To Heal and Rebuild
Summary: Even when the earth trembles beneath his feet, these are the things that keep him standing. Shawn-centric tag for Mr. Yin Presents, so spoilers abound.
A/N: I started this not long after watching Mr. Yin Presents for the first time. I had the hardest time on certain major points, like what Shawn would be feeling and his reactions, and where everyone would be in the aftermath. Consequently, this went through a thousand different starts and endings and possibilities. I had tons of ideas for Shawn and his reactions with each other character separately, and after some intense experimentation, I was able to mesh them together. I never intended this to be so long, but it just really didn't work as a chapter story. I compromised and broke it up into pieces between characters.
His legs are unsteady.
Not surprising, considering the way his world has been shifting in violent tremors ever since the game began again, but there's still something a little disconcerting in the realization.
Shawn isn't used to feeling this weak.
This close to collapse.
And he's almost too afraid (too guilty) to face them.
He agreed to play the game, and by doing so, he has risked the safety of the people he cares about the most.
They are pawns to Yin; they are everything to Shawn.
It might be so easy to turn away now.
So easy to cut the ties that bind them all together, and leave.
Maybe he should.
Maybe then he could save them from the damage his mere presence causes.
But Shawn's Jell-O legs won't let him run.
Not this time.
Because this time, he has to see it out to the end. That's the way the game must be played, and Shawn knows it would be foolish to pretend that this nightmare could be erased by running away.
If only it were that simple.
His father is following him into the station now, a steady hand upon his shoulder.
It is a small comfort, at least, but it does not pacify his chaotic soul.
He takes in the station in a brief precursory scan, but the eyes he seeks are not among those glancing at him now.
He wonders, momentarily, if there is judgment cast upon him by the other officers. It does not take more than a few seconds for gossip to spread, and the fact that he was not among those at Detective O'Hara's side when she was in desperate need (and it's his fault, isn't it?) is sure to be common knowledge now.
But he finds only sympathy and concern in their awkward side-glances.
It's hardly any better.
Father and son beat a direct path to the Chief's office. They enter without knocking, but Karen Vick doesn't seem to notice or care. Instead, she stands automatically upon their arrival.
Shawn can't deal with formalities or details, not now when his heart is still pounding so fiercely in his chest. "Where is she?" he asks, trying not to sound desperate (and failing).
The Chief doesn't blink, doesn't have to guess who he means. "She's with Officer Hamilton. He's taking her official statement."
Something in Shawn's expression must give him away, because Vick gives him a reassuring nod. "Gus and Lassiter are with her, Shawn."
Shawn relaxes slightly; the two people he trusts most to protect and comfort Juliet have not left her side. He collapses almost with no conscious effort into a nearby chair. It's a relief, really, because his legs are still shaky and he's anything but confident in their ability to support him.
Henry is not ready to sit or be calm, however. His voice is sharp and ringing and it makes Shawn's head hurt just a little bit. "Karen, I hope you're prepared to protect my son."
His tone is as much worry as it is warning.
The Chief takes it in stride, as best she can under this sort of stress. "We've got officers posted at his office, apartment, as well as the homes of everyone involved – including yours, Henry. I can't promise it indefinitely, but for this first week, at least, he won't be alone."
"Damn straight." Henry says.
Shawn snorts before he can even remind himself that nothing is funny.
Because it is just so like his father. "Damn straight," Shawn repeats, as straight-faced as he can manage.
Henry shoots Shawn a glare, then returns his forceful look to the Chief.
"Any word on who we might be dealing with? Anything at all?" he urges.
"Not yet, Henry...but I will keep you posted. I owe you both that much," she says, and Shawn can see that there's something in her demeanor, something that makes his chest ache painfully with a surge of pity for her.
She is apologetic.
For something she had no control over.
Henry must see it too, because he has the grace to look ashamed of his harsh tone. The energy and the adrenaline and the blame wash out of him, and he cannot reasonably hold this against her, he knows. "Okay, Karen. I trust you." he concedes.
"Thank you, Henry. And I really am sorry for this...nightmare."
"You have nothing to be sorry for," he says, shrugging.
She accepts the admission with a nod. "Now, if you don't mind...can I talk to Shawn...alone?"
Henry starts to object, but Shawn interrupts before he can get out any words. "It's okay, Dad."
Henry looks at Shawn, sees something in his weary-but-stubbornly-determined expression, then retracts his refusal. "Son..." he says. "After you sort everything out...come by my place for the night. Bring Gus too."
Shawn nods. He knows that his father needs the reassurance of having him nearby tonight, and he is in no state to refuse him, because he can't honestly say that he doesn't need the same. "You cooking us dinner?" he asks, attempting a smirk.
"Well, I guess I have to now, don't I?" Henry scoffs, rolling his eyes.
