RIGHT PLACE, WRONG TIME
A tag for the episode Shawn Takes A Shot In The Dark
Rating: T for violence, language, and medical descriptions.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended, just borrowing for a road trip. I don't own anything…
A/N: I wasn't going to do this (am writing another story for Psych, and one in another fandom), have read a couple of other stories on the subject (tag for this ep) and enjoyed them thoroughly, but couldn't get this plot bunny out of my head no matter how hard I tried. I have waited all summer for this episode, which I saw previewed at Comic Con in July, and finally after seeing it…wow. But it left me wanting more…Shawn at the hospital, maybe in a gown or without a shirt. Oh, well, perhaps someday…
The Echo rolled slowly to a stop, blown tire wobbling, the loose tread clunking along the pavement like the wind-up on a rollercoaster. Which was the perfect analogy, because it felt like the bottom was about to drop out of his stomach and freefall right between his sneakers. Shawn blinked furiously, surprised to find he'd somehow slid from his perch on Lassie's car and landed ass-first on the cold, hard highway. His body registered the jolt a few seconds later, pain drilling through his shoulder and stealing his breath away in a half-choked gasp. He nearly gagged, swallowing repeatedly, telling himself there was no way in hell he was going to puke, because he didn't want to imagine how that would make his wound feel. His hands trembled as he eased back against the car door, letting his weight settle after another loud gasp.
"Shawn? His dad, sounding worried. "You okay, kid?"
His head was pounding in perfect tempo with his throbbing shoulder, and responding took a lot more energy than he thought it would. "I'm just peachy. In fact, the only thing I could want for is to tell Lassie that I did indeed solve the Great Ice Cream Crime Caper of the Century before he did."
Though it lacked his usual sarcastic flair, it seemed to have the desired effect on Lassiter. "Oh, grow up, Spen—Shawn!" The man came to stand on his side of the car after locking up their suspect. "Becoming my own personal hood ornament was one of the stupidest stunts I've seen you pull. You're just lucky I'm an excellent driver, and experienced in pursuit and evasion tactics during a high speed chase. Otherwise, you'd be splattered like a bug on the windshield. Not to mention the possibility I could have run you over."
"Lassie, that's so harsh." He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, and found he couldn't seem to stop shaking. "It all worked out in the end, and I—ahhhh! Dad, what are you doing?"
His father was examining his left shoulder, running a hand over the taped shammy balled up against the hole the bullet had torn in his flesh. "Have to keep the bleeding under control, son. It looks like the whole mess is stuck to your skin. There's fresh bleeding, but I don't think I should try and remove this…"
There was a pause, and Gus prompted, "Abysmal attempt at first aid?" His friend was standing next to his father, and Jules had joined them too. "The ambulance is on the way, Shawn."
"Thanks, buddy." Shawn shut his eyes, as his focus seemed to be drifting. There appeared to be two of everyone, which was kind of cool in its own right, yet also sort of creepy. Two of his dad…that was almost nightmare material, and two of Lassie…too weird to contemplate. Something was happening with his shoulder, the pain suddenly spiked, like maybe how it felt to be shot multiple times with a nail gun, stabbing through flesh and muscle and bone, and Shawn's eyes flew open, a whimper working its way out of his throat as he bit down on his lip. Hunching sideways, he tried to wriggle free from his father's hold. "Ahhhh, Dad…you know you're killing me, r-right? Just leave it for the professionals, 'kay?"
"I'm not going to lie to you, kid." Henry gave him one of those patented looks, the one that screamed this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you. Which was a load of crap. It always hurt more than his dad promised it would. "That bullet hole in your shoulder was made by a .45 Auto. Big caliber weapon. So your arm isn't going to feel better anytime soon, I'm afraid. And the only way to curb the blood loss is with direct pressure."
"Gee, Dad, way to plug for the home t-team." Shawn couldn't keep from tensing his back, and when his father pushed down on the wound with his palm, he let out a scream and arched against the door, right elbow slamming back into the groove by the front fender, until that hurt overrode the other by a small margin, and the agony in his shoulder eased into just a long, steady hurt. "He tr-tried…" It was getting harder to breathe. "…tried to t-tell me it was only a flesh w-wound."
