Choosing Your Life
A/N: I'm not really sure where this one came from, but once it popped into my head it wouldn't shut up. Made my Algebra test miserable, but I got most of this story developed in my head during then, so not all was lost. Anyway, here it is!
"Shawn!" Gus said. "You have got to stop buying these stupid things!"
"A new leather jacket is not stupid! Dude, shiny, black – pure piker boy!"
"It was two hundred dollars, Shawn. Two hundred! The company budget isn't made for this kind of thing."
"Have you seen how much we earned in the last month?"
"No, and I don't have to. What I know is that yohre buying stupid stuff-"
"Which is only directly proportional to the budget," Shawn said. "The reason why we only barely have enough is because I always spend before you see. But we make a lot."
Gus sighed. He knew that. Hell, if Shawn really did stop buying stupid things, this could be considered a steady source of income for Gus.
But it all lead right back to Shawn. Gus was NOT having a good week at all. And Shawn certainly wasn't helping.
"You know what, Shawn?" Gus said. "I'll just make this your money only. If you want to screw up your financial life, go ahead. Be. My. Guest. Just…don't call for a while. And no barging into my office. Just…leave me alone for a little while, all right?"
Gus folded his laptop.
"Oh, come on, Gus!" Shawn said. "You can't be serious."
Gus put his stuff in his workbag. He had a backpack for Psych stuff on his back, and his laptop bag from work on his shoulder.
"Look, Shawn," Gus said. "I'm splitting my life down the middle, here. I need to give that split a chance to heal. So just leave me alone for a little while. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go back to my real job."
With that, Gus left and headed to the bus station. His car had some crappy parts so it was in the shop right now
He couldn't help but feel that maybe said parts had something to do with a car going on chases and running at speeds it wasn't supposed to because of a certain fake-psychic-real-detective using it as a getaway car.
Maybe he should take a little more than a week or two off from Psych. He and Shawn have been fighting a lot more often lately, anyway.
He blinked, squinting in the bright, late afternoon sun, before he turned his back on the sun to wait for the bus.
He got to work a little early, but that was probably a good thing, depending on the memo he got from his boss to see her. He dropped his backpack and bag off in his office first, though.
He knocked on her door a few moments later.
Gus opened the door.
"You wanted to see me, Ms. Killian?"
"Ah…Mr. Guster. Please, take a seat."
Gus nodded and slowly sat down in the generic office chair in front of her.
"Mr. Guster…Burton. From what I understand, you have another job, correct?"
Gus fought the urge to shift uncomfortably and said, "Yes. Co-CEO of Psych private detective agency. I basically my friend with his cases now and then, along with…trying to keep him in budget. Why?"
"Well…see…I've been tracking your work. Yours has recently been…declining a little. You show up slightly more stressed and tired for work, and later and later, and leave earlier. The quality of your work and presentations have also been declining – though don't get me wrong. You still have top sales, and you still are our best employee. But you were headed towards another promotion. Now…not so much. Most of this I've noticed has also gone with the start of this 'increased caseload' of your…other, job."
Gus slowly nodded. Ever since a few media catching cases were solved by Shawn a few months ago, they've been getting cases by the truckload. That was why Shawn's been on more buying sprees more often…without killing their account. But Gus's credit scores weren't really looking so hot.
"Well," she said. "Financially…I hope you understand. I'm afraid I can't allow this. Either you focus on us, or you leave. And you've got a lot of potential to go far in this field, so I hope you know how to choose wisely."
"I don't believe you can keep up with both jobs," she said politely. "So I believe you will be needed to make a decision on this. Either your other job…or this one."
Gus stared in shock.
She kept on smile, even after having to repeat herself to her understandably shocked employee.
"I need you to choose this…or, rather, one, job, to focus your energy one. You're taxing yourself immensely by splitting yourself between two jobs, especially since your other one is such high stress. And as for that…threatening delivery…"
She shook her head, and Gus almost winced at that memory. When they were tracking down a serial killer, he sent a package to Gus's office, which turned out to be a bloodied knife with a death threat attached to it…which the whole office saw.
