A/N: I love this show, and I love what they do with it. I wish that they could do some more serious stuff sometimes, but you know what? That's what writers like me are for. As you guys will notice, I have a peculiar way of writing short stories. I like to make it seem like you walked in and out in the middle of a scene. Stuff came before, and it's going to happen after, but you don't get to see more than snippets of it.
If anyone wants to turn this into a full story, or write a sequel, then PLEASE feel free. I just request a link, so I can read it. That is all.
References are made to "Scary Sherry: Bianca's Toast", "Gus's Dad May Have Killed an Old Guy", and to the pilot episode. If you haven't seen them, you maybe be a little confused at points, but you could probably still read this alright.
Inspired by the Linkin' Park song of the same name.
I'm REALLY looking for serious critique with this story, so please feel free to let me know what didn't work for you. Telling me where I fail is the only way I can work on getting better.
Disclaimer: I don't own anyone…probably for their own good.
Summary: Shawn learns a lesson about unanticipated consequences. Some Shawn and Gus best friend stuff.
What I've Done
The chief was talking, but Shawn found that he could not focus on her words. He wanted to hear what she had to say about how his best friend was missing from his apartment, with a note asking for Shawn to tell everyone that he wasn't psychic. Which he could do, should do, and would except Chief Vick said no. Shawn was starting to think that she knew he was making it up, that maybe everyone knew, but for some reason it was important to keep pretending.
Shawn wanted to hear her talking about how they were already searching for Gus, and wanted to wonder why no one was asking him to help, but he couldn't. He couldn't because for some reason the little plant on the windowsill was everything right then. The misty light of the rain storm outside that reflected off the leaves, the little curly leaves, was holding him back from hearing everything he needed to.
It's going to be okay. We'll get him back. The best cops are on the job. We have a few clues; there is no need to worry.
Shawn wasn't worried, really. He wasn't anything. Was that horrible? Shawn was pretty sure that if the situation was reversed that Gus would be worried. He would be paying attention to every little syllable that the Chief uttered, and while he'd tell everyone that Shawn was getting what he deserved for lying, he would also be frantic for his best friend's return. He would be sitting here, making a nuisance of himself by begging Lassie, Juliet, anyone to tell him stuff. He would really care about Shawn's safety—probably.
He tried again to focus, but some stray breeze moved the leaves of the plant and all he could do was sit there and watch and feel nothing. Shawn wasn't a heartless person, he knew this. He'd refused to hunt and fish with his father for years on the grounds that it was inhumane. If he cared so much about a little fish, shouldn't he be feeling something about the fact that his best friend was in danger and it was Shawn's fault? This was an attack on Shawn, revenge or something like it, and if he'd never started this stupid lie, if he'd never asked Gus to join him even when he was busy and had instead failed a bunch of cases, this wouldn't have happened.
The phones are ringing off the hook, with people claiming leads. Expressing their concerns. Wondering why the psychic can't just find his friend if he ISN'T fake. Or maybe none of the above. Shawn doesn't know because he isn't psychic, and he can't help, and maybe all those things are in his head.
He hears Lassie explaining to someone that Shawn doesn't control his visions, but they come at will, and he smiles a little. Lassie has never believed him, never will, but he's seems to understand that Shawn is weak and right now, when it matters most, he can't do anything. Maybe if he could just focus then something would happen, would come up and it would be alright, but he can't because he is weak and without Gus there it just doesn't work.
Leaves blow slightly right first, then left. Swirling in their own mini tornado from the air conditioning, and no one cares.
Someone sits beside him, but Shawn doesn't look. Let them doubt, they should, let them worry, they are, let them try and reach him. It would be a good thing to be anxious about his friend. Maybe it was Alice, somehow out of prison, reminding him that she had predicted this. Had asked him what he'd do. Shawn had tried to imagine not having Gus, but there wasn't a moment in his life that Gus hadn't been there or could have been there, and it had been impossible to even think of. Inconceivable. Incomprehensible. That was a better word. Incomprehensible, and it was still even when unspoken unseen nightmares came true.
"Shawn," the gruff voice said from his right. Henry. Dad. The other person who probably loved Gus the way he did. "Shawn, look at me."