"Who told you that, son?"
"A flesh wound is w-when you cut yourself s-shaving! A paper cut…mmm…" The pain wasn't getting more manageable, and Shawn felt a few tears begin to leak through his lashes. "A freaking gash on your knee!" He rammed his elbow back into the car again, sucking in some panting breaths. "Not…this!"
"Shawn," exploded Lassiter, looking pretty pissed. "Knock it off. This is…was a new vehicle. I've got your face print all over the windshield, your blood on my door, I don't need a broken elbow to complete the set!"
"Lassie, your concern is s-so touching." Shawn let out a chuckle, but is sounded really hoarse and half an octave higher than normal.
"Who told you it was just a flesh wound?" persisted Henry. Shawn rolled his eyes back to his dad.
"Garth Longmore wasn't his real name," Gus said, trying to be helpful.
"Really?" Trying for ironic fell totally flat, and he sucked in a quick breath, found it didn't hurt quite so much this time. Maybe he was getting to the point of not caring. "Stage name?"
"No, he wasn't a porn star," Gus answered glibly. Lassiter snorted, and Juliet gave his friend a weirded-out look. "Garth Longmore died in 1956. It was just an alias."
"So we still d-don't know…real name." His world was going a little gray at the edges, and his words started to slur when he concluded, "Zombie, t-then. Ch-chased me through t-the woods at d-dawn, so that f-fits." Shawn swallowed, finding it hard to think straight. "Then his Zombieland buddy at the g-gas st-station beaned me on the head with a t-tire iron."
"Whoa! Whoa, hold on," his dad exclaimed, disquiet reverberating in that tone. "Shawn, you were knocked unconscious?"
"Yes, Dad," he replied wearily, slumping against the car, faint shivers trembling through his muscles. "Tire iron…versus…my skull…know I'm hard-headed, but not really a s-stretch on w-who would b-be the winner o-on that one."
"No, Shawn, look at me."
Finding his eyes had closed while he wasn't looking, Shawn pried them open and stared at his father. "What?"
His dad really seemed worried. Couldn't be good. "If you've suffered a head injury, I'm not going to be able to let you pass out if I can help it. And the paramedics won't be able to give you anything for pain, not until you get to the hospital."
For a moment, the breath froze in his chest, and Shawn tried to process what he was being told, he really did try. But his muscles snapped into a tense line that made pain jump through his whole body, burning from his aching feet and back, up both shoulders and settling into his left arm until every tendon and ligament and fiber from shoulder to fingertip locked into unrelenting spasm, and this time when he screamed, he was so weak that it came out as a shuddering whimper. He couldn't take this, he just could not take it anymore. Curling forward, Shawn let his forehead rest on his father's outstretched arm, his right hand grasping for something to anchor to, finding nothing but air until warm fingers threaded through his own, small and slender…had to be Jules. They skimmed the rope burns on his wrist, then clasped tightly, and he felt her sink down to the pavement beside him, never letting go of his hand.
"Dad, it hurts…" Face hidden, a wash of tears made his throat feel tight, turned his voice low and watery. "I just w-want this d-day to e-end."
"I know, kid. You've been shot, you're tired and in pain, but you're alive and that's what really matters at the end of the day. The other stuff…" Meaning the torture yet to come. "We'll deal with it as best we can. And you won't be alone, I promise."
"Okay." He sniffed, blinking the tears from his eyes and keeping his head down. He was sure his father felt the droplets seeping from his cheeks, and was glad silence let him hide the embarrassment. "I'm alive. What's next?"
"You stay awake, no matter how unpleasant it might become for the both of us."
Lassiter quietly approached the hospital bed, noting the chair pulled close on the right side was empty at the moment. He knew Henry hadn't left the hospital since Shawn had been admitted and taken to surgery the day before, so the retired detective must had either gone to the cafeteria or was just stretching his legs. Which suited Lassiter just fine. The road trip following the evidence and subsequent hike through the woods had forced a little too much togetherness as far as he was concerned. If he didn't have to speak to the elder Spencer for at least a month, it would be much too soon.
