I'm sick.

And when I'm sick, I sort of . . . um . . . how do I say this? My IQ plummets like Dubya's popularity in regards to the war in Iraq.

SO I'M POSTING THE NEXT—AND LAST—CHAPTER. WHEE!


Shawn spent Thanksgiving day—and Black Friday—in the hospital.

He was mostly unconscious for both of them.

By the time he awoke on Saturday morning, he found he was not alone.

Gus and Jules both were there, and both apologized profusely for being gone when he was attacked.

He waved the concern off. Like they could have known somehow that it would happen. He was supposed to be the psychic one.

Besides, after twenty years of near-catatonic behavior that resulted in extreme compliance from Woodbury, no one in the mental hospital he had been committed to had any inkling that he was planning to break out and go crazy on the anniversary of his daughter's abduction.

And if they didn't know, how could anyone else? They were the ones who saw him every day and knew him best. Not to mention they were supposed to have the inside line on what crazy people would do, being psychologists and all.

The fact that he didn't hold his friends responsible didn't stop Shawn from milking the guilt for all it was worth. But for little things like pineapple smoothies or picking the place for lunch. Stuff he probably would have gotten them to do anyway. This just meant he didn't have to work as hard at it.

He spent a week on mandatory downtime—ordered by Lassiter and upheld by the Chief when she returned—and then, one morning in early December, he called Gus and Lassiter and Juliet and—well, pretty much every one in his contact list that he considered a professional acquaintance of sorts. Oh, and his dad, just because.

If Shawn had to sit through a three-hour diatribe when he was too drugged to move—but not drugged enough to ignore the droning voice of his father in full-on lecture mode—then his father could sit through one measly little fifteen-minute presentation.

Once everyone was assembled, Shawn began.

"I called all of you here today to finally bring peace to a young woman who has been waiting twenty years for this."

He leaned a bit more of his weight on the sledgehammer propping up one of his arms and said, "Marlene Woodbury disappeared in late November of 1989. Her father was in communication with her kidnapper for nearly a week, taunted with promises of his daughter's safe return as long as he cooperated with the demands he was given. One of those demands was to locate a bag of diamonds Kavros knew were hidden here. The spirits generally agree that he did this because he was freaking nuts, though some say he had other reasons." He leaned forward slightly, hissing and forcing everyone else in the room to lean forward as well. He waved them off, then picked up the sledgehammer and rested it on his shoulder.

"For many years it was believed that the diamonds were a lie told by Kavros to keep Woodbury busy while his daughter was being tortured."

Shawn swung the hammer down and around, burying it in the sheetrock of the back wall. He pulled the head free as Gus made sounds of distress for the damage being done to a building he was half responsible for.

A second swing broke off a large section of the sheetrock, and Shawn thought about going for a third until his side gave a rather strident protest. Two would probably be enough anyway.

He lowered the sledgehammer as gently as possible so as to not damage the floors too, then bent to one knee and reached into the wall. It took only a moment of digging through the gypsum dust and paper strips before he found what he was looking for.

He pulled it out and held up his prize.

"I give you the Kavros diamonds."

Shock was the predominant expression in the room. Henry mostly stifled a snort.

Lassiter stepped forward after a moment and took the bag from Shawn, undoing the dusty gold rope on the black velvet pouch. He poured out a handful of sparkling, shining diamonds of various sizes into his palm.

"But how-" he started.

Shawn grinned and used Lassiter's arm to pull himself to his feet.

"I don't talk to crazy murdering ghosts. But I do, on occasion, talk to their victims."

Lassiter put the diamonds back in as the others crowded around.

"Shawn, that was incredible!" Juliet praised.

"Yeah," Gus said. "But did you have to knock such a big hole in the wall?"

Shawn looked down at his handy work. "Little spackle, little paint, it'll be good as new!" He slapped Gus on the shoulder, leaving his hand there since Lassiter had shaken him off.

Gus shook his head. "As long as you're the one who's going to be doing the spackling. Preferably before our landlord sees it."

"Of course I-" Shawn put a hand to his side and winced, hunching forward slightly. "Ow. Then again, I'm not sure construction or office repair is on my list of doctor-approved activities."

"Neither is riding your bike, and yet you got yourself to work this morning."

"Thank you, Mr. Spencer," the chief interrupted. "Your assistance in closing this case is much appreciated. But maybe next time, you shouldn't put in those extra hours over the holidays."

Shawn grinned. "No worries, Chief. I'm taking two weeks off for Christmas and New Year's."

"I'm going to go ahead and suggest you start now. We'll see you in January." She looked to her detectives, and then they left, Lassiter with a nod to Shawn, both apology and acknowledgment, and Jules with a brief peck on the cheek that had Shawn staring in wide-eyed wonder.

"I'm glad you're okay, Shawn," she said. There was a moment of hesitation, then she ducked her head and turned away. She paused at the door and turned back. "Merry Christmas and a happy New Year." She hurried out the door, leaving Shawn with his best friend and father.

Once they were gone, Gus turned to Shawn. "Okay, I'm still a little confused about this whole thing. I mean, Woodbury was crazy, right?"

"That's how he ended up in a mental hospital instead of a prison," Henry said. "His lawyers used the insanity defense." He shrugged. "Back then it still worked."

