A/N: And here is the end. Ad nauseam, I own nothing.
Chapter 20: Or, What Would Otherwise be Known as an Epilogue
~One Month Later~
Gus was concerned.
He'd gotten a frantic phone call from Shawn, begging him to get to the hospital as quickly as he could. Had the phone call not come from Shawn, he probably wouldn't have been able to drive fast enough to make it there from Central Coast. They'd started picking up cases again the week before, and since Shawn was left to his own devices to investigate Gus never knew what situation he may have found himself or someone else in. As it was, he pulled into the parking lot at Santa Barbara General at a decent clip, pulling the Echo into a parking spot and hurrying to where he could see Shawn by the doors.
"Shawn! What's wrong?"
"Lassie's getting released today!" Shawn said, bouncing up and down on his heels.
Granted, Shawn had always been slightly (and creepily, if you asked Gus) obsessed with the head detective, to the point where Shawn (whom Gus had hardly known to pick up any cleaning implement in his life) had somehow gotten himself and Juliet into Lassiter's house the week before to clean it up. Gus knew about this from at least an hour spent listening to Shawn complain about how annoying fingerprint dust was to get off countertops. But this was ridiculous.
"You called me out of work to let me know that Lassiter's walking out of the hospital?" Gus rolled his eyes.
"Well, yeah!" Shawn hadn't stopped bouncing. Gus firmly put his hands on Shawn's shoulders and pressed his heels into the ground. "Fine. I thought you'd like to see Santa Barbara's finest trot out of here."
"I have to admit, I do miss seeing Lassiter around the department." Gus nodded. "But you scared the hell out of me, Shawn! I thought you'd gotten yourself back in the hospital!"
"I've been really careful, Gus," Shawn assured him. "Promise." He leaned back on Vick's unmarked sedan. "Ooh! There he is!" Shawn immediately bolted upright and pointed, waving frantically. Gus looked over at the doors to see Vick accompanying a nurse pushing Lassiter, who was busy complaining about his confinement to a wheelchair. As soon as he saw Shawn, he made an audible groan.
"Spencer! What the hell are you doing here?"
"Lassie-face!" Shawn piped cheerfully. "So glad to see you're out! So what's the news? When ya gonna be back bustin' the bad guys?" Lassiter glared at him as Vick thanked the nurse, who quickly retreated into the hospital. "You are coming back, right?"
"Why wouldn't I be?" Lassiter growled, lowering himself into the passenger seat of the sedan. "Please tell me you're asking because if I'm coming back, you aren't."
"Don't be silly. Of course I'm coming back!" Shawn closed the door for him as Vick climbed into the driver's seat, forcibly feigning annoyance. "Ooh, I brought you something." Shawn picked up the Styrofoam cup with "Smoothie-World" printed on the side in bright orange letters, the 't' classily made into a palm tree. "Should be okay by now."
"What is it?" Lassiter mumbled, already knowing what was in the cup even as he accepted it.
"Pineapple smoothie!" Shawn was bouncing again, and Gus forcibly pressed him into the concrete. "Guuus!"
"I think we've wasted enough of Lassiter's time. I'm going back to work." Gus nodded to the detective and Vick, and stalked back towards the car. Once out of earshot, Shawn waved to Vick and Lassiter.
"See you later, buddy."
"If you ever call me that, Spencer, I will shoot you." Lassiter pointed threateningly at him. Shawn grinned broadly.
"Okay. Anytime!" He waved as Vick pulled out of the pickup lane and started back towards his bike. Things should be, once again, getting back to normal.
~About Two Weeks After That~
Reid stepped out of the elevator with his coffee, walking towards the glass doors as usual. He had to admit, despite the fact that he'd seen Morgan at least four times a week in the past month, not having him around to torment him on cases was a little dull. So when he spotted a familiar head bent over a far-too-long-empty desk, he picked up his pace.
Morgan's head shot up. "Mornin', Reid."
"You aren't supposed to be back for at least another month!" Reid dropped his bag onto his desk. Morgan shrugged in answer. Reid thought he looked more tired than usual and potentially worn a little ragged, but otherwise fairly normal. Therefore, he was immediately suspicious. "You cleared for the field? Did you tell anyone you were coming back so early?"