Sinking into the vacant chair, Lassiter carefully studied the bed's occupant. The younger man had his face turned slightly to the left, and his eyes were closed. Another day's worth of stubble shadowed his chin and cheek, and for some reason it only served to make him look even younger and more vulnerable rather than the opposite. In his head, Lassiter went over the major points he'd put into the report before driving over here, notably Shawn Spencer's injuries: .45 caliber gunshot wound to left shoulder, shredded rotator cuff hanging by a thread, fractured scapula from the exit wound, concussion, cracked rib from being kicked, bruised trachea from a chokehold, rope burns around both wrists, bruised cheekbone, assorted scrapes and scratches. The young man had really been worked over fairly brutally by this case, though in truth, he'd brought most of it on himself by going down to that repair yard in the middle of the night alone without backup.
Finding he was gritting his teeth, Lassiter sighed and forced some of the tension out of his jaw. The bed squeaked softly, and he heard Spencer moan, the man's head beginning to move restlessly on the pillow. He stood and moved to the bedside, taking in the heavy bandaging on the injured shoulder and sling holding the arm immobile, the IV needle inserted into the back of the right hand with tubing running to a pump next to the wall. Shawn's chest was bare, and Lassiter could see the bruises blossoming into full color on his ribs, roughly forming in the shape of a boot print, and he felt his temple throb with a surge of anger as he wished he could have had a few minutes alone with that douche-bag repeat offender who'd done this to the kid. Kid…great, now he was doing it. Shawn Spencer was definitely no kid, though he completely acted like one most of the time. Still, he certainly hadn't deserved the treatment he'd gotten at the hands of those Neanderthals. The other man involved in the crime had died in surgery, so as far as the department went, the case was wrapping up and would simmer nicely until it went to trial. As for Shawn, Lassiter wasn't sure his recovery would be as easy as the paperwork.
Nearly on cue, Spencer's eyes slid open, staring blankly for a moment before he noticed someone was standing over him. Hazel eyes shot open wide, fear tightening his features as he frantically raised his right arm over his face as if expecting a blow to be delivered. "NO, no don't," he pleaded, voice a hoarse rasp barely recognizable, "I won't be any trouble, just don't…"
Lassiter captured Shawn's wrist with his fingers, gently restraining the flailing limb. "Spencer, stop. You're going to tear out your IV, and I happen to know you have no love of needles. Just relax, you're in the hospital, remember?"
"Hospital?" Shawn looked at him with a puzzled expression, until the fear began to gradually fade from his eyes. Breaths slowing, he allowed his arm to be guided back to the bed, and swallowed hard, blinking a few times before saying hesitantly, "Lassie?"
Lassiter blew out the breath he'd been holding, and nodded gratefully. He really wasn't prepared to deal with a PTSD Spencer at the moment. "Yeah, that's right." Shawn kicked his feet, trying to dislodge the sheet tangled through the pajama bottoms he was wearing, but couldn't break free. The fabric was wrapped mummy-style from ankles to mid-thigh, and how the hell he gotten himself in such a mess—and why—Lassiter didn't care to dwell upon. "Would you like some help with that?"
"Sure." Spencer's voice was a little stronger, but he couldn't stop the flinch when Lassiter bent to touch him. He noted the reaction, silently filing it away for a later discussion. Untangling the sheets and piling them neatly at the end of the bed, he pretended not to hear Shawn's sigh of relief. After being tied up repeatedly for half a night and part of the next day, he couldn't blame the man for not wanting to be restrained again. "Jules with you?"
Lassiter shook his head. "No, I came alone." He'd asked O'Hara if she wanted to tag along, but his partner had become evasive and bluntly refused. Odd, because he knew she considered Spencer a friend, and had never passed up an opportunity to visit him in the hospital. He'd call her on it at some point. Judging from Shawn's tight-lipped stare at the ceiling, he obviously knew what the problem was. "So, how are you doing, Spencer?" The question sounded as awkward as it felt, and Lassiter again wondered why he'd come down here in the first place. He'd gotten an update from Henry to put in the official report, a personal visit wasn't necessary. Yet on his way home, he'd found himself pulling into the visitor's parking lot.
