"Shawn, what are we doing here?" Gus questioned, not angry just wondering why they were at the Santa Barbara Mall instead of the hospital.
"Listen Gus, we all know teenage girls love to shop, so we're letting Gloria live vicariously through us," Shawn explained with a slight shrug. Truth was he just was not ready to face Gloria yet. He needed more time to prepare himself; he hated seeing people in hospitals.
Gus rolled his eyes, clearly not convinced by this bogus excuse. "Really Shawn? I think you're just trying to avoid the hospital."
"Well, there is that, but I also thought we could buy Gloria a pick me up gift," Shawn defended, glancing through the windows of the shops.
"I don't think we'll find a 'sorry your mom's boyfriend abused you' gift in the Hallmark store," Gus muttered.
"No, but I found this," Shawn said, pointing towards the window he had stopped at. It was perfect.
Gus was going to object, remind Shawn Gloria was eighteen now, but he also knew it was the perfect gift.
Let out a deep sigh, Carlton let his head sink into his hands. He had been up for over twenty-four hours, staying by Gloria's side. He had taken a few sips of the hospital coffee, but placed it aside due to the horrible taste. With big black bags under his bloodshot eyes, he looked up to hear Shawn greet him, "Lassie, you look like crap."
"Aw, thanks Spencer, I can always count on you for a kind word," Carlton snapped. He noticed Shawn holding a large pink and purple gift bag, with orange pokadots tissue paper peeking out of bag. "What's that?"
"Cure to cancer," Shawn shot back.
"How's Gloria?" Gus asked, suppressing a grin.
Carlton sighed again. "Physically she's fine. The doctors said she should be ready to go home tonight, but she has a lot to deal with right now. Her mom was arrested this morning."
"Damn," Gus muttered. "How are you holding up?"
"Aw, Lassie's a trooper, ain't you? He might look like crap, but he's hanging in there," Shawn concluded, and then glanced quickly at Carlton and added, "right?"
He rubbed his temples and nodded. "I'll be fine, it's Gloria I'm worried about."
The door to Gloria's room open, and a doctor and a nurse walked out. The nurse spotted Carlton and walked over. "Carlton, Gloria is all set. The doctor just cleared her, she can leave anytime you're ready."
"Thanks Leslie," Carlton replied, "you've been really helpful."
She smiled sweetly at him and left him alone.
Shawn grinned at Carlton and teased, "Oohhh! Someone's on a first name basis with the nurse!! I think she likes you!"
Carlton rolled his eyes and asked, "You guys want to go see her or what?"
"Happy Hanukah!" Shawn cried, entering the room and plopping the bag down on Gloria's bed.
"Aw, gee thanks Shawn, you're a couple months early and I'm the wrong religion, but thanks," Gloria told him, finally managing a smile after her whole ordeal.
"It's from both of us," Gus told her.
She glanced down at the bag and then slowly pulled out the bright tissue paper. Her mouth dropped open when she saw her present. She pulled out a stuffed animal from the bag. It was a hippo, but with a tie-dyed purple scheme, with purple eyes and little blue bow on its right ear. She ran her hands over the hippo, it was so soft, probably the softest stuffed animal she ever had.
"Shawn, Gus, it's…" She had to stop talking, she was getting a lump in her throat. She managed to mouth the words, "Thank you" though.
"It's got four hearts in it," Shawn explained, as he sat down next to her on the bed. "One in each… what are they? Paws, hooves, feet?"
"Feet Shawn," Gus told him.
"Okay, there is one heart in each foot. A heart for each of us, me, Gus, you and Uncle Lassie," Shawn clarified. "Squeeze the feet, you can feel the hearts."
She did so, and felt a surge of emotion. Glancing around at the three men who had been there for her, made a few tears escape from her eyes. She had been used to people leaving her, tossing her to the side, and just disregarding her in general, but these men stayed and helped her. They did not run. They were her heroes for that.
"Hey Gloria, it's okay," Carlton told her, wrapping an arm around her. "We're here for you."
"Yeah, we're all here for you," Gus chimed in.
"So I still have my job?" she asked jokingly, wiping away her tears.
"Only if you tell me where you hid my dried pineapple," Shawn replied, smiling at her.
Somehow they all knew things were going to get much better.
Roughly Two Years Later
Carlton was enjoying his beer more then usually that night. Was it because Gloria was doing well and getting good grades? Was it because he got a pay raise a couple months ago? No. Well, sure Gloria doing well did bring him happiness, but that was not the reason for his extreme happiness tonight. No, tonight he was happy because finally, after almost five years, he had the proof that Shawn was a fraud. And tomorrow he would finally expose Shawn.
That is why he was happy. Well, to be fair anything that brought Shawn misery made him happy. Call Carlton sadistic, but it was the truth. Shawn was going down tomorrow.
Carlton suddenly felt like singing "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow", but of course he restrained himself.
A knock on his door distracted him from his happy thoughts. He opened up the door smiling because even though he was not psychic, and never claimed to be, he knew who was there. There was Shawn and Gus, both looking pitiful.
