Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. Also do not own iPhone or references to The Fast and the Furious.
Spoilers for Season One's "Spellingg Bee", Season Three's "Lassie Did A Bad, Bad Thing", Season Four's "Shawn Has The Yips" and "Shawn Takes A Shot In The Dark". Episode Tags/ Missing Scenes to "Shawn Has The Yips" and "Shawn Takes A Shot In The Dark."
Main Characters: Henry and Shawn. No pairings.
Author's Note: This is kind of told in incomplete scenes, slightly fragmented, picking up where the last left off. It's a One Shot in three parts. Reviews and feedback are welcome; if you feel the need for criticism, please make it constructive. Thank you and enjoy.
Secret Santa request:
"If I get fic I want concerned!Henry looking after/ comforting Shawn. Any reason, I don't care, I just love protective concerned Big Poppa Monkey Henry!"
Only A Dream Away
A Psych Secret Santa Story for veggiewoppa
Part One: Henry Gets The Snips
That boy was never going to learn. That boy . . . his son, now over thirty. Henry sighed, steering his truck one handed out of the SBPD parking lot, itching for some jackass to cut him off so he could yell his frustrations out the window, as a release.
Henry replayed the conversation, the one he'd called firmly after his retreating son's back— that it was not finished— again as he waited behind a few cars trying to turn into traffic. He fought the urge to lay on the horn, remembering with prickly relief that he'd just embraced Shawn after seeing that he was unharmed.
His heart hitched into his throat as something akin to an anvil dropped into his gut. He had no idea what he would do if Shawn was ever badly hurt, if he was shot. . . .
"He's fine, fine," Henry muttered, pressing back against his worn pickup's seat as he waited to take his turn. He resisted the urge to rev the accelerator. Not a scratch on him; there were even the twitches of his usual wide grin at the corners of his mouth as he'd clumsily explained why he'd eaten a banana following the shooting.
Ironically, Henry had been oddly comforted by Guster, who had immediately called his parents— at least, at the very least, Shawn was usually being guarded by a responsible friend. No matter what kind of antics the two tumbled into week after week, at least Guster was there.
Though, not that Henry didn't like Gus, he still knew that Gus was pretty much a spineless jellyfish prone to the mad dash when it came to anything involving blood, or god forbid, death. He'd always been that way— and as kids, Shawn had done nothing but try to make it worse.
Henry sighed. That was his son. Flighty, careless, a mischief maker— like any Henry saw as he arrested them— punks. He sighed again, gritting his teeth. At least Shawn was his— despite their massive differences, he'd still managed to infuse his son with good survival training lessons— certain, since his son's birth, that these would someday come in handy.
His racing heart was not easily calmed— just now, as he finally pulled back into traffic, was it returning to a normal rate. Just natural to feel this way— Shawn had become a somewhat public figure, making front page news more than many higher ups in the SBPD; Henry's lip curled. This, no doubt, likely gave Head Detective Lassiter a run for his money— what little he left after his gun expenses, that was. Henry sighed; he had no problem with the guy, and even secretly envied the mock camaraderie he shared— albeit reluctantly and unwillingly— with Shawn.
Besides, it wasn't a matter of "if", it was a matter of "when"— this was Henry's motto of life— well, in that of a police officer. You trained, prepared, set out your days with the intentions of facing unexpected life threatening situations.
When Shawn was going to get shot . . . Henry's fingers curled around the steering wheel tighter.
His stomach remained in a large, hard knot for the duration of the drive home, his truck guiding him as if he were on autopilot, forgetting till he'd pulled in the driveway he'd thought of stopping for beer, chips, steaks— Shawn was coming for dinner tonight, like it or not.
Even if I have to drag him here by the scruff of his neck, Henry thought, a shudder of anger in a curled fist dissolving into an unwelcome thrill of fear, shaking him down to the tips of his fingers, down the back of his legs. Shawn, what if he lost Shawn?
"He ate a banana."
"Because it made me think of you, my Big Poppa Monkey," Shawn said, smiling with his lips, but not with his eyes, which were a usual Shawn mix of vacancy, resistant chastisement at being guilted by his father for any reason, and the uncanny intelligence of his heavily honed observational skills.
Henry rolled his eyes, though he was still unable to fool himself. He'd faced horrible thoughts that had run through him like bad fish, or too much beer in a short period of time, when he had seen the vague coverage on the bar shooting— and then was only able to hear Shawn's voice as recorded. . . . It was imperative he get a hold of Shawn, that he heard from him, from no one else, that his son was unharmed. . . .
Henry ran a hand over his face and across the top of his head. With a large exhale of breath, he pushed the door of the truck open and stepped out.
He'd pushed the speed limit— guidelines— on the way to the station, another route he could do on autopilot. Briefly, he considered being stopped by a rookie on traffic patrol— but he knew he could take him, or ahem, her, should it come to that— consequences later, answers now. Nothing else mattered.