She got up and led him down the hall, notably to his office.
"I will give you until this time tomorrow to come to a decision," She said, standing in front of his office. She gestured in, almost noticeably to his mahogany desk and leather couch in his newer office since his light promotion a few months before. "I hope it isn't a difficult choice to make. Take the day off. Though if you plan to stay, I still want the presentation on our new anti-depressants done by tomorrow."
She pointed down the other end of the hall.
"Now go. Mull it over…though hopefully you won't have to."
Gus stared at her almost blankly, before he blinked again and slowly nodded.
"Er…thank you, Ms. Killian,"
Gus almost numbly gathered his bag and backpack and walked out past his silent boss. He told his secretary to hold everything off for the day, and after checking his mailbox, more out of habit than anything else, Gus left.
On the bus, he paid and took his seat silently, staring at his shoes.
Either your other job…or this one.
Gus shook his head. How can he choose?
Most people he knew would say to go with the steadier source of income – his pharmaceutical job.
But still…more then two and a half decades of friendship…it was hard to betray.
Then again, it wasn't that hard for Shawn, now was it?
Before he even realized it (almost literally) Gus was back at the office. Shawn wasn't there at the moment, but his case notes were.
As Gus set up his laptop, he himself mostly on autopilot, he glanced at the giant, glass board that was Shawn's case board.
Shawn's information was on there, along with the photos and names. A few of a few suspects, and of course, the pictures of the murder scene.
It was a little brutal. The murdered went a little knife crazy on the woman who was in a skimpy, summer lingerie-nightdress. There were innumerable lacerations all over her body, complimenting the fist shaped bruises. But what had finally killed her was the stab wound on her back, directly to her heart.
But still…there were tiny slices of flesh just missing, and blood soaked goop not that far away from the body.
Gus sighed. This looked like a toughie, and he just hoped the police would be all right with this one.
As he sat down, he couldn't help but smirk in memory of the first murder case Shawn dragged him into.
And then he froze, thinking back. Compared to the pictures across the room from him right now, that scene was a walk in the park. A simple bullet in the guts, a hole, and a lot of blood. But he still ran screaming like a little girl.
Back then, he would've fainted at just the pictures before him.
Yet now…he wasn't even remotely disturbed by it. Hell, he wasn't even planning on turning the board around. He had already been to that murder scene – he smelt it, he could almost taste that smell…he felt the blood on his shoes (which he had spent an hour washing later) and he had personally seen that gruesome murder scene.
Even then, he didn't run. Apart from a little sadness that someone could do this to her and minor nausea from the smell and airy taste of blood, he was fine. He inevitably 'shut off' his sense of smell, though – something he had learned to do by now.
And in more and more small events in his life, his tolerance to gruesome things has increased. A lot. And he seems to have become…numb, really, to the violence.
Hell, a recent dinner with Henry proved that. Long ago, a lighthearted conversation topic was…well, work or something. But now, murder, homicide, and other things in that general area was the common and lighthearted topic.
Had he really changed that much because of…this? Because of Psych?
Gus wasn't entirely sure he wanted to know.
The door tinkled open and Shawn loped in.
"Dude! You won't believe this. I found Debbie's killer!" he said excitedly, pointing towards the girl on the case board. "Some dude went crazy and killed all his old ex-girlfriends dating back to college. She was the first there to dump him. Backwards order."
"Damn…so basically another serial killer?" Gus asked, happy that his friend solved it.
"Yep! This guy killed twenty-six girls in the last two years. He's landed himself on death row!"
"That's great!" Gus said. He really was happy about this. He watched as Shawn started taking down the notes, and suddenly, that thought hit him.
He was happy about this.
He was happy that some guy is going to get the lethal injection.
This was not normal.
He wondered, vaguely, if in a way, he indirectly killed the serial killer dude. And even if he didn't…he was still happy that this man was going to die.
What the hell was wrong with him?
And why was he still working on the anti-depressant presentation when he was already done?