But Shawn knows he's grateful.
Henry turns to leave. On his way out, he pats his son's shoulder. Briefly. Then he walks out and shuts the door behind him.
"Shawn," says Vick after Henry is gone. Shawn registers the way her voice is now soothing and soft. Motherly, almost. "I'm sorry for all you went through tonight..."
"Not your fault." he manages to get out.
"Shawn, if you need to talk we have -"
"I don't need the department psychologist, Chief. That's what I've got Gus for." he says shortly.
She nods in acknowledgment. "I understand. But anyone here will listen. I just need you to know that."
"I do...I'm sorry, but is there anything else you need from me? I'm...exhausted. And I want to see..."
"Did you already give your statement to the officers on scene?"
Vick nods again. "Then you may go, Mr. Spencer. Get some rest."
Shawn stands and turns to leave, but before he can, her voice calls him back.
He turns and catches her eyes, which are soft but certain. "You're going to get him, Shawn. If there's anyone I believe in now, it's you."
He swallows a lump in his throat. Her confidence is overwhelming and unwarranted. He would like to deny it and cast off the responsibility, but he just nods. "Thanks, Chief."
Shawn steps out of the Chief's office, and it's then that he sees her, at her desk, with Lassiter and Gus at her side. He hesitates, almost afraid to step closer for fear that he'll see...hurt and betrayal in her eyes whenever she looks at him.
But he can't stay away, not when he needs her the most. He walks slowly towards her.
Lassiter and Gus see him before she does, and though he is thankful for their safety and presence as well, he can't look away from her. Everyone else falls awkwardly into the background, somehow blocked from his line of vision as her eyes catch on his.
The first thing he wants to give her is his apologies.
For putting her in danger in the first place.
For letting her out of his sight.
For abandoning her when she needed him the most.
The first thing she wants to give him, as it turns out, is a hug.
She catches sight of him and makes no hesitation. She closes the space between them in a few quick steps, then wraps her arms around him before he can even form a coherent thought.
And the feel of her, safe in his arms, chokes him up; never mind the fact that everyone is here to witness it, he can't rid himself of the lump in his throat or the stinging of his eyes.
"I'm sorry." he whispers.
"Shawn, no you had to -"
"But it's my faul -"
"It is not -"
"I just -"
Their words overlap and there's something that keeps them perfectly in sync.
"So glad you're okay." They both say simultaneously, and she's half-laughing and half crying now, too. She buries her face in his still-damp clothes. She rests her head against his chest, and he knows that she can hear the beating of his heart.
And he holds her just a little tighter.
"I was scared." she admits, and it is only loud enough for Shawn to hear.
"I'm sorry I let you down. I wasn't th -"
"You didn't. You saved her, and sent them to save me."
"I didn't want you to think—"
"I didn't. Shawn...I'm proud of you."
He breathes her in.
Her forgiveness, understanding, courage, strength...it's his salvation.
When she finally pulls away from him, she smiles and the rest of the world returns.
Gus and Lassiter, who had been looking awkwardly away out of respect for their privacy, notice that the moment has passed.
Lassiter breaks into the conversation. "We should be going, O'Hara." he says. "We need sleep."
Shawn looks at Juliet. "You shouldn't be al-"
"I won't be." she smiles. "Lassiter's letting me stay over."
Shawn glances over at the Head Detective, mildly surprised.
Lassiter shrugs. "You've got Guster." he accuses lightly.
Shawn's not entirely sure what that means, but he laughs a little hoarsely anyway. "Fair." he concedes.
Juliet touches Shawn's arm in a comforting gesture, then steps away. "Stay safe, Shawn."
Juliet turns and walks to Lassiter's side. "So you're ready?" she asks her partner.
"Actually, O'Hara, can I meet you at the car? I have to...get my stuff." Lassiter remarks off-handedly.
"I guess so." Her voice is suspicious, because the lie is obvious to everyone. Obvious in the way Lassiter stands, in the way he's got his coat and his gun and his keys already. Obvious in the way his eyes never drift from Shawn.
Both Juliet and Gus know that the Head Detective wants a private word with Shawn. "Don't be long, Carlton." says Juliet, and her voice is filled with both acceptance and a warning.
Shawn looks over at her in concern, but Gus doesn't need the cue. "You know what, Juliet? I'll walk out with you." says Gus.
Juliet bristles slightly at the idea that she needs the protection of someone else (she can tell that's Gus's intention), but she won't deny the company. Not today.
Shawn, for his part, isn't entirely sure what could possess Lassiter to seek a private moment with him. Actually, he fully expects Lassiter to give him what he deserves, because Lassiter is brutally honest when others are not.
Shawn knows he deserves the blame and the guilt. Lassiter won't play games; he, at least, understands that Shawn should have seen the clues, and should never have abandoned Juliet, his partner.