What if, what if . . . who would call the hospitals? Should he? Or should he . . . go straight to the morgue for body ID? Henry's foot had dropped on the accelerator, pushing the old truck hard enough to make the engine cough and roar, but he didn't slow until he'd zipped through the yellow light just turning red, idling behind a line of cars with a sharp squeak of brakes.
Shawn, I've told you a hundred times, don't peel out! Don't stop so hard, so fast!
Teaching Shawn how to drive had been— Henry's face alternated quickly between a hard grimace and a light smirk, unable to make up its mind whether, after all this time, he was still irritated or could be slightly amused. Henry had unwelcomely remembered his own teenage years as a young driver, eager and ready to take the wheel— literally— and his father wearing the expression the now adult Henry wore as his sixteen year son nearly wore out his twenty year old— but still well maintained— pickup truck.
Their rides together had been nothing short of miserable; it was obvious neither wanted to be there— Shawn did not want to be in the driver's seat with Henry at the passenger side, clenching his fists until his hands turned white— and visa versa. Henry wouldn't put it passed Shawn to swipe his keys and take his old truck joy riding with Gus— who would then be the white knuckled passenger, begging for his mommy or for his salvation. So, to prepare for this likely inevitable occurrence, Henry wanted to be assured that Shawn was at least 85% of the way ready to be a licensed driver— careful but defensive, keen and courteous but not a fool. And most of all, safe and not a typical teenage male speed demon, driven by peer pressure and too much testosterone.
Somehow, they'd made it through without any accidents, mishaps, or beating each other to death with only their words.
Sighing, Henry got back in and started up the truck, putting it into reverse. He could stew in his thoughts anywhere; it would be best if he were being productive at the same time so he could give his terrible fears time to abate.
* * *
"So, you saved his life? Again?" Henry repeated dryly, listening to Shawn repeat the story of throwing his and Gus's cordless office phone into a tree, thus distracting the distraught father of the quarterback who'd ODed— whose sole intent was to murder Lassiter.
Gus rolled his eyes but managed to keep his mouth steadily full, shoveling in peach cobbler without taking any spare breaths.
"Dad, did you hear me? Lassiter is alive because of my quick thinking!" Shawn stopped, furrowing his brow. "Why did I do that again?"
"Because," Gus cut in, swallowing impossibly quickly to jab his fork at Shawn for emphasis, "unlike normal people who know how to charge a phone, you think sticking it in your pocket or under my elliptical trainer is a good idea."
Shawn frowned, showing off a line of wrinkles on his forehead for a moment. "Come on, Gus, you know I'm still sensitive about my near death experience."
"Near death, my ass," Gus mumbled through another mouthful of pie.
Henry had to say— to himself, of course— that he was mildly impressed that Shawn had acted like-minded to a cop's reasoning— and had rescued a fellow officer of the law— Henry choked a little, realizing that "fellow" wasn't quite correct. Still, he managed to force out, "Good thinking."
That stopped Shawn's thoughts and Gus's chewing. They both peered in Henry's direction, their eyebrows raised, then Shawn's eyes found a delicious smirk. "Dad, was that a compliment?"
Henry frowned. "So, what if it was?" he asked defensively. For a moment, he slid back into his gut-gnawing-worry from the moments when he had first learned of the shooting at the bar and was unable to get a hold of Shawn. But here his son was, in his kitchen, teasing the hell out of him for being "nice". For a few seconds, Henry toyed with retracting his statements, but realized he could keep them out there without losing the "game". Truthfully, he was proud that Shawn had saved Lassiter's life, acting immediately— like a cop. It still made him terribly uncomfortable to imagine Shawn running towards danger, especially knowing that he was not a cop and had no weapon— and more than often chose not enlist backup before he acted. Henry sighed to himself.
While Gus had the fork lifted to his lips, Henry snatched the plate of pie from in front of Gus and loaded it up with another huge piece before Gus could even protest it was missing. After he swallowed, he mumbled, "Thanks, Mr. Spencer."
"Uh, huh," Henry nodded back, grabbing Shawn's arm firmly. "Excuse us, Gus," he said, pulling Shawn towards the "quiet" corner of the kitchen.
Shawn protested, shooting a "please help me" glance over his shoulder at Gus. Gus only shook his head, pointing with his fork to the huge slice of pie that was certain to induce a sugar coma, before he dug in again.
"Shawn, I want you to— scratch that, I need you to understand how panicked I was when the heard the news," Henry began in a low voice.
An easy smile rested on Shawn's lips. "I know you were, Dad. I saw your face."
Henry's blue eyes churned with annoyance. Shawn knew enough to drop the smile. "It just— never crossed my mind. I was fine, barely in any danger—"
"You were getting shot at, Shawn," Henry cut in. "You're supposed to let me know when you haven't been riddled with bullets."