"Better, I guess," Shawn finally answered, bracing himself against what was obviously a painful spasm. "But it's all relative, you know? Nerve block they gave me in surgery's pretty much worn off, and they're weaning me off the good stuff—" He gasped, eyes snapping shut in a hard blink, lips pulling away from his teeth as they ground together, fingers creeping to his left bicep. "Lassie, could you—" Another painful gasp, and some convulsive swallows. "Could you raise the head of the bed so I'm sitting up? Lying flat is…is killing my arm."
Glad to have something to do, Lassiter quickly did as Shawn asked. Sitting up alleviated some of the pain, and Spencer relaxed enough to allow his hand to fall back to the mattress. Which was a good thing, or so he thought, but then he noticed how pale the younger man was as the light fell across his face. The darkening bruise on his cheek matched the deep smudges under both eyes, and Lassiter realized Shawn probably had gone without sleep for going on two days, unless you counted when he under anesthesia during surgery.
Spencer caught his look, and said, "I really didn't sleep much last night. Never been able to sleep sitting up, unless it's in a recliner in front of the TV. They gave me something, but it didn't really work as advertised. Gave me nightmares, the vivid kind where you can't tell if you're asleep or not." He snorted softly. "Like I need anything to be more vivid. It all comes in and gets saved in glowing 1080i no matter what I do."
He must have missed something, because Spencer was talking nonsense. "What? What the hell are you talking about?"
Staring in a clueless fog, the younger man apparently comprehended that the train had left the tracks. "Never mind, Lassie. Pain meds and the pain itself are messing with my head. What time is it, anyway?" He seemed to suddenly be able to focus, and blurted, "Weren't you wearing that same suit yesterday?"
"It's 0930 in the morning, and it's time I let you get some rest, Spencer." He didn't bother explaining how he'd spent the previous afternoon and night filling out paperwork on the kidnapping, shooting, rescue, booking papers, and identifying the deceased John Doe.
"But you just got here," protested Shawn.
Whether he didn't want to be left alone or just wanted to talk, Lassiter couldn't be sure. Giving in with a grunt of displeasure, he yanked the chair as close to the bed as possible, and sat down, chin hovering over the bedrail with his nose barely a foot away from the other man's. "Okay, so here I am. You know I'm not good at small talk, but I'll play along if that's what you want. So what shall we talk about, Spencer? I'm all ears."
"Uh…" Shawn actually looked uncomfortable, trying to inch away before abandoning the idea to the obvious pain it would cause. "Well, I guess…I should be grateful for how you helped my dad track me to the gas station, and locate the truck on the highway afterward."
"I helped," he agreed. "But it was Henry who figured out your bread crumbs and where they would lead. Without him, we never would have found you in time."
Something struck a nerve, because Spencer was taking great interest in studying his toes. "Yeah, Tire Iron Guy wasn't too happy with my escape attempts. He threatened to kill me more than once, even held a gun to my head…" Wide, scared eyes darted to lock with his, and Shawn admitted, "When he shot Longmore, or whatever his real name was, I thought it was…that it would be me. That it was all over. I thought I was going to die, and…" He shuddered, and Lassiter felt him pull away, shut down the emotion before it became too intense. And it pissed him off. This entire case had been so twisted and wrong from the beginning, and the kid had almost died as a result.
"Look, Spencer, I'm glad you're going to be okay, but you need to realize something. Going out to that junkyard in the middle of the night by yourself was stupid and reckless. You didn't think about the possible consequences of your actions, you just dove into your investigation without worrying about the evidence, or the danger to yourself. You made it out of this alive due to pure happenstance, luck swinging your way at the right time and place for once. But you are not a cop and you don't carry a piece, and had things gone the other way, your death would have been pointless! A loss without meaning, to your father, to Guster, to O'hara, and even myself. You couldn't smartass your way out of this one. Is that what you hoped to achieve?"