"Not now, Dad," Shawn said back, never taking his eyes off the leaves. Were they somehow a clue? Was there something he was missing, that he was always missing, until someone else handed him the case? Who would get that honor this time?
"No, Shawn. Right now. Look at me right now." Henry shifted forward, a sure sign he was agitated.
What else he could do with such a command? Shawn looked, and his Dad just looked back, and Shawn felt something in him be shattered by the bile he felt rising in his throat, he couldn't explain why. Instead, he grabbed the garbage can and heaved in to it.
If his Dad or the Chief was surprised by this, they didn't react to it. Of course they wouldn't. They were well trained that way. The Chief just turned her head away, and his Dad knelt beside him. Not comforting but solid and there, when Gus wasn't, and Shawn choked and heaved again.
"Now is not the time to be a quitter, Shawn," Henry half-whispered. "I didn't raise you to be a quitter."
This was funny, because they both knew he was. He'd always quit when things didn't seem worth the effort anymore, and Gus would have happily listed off a half-million times he'd done so. And it would have been funny, but no one would have laughed because Gus almost never smiled and though that made it funnier you just couldn't laugh at that. Someone—Henry, Chief, Lassie, Jules, Alice, his mom—handed him a tissue to wipe his mouth with.
"I'm not," Shawn said hoarsely, "I can't…" Can't be good enough, can't step up, can't quit, can't save my best friend, can't BE anything else, can't say I'm not psychic, can't play anymore…the list went on so long Shawn didn't even know how to finish the sentence.
Someone was looking at him with compassion, Shawn was sure. Maybe it was Jules; she was always kind like that. She understood people, empathized with them. She was probably behind him, looking at his still hunched shoulders from losing his breakfast into Chief's garbage pail, and wishing she could help him somehow. He should ask her out right now, she would probably say yes simply because she felt sorry for him.
Shawn wanted to laugh at that, but he couldn't figure out what was so funny so he didn't. Instead he spit into the can.
"We're going to get him back, Shawn," Jules was beside him, all of the sudden, and he leaned against her a little because he couldn't make himself sit upright anymore. "Gus means a lot to all of us. We're not going to let them hurt him. It's going to be okay."
But they'd hurt him already, of this Shawn was sure. He'd been to the crime scene, following his police scanner as usual. Going faster when he realized they were talking about Gus's apartment. He'd seen the mess caused by the struggle, seen the blood that had to be Gus's because Gus never hurt anyone except Shawn himself, seen everything but not SEEN anything.
It seemed so pointless, so random, except for the note—the note for him, the note that told everyone that the only crime Gus had ever committed was being Shawn's friend. In retrospect, that actually was a pretty big crime, but he'd never meant it to be.
"No, it's not," he wasn't sure how his voice had gotten so shaky, so small. "It's not okay, Jules. Gus is missing, and I…" His hands were shaking, and the harder he clenched them the more violently they trembled. Little girl hands. "They want me. I should go after them. I should, I should, go, I should DO something!"
"We are doing something, Mr. Spencer," Captain Vick was standing on the other side of her desk, but even from the floor she didn't look quite as menacing. "We are doing everything we can to find Mr. Guster."
"But I'm not," Shawn protested weakly, getting to his feet and running a shaky hand through his hair. "I'm not and I should be! It's what we, what I, do! I can find him, except I can't, and I don't know why!"
"You're not making any sense, Shawn," his Dad was standing now too, arms folded across his chest. "Just try and breathe and think."
That man had no idea what he was asking. It was nearly impossible to think of his own name, to form a sentence, when all he could think of was Gus, and how Gus needed him, and he wasn't there. For the first time ever he was not there bugging Gus, stealing Gus, keeping him from everything else that might be important because Gus was his and always had been, and he wasn't there! When it really truly mattered, Shawn hadn't been there to help. Had Gus called out for him, like he always did, only to realize no one was coming? That he'd been abandoned by his best friend?
"We're running out of time," Chief Vick said, reminding Shawn that every minute that ticked by was one minute closer to never having Gus again ever.
No more nights sprawled on the couch with cheese puffs and cruddy old movies. No one to get his odd references, to argue with about things that really just didn't matter anymore. Once that clock hit six am there would be no more Burton Guster, ever!