"Technically, Mr. Salamatchia was aiming for Lassiter's head, not mine. We all ducked, we all covered while Lassie rocked it out, Dad. I was barely in any danger," he repeated, fixing his eyes on Henry's.
"Oh, really?" Henry sneered. "What about if you got grazed by a stray bullet, or someone pushed you down and you hit your head on a table or on the floor?"
"Dad, those second scenarios sound like post-getting-shot-at potential injuries. How am I supposed to foresee if I'm about to get injured as someone's trying to help me duck and cover?" He leaned around Henry to catch Gus's eye. "Gus, a little help here."
"Shawn, you're not psychic," Gus said helpfully, his mouth still partially full.
"See, see, did you hear Gus?" Shawn said, evening his gaze with Henry's again.
Henry released an exasperated sigh, throwing up his hands. "What about today then, when you were—"
"Saving Lassiter's life with my perfect throwing?" Shawn said brightly.
"Perfect?" Gus grunted. "Then why is my thirty-five dollar mail-in-rebate phone somewhere in a creepy cemetery's tree?"
Henry turned around, glaring at Gus. "Can you do me a favor and pretend you're not listening?"
"How was it creepy, Gus?" Shawn asked, pretending he hadn't heard Henry tell Gus not to eavesdrop.
"For one, it's a cemetery. With graves, head stones, and dead people."
"Is there another definition of a cemetery that I'm not aware of?" Shawn asked with a raised eyebrow, unable to stop himself from asking Gus, then Henry, if either had "heard it both ways". He looked at Henry. "Do you know, Dad?"
"Plus," Gus continued after an eye roll, "we almost witnessed a murder there."
"But we didn't—"
"It was pretty close, Shawn."
The three were silent for a moment. Henry was just turning back to Shawn when Shawn blurted out hopefully, "Does that mean I'm off the hook for the new phone?"
"No," Gus said. "Now will you shut up and listen to your father?"
Henry tossed a hunched glance over his shoulder at Gus, whom, he noticed was now taking smaller bites of what was left on his plate. "Thanks," he muttered. Sighing, Henry braced Shawn's shoulders with his hands, the need suddenly very strong for tactile contact. Hearing again how much danger they had been in since this quarterback's father had put on target on Lassiter's head made Henry want to embrace Shawn tightly. The most ironic thing, Henry realized, was that it was likely that Shawn hadn't been in any danger after the shooting at the bar; Shawn was right— Salamatchia was only looking to assault and kill the people he held responsible for botching the charges on Petrovich three years ago.
Still, any stray bullet. . . . Henry shuddered. He took a deep breath and launched in an absurd request, but a request just short of an order nonetheless. "Shawn, I want you to promise you'll call me first the next time you almost get shot."
Shawn shifted his weight. "Dad . . ." He was more uncomfortable when Henry tightened the clamped hands on his shoulders.
"Promise me," Henry insisted, his tone getting firmer. "Promise me you'll call me first the next time you almost get shot."
Shawn sighed. "Dad, it wasn't—"
"And don't make this one of these, "Yes, I promise," but then you go off and—"
"Fine," Shawn huffed. "I promise to call you first."
* * *
Part Two: Shawn Grasps The Wrong Wire
As Shawn clutched the side of the car, he felt his father squeeze his arm, and look him over with relief. Then he moved to the grill where Lassiter held the abductor down, pinning his arms behind his back. Henry took over holding so Lassiter could take out of his cuffs.
"Shawn, you promised," Henry complained from the front, sounding winded. "As Gus is my witness, you promised."
"Promised? Promised what?"
"You stood right there in my kitchen and promised me that you would call me if— and call me first— if you were—"
It only took Shawn a few seconds to recall the conversation, from weeks ago. "Almost shot," Shawn finished. "You said, 'almost shot'." He sighed, pointing to the bullet hole in his shoulder. "Besides, I kind of had my hands tied."
Both Henry and Lassiter shot him a hard glare, before going back to tightening the cuffs. When the man grunted, Lassiter growled for him to "Shut it."
"Don't you think you should wait for Diesel and Rodriguez before you slap the cuffs on him?" Shawn asked nonsensically, while Henry and Lassiter squinted into the bright shift of sun as Gus's punctured wheels limped the car towards them. Henry and Lassiter exchanged a glance before finishing up the cuffing. Lassiter roughly yanked the abductor off the hood and read him his rights as he marched him towards the back of his Crown Vic.
"Had your hands tied," Henry repeated, trying to sound pissed. Lassiter snapped the car door shut with an hard glare to the unwilling passenger and headed back towards Henry.
