A/N: A little back-story to this one-shot (not a necessary read for the story, so if you don't want to read my little sob story, just skip the A/N
The California Brush Fires. There's one going on a few miles from here, and I know this because I can see some smoky-ash outside my window right now (makes the sunlight all orange). Voluntary evacuations have already gone through my neighborhood twice, which had reminded me of the last round of fires four years ago. Back then, we had been literally three minutes and twenty yards away from having to evacuate our home.
So while I was thinking of all this, I came up with this little fanfic. In fact, the news cast is accurate as of October 23, 10pm. I doubt the fires will go to Santa Barbara, but with these stupid Santa Ana winds outside, you never know.
"Fox News Re-Cap: The fire has destroyed 3,604 homes, including a rather popular church in the coastal LA areas. Twenty-two people have already died, and the injury reports are hazy, but in the several hundreds. The Santa Ana winds, hot weather, and dry vegetation in the area are the ingredients of the perfect firestorm. Fire fighters claim they aren't so much as combating the fire, as waiting it out and trying to save as many people as they can. President Bush has declared seven regions in the area a federal emergency, which might be able to help with the disaster relief efforts…"
Shawn switched off his TV. There was no new news on those fires as of late, besides the building and human casualty count. Besides…unless there was a major shift in the winds, it wasn't going to come here.
He stood up, stretching his arms a little, and walked over to the kitchen sink and started mindlessly washing his bowl that he had used for his macaroni. Hallelujah for Kraft Easy Mac on nights like these when he just didn't want to cook. He had been feeling sluggish all day.
The fake-psychic had a good idea why. They had taken a case which led him, Gus, Jules, and Lassiter on a bit of a wild goose chase all day. In many of those places, Shawn had smelled and breathed in the smoke and ash.
They had even stopped by at a store to get some surgical masks in a futile attempt at filtering out the smoke and ash. Surprisingly, getting the mask wet had helped. It involved putting on a new one every now and then, but it was a major help.
But still, some of it leaked through, and they had gone the first two hours without anything.
So Shawn planned to keep himself to fresh air as much as he could and sleep.
Of course, he had heard voluntary evacuations might soon sweeping through this neighborhood, and most people left. But come on – what was the likelihood of it coming here?
Not much, that's what.
However, it didn't hurt to be ready…though Shawn seriously doubted he'd need to be. He just packed a backpack with his laptop and a few important papers he really needed, kept in a very thin documents box he got a long time ago.
It also had his emergency cash, and several invaluable photo boxes from before he switched to digital cameras. That switch was a long time ago, but he still had a few pictures right now.
Shawn still didn't think he'd need to worry about it too much. He just tossed it by the door and went about his usual business. A nice shower after a smoky day, and he added some extra air fresheners.
Normally, Shawn left the window open instead of using the apartment's AC on warm nights, but tonight, that would not be. Even though the fires was literally miles away, the ash and smoke spread everywhere. Mount Saint Helens all over again. And Shawn remembered one of its explosions – he was there.
So he shut the window, and turned on the filtering AC, and Shawn sprayed that extra air freshener, before he set his alarm clock for late into the next morning, seeing as they had finally solved today's case after a long day, and let his head drop onto his pillow with his iPod on, and let the alternative rock music slowly lull him to sleep.
That was the sound that woke Shawn up.
And he woke up to a world of flames.
Smoke and ash instantly filled his lungs, and the heat was intense, and the sweat was nearly unbearable.
Shawn jumped out of bed, only barely remembering to grab his cell phone and stuff it in his pocket.
He grabbed his backpack while running out of his bedroom and so far as he could tell, most of the smoke was coming from beneath the front door…
And most of the flames were coming from the other side of the wall…the one with the fire escape.
Irony of all ironies.
Don't panic, don't panic…panic's the killer, not the storms…oh, god, I'm going to die…don't panic, don't panic…act, don't react, act, don't react, act, don't react…
Shawn quickly wrenched open the door and slammed it shut almost immediately in the face of the intense barrage of smoke and flying ash and embers.
