Achieving The Near Impossible
Summary: Lassiter is a detective for a reason – he can read people, and for the most part, Spencer is not really an exception. Especially when it comes to Shawn's feelings for O'Hara. Major spoilers for Death is in the Air. Definite Shules, from Lassie's perspective.
A/N: I didn't have to put a Lassie spin to the Shules in Death is in the Air (there would have been so much to write for just Shawn/Juliet emotions anyway), but I've been wanting to do something like this forever. Plus I'm obsessed with Lassiter. I just took the excuse to write Lassie POV.
Warnings: Very mild cursing.
When O'Hara is hospitalized with the potentially life-threatening virus, my first thought sure as hell isn't of Spencer.
Because O'Hara is my partner, and my concern for her is enough to keep me occupied.
I'm terrified and can't stand the thought of being so useless. Partners are supposed to live in solidarity, fight the same battles, back each other up.
But I have nothing, no clues, no solid leads on where more of the antidote may be, and I'm stuck behind the glass, unable to offer the solution or even any real comfort.
Instead of having my partner at my side, I'm stuck with Spencer and Guster, the idiots who are always unprofessional, always cracking jokes and being a general pain in the ass.
But even as I think this, I realize something unexpected.
Spencer isn't cracking jokes now. He isn't smirking or flailing wildly with a supposedly psychic vision.
Instead, I can feel the tension sliding off of him in waves. I chance a glance at him, and his expression gives him away. His eyes are tight and his mouth is set in a deep frown; his hand curls and uncurls at his side.
Spencer is afraid. Terrified.
I guess I shouldn't be so surprised. He's worked with O'Hara just as long as I have, and from day one, he has always been sniffing after her, trying to charm her. And even though it never came to anything (although I suspect on some level, it has always worked), they've become friends.
So I really shouldn't be shocked that he's worried.
It's just a little disconcerting to see Spencer looking at O'Hara as if she's...his everything.
But I don't care, really, so I push that thought away and focus on what matters: Victoria, my only clue.
I repeat the too-familiar name in my head, over and over again. It holds the answer, but not for me.
Spencer is the one who solves the puzzle.
A cabin by a pond, two hours away. Two hours.
It's something, at least, and I feel an immediate surge of hope. Purpose, movement. That's what Spencer gives me with his lead, and I'm ready to run with it.
I won't admit it aloud, but I have never been more grateful for Spencer's abilities.
Without really thinking, I lightly smack Spencer's arm with my palm, "Let's go check it out!"
It is an unnecessary gesture; Shawn is also ready to fly, to move, to fix this. He needs no encouragement. He spends only a moment telling Guster to call if O'Hara's condition changes, but other than that, he wastes no time.
I hardly even register the fact that I just invited Spencer to take a two hour long trip with me...
Of course, with the way I'm planning on driving, it will not be two hours. No way.
In the silence of the car, I am struck again by Spencer's depth of emotion – perhaps because I find analyzing his fear easier than facing my own. Spencer is quiet, rigid in the passenger-side seat. He hardly says a word during the whole trip, which is disconcerting, to say the least. Even in the face of countless guns, I have never known him to keep his mouth shut. Now, however, he just looks out the window silently. He watches (without really seeing, I suspect) as the scenery passes us by.
After awhile, I stop wondering about what's going on in Spencer's head, and instead focus on driving well above the speed limit.
I manage to cut at least a half hour off the estimated drive time.
Arriving at the cabin brings me a rush of adrenaline: the cure has to be here, for O'Hara's sake. I'm ready for anything, and Spencer seems to be too.
That is, until we reach our first obstacle.
The dog is a monster.
Vicious, teeth bared, barking angrily out against our presence.
My first solution (it's more of a reflex than an actual plan) comes in the form of my gun. Spencer objects, and after some second-thinking, I see his point.
There is a moment then, when my mind races wildly in hopes of forming a solid plan. As usual, Spencer beats me to the punch. "Do you still keep all our softball gear in the trunk of your car?" he asks hurriedly. I have no idea what this has to do with anything, but I don't question it. For once, there just isn't time. I answer in the affirmative, and he rushes off while I stare down the demon dog.