"What?" Shawn protested. "I did!" He could still feel the sticky residue of the duct tape on his skin, aware of it suddenly under the glare of the watchful sun. It was strange that the sun was brighter now than when he'd been bound in the bed of the pickup, racing towards yet another crime. Sweat, no stranger today, continued its stream, coating his arms and his face, on his upper lip and temples. It was finally okay to let his body sag, knowing that it didn't matter if he happened to fall asleep. He was now in good hands— friends', his father's.
"That's weird," Shawn mumbled. He meant it, before the tumble of prickling sensations at the back of his head literally pitched him forward to bounce off of the side of Lassiter's brand new navy blue Crown Vic, as an odd thought, thinking of his father's hands as good— since the two had been at war for numerous years. As Shawn's legs gave out, as he unwillingly kissed the wheel and hubcap on his way down, the thought continued to play out— how strange that, less than two years ago, the pair of them, as father, son, had begun to mend their strained, strayed relationship. . . .
"Shawn! Shawn!" With a quick slap to Lassiter's back to alert him, Henry dashed around the side of the car just in time to shove his hands under Shawn's shoulders, keeping his son's head from smashing against the pavement. Shawn arched limply over Henry's arms, Henry torn between a paternal need to pull his son in close— to protect him— and to keep a safe distance, not because he worried about the blood pouring from Shawn's wound but because he worried about the wound on his son itself. The jump from the pickup to Lassiter's hood must have aggravated the wound— so well sewn up, Henry sneered, with a greasy rag and a few pieces of duct tape.
The pain Shawn must have already endured. . . . He's safe, he's safe, I've got him. Thoughts halted then rushed in Henry's head like soldiers without clear orders. His heart revved, and he thought for a moment that his arms might give out. "Did you radio an ambulance or not?" Henry shot out, sharply, as Lassiter squinted at him through the sun.
"O'Hara's got it," Lassiter said, straightening, shrugging out knots in his shoulders, it seemed, when his eyes understood that Shawn was limp, unconscious. His stance suggested a phrase of "it's about time." Henry found he couldn't disagree— after all, Shawn had been shot— abducted— terrorized— and with all of Henry's wise years of survival training, Shawn had survived— he was just sleeping now.
Sleeping now, sleeping the terror, the shock, the pain off. Right?
"Shawn?!" Henry cried out, shaking the limp form of his son, wanting— needing— him to be all right. "Shawn!"
"Spencer!" Lassiter yelled at the same time Henry called Shawn's name again. Lassiter scowled and instructed, "Ground!" through closed teeth. "Get him flat so you can check his wound!"
"R-right," Henry mumbled, speaking towards Shawn's limp form, rather than towards Lassiter. Keeping Shawn's body against his arms, Henry supported his son's head and rested him against the sun-scorched pavement.
Shawn's face looked unhealthily pale, and was clammy with sweat. Resisting the urge to pat Shawn's cheek to wake him, Henry moved Shawn's left arm away so he could see the crude bandage, the pad soaked through with blood. Henry maneuvered his fingers under the tape and peeled it off slowly, not wanting to risk yanking the possibly stuck pad off the wound— not wanting to cause Shawn any more pain than that which was necessary. He cursed he saw the hole of blood without its half mask; mentally, he reeled backwards to that day just a few weeks prior when the news of bar shooting had made his skin grow ice cold on an 85 degree day. This— this was what he'd been terrified he'd find— or worse, a sheet over Shawn's face.
Feeling his body go weak, Henry dropped from his knees and let his side hit the pavement with a thud, hoping the jarring of it would awaken him from his fears embodied. Of course, when he'd taught Shawn those survival tips all those years ago, he had been certain his son would be using them one day— but it had still hurt him with a stomach twisting ache to even imagine Shawn in a dangerous situation to the caliber of a kidnapping— of running away from attackers with guns, who aimed and shot to kill— Henry took a deep breath, chiding himself for its shuddering.
As Henry gathered himself and reached for his son, he heard the others' footsteps on the pavement, a rush for two sets, though one was clearly faster than the other. He barely made out Lassiter's words, communicating to a voice on his police radio as both Gus and Juliet leaned in, their voices strong.
They managed to keep him comfortable, even brought him around to consciousness a few times before the ambulance arrived with its screaming sirens. The entire time, the morning sun hung over them, getting hotter, whiter and brighter. It had a quality to bring not only its light but a sense of being washed clean— starting again. Henry welcomed it, though the light had him squinting in the blur, almost had him believing he was drifting through someone's dream, until Detective Lassiter punched his arm and told him to get his ass in the ambulance if he wanted to ride with Shawn. He nodded gruffly and climbed in, sitting down in the artificial light of the back, sitting next to Shawn— squeezing his hand as the vehicle started to move.