This was not good
Don't panic…think…act, don't react
Where was it, where was it…
Shawn found some sunglasses, and a bandana. He soaked it as fast as he could and wrapped it around his head, before shoving on the glasses to combat the floating ash.
The bright flames cancelled out the fact that the glasses were extremely darkly tinted.
Shawn opened the door again, this time bracing himself for the flames that were crawling down the corridor.
Act, don't react…
Shawn ran down before it could engulf the stairwell, and got inside and shut the door again, grateful. Only…five more staircases to go.
He got down to the first two, but his eyes widened in alarm when he realized there were more flames near the bottom.
This wasn't going to be his escape route.
Shawn wrenched open the door and doubled over at his intense coughing fit fro the smoke that was filling the air.
He dropped down, completely forgetting he was even wearing a backpack, and tried to crawl his way to the other end of the hallway.
He was apparently the last one left in the building.
That last round of voluntary evacuations had been heavily advised. He hadn't seen the need at the time.
Shawn did, however, see sirens were outside…or at least he heard them. But he also heard a colossal crash come from the building next door as the four story complex collapsed into itself.
The boom that came from it reverberated through him and the floor, and Shawn knew it was only a matter of time before his own building would follow suit.
And to think all he had wanted was a peaceful night's sleep. Even that was too much to ask, apparently.
Shawn tilted his head up and tried to see through the haze…the first window he had been planning on using to get out was crashing inwards, which mean the flames were collapsing outside…
The rest of the windows were following suit. Besides, none of these ones had fire escapes, anyway. Three story drop onto hard asphalt.
At the end of the corridor, there was a mini-stair case leading out to a community balcony. Looked like he was going there. As for how he'd get to the ground from the third story terrace…he'd just figure that out when he got there.
But Damnit – Shawn was full on army crawling, now! He knew how (though he would never tell his dad he actually had to use this skill) but it was still painstakingly slow. He was going at about three yards a minute, and it was roughly ten yards to the end.
Three and a half minutes…
Alot could happen in three and a half minutes…especially in avery unstable building. It could collapse on him at any moment, crushing him to death with nothing more than velocity, if not weight, and all the sharp objects that could-
Hehad to get out of here.
All he had was a split second to roll over in time to avoid the crashing support beam.
He could hear the floor above him groaning.
He went a little faster…if not by much. The smoke and ash was getting to him. His vision, even with the sunglasses, was smoggy, shady, and blurry. He was going more by feel than sight by now, and with his shallow breathing, he was feeling more and more lightheaded every second.
But the metal was so hot. Shawn half-yelped, half-screamed when his right hand came into contact with something that turned out to actually be glowing.
It burns…act, don't react, ACT, DON'T REACT!
Goddamn, it burned. It was like when he stupidly pressed his hand to the stove as a kid to see what all the fuss was about…except right now, it was a LOT worse…a lot.
For a brief moment, Shawn could glance at his right hand through the sunglasses, but a small crash from behind him suddenly gave him an extra pump of adrenaline, and the intense, seething, mind-numbing burning receded to a kitchen accident, stove-top burn (in his head, at least) and he clenched his fists as much as he could without them hurting and continued crawling.
It was a lot slower when he was using his knuckles to get out, but it worked. The mini-stair case was almost in sight. Just another two yards-
Shawn glanced behind to see a rather large section of wall had landed on his leg.
Okay, okay, okay, okay…don't panic…there's no such thing as pain…
Shawn did his best to not scream from the agony. Oh, god, he was going to die.
A voice that sounded eerily like his father's came back, unbidden, into his head, as it had been constantly for the past several minutes since he woke up.
Don't panic…act, don't react…the panic's the killer, not the storm…act, don't react…
Has it really only been several minutes since he woke up?
Act, don't react. Act, don't react. Act, don't react…
And so it became, like a personal mantra, enough to get Shawn to squint through the smoke and ash and past the dark tint of his sunglasses, in order to lean a bit to the side enough to bend down to try and push off the plaster section. His left shin shot pure, raw, agony up his leg when he tried to use it, so he used his right leg underneath it as best as he could to get that piece of wall off.
And Shawn managed to pull his bad leg out and use his right leg to push himself out.