I wait, but not for long. Spencer returns, sporting some of the catcher's gear and strapping on more even as he jogs over. He looks at me. His expression is set, determined. "Here's the plan, Lassie," he starts, with no hint of sarcasm or amusement in his voice.
I'm not used to hearing such seriousness from him.
"I'm going to be the bait. I'm hopping over the fence first and running in the opposite direction from the cabin. While the dog is chasing me, jump the fence and get inside. Just find the antidote, and we can get it back to Jules."
I nod, not even off-put by the way Spencer is giving me orders. In all honesty, I'm too impressed with the way he's risking his limbs, skin, and self-proclaimed perfect hair without blinking an eye. He doesn't even suggest that I take the role of puppy-chow.
And I know, with a bone-deep knowledge, that it's because of O'Hara.
Because of what he feels for her.
And even though it goes against everything in me, I respect him for what he's doing.
Fortunately, I have no real time to be appalled by that thought, since our plan is immediately put into action. Spencer scrambles over the fence and runs, drawing the dog away. I follow, but make my way into the cabin instead. My eyes take in everything at lightning speed, because I feel as though I'm racing the clock.
Probably because I am, for both O'Hara's life and to relieve Spencer from the teeth of a barking monster.
The antidote is not hard to find: Mallon had a small rack of boxes shoved against one of the walls of the living room. Each box had words, black and sharp, written on them: Thornburg Vaccine. I reach the rack in less than an instant. I take one of the boxes and tear the top open in order to check its contents. Inside, I find ten small bottles of clear liquid, packaged firmly in an interior holder so that they stay in place.
This is the answer, the cure.
I count the boxes mentally – six, likely with ten bottles each. Mallon really stocked up, although it wasn't near enough to save him, the poor bastard. I grab two more boxes and hold them all carefully in my arms. It's the most I can carry right now.
I head outside with my load, looking around for my partner.
Well, not my partner.
To my shock, and mild annoyance, I see him coming towards me quite calmly, with the demon dog padding along at his side, like a loyal pet.
What the hell? I expected to have to drag the beast off of him.
"How did you...?"
"Beef jerky. Now he's as docile as a baby lamb, probably hoping I'll give him more for good behavior," he explains quickly. "Is that it?" he asks, nodding to the boxes.
"Yeah. I've got it. There are a few more boxes inside. How about you and Fido go grab them and we can get the hell out of here?"
I wait for him at the front gate (I'm no longer inclined to jump the fence). He returns from the house carrying the last three boxes in his arms. Before we leave the yard, Spencer balances his boxes carefully in order to give the dog a quick pat on the head. Then he closes the gate behind him, keeping the mutt securely in the yard. "You're gonna have to find someone to take care of him," he says. "A relative of Mallon, or at least the Humane Society..."
I roll my eyes. "I'll be sure to make it my top priority."
Spencer's lip twitches to a near-smile, but it's short-lived, and he makes no witty reply.
I expect him to relax once we're back in the car (I can feel myself calming down, knowing that the cure rests safely on Spencer's lap), but he doesn't.
Doesn't say a word.
This is something I will always, always, remember.
I glance over at him as I reverse the car and get it back onto the road. He does look slightly less worried, and a lot more...contemplative.
I wonder why, but then mentally shake myself. I don't care, or shouldn't, about what's going on in Spencer's head.
I concentrate on the road. I roll down my window and let the cool air keep me energized and fully awake. I speed – not quite as much as on the way over – but still enough to cut away time.
When we get back to the actual city, traffic slows us down slightly. At the last stoplight before the turn off to the hospital, Spencer looks over at me, and I look back. His fingers scratch subconsciously at the outside of the vaccine box. "It'll work, right?" he asks, his voice quiet. His eyes are filled with a desperation for a reassurance I never thought he needed. A reassurance I sure as hell never expected to offer, but I guess when we have a common goal, like saving O'Hara's life, weird things happen.