Gus almost testily printed out the basic Power-Point outline, still not sure what he was doing, and then shut his computer, before he zoned out to stare at the surface of his desk…
"Guuus…Earth to Gus!" Shawn rolled up a magazine and spoke through it like a megaphone. "Surrender my friend's consciousness now. We have your head surrounded!"
"You stole that from MASH," Gus said.
"Well, duh!" Shawn said, happy he had gotten his friend's attention. "Hawkeye Pierce is just plain awesome! How can someone do all those rubber-chicken jokes and pranks in the middle of a war? Especially in a military hospital…anyway…"
Shawn's face turned less joking. It would be serious…except he still wasn't serious.
"Well…Shawn, it's just something personal."
Before Gus knew what happened, Shawn was sitting on the desk, blocking Gus from staring at the desk. Actually, now he was staring at…never mind. He should really bring his eyes up.
"What?" Gus asked almost testily.
This time, there was some serious concern on Gus's face.
Did he really look that bad?
For the last two and a half decades, whenever Gus had a personal problem of any sort, Shawn was always the first one to know – and the first one Gus went to for help. And even when Gus tried to hide his problems from Shawn in the past, Shawn's mental capabilities always found Gus out. But in recent years, it had to be really bad in order for Gus to actually look like something's wrong enough for Shawn to notice.
"It's nothing," Gus said.
"I know you," Shawn said. This time, he really was serious. Seriously – how bad did Gus look? "If I even find out, then it's bad. What's going on?"
"Nothing!" Gus snapped. "Just leave me the hell alone, all right?"
Shawn looked taken aback but Gus's harshness.
"Um…all right," Shawn said. Gus could tell Shawn was masking something in his voice.
He got a feeling that the mask was covering the hurt that was in his voice.
"Look, Shawn…I'm just…really sorry, all right? My boss at my other job is making me choose that job and this one."
"Is that even legal?" Shawn asked frowning.
"Not directly," Gus said. "But the thing is, she said I have to get my act together to keep up both these jobs a long time ago. And if I can't do that, then I have to choose, because if my work quality doesn't get back up to par…well, she's going to fire me."
Shawn blinked before slowly getting off the desk and settling into his recliner to face Gus, who went back to staring at the surface of the desk from his own computer chair.
"Your drug rep job."
Gus's head snapped up.
"Your drug rep job. It's better for you."
Gus stared in shock as Shawn lowered his own sight to stare pointedly at his feet.
"I know you're not that good with decisions…I'm just trying to make it easier for you."
"Shawn…I think this is something I need to work out on my own."
Shawn looked back up, and Gus was surprised to see a flash of hurt in his eyes, before his usual mask fell over them.
Gus was one of the only people who ever saw Shawn's mask as a mask. He knew to never trust Shawn to show his emotions. If he felt anything negative, he locked it away somewhere in his heart. Gus never quite figured out how he did it – he just did.
"Gus," Shawn said. "You always ask me for help…which makes me think you should go for your other job a bit more."
Gus shook his head, resting his forehead in his hand with his elbow now propped on the desk. Both of them were staring at Shawn's shoes, now.
"Look…I don't know, all right?"
Shawn took a deep breath and exhaled slowly.
"I guess I can't say anything about it," Shawn said.
Gus looked up when his computer dinged – his Psych iMac.
After a few mishaps involving storing Psych info and work info on one laptop, Gus had let Shawn get him a nice iMac for his birthday, exclusively for Psych work. It made his life a lot easier.
"Another fan letter?" Shawn asked, smiling.
"Some beach chick wanting a date with one of us," Gus said almost boredly after skimming it. But both of them smiled, anyway.
"Nah," Shawn said. "I've met up with a nice blonde lady the other day-"
"Don't even bother denying it."
Shawn just huffed, crossed his arms, and sat back childishly in his recliner.
"Speechless?" Gus asked.
"Not even talking to you," Shawn said. "Not counting this one."
Gus shook his head, once again smiling (only internally, though – no sense in giving Shawn satisfaction) at Shawn's antics.
"I'm just…I'm just going to go to go take a walk and think about it, all right?" Gus said. He shut down his laptop, with Shawn watching like a curious child observing their parents. After that, Gus just pocketed his phone and keys, before stepping outside.
