Sorry for the long lack in updates. Especially since this story was finished a while ago, and I just forgot to post the final update. Hope you guys can forgive me. But here you go with two epilogues to round the story up.
Epilogue (I) – Time for goodbye
It was incredible how much stuff could fit into such a small bag.
This couldn't be clothes in there, that was impossible.
Bricks, maybe, gravel or loose stones. But never clothes.
The dimensions of the bag simply didn't allow clothes of that weight to be packed into it, it was a physical impossibility. But then again, Henry had long since suspected that women's bags and purses were somehow connected to wormholes or tears in the time/space continuum, making them look small on the outside and huge on the inside. How else could one explain a woman taking fifteen minutes to find her wallet in a purse the size of an envelope? And that was no random example, that was one of many personal experiences stemming from over a decade of marriage.
Trying hard not to let the strain show, Henry lugged the bag down the stairs and out the front door. Gus' little blue car was standing there with the trunk open, and Henry heaved the bag into it. Was it just his imagination or had the car really sunk a couple of inches when he had heaved the bag into it?
There had to be some sort of secret to that bag, after all Margaret had been here for twelve days all in all, and now that he thought about it he had never seen her wear the same clothes more than once, maybe twice. Just how did she do that? Especially since she seemed to be constantly changing into something warmer, something redder, something less warm or something greener.
Henry slammed the lid of the trunk shut and walked back towards the house. Shawn came hurrying towards him, phone jammed between his ear and shoulder, a sandwich in both hands, talking animatedly. Henry couldn't hear enough to know for sure what the conversation was about, but he got the sinking feeling that Gus didn't exactly know where his car was right now.
Though there hadn't even been the need for Shawn to borrow Gus' car.
Henry could have driven Margaret to the airport easily, he had the time. But Shawn had insisted that he was the one to drive his mother there, and he had flat out refused to take the truck. Not Henry's problem, if the kid wanted to take Gus' car he certainly wouldn't start a discussion about it. In fact, Henry was glad that his son hadn't even considered the idea to strap both his mother and her luggage onto his bike and drive her to the airport. Henry wouldn't have put it past him, especially now that the bike was repaired and Shawn had a new helmet.
A black helmet with the Psych logo airbrushed onto it in a bright green. It looked ridiculous, but his son seemed to absolutely love it. So Henry didn't say anything about it. There could have been worse, like a pink helmet or one of those leather jackets with fringes.
When Henry came back into the house Margaret was standing in the living room, rummaging around in her purse for something. Her keys, judged by her muttering. Henry could have sworn that her arm vanished up to over her elbow in the small purse, but he wasn't sure enough to swear on it.
"Are you all set?"
The jingling of metal announced that Margaret had found her keys and she withdrew her hand from the purse with a nod.
"Yes, I think I got everything. Thanks for taking the bag to the car."
Henry waved her thanks off and together the two of them stepped out of the house. Shawn was standing by the car, still talking loudly into the phone. His level of frustration had obviously risen a notch over the past minute or two, and Henry watched him for a moment with a slight smile.
"I wonder if Gus even knows that Shawn has an own set of keys for his car."
Margaret shook her head. "I doubt it. And if you know what's good for you, you'd better not tell him about it, either."
Henry chuckled. "That's what you get for copying other people's keys without their knowledge. But it might take another moment until the two are finished discussing whether or not Shawn was even supposed to take the car in the first place. He probably took it straight form the parking lot of Gus' firm."
Margaret shook her head with a fond smile. "Yes, and he probably left his bike there in exchange, though he knows fully well that Gus would never sit on it even with the engine off."
She shook her head again and turned back towards her ex-husband. "Thanks for everything Henry."
Henry shook his head. "No need to thank me for anything. Let's just try not to wait another ten years before we talk again."
Margaret smiled. "I heard they recently invented something called a telephone. We could give that a try."
"Yeah." Henry chuckled. "We could. We can always hang up if we're going on each other's nerves."
"That's going to save us a lot of money on long-distance calls."
Henry shuffled his feet nervously. "You know, the next time you come to visit Shawn, you can stay here. I mean, I just want you to know that you can stay at the house whenever you're in town."