He didn't know how long he screamed, but he did. Oh god, it hurt. The sweat and heat and the flames licking at the soles of his feet and the burning of his hands and the burning of his lungs every time hebreathed and that stupid tickling feeling in his nose form the ash sure wasn't helping, and the coughing was getting more and more intense as he was practically doubling over to cough painfully while his chest tightened and squeezed and seized from the pain and intensity…
He was going to die.
Act, don't react. Act, don't react.
It was all Shawn could do to keep from giving up right then and there. He did his best and tried to straighten out as much as he could with the coughing and used his right leg only to get himself out of there.
So far as he could tell, his left shin was just fractured. Hairline fracture. Hell, maybe a sprain. Badly sprained, but just sprained nonetheless. Well, it felt like a sprain, even though Shawn knew it probably wasn't. But it sure felt like one, and so long as a sprain was better than a fracture, Shawn was just going to have to keep telling himself it was sprained. It was the only way to convince himself it wasn't bad enough for him to give up. Besides, the adrenaline was abating the pain, anyway.
Shawn suddenly felt something intensely stinging in his leg.
He looked down again and saw some blood seeping through his pajama pants leg…
Maybe pulling it through a large pile of ash wasn't the best idea. Most of the carpet was coated with it. His leg was stinging sharply as he continued to drag himself down the hall.
Shawn glared down at his left hand this time. There was a large, hole-ish gash in the middle, which he had once again stupidly landed it in some ash.
There's no such thing as pain…it's just a bunch of electricity running around my brain…there's so such thing as pain…it's all in the brain…
And it was all Shawn could do to deny the tears he knew were running down his face. His leg and hand hurt, and now…he didn't want to move…it wouldn't be that hard to just lie there and rest for a few minutes…fall asleep before the flames could burn him to death…
It would be so easy…
Act, don't react.
Why did that suddenly sound like Gus?
No matter…it shook Shawn out of the downward spiral his thoughts were headed. Another sting from some flames getting closer to his leg gave him the sudden motivation to not die and keep going.
He hunched his shoulder and took another 'step', crawling, and saw that within moments, the staircase was within plain sight…
But he was probably going to have to get up to use it.
Another crash from behind him.
Jules? What was she…never mind. The lack of oxygen was getting to him. He could literally feel the oxygen leaving as the fire used it up to continue burning.
Oh, man, this was going to hurt, what he was about to do.
He took a deep breath (which was still alarmingly shallow in this ash, even with the mask) and held it, before he sighed in his head and realized he wouldn't ever get up if he used his already burnt hand to grab onto the metal railing.
Regretting this in his head already, Shawn quickly reached behind his head and pulled the bandana off.
And suddenly, the coughing intensified ten-fold.
Still hunched over and trying to breathing shallowly through his sleeve and arm, Shawn folded the bandana a bit and pressed it into his hand, using it to get himself up off the ground and away from the flames lashing at the opening of the mini-stair case.
At least he was limping down only three steps.
Shawn mostly just stumbled down them, breathing harshly and yet trying not to breath through the pain from his leg.
Soon, the smoke and ash was only a little less intense (if not by much) as he reached the opening to the communal balcony and terrace. The flames weren't here, yet, so Shawn ripped his sunglasses off in order to see. It really wasn't much better, and now his eyes burned like crazy, but now wasn't the time to get back down to search for them.
Shawn got to the edge of the railing and looked down, before looking to his right.
This was really going to hurt.
Shawn looked down to see a young woman, some lady who normally lived several doors down from him, screaming and point up at him. But no one else heard her – she was too far away from the other fire fighters, who were apparently trying to get someone out from the other building.
She had her cell on her, too, though, so she called…well, someone.
Shawn turned and was thankful, for once, that the railing around this terrace was flimsy and weak, and while the flames themselves haven't reached here (yet), they were charred and thus a lot weaker.
He was at a corner, so using the other railing intersecting with the first, Shawn braced himself on his bad leg, before raising his good leg and kicking the railing.
It definitely pushed out, and almost fell over, but now quite. Yet his leg was screaming at him already, even though he knew he was going to have to do this one more time.
Finally – a single, lone firefighter noticed Shawn was still there, and started running over, having a vague idea of what Shawn was going to do.