He walked on the sidewalk along with beach with his hands jammed into his pockets, thinking over it.
He tried a pros and cons list, but that didn't work out for him so well. Sometimes, one pro would far outweigh one con, and vice versa. It was impossible.
And he just didn't trust his gut feelings as much as Shawn went by them…which was good, seeing as Gus's guts were headed multiple direction.
Gus felt a shiver go down his spine. Was that from this sudden breeze, or from the indecision clouding his mind?
He ignored the chill and started pacing up and down the boardwalk.
Central Coast Pharmaceuticals was a steady, reliable income.
If he could get Shawn to cut down on stupid purchases, Psych could be one, too. A bit unlikely, but possible.
Central Coast Pharmaceuticals wasn't going to get him killed.
Psych was actually fun…and challenging.
Central Coast Pharmaceuticals moved his career, and quite possibly career options and income, ahead.
Psych moved his mental capabilities and physical grossness and pain tolerance ahead.
Central Coast Pharmaceuticals was safe for him.
Psych was psychologically helpful for him. It was also…he couldn't describe it. Empowering? Helpful?
That's what it was. He loved the drug rep job and all, but helping Shawn was just satisfying. Giving Shawn a little information to help the final pieces fall into place for a new case. He felt better researching information concerning a case than looking up information pertaining to his drug rep job.
But still…the drug rep offered so many career opportunities. Promotions – not something really possible with Psych. It was a surefire future. It was safe, reliable. It practically ensured him a nice life, and even a luxurious one in the future.
Who was he kidding? This wasn't a decision he could make logically. At least, he didn't think so.
He sighed and realized his feet had led him back to the office, where Shawn was packing up.
Shawn took one look at his face.
"Still no decision?"
"Like I said-"
"If it makes it easier, you won't mind if I choose my drug rep job," Gus said. "I know. Honestly – it doesn't really help."
Shawn smiled. There wasn't a trace of sadness on the surface.
But Gus knew better. He looked at the jacket Shawn was wearing.
"I still say paying for that jacket was stupid," Gus said. "That's why I can't trust you with money. This isn't a steady income…your shopping sprees…" Gus trailed off, sinking into thought, but he glanced back up at Shawn in time to see a flash of hurt before he sighed and said, "I didn't mean it that way…"
"I know," Shawn said, smiling. "It's just logic. Will it help for choosing if I promise to cut down on stupid purchases and stuff if you stick with Psych?"
"I don't know," Gus said. "Not much. And please stop pretending you care. You want me to stay here and you know it."
"I don't know whether or not I can do it without you," Shawn said, his mask finally slipping, if only for a moment before that stone wall was back in his eyes. "But forget it. I can manage on my own."
"You keep telling yourself that, Shawn," Gus said. "You'd be dead if I weren't there to take care of you. Remember Mexico?"
Shawn smiled at the fonder memories.
"Yeah, I know…but seriously. Please – no pressure from me, all right?"
Gus slowly nodded.
But see, the problem was that there was. He knew that there was pressure. Shawn just wouldn't admit.
And though Gus would never admit, that just added more.
They sighed and both went home. Shawn gave Gus a ride back home on his motorbike (as much as Gus hated to admit it, Shawn was a good driver, and probably the only one on a motorbike he'd trust) and soon Gus was deftly unlocking his door.
He set his bag and backpack down by the couch before grabbing a ginger ale and tuning into some old MASH reruns, blankly watching some drafted army doctors play pranks on some gorgeous nurses…something about an evacuation pranks and revenge…
He shook his head when the thoughts of his dilemma came back to him.
But he knew he had to think of it. He didn't have much time.
He looked at the clock. Hm. His evening walk was a lot longer than he thought. It was actually rather late – about nine.
If he got up for Central Coast tomorrow, he'd have to get up at eight am.
Gus just knew he was going to need a lot of sleep for this, though.
He changed into some pajama pants and a flannel shirt for the night and stared up at the ceiling, unable to keep his thoughts really straight over this.
How did Shawn do it? How the hell did he keep all his thoughts in check in his head?