A smile showed on Margaret's face. "And what speaks against staying at Shawn's place?"
"You've never been there, have you?" Seeing Margaret shake her head, Henry smiled. "Once you're there, you'll know what I mean. The place could definitely do with a female touch. Or an adult touch, come to think of it. I just want you to know that you can always stay here."
"Thanks Henry." Margaret checked her watch. "I should better get going. I don't want to miss my flight, and security checks take ages these days."
Henry nodded, prepared to say his goodbyes, when suddenly Margaret surprised him by taking a step towards him and wrapping her arms around him. But though he was startled, he hugged her back.
"You do know that Shawn can see us, right? I'm just saying because right now he's probably thinking that the world is spinning off its axis."
Margaret laughed and tightened her arms around Henry for a moment before letting go. "Bye Henry."
"Goodbye Meg. Have a good flight."
With a smile, Margaret picked up her purse and walked over towards where Shawn was waiting beside the car. Henry had to stop himself from laughing out loud when he saw his son's wide-eyed expression. As Margaret approached the car and sat down in the passenger seat, Shawn said something. He was too far away for Henry to hear, but he was fairly sure that he had caught the words 'Twilight Zone'.
Henry leaned against the doorjamb and watched Shawn get into the car and buckle his seatbelt. As Shawn put the car into gear and drove out of the driveway, Henry raised his hand in a final wave and watched how the car vanished around the bend in the road.
Once it was gone from view, Henry went back inside the house.
This had definitely been an interesting visit.
And now he should probably have a good look around the house and start collecting the things Margaret had forgotten. She always forgot things, he was sure that this hadn't changed over the past ten years. It would be an afternoon-filling activity to gather the stuff she had forgotten to pack, but right now Henry didn't mind.
It was not as if he had a lot of other things on his schedule, he could as well start packing a package to New Jersey.
Epilogue (II) – Hello again
Gus was nearly running to keep up with him, but for once Shawn didn't mind. This was important.
It was the first time the Chief had called him after the official end of his four-week ban from police cases, and it was the first case they were going to work after reopening the agency. Well, the first police case, but the two or three private cases they had worked had not been up to Shawn's usual standard.
They had been great for getting the business going again, but Gus was right. Cheating boyfriends weren't exactly what he was aiming to investigate with the agency. But still, it had been cases, and it had been cases that weren't likely to get out of control. Just the perfect way to get back on the horse.
Two days after their conversation in the Psych office, Henry had called Karen about the mandatory sessions with the department psychologist. From what his father had told him, the Chief had been extremely distraught about the fact that she hadn't even considered applying this standard procedure to Shawn. But there had been a lot of things going on, and Shawn thought that your head detective nearly getting killed in one of the strangest cases in history probably was a good reason to forget about something like that. Not to mention that Chief Vick had been pretty pissed at both, him and Lassiter at the time. It wasn't that he was bearing a grudge against Chief Vick for forgetting.
In fact, it wasn't as if Shawn had been really convinced that talking to a shrink would help him in the first place. But once Vick had been reminded about the fact that every officer involved in a shootout had to meet the department shrink for a mandatory one to three sessions, she had refused to let Shawn get out of this, anyway.
So he could tell himself that he wasn't voluntarily going there.
Besides, he was doing it for the sake of his nightly sleep.
And for the sake of Psych.
He wasn't doing this because he had problems or anything. Well, problems sleeping, obviously, but nothing that would normally require a shrink.
Dr. Hartwig, the department's psychologist, saw things differently. Since Shawn wasn't even a cop but a private consultant who had been involved in a shootout with casualties, he automatically upped the standard amount of sessions required for Shawn to get the all clear for returning back to work up to five.
Five sessions with a shrink.
It was a thought that had made Shawn want to bang his head against the wall the first time he had heard it.
He had sat silently through the first session.
During the second session Dr. Hartwig had politely reminded him that he was the one to clear Shawn for consulting work again, and that he wouldn't do that if Shawn continued in his refusal to talk about what had happened.
During the upcoming sessions, Shawn cursed his perfect memory more than once as he recounted the events that had happened on the mountain in all its gory detail.