Shawn took another deep breath (through the raggedy bandana, this time, and compared to just second before, it was a clear, fresh of breath air, if still scratchy) and did the same thing over.
This time, when he kicked the railing, it fell out completely, and Shawn wrapped the rag around the gutter pipe, now determinedly not looking down, just straight ahead at the white, warm metal, before he was hanging off, and balancing on his good leg on the platform.
Great, now Lassie was invading his thoughts.
Here goes everything…
At least that one was in his own voice.
Shawn jumped off during that brief moment he had the courage and was suddenly sliding down the pipe…well, more like slide-crawling.
There were several plants and such often hung on this building's corner beam, and though the plants were gone, probably scattered below, the spikes were still there, and Shawn was using his good leg to try and lower himself down.
His left leg, however, was mostly just dangling there. His shin did not appreciate this treatment of his foot's weight pulling down, and was telling him that rather angrily.
The fake-psychic just had to half-step-half-jump from one spike to the next, before sliding down to let his torso catch up with the rest of him.
All right…jump, slide, jump, slide…
The pipe groaned, and Shawn looked up, panicking.
Don't panic…it does you no good…
Was he just imagining things, or were they hallucinations? He heard crazy people don't think they're crazy…which made him wonder for just a split second if hallucinating people were allowed to wonder if they were hallucinations.
Another crash from inside the building brought Shawn out of his reverie. He had to get out of there now, anyway, because either way, if he didn't move…well, he was going to die.
Jump, slide, jump, slide – second story!
Okay…just two more to go…then he could get a ride to the hospital. Hell, if he was desperate enough (and he was sure the ambulances had better things to worry about than a sprained/fractured leg), he could use his bike. The shifter pedal was on the right, which was his good leg, and the parking lot was well away from the fire, unaffected by the damaging flames.
Oh, god – another crash from inside. The building was starting to look shaky. Okay, now he really had to get out of here – like, right NOW!
Act, don't react.
Act, don't react.
Act, don't react.
A few more Jump-Slides, and Shawn smiled. First story! Now he was only about ten or twelve feet from the ground.
Act, don't react.
Act, don't react.
Shawn's eyes widened in pure terror when he saw the pipe start to fall away from the support beam of the building's corner.
"No, nonononono! Not good, not good…"
Not good, not good, not good…
He reached for the wooden beam…made a grab. His fingers brushed it, wrapped around the other side-
And the gutter pipe he was hanging onto ripped him from the beam.
Oh, man, this was going to hurt.
Shawn was suddenly too terrified to let go, to slide down the pipe while it was still mostly vertical. All he could do was close his eyes and brace himself as the ground came rushing towards him at impossible, horrifying speeds-
Shawn's pain filled, heart wrenching scream was well heard, even through the immense crashing sound of the metal pipe landing just below him, banging into his chest and left leg.
Oh, god, it hurt so much. He was finally on steady ground and away from the flames, but the smoke and the ash…his chest…his head…his leg was now in more agony than ever…goddamn, he couldn't be away from the damn flames when his hand was on fire. It all hurt so damn much…he could taste the salt of tears on his tongue and was well aware that several people surrounded him.
Someone kill me…please, someone kill me…just end the damn pain…please…my head…
"…fell…jumped? Can't tell…"Hurts…
"…pipe was…below him…pushed it below him…"
"…broken leg! Ribs…"
"…I can see the bone…his leg's screwed…blood…lots…"
"See the bone? You can't be…oh my…god…"
It hurts…please, stop the damn pain…please…
"Pulse is bad…"
"He's not breathing!"
"His ribs…get his backpack…off, over here…"
"Come on, buddy…hang on…don't do this to me…just hang on…"
And suddenly, Shawn's dizziness took over. His last coherent thought was that regardless of where he was going, at least it didn't hurt any more.
That was the first thing Shawn heard. He had was vague, faint sensation of movement and was aware of several voices floating around his head, none of which he recognized. But soon, all these realizations and sensations were quickly over powered with the sensation of pain.
"Gemme some oxygen!"
"Where's that damn adrenaline?
