AN: Have I sufficiently depressed you yet?
WARNING: for character death, drug use, slightly suicidal themes, and...insanity...again.
The December air is icy against your skin, just the way you like it. The colder the air, the better, but you're still not sure why you like it that way. You crush the white crystals on the porch railing, feeling them melt against your skin. Damn physics. You love the cold. Cold is numb, numb is good. You wonder why that makes you feel better. You wonder why you're hearing laughter when you don't think your confusion is a laughing matter.
"Shawn?" Your gatekeeper calls out from the doorway. "Come on, it's freezing out here." Wonderful deduction Detective Holmes. You want to say, you know. You want to explain that it's why you're outside, because the frost feels so nice. But when he pulls on your arm, you can't gather the energy to resist.
He pushes you gently inside the warm house and, unfortunately, feeling begins to return to your face and hands. You miss the snow already. "Are you hungry Shawn?" You're not, but you know better than to say so. Dad gets angry when you don't eat, and the tattletale always tells Dad. He sits you down at the table covered in still steaming food. It'll warm you up, from the inside out. You hate it.
As always, you're silent as you eat. At least this time your hands aren't shaking so much that he has to feed you. Those nights are embarrassing. "Potatoes, Shawn." Of course, the potatoes. How dare you try to avoid the potatoes. He tries to mask the bitter taste of medicine with butter and pepper, but that just makes them all the more disgusting. Just a pill a day and your sanity will return! He says the medicine helps you remember, but you don't think it works. Some days you remember more, some days less. Most of the time, you have to ask him.
"Where's Gus?" You think you've asked this question before, and you think he hates it, but the answer never quite sticks.
He winces before the question is even finished. "You already know, Shawn." He stands and starts to gather the plates.
"No, I don't," You say blankly.
Carlton sighs and looks at you with sad, tired eyes. "He's gone. Now finish your potatoes, Shawn. Then we'll get you cleaned up for bed, all right."
Just another day. Another sun, another moon. Another routine, another set of pills.
Another day you couldn't find Gus.
It started February fourteenth, you remember that. You remember because it was snowing, a record low for Santa Barbara. And Gus was mad at you again. 'I've got a date tonight and, damn it Shawn, you are not screwing this one up for me.' You remember a serious voice with a mock glare. And a curfew. 'We're out of there no later than seven, Shawn.'
You remember the excitement, even if he didn't admit it. Another bad guy to be caught, another case solved. Then you remember surprise, staring at a smiling mask and a gun. You didn't see something, you missed a hat.
And you remember Carlton getting there just in time to save you. To save you. You think there's something wrong with that sentence, while you remember flashes of red and blue.
Carlton gets up before you, checks the windows and doors, hides the knives away, and locks the medicine cabinet. You listen to him going through the familiar routine, laying with your eyes shut, wishing you were cold and still asleep. You stopped kicking off the blankets, when he kept pulling them back around you through out the night. You just don't have it in you to be the annoying deviant you think you used to be.
When his routine is finished, Carlton comes back to get you for breakfast. He's hesitant to leave for work, just like every morning. He doesn't want you left alone for another day. Sometimes you wonder why you don't live with Dad. Sometimes you're tempted to ask, but you figure Carlton's better than Dad, so you don't push your luck.
"Orange juice, Shawn." Ah, the juice. At least the citrus hides most of the taste of the pills. Not like the potatoes.
"Where's Gus?" You think you're getting a bit repetitive. The question seems familiar. But you remember always having breakfast with Gus and you can't quite understand why he's not here now.
You hear a sigh from across the table. "Shawn, please. Not this morning."
"But why isn't he here?"
"You already know. I tell you every day, Shawn."
You glance up at him from your juice and wonder when he got those bags under his eyes. "How do I know you're telling the truth?"
He looks at you helplessly. "Trust me."
You finish your juice and even eat a little more toast, bringing a small smile to his face, before taking your dishes to the sink. At eight o'clock, you follow him to the front door, watching as he gathers his briefcase, jacket, and keys.
"Okay," Carlton ticks off a mental list from the front door, while you stand by, waiting for mother hen to leave the nest and hoping he can't see your body shaking. "Everything's locked up, blinds are shut, and your lunch is in the fridge. I turned off the phone for you, but you know where the emergency cell is. You sure you're going to be all right Shawn?"