Shawn thought he was going to fall, because all of the sudden he could seem to breath past the blockage in his throat. Someone steadied him from behind, however. Large hands that nearly covered his whole shoulder. Lassie wasn't looking at him, but he was keeping him from toppling to the ground and looking even more like a helpless idiot, so it was probably alright.
"I think it's safe to say that this is a very personal case," Lassie was stating the obvious, but maybe that was good. Maybe obvious was what Shawn needed right now. "Someone who knows that Spencer and his friend are very close and getting to him is a good way to get to our psychic. I'm willing to bet it's someone you helped put away."
The taller detective shoved Shawn back down into a chair, but held him until he was sure that the younger man wasn't going to fall forward. Jules got to her feet and moved closer to her partner, putting a reassuring hand on Shawn's shoulder as she did so. "But nobody that Shawn helped put away has been released. They were all found guilty, just like he said they were."
"That's why they'd have the most to gain by discrediting him," Henry stepped in, though he got no closer to the small cluster of cops. "If they prove that Shawn isn't psychic, it would open up to questioning how he got his evidence, and make anything he added to those cases insubmissible. They could potentially get out of jail without that."
It was clear now why it was so important to everyone that the lies continue. Shawn knew the people he locked up were guilty, everyone knew that, but if they lost the evidence…they could no longer prove it and all those murderers would walk free. It would reverse all the good work he had done, and they were willing to sacrifice Gus if they had to if it meant the streets of Santa Barbra were safe for everyone.
Shawn could understand this, he honestly could, but he was not sure it made him feel any better. The world would be better for so many people, but for him the world wouldn't be as great if he couldn't enjoy it from the inside of a blueberry Echo that he almost never had to drive. And yes, he was just one person, but damn it why should he be any less important than any other one person?
The only way they can absolutely prove I'm not a psychic is if I tell them, he could remember saying that, and I promise you that is something I will never ever do. Except he wanted to, right now, more than anything, but give it up, and go to jail, but have Gus be safe.
"Now, obviously, we can rule out anyone that we've got locked away specifically. But we're going to need to question any that have family on the outside. Someone who might hold Mr. Spencer personally responsible for what happened." Chief Vick looked at him; they all looked at him, like they expected him to come up with a name out of thin air.
These were the kinds of moments he always tried to set up. The ones that built the tension, led the police to all the right places, and then he could show them the paths to the correct answer. That's why he'd never become a detective. He hadn't wanted to go to all the work and paperwork of actually arresting someone; he just wanted to solve things. In any other case, at any other time, he would have known the answer. He would have known exactly who had the best motive, how they had gotten in there, and where they were keeping the hostage. He would have pretended that one of his senses had been amplified—maybe smell this time, since Gus had the super sniffer—and led them all to the conclusions he wanted with clues only Jules seemed to get. It was a ritual, it worked so well, and Shawn wished so badly that this was any other case on any other day where he had an answer to give.
He had nothing. Shawn Spencer honestly didn't even have a guess. He couldn't remember which suspects he'd seen locked up had family or friends on the outside, never mind that they would have to know him well. Well enough to know where Gus lived, or to stalk him there without either of them noticing. "I don't…I can't see anything. I don't have any ideas at all."
He was failing. He was failing so spectacularly that he made Napoleon's invasion of Russia look successful. And every face in the room was mirroring that back at him. They were all disappointed that Shawn could let them down when they—when Gus—were counting on him. And he didn't know how to fix it.
"I guess the only thing we can do is take your most recent case and work backwards," the Chief walked around, obviously getting ready to delegate tasks, and put the evidence file down open on her desk. "Call in all their friends and family. It's not like you and Mr. Guster were ever seen without each other, it wouldn't have been too hard for any of them to piece it together."
Were ever seen, not are ever seen, wouldn't instead of will not, and for some reason that made Shawn feel dizzy again. He leaned forward, resting his forehead on the edge of her desk, trying to calm the nausea that threatened to make him lose meals he hadn't even eaten yet.
"Read the note again, Shawn," Dad slid the file closer to him, seeming to not care that they had not been invited. This was the kind of stunt Henry might pull when he knew something that Shawn was missing, except he was sure that if his Dad knew this time he would have said something and not waited for his slow son to figure it out. There was too much at risk here for a game. So Henry must not know, but he was hoping Shawn would, which meant he thought Shawn was better, and that would have been a sweet victory if it were true.