Gus roughly turned himself over and glared out the window.
Why couldn't he just make a choice and get over?
Maybe he should just sleep on it. His subconscious might work on it all night, and he'll come up with an answer, or at least a better idea, in the morning.
Gus tightened his tie the next morning. It was goldish-tan, matching his beige shirt and gray-black suit.
He shouldered his Psych back-pack and work bag out of habit. He glanced down at the logo on the bag. Technically, it was the company's. It came with the work laptop.
As per his now accustomed routine, Gus hopped on his bus and sat down.
He had made his decision.
He had left his keys at the Psych office, so he opened the door to see Shawn hanging up the phone.
Gus knew Shawn saw what he was dressed in – his Central Coast clothes.
"I left my keys here," Gus said, pointing to them sitting on the desk. Shawn nodded and tossed them over.
"Who was that?" Gus asked, jerking his chin to the phone.
"The chief. A robbery turned nasty, but there're some legal issues because of their political position or financial or something like that. About two and a half hours before we…before I have to get down to the station. I take it you chose?"
"Yeah…I…I, uh, made my decision."
Both men only nodded.
A little while later, Gus smiled to his secretary, handing her a file with a few necessary documents, like he often did, and quietly slipped to Ms. Killian's office.
She looked up when Gus opened the door and sat down.
"Ah…Mr. Guster. Good to see you again."
Gus smiled and sat down.
"Here…" he set down a print-out. "Is the printout of that presentation. This…" another folder. "Is the research information for your usual edits."
"Good…very good…I think we'll have that hospital on the list – the one by Book Alley Avenue…"
He slowly got up.
"Oh, and Ms. Killian? One more thing."
In one smooth move, Gus had the company car keys, the laptop in its bag, and his pager, all out of his pockets and sitting on the desk in front of her. He rested both hands on the desk and looked her right in the eye.
A breath of fresh air it was, finally leaving the office. He had simply walked up to his secretary and said, "I quit. Tell everyone my office is up for raiding. Kick the bottom left drawer to open it. Some chips and video game cheat codes. Have a nice life."
And after her shocked face (which had almost been as shocked as Ms. Killian's), Gus simply handed her his ID tag-cards, and walked out. He'd deal with the official stuff later.
Another bus later, and Gus was raiding his closet. He wasn't going to wear work clothes to a place as casual as Psych.
Some dark jeans. As for the top...well, he'd stick to his beige shirt, but un-tucked and the top two buttons open, with a black suit jacket over it – also loose.
And sneakers. Something easier to run in.
Perfect. He didn't know why changing his clothes helped, but in same deranged way, it did. Maybe that was why women lived longer - them and their clothes...
He checked some files from the Psych financial records, and nodded. He knew there would have to be some serious budget cuts, but it would work.
Gus put his iMac back in his backpack, and made sure that he had his camera on him, along with a voice recorder for notes, and his phone. He might as well devote a lot more of himself to the cases.
He really needed to get a bus-pass with how often he was using them. Seriously.
The now full-time Psych Detective slowly walked up to the familiar and now full-time office, and opened the door, the bells jingling above him.
"Have a seat!" Shawn called out, clearly thinking those bells were a client. "I'll be with you in a minute!"
"I hope," Gus said, standing in the doorway of the office. "That you weren't planning on treating all future clients like that."
At the words 'I hope', Shawn had whipped around to face him.
"I meant it when I said I made my decision," Gus said, smiling, gesturing towards himself.
"You're…you're staying with me?"
"Yeah," Gus said. "Now come on. Didn't you say there was a case we were going to have to go to soon?"
Shawn smiled and nodded, before tossing Gus one of the helmets for the bike.
"Shall we ride?"
Gus then decided to do something incredibly stupid, bold, and quite possibly life changing in that moment. He knew that he was going to kick himself later for it, but right now, he had the guts and an immense sense of freedom and relief, and he was going to use it to go the whole nine yards of his recent life changing decision.
"One day…you have to show me how to drive a bike."
A/N: Sorry about the OOC-ness on Gus's part, but when I got this idea, I just had to write it out! As always, please review!