For the first time since Gus's call, Henry allowed himself to close his eyes, sit back (so to speak), and take in a full breath. I'm not ever going to let you go, Henry thought, squeezing Shawn's hand tighter. As he opened his eyes, a single tear slipped out of his right eye. He ignored it, focusing all his attention on Shawn's very real, very here form.
* * *
Shawn was confused by Henry's near constant fussing over him as if he were— well— that's where it got odd. Henry didn't fuss. Not ever. Neither of his parents had been big fussers over injuries— perhaps they had grown tired of Shawn's constant scrapes after age five. Instead, their fussing took the form of frowning faces, of tired eyes, of huffing sighs whenever Shawn refused to perform a chore or complete his homework or take his future more seriously— think about his actions and their inevitable consequences.
Shawn's eyes narrowed. He bit his tongue and managed not to ask Henry, who'd just returned from the kitchen with a large glass of homemade pineapple smoothie for him, who he actually was and where this father copy may have stashed the real Henry. This had to be a body double, this exhausted man with the anxious touches of fear still visible around his eyes.
"Shawn, hold on!" The call through the windshield echoed through his ears. Then, "Lassiter, stop this car!"
The only other time Henry had even come close to fussing, Shawn reflected, was when Drimmer had abducted him from right in front of the Psych office— under Henry's and Gus's noses. After it was all over, and Shawn had nearly collapsed from being pistol whipped, Henry had been right there to catch him— had insisted on driving Shawn to the hospital to get checked out.
Huh, hadn't they come such a long way then since he'd been run off the road a couple of years ago, when his leg had ended up in a brace? Then, Henry had barely tried to find out what had been wrong— had barely cared.
Now, not that he wasn't sort of enjoying this, Shawn felt that he must try to diffuse the situation. "Dad, I'm okay, really."
Henry shook his head firmly. "You were shot— you're lucky you can say you feel okay."
"I know," Shawn replied. He paused, uncomfortable that Henry had taken to studying his face suddenly. "But you don't have to—"
Henry raised an eyebrow. "You're turning down free pineapple?" He mock-sighed. "Maybe you're worse off than I thought."
Shawn flinch-smiled, curving his non-slinged arm out to bring the glass to his lips. "I can't imagine what would make me turn down pineapple, Dad." He took a large gulp to cover an unwelcome blush on his cheeks.
Since his release from the hospital, his father had insisted Shawn stay at the old homestead for a few days. "That stupid converted laundromat is the worst place for you to be after—" Henry had told Shawn in the car on the ride home, unable to continue because his voice had thickened, his lips smacking together wetly; Shawn had turned his head away in the dark, almost stunned silent to hear tears in Henry's voice.
Almost immediately upon entering the house, Henry had parked Shawn on the couch with an order to stay— while he retrieved extra pillows and blankets from the linen closet upstairs.
Then the real fussing began, with Henry nervous, fidgeting. "You need anything, pal? How about a sandwich? A steak? I could grill you a steak."
Shawn found he had to bite his tongue several times to keep himself from snapping at Henry— he couldn't, not now, very well say that he was a "big boy who could take care of himself". Instead, he shuddered over another unwelcome memory— his father and Lassiter outside the garage, talking to the younger, meaner abductor, while his shooter had held him tightly, his meaty fingers secured around Shawn's throat.
Inadvertently, Shawn made a choking noise, causing Henry to jump. If it were any other time, Shawn could have smirked; but he guessed by the pale tightness of his father's face that his own face bore traces of fear. "He kept me from talking," Shawn blurted out, unable to hold Henry's gaze; he studied the coffee table's surface instead. "You were right there, right outside— I wanted to— call out, I wanted to yell for you." Shawn smirked ironically. "That guy, that greasy little weasel, he had me fooled too, Dad."
Shawn could feel Henry's gaze upon him, boring a hole into his forehead. He was about to make a crack about not needing another hole in his body when a pool of moisture snuck up on him from inside his eyes. He sniffed, still keeping his head down.
Henry let out his breath gently, through his teeth, so his son wouldn't think he was a huffing a sigh. Quietly, he made his way around the table and sat down on the couch next to Shawn's right side. Without hesitation, Henry draped his arm around Shawn's shoulder, very careful not to rest his hand on the now properly bandaged gunshot wound. Shawn shifted with protest, stiffening as if to pull away, but then his body relaxed and he let himself sink sideways into Henry's embrace. God, what would I have done if we hadn't found him . . . gotten there in time? Henry tightened his grasp. "You really scare the hell out me sometimes," he said gently, surprised to feel Shawn bob his head against Henry's shoulder in a nod.
"I never thought . . . never . . . really . . . that it could . . ." Shawn's voice was soft, hitched as he feel into long pauses; Henry felt hot tears drop onto his arm. "I mean . . . I know you said . . ." He sniffled.
"It's all right," Henry cajoled. "You're safe— you knew just what to do and you did it." He couldn't help but sound prideful when he added, "Bet you all those spontaneous training exercises from your childhood came in handy, didn't they?"