Shawn didn't need to see the note again, he already knew what it said, the words burned into his brain on the first reading. I know you're a liar, Shawn, and you're lies have taken something precious from me. I have made the score even. Only the truth can restore those precious things, and you have until six tomorrow morning to make sure that everyone knows the truth, or lose your friend forever. I will be watching for the announcement that the psychic is a fraud.
There was no signature at the bottom, or any other clue that might help him. Just the damning words that made it clear who was to blame for all this. He had nothing to go on, no ideas, and no way to help. Just empty words and empty ideas.
"What about that case, at Christmas time? Shawn helped lock away someone that had known him and Gus their whole lives." Jules was pacing a little, not the whole length of the room but almost in place. "Her husband might of…"
"I think he was genuinely surprised and horrorstruck," Henry hadn't taken his finger off the note, and he was still looking at Shawn. "Not to rule it out, but I certainly wouldn't put all my eggs in that basket."
His father's incessant rapping on the desk irresistibly drew Shawn's eyes to the note. To each horrible syllable that confirmed that Gus was really and truly gone. Each stupid soft roundly dotted 'i' and slightly…slanted G…
"There are a lot of families of guilty parties that we'd have to round up," Jules was obviously flustered, wringing her hands a little. "There's got to be a logical way to go about doing this."
He knew that writing. There was somewhere, long ago, but he KNEW he had seen it. If only he could remember where, that was the key. If he could just make himself see where it had been before, then they could figure out where Gus was and it might be okay.
"So far, Detective O'Hara, the only way we can go about doing it is to call each and every one of them." Lassiter joined in her pacing, looking to be in his element. "The ones that don't answer are or can't verify their whereabouts are potentially our perp."
Jules cut in front of him, a frown on her face. "Except…how are we going to find them if they're not home?"
Shawn didn't even have the strength to put his fingers to his head. He didn't even bother to lift his head off the edge of the desk. "Katarina. It's Katarina McCallum." All activity in the room ceased as they turned to look at him, with various degrees of shock and suspicion, he was sure, but he didn't bother to look up before continuing. "When I was…helping with her brother I happened to…to see her writing in…that's her handwriting. You could compare them and it would be identical."
There, that was proof if they needed it. There couldn't be more delays. His stupid stupid charade wasn't going to put Gus in any more danger today. He'd proved that Katarina's father had killed her brother and his friend, accidently or no, and during their time together, Shawn knew he must have mentioned Gus a few times. The handwriting matched the diary pages he had looked at all that time ago, curious about her relationship with her boyfriend. It all lined up, and he HATED it.
Shawn looked up at the chief, pulling his hands off the edge of her desk and back into his lap. "For what that's worth. I have no idea where she's at; I haven't seen her in two years."
"But it's a start," the Chief was suddenly moving, marching towards the door. "Detectives, I want every available man out there searching for Katarina McCallum. We do not stop tonight until she and Mr. Guster are found. Detective Lassiter, I want you to…" She trailed off as she walked down the hall, detectives in tow, and disappeared in to the activity.
Now nearly alone, Shawn sat back in his chair and scrubbed at his slightly scruffy face with a trembling hand. It might not be enough. He now knew who had his friend, but it still might not be enough to help. He could still lose Gus. He might still have to face the Gusters at six thirty tomorrow morning and explain to them why their son was gone when he'd promised to look after him.
A heavy weight on his shoulder, and almost painful pressure that made Shawn lower his hand. The young pseudo-psychic was a little surprised to find his hand and face felt wet when he looked up at his dad. Shawn wasn't sure when it was he'd started crying. Henry smiled back at him, a wimpy little half smile that looked horribly forced and sad at the same time. Not natural at all. "You did good kid. We'll find him. I promise."
Somehow, those last two words made Shawn feel better than anything had in hours. If his Dad promised, then Henry Spencer would keep his word, or die trying. Shawn knew he could count on that in the same way he could count on Orlando Bloom to be a horrible actor in every movie he was in. They would find Gus. It was going to be alright. He had to latch on to that.