Note: It's finally done! Thanks again to everyone who stuck with me through this thing, I hope you enjoy the end!
Gus narrowed his eyes when he opened his door and found Shawn standing on his doorstep, hands clasped behind his back and trying to look innocent. It was never a good sign when Shawn didn't call first, it usually meant he wasn't going to take no as an answer for whatever insane idea he'd come up with this time.
"Shawn," Gus said warily.
"Good, you're dressed," Shawn said. "I was afraid I would find you in your pajamas again. And it's not that you don't look adorable in them, but we're kind of on a tight schedule. We have to be at my dad's in like ten minutes for dinner."
"I have today off from you, Shawn, it's Wednesday," Gus said. "You're not very good at following the rules."
"You say that like it's some new, surprising fact about me," Shawn said. "Come on, Gus! I need you as a buffer between Lassie and my father in case he goes all Super Dad again or something. I'd do it for you, you know I would. When you were having problems with your family last Christmas, I was right there with you!"
"You were the reason we were having problems!" Gus protested.
"That's really not the point," Shawn said. "The point is that I was there."
Gus sighed. He knew a losing battle when he saw one, and he figured it was best just to give in. "Fine, but I get shotgun," Gus said.
"It's a deal, buddy," Shawn said, and they stared at each for a beat, and then they both bolted for Lassiter's car.
Shawn made it to the door first, but Gus pushed at him and followed him in, forcing Shawn to the middle, so that he ended up sitting with the police radio between his legs. Lassiter watched this display rather calmly, and then heaved a sigh.
"Remind me again why it is I'm with you?" Lassiter asked.
"You're holding out for my Explosion Gigantesca de Romance royalties checks," Shawn said. "I promised you a house on the beach and a cherry red Ferrari."
"That show has a daily budget of two hundred dollars," Gus said, pushing Shawn a little further away to settle in the seat. "The only way you're buying a Ferrari is if it's made by Matchbox."
Shawn adjusted one of his legs abruptly, and Gus let out a yelp of pain before slapping Shawn in the shoulder. Shawn moved to strike back and Lassiter caught his hand. "Make no mistake," Lassiter said, "I will shoot you both if you harm a single speck of finish on this car."
Lassiter released Shawn's hand and pulled out into the road, pushing his sunglasses on with one hand while he steered with the other. Shawn noted that he was putting on his game face, the one he used when he was about to go round up a suspect, or visit his mother.
Shawn moved uncomfortably, jarring Lassiter every few moments. "Okay, let's go over the plan," he said.
"What plan?" Gus asked.
"The 'how to survive dinner with Henry' plan," Shawn said.
"I don't know about you two, but I'm gonna be fine," Gus said. "Mr. Spencer likes me."
"Why do you think you're here?" Shawn asked. "You're the designated buffer. That and I really could use some of those anti-anxiety pill samples. Tonight will go much more smoothly if we crush them up in my father's food."
"I didn't bring any samples, Shawn," Gus snapped. "And I don't give them out to people intent on illicit activities." Gus smiled angelically at Lassiter. "I'm very careful with my samples."
"Just keep them out of my food, and we're fine," Lassiter told him gruffly.
"Focus, people," Shawn said. "We're going into the lion's den here."
"Shawn, you're a grown man," Gus said. "You need to stop being afraid of your father."
"Oh, like you're not afraid of him," Shawn said. "When he grabbed you by the ankle you were screaming bloody murder."
"That's out of context," Gus snapped. "I thought he was Pennywise."
"So let me get this straight," Shawn said. "I'm too old to be afraid of my father, but it's perfectly acceptable for you to still believe a killer clown lives in the sewers, intent on eating you alive?"
Gus didn't meet his eyes. "Yes," he said.
"That's ridiculous," Shawn told him. "And everyone's afraid of my father. Even Lassie."
"I'm not afraid of Henry," Lassiter said, as he pulled into the Spencer driveway.
"What's with all this denial?" Shawn asked. "It's okay to admit to fear. My dad's a scary guy. If you go in there unprepared it's going to get us all killed."
Gus rolled his eyes and got out of the car. "We're going to dinner, not to war."
Shawn followed him out. "That's what you think now," he said. "But you're just blinded by the thought of dessert. He'll probably murder us both, and then give you a cupcake so that you'll swear in court you didn't see a thing."
"Sounds good to me," Gus said. "I won't have to listen to you two bicker anymore, and I'll have a cupcake."
