind?"
Neither of them believed that. Gus sat Shawn down firmly at his table and started zipping through his kitchen for something to eat.
"Jeez…not enough sleep, no food…and what the hell happened to your wrist?"
"Accident – long story."
Gus rolled his eyes and went back to the noodles in the pot.
He and Gus ate while Shawn listened to Gus.
"…so, anyway, he hands me the paper and says that even though it was spelled wrong, the fact I caught what he didn't and told him was enough that he actually gave me full credit, anyway!"
"That's great," Shawn said with as much enthusiasm as he could muster.
"You're awfully monosyllabic."
"Figures. Crash on my bed? I'll be out for the day."
Shawn smiled thankfully. The last two nights he couldn't even find a hostel, so he just napped on his bike.
"Want me to grab another bandage? That one's slipping."
"Yeah…that would be great."
Gus walked off, and Shawn quickly peels the bandage off before any visible blood leaked through, and bent his wrist downward so Gus wouldn't see.
Gus came back a moment later.
"Want me to do it?"
Shawn took it and started to re-bandage it under the table…but then Gus grabbed his wrist and pulled it up. Shawn tried to pulled it away, but a few days of no food and little sleep made him a lot weaker…and minor anemia didn't help, either, and a scab on his wrist tore and started bleeding again.
When Gus finally got a good look at Shawn's wrist, Shawn looked down.
"Shawn…what's going on?"
Shawn didn't answer. He tried to pull it back, but Gus still held a firm grip.
"It's not going to happen…and I need to re-bandage it."
Gus let go and Shawn quietly started bandaging it, trying to fill the unnerving silence.
Shawn sighed he got up.
"Maybe I should just go-"
"Not a chance!"
Shawn sat back down slowly, still refusing to look at Gus.
"What were you trying to do? Hurt yourself? Or what? Kill yourself?!"
Gus stopped and stared in shock…at least, that's what Shawn though. He still wasn't looking up.
"How could you think suicide was an option?"
"Shawn, how was it an answer? What would it solve? How could you just leave-"
"Because I didn't think I would be missed, all right?" Shawn finally stood up to look Gus right in the eye, an eye filled with shock.
"Gus…I was ruining everyone else's life slowly, and my life was just one giant screw over. I've never made anyone proud, and I was dragging people down. I tried running away, but you always find me, and I can never resist coming back. With me gone, people can stop pretending to care, and I'd stop ruining your life and dragging you down. If you're question is how is suicide an option, my question is how is it not an option?"
Gus stared in shocked…before finally he suddenly lurched and wrapped his arms around Shawn and pulled him close.
"Shawn, you idiot, I would've missed you. And trust me, you know where near ruined my life. I keep me going. I would've missed you, all right?"
Shawn nodded, knowing his best friend felt the movement of his chin.
"Gus, I swear, that feeling passed a long time ago. I'll be fine."
Gus stepped away, and held Shawn's bandaged wrist in his hand.
"Are you sure?" Gus said. He paused. "I think I'll take the day off anyway."
"Don't bother…I just need some sleep…"
"Well, you can use my bed…but I'm still staying in here, all right?"
"I can live with that," Shawn said. They both smiled at the slight irony of Shawn's statement.
"Shawn…promise me you'll never try this again?"
Shawn nodded, smiling, setting his bag down. He was going to be okay…someone would really miss him…
"Why do I get the feeling you won't?"
"Because you're permanently paranoid."
Shawn started towards the bedroom. If he wasn't going to sleep permanently, then two days will do.
But as soon as he sat down, Gus sat beside him.
"Shawn…really. Are you fine?"
Shawn blinked. He was honestly surprised Gus would be this worried…then again, Shawn was the one who didn't give a crap about weather or not he lived or died at the moment.
"Gus…please, just don't make a big deal out of this."
Gus held up Shawn's wrist again.
"You almost died, Shawn." Pause. "What stopped you?"
"I meant it when I said you were a life saver," Shawn said. It took Gus a moment to remember that from their phone conversation a few days earlier.
"I…I-I stopped you?"
"I promised to come…I almost didn't…but I did…and I couldn't go back on my word."
"Gus…I guess something was more wrong with me than usual…let's just forget about it, all right?"
"I won't…but for tonight, I can live with that." Gus smiled, and used his only phone, in this room, to call his work and say he needed a day off, and let Shawn rest.
Shawn smiled as he leaned his head back. Now he was really starting to wonder how he had seen death as an option.
After all, he was here now, right? About to fall asleep and drifting off as he thought, but here. And Gus didn't hate him…that fight was more temporary than he thought. He could make it through a little longer, right? Maybe, after their rest, they could go grab some pineapple smoothies...
A/N: And there ya' have it! Please, review. Yes, this'll remain a one-shot. Deal with it. But please review!
I probably changed my tip of the week, by the way.