After the sixth session, Dr. Hartwig cleared Shawn to work cases again, though he advised him strongly to take another few sessions to work through what had happened.
As of this day, Shawn had had eight sessions with Dr. Hartwig, and he was starting to sleep again. Not undisturbed, at least not every night, but it was getting better. Actually, Shawn didn't even know why, it wasn't as if the doctor had done anything to make it better other than talk to Shawn about what had happened. He hadn't hypnotized him or anything to try and erase the memories. They had simply talked. Mostly, it had been Shawn himself who had done the talking.
But at least Shawn was no longer waking up after a nightmare every night, and he was at least getting some sleep and rest. So maybe he shouldn't question how it had happened but simply accept that it had happened.
And now they'd be working again.
Shawn wanted to work cases again.
There was still this nagging worry that another case might spin out of control and somebody could get hurt. But that would probably never go away. Shawn wouldn't be able to forget the moment when that gun had discharged and Herb's body had fallen atop of his. And maybe that had its good sides, though they were hard to see. But that he couldn't forget the memories of killing a man might make him extra cautious never to let a case get out of hand like that again.
And now the Chief had called them in on a case again. They'd just have to work it and see what happened.
The door to Chief Vick's office was closed, and as Shawn stretched out a hand to open it, Gus suddenly pushed him to the side and knocked first.
"It's polite to knock, Shawn. It lets people know that you're there and want to come in. It's like asking for permission."
Shawn rolled his eyes. "She called us, Gus. That's like giving permission."
"Enter!" Chief Vick's voice came from inside the office.
With another roll of his eyes, Shawn opened the door and the two stepped into the office. Chief Vick was seated behind her desk, an open file in front of her.
"Mr. Spencer, Mr. Guster. It's good that you found the time."
"For our favorite Chief of Police? Are you kidding?"
Vick regarded Shawn with a raised eyebrow, but she let that comment slide. "I called because we need your help on a case, Mr. Spencer. There has been a string of burglaries all over Santa Barbara over the past three weeks. It's always the same MO, we're suspecting a professional crew. They even broke into a number of top-technology safes."
Shawn turned towards Gus. "Did you hear that? Safe crackers."
Gus tried to shrug indifferently, but Shawn could see the spark of excitement in his friend's eyes.
"The burglaries are getting more frequent, and the thieves leave us little forensic evidence to work with. I want you to read the case psychically, Mr. Spencer, while detective Lassiter and O'Hara work the little evidence we have. Do you think you're up to that?"
It was just a side sentence, but Shawn could detect a note of worry in her voice.
"I'm cleared for duty, Chief."
"That's not what I meant, Mr. Spencer. I want to know if you feel up for working cases again."
Shawn nodded. "Yes."
"Good. Then let me know as soon as you have something."
Shawn took the file the Chief held out to him and together he and Gus left the office.
"Do you really feel up to this?" Gus asked as he closed the door behind them.
Shawn sighed and turned towards his friend. "I promise, you'll be the first to know of I change my mind about it. How about we just start working the case and see what comes out of it. I can already feel the spirits gathering."
"Yeah, right." Gus mumbled, but Shawn was already off towards another target. He hurried over towards Lassiter's desk, where the head detective and Juliet were poring over crime scene photos together.
Lassiter actually flinched at Shawn's call before he slowly turned around. There was a deep frown and an expression of suffering on his face. Juliet, on the other hand, was smiling brightly as she saw Shawn approach.
"Shawn, it's good to see you again!"
"Spencer." Lassiter brought out from between clenched teeth.
"Lassie, just admit it. You missed me!"
"Like a bout of herpes." Lassiter picked up the photos from his desk and stuffed them back into the file. "And now excuse me, I've got work to do."
"That wouldn't be the robbery string? You know, the one with the guys cracking the high-security safes?"
"Yes." Lassiter answered cautiously, his mind already busy working out the possible implications of Shawn's knowledge about the case. It was obvious from the expression on his face that he didn't like the conclusions he arrived at.
Shawn beamed. "The Chief just put me on that case as well."
Juliet smiled. "That's great!"