Lassiter took off his sunglasses. "Wait a second," he said. "You're complaining about me and Shawn bickering? The two of you haven't shut up since we picked you up."
"That's not bickering," Gus protested. "It's witty banter."
"He's right," Shawn said. "We bicker, and Gus and I banter. The difference is the sexual tension." He started up the porch, and went inside without knocking. "We're here!" he shouted. He started for the kitchen and then pulled to a dead stop, causing Gus to bang into him and Lassiter to pause a step short of doing the same thing.
"There's cupcakes," Shawn said nervously. "This is not a good omen."
Henry had a cupcake tree, with neatly decorated cupcakes sitting in each tier. He'd no doubt ordered it straight from the Martha Stewart catalogue. Gus's eyes grew huge and he started towards them, but Shawn held him back.
Henry entered the kitchen from the other side. "You're late," he said gruffly.
"Blame Gus," Shawn said. "He made me waste like three minutes convincing him to come."
"I thought tonight it was going to be just the happy couple," Henry said.
"So you can interrogate us?" Shawn asked. "It's going to be a little harder with a witness, isn't it?"
Henry grinned wryly. "What do you think the cupcakes are for? Help yourself, Gus."
"Thank you, Mr. Spencer," Gus said, disentangling himself from Shawn's grip to make a beeline for the cupcakes.
"I knew it!" Shawn shouted. "You're like an evil, baking genius! You've probably dosed the frosting with truth serum."
Henry crossed his arms and leaned against the kitchen sink. "You're not going to distract me this time. We need to talk."
Lassiter signed and nodded. "I know we do," he said. "And I know you're worried about my intentions, you're welcome to ask me anything that you—"
"Not you, you I trust," Henry said, turning to look at Shawn. "You."
"Me?" Shawn said.
"Here I am, wasting all this time worrying about your love life, when I should be worrying about your life," Henry snapped. "I heard about what happened at the Graves mansion. What the hell were you thinking, Shawn? Don't you ever learn?"
"I don't think I like where this is going," Shawn said to Lassiter. "Say something mean and overbearing so he focuses his attention back on you."
Lassiter shook his head. "I don't want to interrupt," he said, raising his hands as he stepped out of the line of fire.
"I'm really starting to suspect you're doing it on purpose," Henry said, leaning into Shawn's space. "You've had as many guns pointed at you in three years as I have in thirty."
"They're not always pointed at me," Shawn protested. "Sometimes they're pointed at Gus."
"Why do you say that like it's better?" Gus demanded through a mouthful of cupcake.
"This has to stop, Shawn," Henry said. "You need to stop and think before you go putting in yourself in these situations. Enough is enough."
"Hold on," Shawn said, holding out his hands. "This is not the way this is supposed to go, you're supposed to be harassing Lassie, not me!"
Lassiter crossed his arms. "Well, he's got a point, you know, you do that," he said. "You put yourself in danger. You called me this time, and I'm glad that you did, but you should have called me the moment you figured it out. We could have gone to Eveline's together."
"See?" Henry snapped. "If you don't listen to me, at least listen to Lassiter."
"But I don't listen to either of you!" Shawn protested. "It's a vital part of my personality. Gus! Help me out here!"
Gus was carefully unwrapping his second cupcake. "You don't listen to me, either," he said helpfully.
Henry turned back to Lassiter. "I know my son's a handful, believe me, so I want to thank you for looking out for him," he said. "I don't even want to think what might have happened if you hadn't shown up."
"Nothing would have happened!" Shawn said indignantly. "I'd already disarmed her! Lassiter looked really cool and all, coming to the rescue, but—"
"No thanks necessary," Lassiter said, as though Shawn hadn't spoken. "Though it is kind of like my new full time job."
"But—" Shawn started.
"Hey, imagine having to raise him," Henry said. "He was already climbing out of his crib before he was two years old, and things haven't gotten any easier since."
"If anything, I imagine they've gotten worse," Lassiter agreed.
Shawn, resenting that he was being ignored, walked away and sat down beside Gus. He glared over at his father and Lassiter, who had started trading tips on how best to handle him. "They're getting along," he told Gus. "This is like my worst fear come to life."
"I thought you wanted them to get along," Gus said.
"I wanted them not to kill each other," Shawn said. "But this is worse. Much worse. They're going to be friends."
"It is a scary thought," Gus agreed. "Mr. Spencer and Lassiter, joining forces."
"My life as I know it is over, isn't it?" Shawn asked, slumping dejectedly.
"Here," Gus said. "Have a cupcake."