"No!" Shawn snapped, fingers curling around the bottom of the railing. "Of course not! I don't have a death wish, Lassie. I just had to play things out, follow the leads where they took me. I didn't expect anyone to be there. And I was right. I solved the case." He broke off, breathing turning hard and labored, and the rail on the bed started to rattle ominously, Shawn's palm curled so tightly around the metal that Lassiter could swear he could see the IV needle right through the bulging vein. "Ow. It hurts...
Damn it, everything hurts…Lassie…can't seem to stop…sh-shaking."
Lassiter rolled his eyes, gently prying Spencer's fingers from the railing and guiding them back to the bed. "You've used up all your body's reserves. Adrenaline spikes, but you crash almost immediately. Blood sugar dips, you get the shakes. And you are breathing too swallow because of the rib—concentrate on taking slow, deep breaths."
Surprisingly, the younger man actually took his advice. When he could talk without wheezing, he said, "You know, I could've been a cop if I'd wanted to. Dad wanted me to be. That's why I knew how to kick out a tail light from the back of the trunk. What to do when an assailant is chasing you—zigzag, never run in a straight line. Be able to fire a weapon both right-handed and left-handed." His gaze grew a bit wistful. "Yep, Dad's been grooming me to be a detective from like when I was five.
"But you had other ideas." He didn't feel the fake-psychic thing needed to enter into this conversation, and hoped Spencer would catch his drift on merit alone.
"Parents got divorced right before I graduated, and I couldn't wait to get out of there." He blanched a little, expression sliding toward guilty countenance, a fact Lassiter might have missed had he not had the benefit of interrogation experience. "I only found out last year that my mom was the one who initiated the split. So for nearly half my life, I've blamed my dad for dumping my mom and taking the house and a prime chunk of Santa Barbara real estate, only to find out I was completely wrong about everything. I couldn't see what was right in front of me." His lips quirked into a tiny smile. "So my relationship with my dad is sort of a work in progress."
It had to be the drugs. There was no way Spencer would be telling him all this personal info otherwise. "Look, Shawn…my father wasn't around much when I was growing up. It was my mother who had to pick up the slack. Now I wish things could have turned out differently, but they didn't. At least I had Hank in my life to steer me onto the right path. But your father's still around, and he cares about you. Don't throw that away because of some misguided pissing contest the both of you have going. Take it from me, you'll regret it later."
"Wow." Shawn pinched the bridge of his nose, blinking to clear the sudden sheen in his eyes. "Pretty cool speech there, Lassie."
"Glad you liked it." He stood up, preparing to leave, when Spencer caught his gaze and held it.
"You know, I took the detective's exam. Last year, same time as Jules. Aced it, got the highest score in the department."
Where the hell had that pop fly come from? Left field? Lassiter could only sputter a disgruntled, "You what?! You scored better than O'Hara?"
"Just by a couple of percentage points." Shawn did a one-armed shrug. "Asked the chief not to tell anybody. Took it just to see if I could. If I have what it takes to be a cop." He flashed a genuine smile this time. "And you know what, Lassie? In another universe, should you cater to such beliefs, I could be your partner instead of Jules."
"Over my dead body." Spencer's grin faded, and Lassiter felt a smidgen of vindication. "Oh, I'm sorry, did I say that out loud?" And there was an exit cue if he ever heard one. He turned for the door, yet was still able to hear Shawn's quiet chuckle.
"Thanks, Lassie. For saving my life and everything."
Lassiter didn't turn around. And was able to have the last word. "You're welcome, Detective."
Wow, I didn't expect this to be so long. I didn't torture Shawn as much as I first intended, Lassiter kept getting in the way. Maybe I can vicariously enjoy the fare of other authors. Hope you enjoyed the whump and fluff. Will post to and try to do a first posting to .
Another note: The fall finale episode aired out of order; I tried to make sense of the intended timeline, and gave up after driving myself nuts. So for my story, and a few of the references I make, consider the first nine eps of season four to be in the order they aired, i.e. High Noon-Ish comes before Shawn Takes A Shot In The Dark.