"It'll work, Spencer." I say curtly. Of course, I can't be sure, and he knows this.
But he nods as if what I say is fact, then looks away.
And this is one of those times when he is so, so pathetically easy to read.
Spencer likes O'Hara, cares about her, loves her, is in love with her. I've thought about it before, but this is the first time I accept the fact without any disgust or anger, without thinking: Please, God, let O'Hara be smarter than that.
Because today, he's making it really hard for me to hate him. He's making it really hard for me to even dislike him.
I'll never admit it to anyone else, and I'm not entirely sure O'Hara realizes it (although she might have gotten an inkling when I mentioned doing the background check on Scott Seaver a week ago), but I'm protective of her. Not that she needs it, because she's a damn good cop and can take care of herself, but she is still my partner...and my best friend.
Which is why I shock myself by considering the possibility that...maybe I approve of Shawn Spencer.
I shock myself by believing that he's anywhere close to good enough for her. As sick as it is, I don't even take it back once the thought passes unwillingly through my mind.
Spencer has proven what he'll do for O'Hara. He will search high and low, he will stay serious, he will be everything she needs so that she stays healthy, safe, and happy.
In the back of my mind, memories flash. Spencer calming O'Hara down, taking an ax from her as she struggled to control adrenaline. Spencer yelling her name over and over when we couldn't find her at that Hindu Festival thing. Hell, he even did everything in his power to save Scott Seaver – his competition – because he knew Scott's death would hurt Juliet.
I know, deep down, that he would give up anything – his own life – for her.
What more could I ask for my partner?
Someone less annoying, sure.
But other than that...
This is what I'm thinking as we arrive at the hospital, but once I actually park the car, I switch tracks at lightning speed. I become all business. I grab three boxes of the antidote and head inside the hospital, Spencer following close behind. At a certain point, though, we diverge. I search for Dr. Reidman while Spencer's footsteps lead him to O'Hara.
I go to Reidman's office first, but he isn't there, so I start walking towards O'Hara's room as well. I find Reidman in the hallway outside her door. "We've got the antidote," I say quickly, passing the boxes into his arms. "There's more in the car, too."
"That's great, always good to have a supply. But Detective O'Hara doesn't need any of this."
"She isn't infected. Her immune system must be one killer entity; impenetrable, one could say."
"Are you sure?" I demand, because I didn't go through hell to have her die by some mistake.
"I'm sure. Not only did all her tests come back negative for the virus, I've been watching her carefully for the past hour. By now, there would be some of the preliminary symptoms – small, but obvious. She doesn't have any. She isn't sick."
Relief swells inside of me, as well as a strange sort of pride: I knew she was too tough to go down because of some stupid virus.
Dr. Reidman leaves me as I let the reality sink in and steady the erratic beating of my heart. It takes me a long moment to really grasp it, but when I do, I feel a surge of elation. I make my way to her room, smiling so much it hurts my face.
When I step inside, Spencer is already there and talking with her, but I interrupt easily and don't care that I do.
She's still my partner, and I want to celebrate the news with her, because otherwise my relief and happiness won't have a release and I'll explode with it.
"Hey, I heard the good news!" I say. I walk quickly over to her, smiling, and I try to hug her. It's awkward but I manage it, and although I'm caught up in the moment, I still notice when I hear the door close and realize that Spencer left the room.
And although she may think me oblivious and distracted, I also notice the look she shoots him through the glass.
Sometimes, she is just as easy to read as Spencer, with every emotion etched on her face.
This is one of those times.
She likes Spencer, loves him, is in love with him.
It's quite a disturbing revelation to realize I'm okay with this.
Against all odds, Shawn Spencer has achieved the near-impossible.
Despite the fact that I know he's an immature jackass...
...as far as his relationship with my partner is concerned, he's okay in my book, because I know (as much as I'd like to deny it) that he'll do anything for her.
Of course, it'll be a cold day in Hell before I admit to anyone – especially those two – that Spencer has earned my stamp of approval.
A/N: He's more observant about relationships than he lets on. ;) Reviews much appreciated.