"Heart rate's crap. Get me a ventilator-"
"Compress his leg – it's been broken badly-"
"Someone check his head! He's taken a bad hit."
"Burns! Get cold compresses for them!"
"Two third degree burns, around the legs. Mostly second. Where's the gauze?"
Shawn didn't even know he had groaned.
"He groaned! Get me some morphine, NOW!"
A sting in his arm, followed by a wonderful floating feeling.
Just a little less pain, but not much. Was someone talking to him?
"Just hang on for me, all right, dude? We need you alive. Just hang on."
"GET ME A CRASH CART, NOW!"
"Charging to two hundred volts."
"Three hundred volts!"
"We got something!"
"Unsteady, but it's there…"
And Shawn Spencer knew no more…nor did he want to. He went after the peaceful, painless darkness his mind was mercifully succumbing to.
Shawn couldn't help but think of all the TV shows and the movies and stuff, and how people just seemed to come to slowly, with a flicker of the eyelids, and everyone's standing over them and everyone asks how they are in unison.
For one, he didn't wake up slowly or anything like that.
It started out with searing pain from his leg and hand.
A rapid beeping came from somewhere in his far off right…wait, make that a very rapid beeping. Very, very rapid beeping…
Oh, man…please make it stop. Make the pain stop…what was WRONG with him?
There was the sound of a door opening…
That sounded oddly…unfamiliar.
Why was his head throbbing? So far as he could tell, the room was pretty dark, actually. Just a little bit from outside the hospital room window…
Ah. The man at the door was a nurse. Shawn gently tilted his head to the side to watch him fiddle with the IV, as the pain quickly eased itself away from his body, his head, his guts, and leg…though thinking all that in that order was a little redundant.
"Thanks," Shawn croaked.
"Thirsty?" he said. "I'll imagine with that fever."
"Fev…?" Shawn frowned. Now his throat hurt too much for him to even talk.
"Yeah," the nurse (Andrew, according to the nametag) said. "Your leg was broken, but your hand was worse – it got sliced up pretty badly. Nasty infection's been raging around for the last three days."
"Three?" Shawn asked, raspy. He sounded like some zombie or something.
"You've been asleep for the last three days," he said.
Shawn smiled, resting his head weakly against the pillow again, not really having the energy to do anything else. But his eyes were still open, and between the sight of the room and the reflection of the window, he could clearly see that while the room was empty, he was in the middle of a small jungle of flowers and pineapple, along with a variety of other sweets, cards, and two smoothies, and his smoldered backpack sat leaning next to the bedside drawers.
"Thanks to you," Andrew said, smiling with mock contempt. "I have a long list of people to call."
Shawn's brow furrowed, wondering what Andrew meant – and as a nurse, he understood.
"If I remember correctly," he said. "Your best friend, your dad, the chief of police, two detectives, and six police officers all came by to see you. And all of them left a number, demanding I call them if you woke up."
"Well, no. Next of kin and medical proxy – your dad and friend didn't require it. But honestly, for the rest of them…it's a bit hard to say no when you can see the handcuffs and guns. Not that I would've. Although honestly, you'd think for police officers, they'd actually leave as soon as we said visiting hours were over, instead of needing us to threaten them with security…"
Shawn tried to smile, though found that it was hard when he realized how chapped his lips were.
"Chapped lips?" he asked. He reached into a drawer and pulled out a Blistex Chapstick.
"That blonde detective left this for you. She already applied some on you several hours ago."
Shawn couldn't help but smile (internally, anyway) at the thought of any part Juliet being anywhere near his lips.
"So," he said, noticing Shawn's drooping eyes. "Just go to sleep for now, and if you wake up after visiting hours, your dad will definitely be here. First thing in the morning, and he's the one that keeps getting threatened by security to leave at night."
Shawn nodded, his brain not quite processing that yet.
"That's it…go to sleep…"
And Shawn took his advice.
Shawn blinked, and then groaned as bright, white light blinded him momentarily.
Thankfully, Henry Spencer shut the lights off for him.
"You all right?" he asked gruffly a moment later.
Shawn weakly nodded, still refusing to open his eyes, only knowing the lights were out by the click of the switch.