"No, it's not." Lassiter grumbled. "It's definitely not great. It's the exact opposite of great. Do you know how many cases we got solved without your help while you were away, Spencer?"
"Yes, but the important question is: How much fun did you have solving those cases? Come on Lassie, admit it, it was getting kinda boring without me."
"It was definitely more quiet without you."
But Shawn didn't even listen. "So, what do you have?"
"Work to do." Lassiter picked up the file and put on his jacket. "So if you'll excuse me, O'Hara and I have to re-interview some witnesses. I'm sure the spirits will tell you what to do next."
In the background, a cell phone started ringing, and Shawn heard Gus excuse himself.
Lassiter made move to walk past Shawn and out of the station, but Shawn stood in his way.
"Come on Lassie, we both know that you missed me. How about we catch up a little on our way to the witness."
"You're not coming, Spencer."
"But I thought we were partners!"
Lassiter sighed and his free hand clenched into a fist.
"I don't know what gave you the impression that we're partners, Spencer. We're not. And now, O'Hara and I need to get going."
Lassiter brushed past Shawn, and with a smile Juliet followed him. "It's good to have you back, Shawn." She said as she passed him.
"But we even look like partners!" Shawn called after Lassiter and raised his left arm, which was still in a cast. The head detective, who also still had a cast covering his lower left arm, didn't turn around, but Shawn saw him twitch slightly as he heard Shawn's words.
"We could be cast-partners, Lassie. We could write secret messages on each other's cast! Just give me a pen, and I'll sign yours. It's going to be worth a fortune one day."
Lassiter vanished around a corner and out of the station without turning back once, and Shawn had to give him credit for that. Somebody had obviously given Lassie a few lessons in self-control.
Turning back towards Gus, Shawn felt a smile creep onto his face.
"It's good to be back."
Gus was still talking on the phone, but seeing that Shawn was talking to him, he quickly ended the call.
"I'll tell him. Goodbye Henry."
He closed the phone and put it back into his pocket. "What now? We're going to the office to look at the file?"
Shawn nodded, but his mind wasn't on it. Something else was occupying his thoughts as he started walking towards the station's exit.
"Why is my Dad calling you?"
Gus shrugged. "He just wanted to remind me that we're invited over for dinner tonight."
"Yes, but why is he calling you? I do have a new cell phone, he knows that."
Gus smiled. "Maybe he knows that you'll only half-listen in the first place and forget all about it as soon as you hang up the phone. Henry obviously knows who the responsible one in our friendship is."
"You see, that's the second thing I'm not getting." They stepped out of the station into the sunlight of the parking lot. "Since when are you and my Dad on a first name basis?"
Gus walked down the front steps and started to walk towards his car without answering. Shawn hurried to catch up.
"Gus, since when are you on a first name basis with my Dad?"
Gus shrugged awkwardly. "Since you left town a few weeks ago."
He unlocked the car and they both got in. Shawn was still frowning.
"I leave town and my Dad offers you to call him Henry? What, he wanted to adopt you or something?"
Gus shook his head. "No. I…well, I kinda might have given him my opinion on his behavior when you left. I thought he was going to kill me for sure, but it turns out he was actually impressed."
"What does that mean, you gave him your opinion?"
Gus shrugged awkwardly as he started the car. "I might have yelled at him. Well, him and your Mom."
"You yelled at my Dad?" A wide grin stretched across Shawn's face. "You yelled at him? Gus, that's awesome! I told you it would be a freeing experience. I want to know every detail. What did it feel like?"
"Shawn, you've yelled at your Dad about a million times before. You know what it feels like."
"That's different. It's part of our normal conversational dynamic. But it's got to feel awesome to give him a good telling off about something, out of the blue and without him yelling back."
Gus drove the car out of the parking lot and on the road towards the office. A small smile spread over his face.
"You know, looking back on it, it did actually feel good. If you ever tell your Dad, I'm going to kick your butt, but it actually felt good."
Shawn leaned back in the passenger seat as Gus proudly recounted the tale of How Gus Yelled at Henry Spencer.
Yes, it was definitely good to be back.
So, this was it. I hope you enjoyed the story. And as always, I'd appreciate it if you let me know what you think. Thanks a lot.