You nod absently, just waiting for him to close the door. And soon, you're alone in the hallway, alone with the wood-paneling and the laughter. You tried to tell Carlton about the laughter once, hoping he could make it stop. But he looked at you strangely and said you probably just heard rats. That made you think of rats in your head, crawling around inside your body. You couldn't sleep for three days. You had to find a cure for the laughter on your own.
You know when Carlton comes home, he'll have a handful of 'Get well' cards from officers at the station. They've been buying them diligently for you don't know how long. It makes you wonder if there is something wrong with you.
You found out February fifteenth, you remember that. You remember because everyone was so quiet, while the doctors gave you test after scan after test to make sure the severe concussion didn't cause any brain damage. And someone was always missing. You remember your dad disappearing during every test, thinking you wouldn't notice, and coming back with more wrinkles than before.
You remember what they told you as Carlton wheeled you down to room 256. But...no. He couldn't have been -- No, fuck the concussion! You would have remembered if Gus was shot, if your brother was hurt. They seemed to sigh in unison as you were pushed down the puce hallway.
And you remember them opening the door to room 256. You remember the hiss of the ventilator, the steady beep of the pulse monitor, the wires snaking around the bed and along the floor. You remember your face feeling itchy from the dried tear streaks, as you stared at the comedy and tragedy masks decorating the room's wall.
You sit on the bathroom floor, staring at the small white tablet waiting to dissolve in your stomach and enter your blood. Time for your three o'clock appointment with Mr. Pink E. Elephant, please step right this way. Sometimes you wonder if you should stop, if you should tell Carlton about the window with the broken latch. He would replace the lock and you wouldn't be able to get out anymore. You'd be forced to stop. Sometimes you wonder if you want to stop.
You think the drugs, like the cold, are supposed to remind you of something. Or maybe someone. Not these types of drugs specifically, but still...they seem familiar to you. Not many things seem familiar these days, so you take what you can get.
The little tablet weighs heavy in your hand, and you're so focused on the pill you don't hear the car pull up or the front door open. The footsteps fall on deaf ears, but the yell is hard to ignore.
"Shawn!" You almost drop the unlabeled prescription bottle, but catch it in time and clutch it tight to your chest. You stare with wide eyes at Carlton's disbelieving face. You start shaking your head before the command leaves his mouth. "Shawn, give me the bottle."
"Shawn, you need to give it to me."
"Just put it do--"
"Damn it Shawn! Do you think Gus would want you like this?"
Gus? What does Gus have to do with any of this? Why wouldn't he want you like this? What's wrong with the way you are? You don't notice Carlton slowly inching his way towards you, until you feel the pill bottle ripped from your hands. "No! You bastard, give it back!" You watch as he pours the bottle's contents down the sink's drain. You try to grab them, but it's so hard to see the white pills against the ivory sink, and they're rolling to the middle of the bowl so quickly. "No! Get them back, get them back! I need them back!"
He pulls you into a tight hug to keep you from clawing at the drain. "Calm down, Shawn. It's all right, just calm down."
You slump back against his chest, tears coming as you stare at the sink. "I hate you. Fuck, I hate you so much."
"No, you don't, Shawn. I know you don't. It's going to be okay. I'm going to make you okay, Shawn."
It got worse February twenty-first, you remember that. The lung wasn't repairing, fluid kept filling it, no donors available, the antibiotics weren't working. You remember him shaking but feeling so hot, sweating as his teeth chattered. You remember pitying looks. You remember swearing you heard laughter echoing through the halls along with your footsteps.
You remember when he gave up. When he asked them to take the tube out so he could talk to you. You remember begging him to keep it in, because he needs it to hold on, and he needs to hold on. They took it out anyway, and you remember his harsh, raspy voice. 'Keep it going. You have to keep Psych going. It's the first thing I've seen you fall in love with in such a long time, Shawn.'
And you remember promising to keep Psych if he just puts the damn tube back down his throat. Something could happen, could have been happening right then. There could be an accident just around the corner and then he'd be fine. You don't remember feeling ashamed, as you wished for someone to die so Gus could live.