Shawn lifted his head so he could look in Henry's eyes when he raised his eyes. "Spontaneous? Really? Come on, Dad, I wasn't born yesterday." There was a trace of smile in Shawn's hazel eyes, which were also a-shine with fresh tears. He seemed to be waiting for Henry to sneer, or for the inevitable "Haven't I told you a thousand times, don't do things like what you did alone?" to slip out. Shawn had had plenty of times to practice his wince, the perfect gritting of his teeth, the forehead and eye scrunch, tightening the muscles of his neck and shoulders carefully as he knew he would when Henry finally started on with just how stupid he had been— and that he'd finally gotten his "just desserts" for being so reckless and careless.
Instead, Henry stared back at him with strange eyes, too full, like ripe, white moons with some flecks of blue in them. He stared at Shawn as if he hadn't seen his son in years— as if he might never see Shawn again.
Shawn felt some built-up mucus slid down the back of his throat. "Dad?" he asked nervously after a cough, "why are you trying to memorize my face?"
Henry blinked. "I'm not."
"I'm here, Dad. I'm not going anywhere— well, not until I'm better, that is, then I'm going home."
Henry frowned. "You are home."
Shawn released breath with a humorless smile. "This is your place, remember? My living here was the worst seventeen years of your life."
Henry flinched. He sat back, but was still unable to look away from Shawn's face. "You know what?" Henry asked a little too brightly. "I should go down to that gourmet food store— get you some specialty pineapple products. You still like those pineapple jelly beans?"
Shawn gazed at Henry as he stood up, looking as if he were balancing heavy weights on both shoulders. He didn't miss the sniffle his father let out and wondered if he should feel guilt— feel something.
Henry turned sideways to Shawn; he wanted to still be able to see that his son was there out of the corner of his eye, but he didn't want Shawn to see the broken look on his face. He patted his shirt and pant pockets, searching for his keys.
"Dad." A jingling sound mixed in with the word; Henry flattened out his face as best as he could and turned. Shawn was holding a ring of keys up with his good arm. There was a twinkle in his eye. "Going somewhere?"
* * *
Part Three: Can't Take You Two Anywhere
They had been in the store a grand total of seven and half minutes before the trouble started. They walked together down the aisles, until some large display of canned goods caught Henry's eye. Shawn paused at the endcap of some expensive looking packages of multicolored pastas, retrieving his iPhone from his pocket, scrolling for new messages.
He would argue, later, that all he had been doing was minding his own business. . . . So what, so what if his reaction times were the tiniest bit slowed? He'd just gone through a traumatic event, he was on medication, his father was unnerving him with his creepy staring— so what if he missed the greasy flash of brown hair, the hungry look in the dark eyes, or the overpowering odor of booze until it was right on top of him, in his face, grabbing his arm and knocking the phone from his hands.
Shawn winced visibly as the incompetent thief— must be, since his other hand held a wad of crumpled cash, and he looked, in the flash, under twenty— grabbed his left arm; his muscles tightened involuntarily closer to the sling. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the tip of the switchblade edging toward his line of sight, but before he could blink, the blade went to his throat. He gulped and whimpered at the same time, producing an odd throaty sound with enough pressing out of breath that it got Henry's attention.
Henry jerked, twisting his body away from the shelves of canned goods to see his son recoiling at his self-proclaimed "strong dislike of pointy things' with a thin, sharp knife pressed against his neck. Immediately, Henry's body tensed, his arms tingling as his palms went clammy. "Shawn!" Henry hissed, not wanting to scare the thief, a nervous, jumpy sort; oddly, he resembled a younger, thinner version of the gas station mechanic/ abductor/ murderer/ potential robber— only he had a mustache and a trembling hand.
"Stay back, Old Man!" the thief threw out roughly in Shawn's ear as Henry took a couple steps towards the pair, his hands raised non-threateningly before him.
"Take it easy, pal," Henry said, not speaking to the thief but to Shawn, keeping his eyes locked on Shawn. Henry was surprised to see that Shawn looked less afraid and more annoyed, the disbelief at the corners of his eyes at the bad luck he really had these past few days— getting grabbed yet again by another desperate criminal in need of a hostage. Henry briefly flicked his eyes to a wad of crumpled bills on the floor near their feet; why dash further into the store if he'd already robbed it? Henry couldn't help but wonder.
"I mean it!" the man snapped. He reacted to Henry's next step towards them by tapping Shawn's throat with the blade, not hard enough to break the skin, not yet, but enough to make Shawn wince again. Shawn let his eyes slide closed, cursing that the fact that his arm was in a sling; if were to slam the man with his left shoulder, there was more than a good chance that he could pass out.
He wasn't ruling it out as a possibility.