"But then how could he get a call from Kavros—who is dead—while he was here torturing you and speak to his daughter—who is also dead?"

"He didn't," Shawn said. "I was curious about that myself, so I checked the phone's caller ID log. We got a call from a telemarketer. I thought maybe he was just crazy—which he was—but then I did a little investigating and it turns out the representative who called us? Her name is Marlene and her company's pitch includes starting off with introducing herself. As for the rest, Woodbury just heard what he wanted to hear." Shawn frowned. "Or, you know, whatever."

Gus' eyebrows marched up his head. "Seriously?"

Shawn nodded. "Yep," he confirmed, popping the 'p'. "I'm guessing Marlene's Thanksgiving dinner included a story of the crazy guy who thought she was their kidnapped daughter."

Gus shook his head as if to rid himself of the insanity of that . "One more thing: How did you know where they were?"

"That's a much more fortuitous coincidence. Remember when we were painting the office right after we moved in?"

"You mean when I was painting and you were looking at travel packages for all the cool places you were going to go once you became rich and famous as a private psychic detective?"

Shawn's head bobbed. "Right, when we were painting the office."

Gus rolled his eyes and Shawn continued.

"I noticed something odd right there," he said, pointing to the new hole. "It was an X, but in the same color as the rest of the wall." He shrugged. "I always wondered what it was, but I got distracted by other stuff and never thought to go back and find out."

"Until now," Henry said.

Shawn nodded. "Of course. And after I did a quick check into the history of this building that revealed that it was built by George Carlsson . . ."

Gus and Henry frowned when Shawn stopped, then Henry's eyes lit up and he snapped his fingers.

"Carlsson was the last name of Kavros' partner. Well, up until Carlsson went missing."

"Yeah. I suspect Kavros got a little peeved when Carlsson took the diamonds from one of their joint heists and hid them where Kavros couldn't find them. He seemed to know that they had been hidden in one of the buildings built by his partner's brother, but not which one. And by the time he'd narrowed it down, there was someone in here."

Gus frowned. "But why kidnap Woodbury's daughter and make him go after the diamonds? Why not break in and search for them himself? Or torture Carlsson until he confessed where he'd hidden them?"

Shawn shrugged. "Because he was crazy? Who knows?"

"He did torture Carlsson," Henry put in. "At least that was the assumption when he was found dead, looking like he'd been run through a meat grinder several times. Obviously Carlsson didn't give up his secret though."

Shawn winced. "Well then, maybe I got lucky, because Woodbury definitely didn't know enough about torture to turn me into sausage." His head tilted. "Although he was doing a decent job of carving me up like a turkey."

"And on that note, I'm going home," Gus said.

"Or you could come over and have the Thanksgiving dinner that we didn't have last week because Shawn was in the hospital," Henry invited.

Shawn frowned. "You never had it? Mom flew all the way out here for it, and she was only here for the weekend."

"You expected us to have it without you, Shawn? You were in the hospital. What were we going to be thankful for?"

"I don't know. The fact that I wasn't dead?"

"Yeah, well, it's kind of hard to focus on that sort of thing when your son is getting a nutrient drip and jello for Thanksgiving dinner. Especially when you spent three days preparing the food."

Shawn rolled his eyes. "So now I ruined Thanksgiving?"

"No, Shawn, I'm not saying that. But Karen had a good point. What the hell were you doing here at work? Everyone else was on vacation. I'd think you'd have jumped at the chance to be somewhere else goofing off."

"Yeah, well . . ." Shawn trailed off, and Gus took the opportunity to jump in.

"Shawn and I already ate dinner, Mr. Spencer. But if you've got any pie-"

Henry scoffed. "Gus, it's Thanksgiving. Of course I have pie."

"Wait," Shawn said. "There's pie? I've been looking for it all week! I thought it was gone!"

"That's because I hid it," Henry said. "You needed to eat something other than pie."

Shawn pouted. "I eat things other than pie."

"When there is no pie available," Henry agreed. "It's exactly the same thing you do with pineapple. Now come on," he said with a slap to Shawn's shoulder. "It's getting late, and Gus wants his pie." He led the way to the door.

Gus followed, and Shawn brought up the rear, still pouting. "I want pie, too."

Henry rolled his eyes. "And you can have some. Now come on! And next time, if I find out you're working alone on the day before a holiday, you're grounded."

"It wasn't even my fault!" Shawn protested. "Everyone left me!"

Henry nodded, pausing before he climbed into his truck. "Good point. We'll just have to make sure that doesn't matter next time. You're grounded as of Christmas Eve."

"But- I- You-" Shawn spluttered.

"Get in the car, Shawn," Gus advised. "Before he takes away your pie, too. You know he'll do it."

Shawn was still grumbling as he climbed in the passenger side of Gus' little blue car.

Gus nodded. Henry smiled and returned the nod, then climbed in his truck and followed Gus out of the parking lot.

Everything would be better after pie.


THE END. ZOMJ. *misses it already*

When I'm feeling better and actually able to write coherently, I definitely need to write more like this.

THANKS SO MUCH FOR ALL THE LOVE!

But leave me one more review? For the road? *puppy eyes of doom*