Carlton explains, quite calmly, that the pills aren't working anymore. And that, really, you shouldn't have any more medicine because you're an addict. No more pills for the insomnia, or the headaches, or the depression. Nothing until you're clean, and then you'll have to be monitored very closely. You watch your dad's face as Carlton speaks, idly counting down until blastoff. Your dad looks like he's going to either burst a blood vessel or collapse, blow up or break down. You turn your head when his face starts to change colors and realize the doctor is staring at you.
"That's it! Shawn needs more serious help."
Carlton sighs. "I thought that's why we were here, Henry."
"No, no more liberal bullshit. He needs professionals to take care of him," Your dad growls out. You've always wondered if he was part canine.
"If you're even suggesting what I think you are -- No. We already discussed this in the beginning."
"Don't act like I haven't thought this through, Lassiter. I tried to help him too, and my damn house is still being repaired from the fire because of it. Now he turns into a goddamn junkie while under your care!"
"I swear Spencer, you put him in an institution and you will never get your son back!"
You tune them out fairly easily, too used to their yelling, too used to yelling your entire life. You're preoccupied with your own voices anyway. That fucking laughter just won't go away! It's here, or over there, or just--fuck, where is it? You turn your head this way and that at whiplash inducing speed. And there it is, that mask. That mask smiling so brightly while the other cries. It's laughing at you.
You wonder if you know the mask. You must. Or, at least, it must know you to laugh at you like that. Why does it seem so familiar? Not like the drugs or the cold familiar, but a bad familiar. You don't like that mask.
"Shawn!" You turn your head back at the doctor, to see him smiling at you patiently. "I asked what you would like to do?"
He has warm brown eyes, straight white teeth, and his dark skin looks so soft. Nice forehead too, round and shiny. You think he reminds you of someone.
"I want to go see Gus."
On February twenty-second, it became too much to handle, you remember that. You remember walking down the hall, that damn laughter echoing with your footsteps, and coming to a stop in front of room 256. You remember the phone call: brain dead, no recovery, and do you want to come say your good-byes? You remember his previously feverish skin feeling so damn cold.
You remember going home to Gus' apartment and staring at the bottles of whiskey and aspirin. You remember falling face first into Gus' bed after emptying both. You remember Carlton getting there just in time to save you.
And you remember waking up to see those masks, mocking you from the wall, and wondering why you don't like them. You remember words like mental break, repression, dissociative amnesia. You remember, blissfully, not being able to remember a damn thing.
It must have snowed last night, because white flakes littered the cold, polished stone. You press your face against the engraved letters, feeling them against your burning skin. You can feel Carlton's eyes on you, watching for the slightest reason to leave his post by the cemetery's entrance. Your gatekeeper.
You stare at the letters, hating them. Hating how official they look, how clinically they summarize Gus' life. Hating yourself. You were too busy recovering from you suicide attempt to even go to his funeral. No embarrassing story to share in his eulogy, no silly nickname on his gravestone that only you would understand, no crying with old highschool friends...you didn't get to do any of it.
But the worst of it all is you didn't keep your promise. Psych has been out of business for almost a year. The landlord sold the office long ago. It's a beauty salon now, you think. You've thought about visiting, but you already have great hair.
"I'm sorry." Those words brake the dam in your mind, finally releasing the painful pressure that had built up. "God Gus, I'm so sorry." You think the tears are finally going to freeze on your face, becoming permanent rivers. Maybe then you wouldn't have to bother with making new tears, if the old ones are always right there.
You feel strong arms wrap around you. "Shawn..." Bad gatekeeper, leaving your post. Still, you bury your face into his chest, for once relishing in the warmth found there.
"I want him back. Make him come back!"
The arms around you tighten as you soak Carlton's shirt. "I can't Shawn, I'm sorry. But I know something you can do." You look up at him. "You can open Psych back up."
A painful keening sound comes from the back of your throat, as you shake your head and bury yourself back into his shirt.
"You kind of have to Shawn." He lets out a sad chuckle that rumbles his chest. "You're gonna have to do shit that's twice as crazy as what you used to do. To make up for everything he won't get to do with you now."
The tears come harder, but God does it feel good. "I don't want to."
The lips pressing on the top of your head warm you up, from the inside out. "I know. But he wanted you to."