After all, if he fell, there was a good chance Henry would catch him. Or if not catch him, then at least stand over his unconscious body with his arms crossed waiting for Shawn to wake to finally offer that long overdue lecture. . . .
Though, it wasn't fair this time— he'd only accompanied Henry to the specialty shop because his father had asked him repeatedly what he'd wanted from the store, fidgeting until Shawn finally got his ass off the couch— he'd given in because he figured his father wanted some company— and because it was terribly unnerving to see Henry's guise slide away, to see his father frightened at the events since Shawn had been taken now that it was just the two of them.
Not that Shawn could say much about it; he'd been the one shot, kidnapped, bound and tossed in the trunk— and he'd been the one who cried recalling the hand around his throat, the arm like a crowbar across his chest. His father and Lassiter had been just outside; he could see them; his insides had been bound in knots with terror and anticipation of almost getting what he wanted— help.
They had to come back, they had to, they had to—
"Look," Henry said calmly, still approaching gingerly and easily falling back into his old persona as a hostage negotiator; to be honest, he was always a cop, even retired. "Look, I know you don't want to hurt this kid— he's barely older than you," Henry continued, addressing the jittery young man. He ignored the half roll of Shawn's eyes; Shawn had obviously taken in a fuller look of the thief than Henry had thought— and knew that the kid was much younger than he— more vulnerable and less steady than either of the two men that had held him prisoner just two days prior.
"You don't want to hurt him," Henry said, wincing as he saw the blade press against Shawn's throat.
"Nah, but I'm gonna take him," the thief said. "Might need him." Shawn bristled at that, trying to resist.
Not more than me. "You," Henry began, pulling himself to his full height, and pointing his finger towards the pair like a loaded gun, "are most certainly not taking him anywhere."
Shawn breathed gingerly, working up salvia so he could use his voice. "Hey, man, you can get out of this. You don't need me."
"Shut it!" the thief yelled. "What do you know what I need?"
"I mean it," Henry said. "Let him go."
"You don't give me orders!" the thief cried out to Henry, and to Shawn, "you keep your mouth shut."
"I'm not so good at doing that," Shawn warned him, though he was scared suddenly by another close press of the blade to his neck. He threw Henry a look for help— not failing to notice it seemed to set Henry's face.
What followed was another blur— but Shawn was lucid enough to know without doubt that his father had saved the day. At some point, maybe in a manner of seconds, Shawn had begun to feel woozy, knew his body would slump forward and that his neck would be cut by the knife against his neck. Not wanting to know all that was happening, Shawn let his eyes close— and put his shreds of faith into his father's protective ability.
When he'd opened his eyes, he was seated with his back against some shelves, the knife was on the floor in front of him; Shawn shuddered and looked away, his eyes trailing across several canned goods and other packaged food items strewn across the floor in a curve. Henry, he noticed, was bending over the form of the young thief, who was face down on the floor. Henry was taking his pulse.
"What did you do?" Shawn asked groggily. Henry glanced at him but didn't answer until Shawn asked, "Is he dead?"
Henry rolled his eyes. "No, but he'll have one hell of a headache when he wakes up in jail."
Shawn nodded, thinking. "From the booze?"
Henry's bottom lip twitched. "Yeah. Let's say that." Satisfied the thief wasn't going to move, Henry made his way to Shawn, kneeling down and checking him over quickly. "How do you feel? Can you stand?"
Shawn nodded again, pulling his legs in close as Henry grabbed his waist and hauled him up. "My shoulder hurts." Shawn touched his throat, surprised that he hadn't been cut. His hazel eyes flickered a quiet gratitude to Henry before he added, "Thanks, Dad."
Without hesitation, Henry threw his arms around Shawn, embracing him as tightly as he'd done that day at the station, his blue eyes small and tight with moisture. "You have got to stop scaring the hell out of me," Henry hushed into Shawn's ear, clutching him so hard that he wasn't aware that Shawn was not hugging him back. "Only you can get into a hostage situation in five minutes flat, Shawn."
"D-aaadd," Shawn hissed, a slow groan escaping his lips. Henry ignored what he thought was Shawn's embarrassment until Shawn growled, "You're h-hurting me.:
A flash went across Henry's conscience; guilt struck him like a slap to the side of the face. Shawn's arm is in a sling, because he got shot, Henry reminded himself slowly, needing to think the word "shot" because, in his old way of thinking, he couldn't fathom the concept without his mind shutting down. "I'm sorry, kid," Henry apologized, stepping quickly back from the embrace without letting go of Shawn's wrist. He squeezed it when the sounds of sirens reached them.
"It was seven point three-five seconds," Shawn corrected, "for your astute information."