"Hotch cleared me. For the desk, not the field." Morgan pointed at the crutches still leaning against his desk. "However, I was planning on surprising everyone else, but I'm sure Rossi knows." As if he'd heard Morgan's statement, Rossi passed through the doors towards his office, nodded nonchalantly at the duo, and continued up the stairs.
"Not even Garcia?"
Morgan shook his head. "Nope."
"Does Emily know?"
"You know she's always here before you." Again, almost as if Shawn's "psychic"-ness had rubbed off on the team, Prentiss dropped Morgan's coffee mug back on his desk.
"That good enough, gimpy?" she asked, sitting down at her desk with her own mug. Morgan sniffed it.
"Smells good enough."
Garcia hurried towards the catwalk, ignoring Reid's attempts to get her attention with a muttered "gotta talk to Hotch." Reid caught a glimpse of a grin crossing Morgan's face as he kept his head down.
"Good morning, baby girl," he said as she started to climb the catwalk.
Almost by second nature, Garcia replied without looking. "I'll show you a good morning, hot st—MORGAN!" She spun, hands immediately on her hips and quest for Hotchner's office forgotten. "Are you allowed to be at that desk?"
"Yup." Morgan grinned. "And I get to be spending a lot of time with you until I can get around without those."
"Oh boy," Prentiss muttered, taking a sip of her coffee. "This is gonna make for some interesting phone calls."
"Should we put a video monitor in her office?" Reid muttered, leaning forward. Prentiss shrugged.
"I need you guys in the briefing room." JJ magically appeared behind them. "We've got a nice one." Looking down, she grinned. "Welcome back, Morgan."
"Good to be back." He pulled himself onto his crutches and followed them up the catwalk steps. "Can't wait until I can kick down doors again, though."
~About Six Months Later~
Lassiter adjusted his jacket before setting his shoulders and walking towards the doors of the police station. He felt like he was going home – he'd been cleared for the desk three weeks ago, but forcibly kept out of the office by Vick, and then cleared for the field just two days before. He was back, and by God SBPD Head Detective Carlton Lassiter was dead-set on getting straight back on the job.
He wasn't sure if Vick had informed anyone that he was coming back today, but was sure O'Hara hadn't been able to keep it quiet. His suspicions were confirmed as soon as he stepped through the door. McNabb appeared to have been waiting for him, and held out a large cup as he approached.
"I got your coffee, sir."
Lassiter addressed him with the look of a confused, venomous lion. He knew lions weren't venomous, but it was the best way to describe the look. "Did I ask you for coffee?"
"Uh . . . no sir . . ." McNabb stumbled. "But I figured that as soon as you got back you'd tell me to get you some anyway, so I thought I'd just . . ."
Lassiter nodded slightly before starting off towards what was still his desk. "Good work, McNabb."
"I – um, thanks, sir." McNabb trotted after him. "Um, sir. I think before you get back there I should –"
"I'm fine, McNabb. I –" Lassiter stopped dead as he rounded the corner and caught a glimpse of movement by his desk.
Someone had the audacity to touch my desk.
I will find this person and kill them personally.
Although it didn't take a wild guess – or a psychic – to know who had done it.
Sitting on top of his desk was one of the largest pineapples he'd ever seen, topped with a bright, blue bow and surrounded by a gold Burger King crown. Behind his desk, on the wall, was a large, hand-painted banner reading The King Returns!!! His chair, meanwhile, was covered in what looked like an oversized, royal-blue futon cover sporting a red velvet Christmas-like bow on top.
It was difficult, but he managed not to break into laughter. He substituted it instead for his typical response.
"SPENCER! You had better clean this up!" Running feet announced Shawn's departure out towards the door as Lassiter spun. "SPENCER!" His quarry having disappeared into the parking lot, Lassiter focused on the next target. "McNabb!"
"I didn't know he was doing anything, sir," McNabb immediately covered. Lassiter shook his head.
"That wasn't what I was going to ask." He pointed. "Clean it up."
As soon as he was sure no one was looking, Lassiter shook his head. Despite the fact that he would have killed himself a year ago to admit it, it needed admitting.
Things are back to normal.
It's been a long journey, guys! Thanks to all my wonderful reviewers and adders and such. :) Go enjoy your pineapple-flavored Garcia cookies and wait for more goodness.