"Hello Conmen!" he greeted.
"Oh Conmen makes us sound so dirty and low, we prefer swindlers, it sounds more gentlemanly," Shawn joked, only halfhearted. Honestly, Shawn was nervous, he did not want to lose his job or go to jail.
"So Spencer, here to gravel for me to keep my mouth shut?" Carlton taunted.
"Actually, we were hoping to talk to you in a civilized manner," Gus told him, with a pleading look.
"I guess you can come in, I hate gloating in my doorway." Carlton motioned for them to follow him in. He led them to his living room and asked, "All right, you boys think you have something to say to change my mind?"
"Listen, Lassiter, I know you hate Shawn," Gus began.
"No, I don't hate, just loath with all my being," Carlton corrected.
"Okay, you might feel that way, but you have to admit, Shawn has helped the police department solve a lot of cases," Gus reminded him. "Shawn helps, he might be a pain in the ass, but he helps."
"We were solving cases before Spencer," Carlton said, to which Shawn let out a laugh, "and we'll solve cases after him."
"Just it will take you a lot longer," Shawn muttered to which Gus hit him.
"Shut up, Shawn, you're not helping."
"He's right, you're just making me want to tell Karen even more," Carlton informed him.
"Please, I've never been able to hold down a job this long before, and I finally can because I'm good at this," Shawn told him. "I can help people, I have helped people, and I can put away the bad guys. Carlton, please, don't take that away from me."
Carlton faked a sigh, but then quickly smiled saying, "Sorry, you're breaking the law."
"Hey Uncle Carl, I'm home," Gloria called out, as the door shut behind her. She walked into the living, glancing through the mail, but stopped suddenly when she saw Gus, Shawn and her uncle staring at each other. Gloria could feel the tension in the air, and knew something was seriously wrong.
"Hey guys, what's poppin'?" she asked, eyeing everyone.
Shawn quickly glanced from Gloria to Carlton and back again. He suddenly had a solution to his problem. Everyone knew Carlton had a soft spot for Gloria, and Shawn knew Carlton honored agreements.
"Oh, just chewing the fat," Shawn told her casually. "But I think we're just about done."
"I think you are," Carlton agreed with a smirk.
"So we're just gonna give up Shawn?" Gus asked, astonished. "After all the stunts you pulled in the last five years, you're giving up? Well, I'm not. Listen Lassiter, you might think we immature and useless, but how many cases have we solved when you had no clue who did? How many cases did we prove that the person you arrested was innocent? How many times did we save your butt?"
"Uncle Carl, what's going on?" Gloria questioned after Gus finished yelling.
"Nothing!" Shawn and Carlton answered together.
"I'm twenty, I think you can treat me like an adult now," she shot back.
"Almost twenty," Carlton, Shawn and Gus replied in unison.
She smiled at them. "So guys, why are you all yelling?"
"There was no need for Gus to yell," Shawn told her, receiving a weird glance from Gus. "He just simply forgot your uncle owes us one."
"What? I do not!!" Carlton cried.
"Sure you do," Shawn corrected him. "Who took Gloria in and gave her a job when she was a delinquent under the request of her uncle?"
"We did," Gus answered for Carlton.
"Who were the ones who that helped keep Gloria away from trouble?"
"Who is the person that owes us a favor?"
"You are!" Gus cried with a triumphant point at Carlton.
"You do owe them a favor," Gloria added.
"Gloria, you're supposed to be on my side!" Carlton growled.
"The day you dropped my off at the Psych Office, you tried to whisper, but you were too angry to really whisper," Gloria explained. "I heard everything. They agreed to take me in if you left the handcuffs and you were indebted to them. You left the handcuffs on me, so I assume you agreed to the other part too then."
"But this is asking too much," Carlton told her. "They're breaking the law."
"What? By pretending to be psychic? So big deal," Gloria shot back.
"Hold on, you knew?" Gus asked.
She nodded. "I knew after the first couple days of working there. Now Uncle Carl, if you do expose them as frauds, no offense guys."
"None taken, you're on our side," Shawn responded, smiling at her.
"So you expose them and every case they helped on will now have to be reviewed and every criminal they put away now has the perfect case for an appeal. So, even though you think by turning these two in you are keeping order, you're actually creating chaos," she reasoned persuasively.
Gus and Shawn stared at her, impressed. Carlton grinned proudly, despite the fact she was not on his side. "Oh, I forgot to tell you Spencer, Gloria finally picked a major. She's pre-law now."
"I'd hire her," Shawn approved. He then turned to Carlton and held out his hand. "So, you keep your mouth shut about me and Gus, and we call it even?"
Carlton glanced down at the hand, and then over at Gloria. She just smiled sweetly at him. Sighing he took Shawn's hand and shook.
Gloria came up and gave her uncle a kiss on the cheek. "You're doing the right thing Uncle Carl. We can all live happily ever after now."
And they did, except for the occasional migraine Carlton suffered from the antics of Shawn Spencer.