"You can open your eyes, now…"
Shawn carefully opened one eye, squinting, but then opened the other eye when it did prove to be much dimmer than before.
"Holding up all right?" Henry asked. Shawn nodded once again. Damn, his leg was fine but he felt so damn tired.
"Are you sure?" Gus asked from his left. Shawn was facing his right. Was Gus there? Apparently.
"Yeah," Shawn croaked.
"You sound like crap," Henry said.
"Look like it, too," Gus threw in.
"Thanks," Shawn said again. "Wha…wha…"
"What happened?" Gus asked. Shawn did his best to nod with his eyes.
"Well," Henry said. "Between your neighbor, the firemen, and the paramedic, you got some bad burns to start out with in the building. Somewhere in there, you broke your leg, but sliced your hand up badly enough to get it infected when you dragged it through some ash."
Shawn nodded, but apparently, Gus had more to say.
"You got those bruises all over ya when you stupidly tried to use the gutter pipe to get down. You pushed the pipe below you when you fell, so it prevented its weight from hurting you directly. But you cracked your ribs badly and screwed up your lungs. You also got a nasty concussion, and you inhaled some ash directly and screwed up your throat, too."
"In other words, you beat yourself up pretty badly," Henry said.
"We just told you what happened," Gus said. Shawn shook his head, and pointed to his throat.
"Water," Shawn said.
"I'll get a nurse to get you some ice," Henry said.
Within moments, Henry had adjusted the bed so Shawn was sitting a bit more upright and Gus was spoon-feeding him some ice chips.
"Need anything else?" Henry asked.
Shawn raised an eyebrow.
"Why so nice?"
"Can't I be nice to my own son after he nearly dies?"
Shawn then stared at him.
"Nearly," Gus said. He gestured around to the small jungle they were in. "Why do you think everyone's busting their ass up to take turns with sitting with you?"
Shawn mouthed 'Oh'.
"So," Henry said. "We nearly lost you…"
The pseudo-psychic nodded. He could see the hurt, near-grief, and pain of near-loss raging his father's eyes for just the briefest flash of a moment, before the Spencer instinct to hide all weakness came into play, and his face became blank – Henry's neutral mode.
Gus was a little bit more transparent…and thus, Shawn could see how close to losing his life he had come.
"Sorry," Shawn said, his throat feeling like he had swallowed sandpaper.
"It's okay," Gus and Henry said in unison without realizing it.
"What?" Henry asked.
"Why would I yell?" Henry asked. "For once…actually, for quite possibly the first time in your life, you actually didn't have anything to do with how you got hurt."
"And you actually didn't have me drag into it, either," Gus said. "And I had finally gotten all my stuff back from you, which means none of it burned…so for the first time in human history, we actually don't have a reason to yell at you."
Gus and Henry smiled a little, before suddenly Henry noticed Shawn's eyes.
"Shawn? Now your eyes are screaming. What's wrong? Hurt? Pain?"
Shawn slowly shook his head.
Henry and Gus looked at each other, then Shawn, before suddenly, they both burst out laughing.
"Shawn," Gus said. "The fire was pretty bad. We nearly lost you."
Shawn nodded. Stupid coping mechanisms.
"You…okay?" Shawn asked.
"Why would you be asking us?" Henry asked.
Shawn shook his head. They wouldn't get it. He tried to explain…except the words weren't coming to him. Damn, why was it so hard to see? Oh…his eyelids were drooping again.
"Just go to sleep," Henry said. "If it makes you feel any better, we'll yell at you for making us worry so much that you were going to die when you wake up. Happy?"
Shawn smiled and nodded.
"Now go to sleep," Gus said.
And Shawn decided to listen to him. He was all right…he was going to live…and who knows…he heard ladies dig the scars and a hurt man…when Jules got here, it wouldn't take much acting…maybe she could put some Blistex on him again…
A/N: Well…I liked the first part, but not so much the hospital parts. Ah, well. I hope some part of it was a nice read.
Anyway, ignoring the fact four charred bodies have just been found, this fire is really starting to get under control, so I guess I'm also posting this as a celebration, as well.
Please review, as they are my life source!