Not surprisingly, Henry no longer had an appetite and guessed Shawn felt the same. Shawn looked pale and frightened, his earlier annoyance perhaps only a brave mask; it struck Henry as odd that Shawn had seemed to possess more courage during their car chase— but Henry suspected also that Shawn had been running off of nearly spent adrenaline— fueled with a second wind once he saw that his rescuers were in sight.
"Face it, Dad," Shawn said quietly, "I'm a danger magnet. Gus would have fainted by now if he were here. I wasn't even trying to solve a case this time and I—"
Henry let go of Shawn, but shuffled the two of them off towards a more "private" aisle, though it seemed all of the aisles were deserted. "Shawn," he sighed, "what were you thinking when you went off to that junkyard alone?"
The question hung in the air in a public place; Henry's voice was low, but Shawn was still hit with a tangle of emotion that he couldn't quite name. "I thought— I thought I was invincible," Shawn answered quietly. He inhaled, stealing a glance at his shoes as he felt his breath shudder inside his mouth. "I never thought— he'd really pull the trigger."
Henry nodded, biting his tongue hard. There was pain in Shawn's voice, but it was more than just the physical— Shawn had had some of his remaining innocence stolen from him at that turn of events— at trying to talk down a criminal, a feat he'd managed a hundred times without so much as getting slapped— but now everything had changed. Bile found its way to Henry's throat.
They hadn't talked about Shawn's being abducted by former Detective Drimmer; Shawn had constantly changed the subject or deflected with phrases like, "It wasn't a big deal" or "I had everything under control." But with this— there had to be talking.
Henry cleared his throat, trying not be sickened by the taste of bile, now on his tongue. "And did you— learn your lesson, son?"
Shawn looked up slowly, locking his eyes with Henry's. "Yes— and no."
Henry raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"
"I learned— um, I know what I did was stupid, but even if it was, I know that— I didn't deserve it— even though you or Lassie or anyone else might say I did."
Henry's mouth opened with surprise. "I don't think that, Shawn. I know you didn't deserve—"
Shawn waved his good arm up, halting Henry's sentence. "I shouldn't have gone there without backup," he continued, "or without at least notifying backup that I was going. But I'd met the guy." He sighed. "For all my observational skills, nothing I saw on his personality screamed 'gun toting baddie', Dad." He waved his arm again when it looked like Henry would interrupt him again. "So— am I never going to do it again— confront a suspect or reveal to him or her the essence of the crime?" Shawn raised an eyebrow, trying to fight off a smirk. "Of course I am— I love the attention, glory and payday it gets me—" The smirk won. "I love that it allows me to show off— so, no, I'm not going to stop doing that." Shawn noticed as he'd spoken that Henry's face had softened a little, and that his father was listening intently, not replaying old sports scores in his head. "But am I going to be more careful in the future? Hell, yes. But I'm not going to give up— being who I am, doing what I do, just because a couple of heinous criminals shot and kidnapped me." He sighed again, feeling fatigued from his speech— or tense from being held at knife point. "Okay, Dad?" he asked, searching Henry's face.
Henry didn't speak for awhile, ignoring the bustle of the uniformed police officers' arrival behind them, the perp moaning, getting yanked to his feet, cuffed and read his rights. He finally released an exasperated sigh, throwing up his hands and then dropping them quickly. "What am I supposed to say? 'No'? 'Not' okay? For anything I say, you'll have a clever and smart-ass rebuttal— set complete with a smile— and probably a handful of false promises."
Shawn frowned, but took Henry's disappointment in stride, riding it out until he could find a small smile again, one that could touch his eyes. "So— we're cool?"
Henry watched Shawn smile— and relief washed over him again that Shawn had not just had his throat cut— and that he had not been killed at any point along the way after being shot. There were many more things he wanted to say, important things he felt Shawn needed to hear— but he was overwhelmed with an emotion he guessed was as akin to any true joy he'd felt in a long time that he simply shut his mouth, took a step forward, and yanked his son into another hug. This time, he was much more careful, avoiding the injured shoulder so he was able to hold on long after Shawn's embarrassed protests sailed by his ears.
* * *
They'd been there for a while; Shawn was looking much paler, his right arm wrapped around the sling as if he needed help holding his left arm in place. He hunched forward, his face strained. He huffed, a moan escaping his lips. Henry looked up from the officer to whom he was giving his statement to, glancing around until Shawn was in his sights. His heart twisted. "Are we about done here, Officer Hadley? My son's had a long few days."
A few minutes later, Henry made his way over to Shawn. Before he could tell Shawn they were good to go, Shawn asked, "Dad, can we go home now?"
He sounded like— a child, eight years old, tired and dusty after a game of Little League, reaching up to take Henry's hand. Henry couldn't help the tears that welled up in his eyes, under his tongue. He reached out, squeezing Shawn's good arm; Henry was surprised when Shawn leaned towards him— needing him to be stable, strong, there. He smiled. "That's exactly what we're going to do."