Lassiter must hold it against him in the same way that Shawn holds it against himself...
But once Juliet and Gus are out of ear-range, Lassiter says the last thing Shawn expects to hear.
"It isn't your fault, Spencer, I just want you to know."
A sudden spike of anger forms in Shawn's stomach. Does no one realize how very much he is to blame for this? And he doesn't mean to take sharp tones with the very person he owes so much to, but he can't help himself. "Oh, yeah? Whose fault is it, then?" he snaps.
"Yin's." says Lassiter, just as sharply. "No one but Yin's, Spencer."
"I'm the reason he went after them."
"It would always be an innocent life on the line, Spencer. It would always be someone's family or friend or girlfriend. Whether we know them or not, that's the game."
Shawn closes his eyes, his regret spiraling to the surface so fast it gives him a head rush. "I should have been there for her."
Shawn feels a hand on his shoulder, but it's gone so fast that he almost thinks he imagined the sensation.
"You did what you had to do," says Lassiter sternly. "Even psychics can't be in two places at once. Lytar is safe because of you, and we saved O'Hara. You did the best you could, and this time, at least, it was enough."
Shawn opens his eyes, and Lassiter gives him a nod. It is both understanding and acceptance of the responsibilities they now share.
Lassiter's expression changes into something surly. "And I swear to God, we're going to get that bastard."
There's a viciousness in his eyes that Shawn doesn't wish upon anyone.
And Shawn doesn't really want to say it, but he is compelled and indebted. "Thank you...for saving her." he says quietly, just loud enough for Lassiter to hear.
Lassiter rolls his eyes at Shawn, scowling in that all too-familiar (and oddly reassuring) way of his. "Get over yourself, Spencer. It wasn't for you."
Shawn smiles weakly, and Lassiter takes that as his cue that his work here is done. But he pauses as he makes his way past Shawn. "And don't worry about O'Hara. She's the toughest one of us all."
"And I'm not letting anything else happ—"
Lassiter nods, accepting the trust that Shawn has gifted him with.
"Let's go see about our partners, Lassie." says Shawn with the ghost of a smile.
And walking side by side with Lassiter, whose determination is never in question, Shawn feels some of the burden eased off his shoulders.
Shawn raises an eyebrow and smiles just a little. "Don't what?"
They're in the car and Gus is driving, but he takes a moment to look away from the road and roll his eyes at Shawn. "I've been your best friend long enough to know exactly what you're about to say and do. And I'm telling you not to. There's no way -"
Shawn huffs. "Am I really that predictable?"
"Even more than me, Shawn."
Shawn snorts. "As if that's possible...but I'm going to say it anyway, Gus."
"I figured as much."
Shawn looks away from his friend and instead stares out the window. Trees and buildings and people flash by as the little blue Echo zooms on, and Shawn is all too aware of this comfortable little car, and how it may be just one of the many things he's giving up.
"Gus, if he wasn't still out there, I think I'd already be gone."
Gus's grip on the steering wheel tightens almost imperceptibly, but he says nothing.
"He's got me screwed up by targeting everyone I care about. I'd leave if I thought it would protect any of you. But it won't. He'd target you all worse in an effort to bring me back. So I have no choice. I have to stay and catch him. I need to be the one to catch him, make him pay for what he did to all of us. To Jules and Abby...and Mary."
"I'm glad you know that running won't fix it." says Gus.
"I know how the game works by now..." sighs Shawn. "I'm going to catch him. I have no choice...but you..." he says, gesturing slightly, and it becomes obvious that he has reached his main topic of discussion. His eyes are desperate as they catch on Gus's.
"Shawn." says Gus sharply.
"Gus, you have a choice. You don't need Psych. You don't need to be a target for him by working with me. I know it might not completely get you off his radar, but he knows us. He knows I need you more than anyone. If you stopped working with me, maybe it'd get you off the top of his list."
"Shawn, I'm not jumping ship."
"But you should."
"You're so damn self-centered sometimes, Shawn." says Gus, but he's smiling slightly to take the edge off his words. "You think I need to see this out any less than you do? He's going after my friends too. I'm not letting you track him on your own."
"Gus, you saw what he did to -"
"I've gotten used to the dangerous lifestyle by now. And it only took about thirty years of knowing you..."
Shawn breathes in sharply, relief tempered by fear. Hope tempered by sorrow. "Are you sure, Buddy?"
"I'm sure, Shawn, and that's final."
Shawn has never been more grateful to his best friend (and that's saying something). "Thanks, Gus."
Gus holds out his right fist and Shawn bumps it with his left. "No problem, Buddy."
And then Gus smirks ever so slightly. "You couldn't do it without me, anyway."
That day is another long one, and it is heart-breaking in all the worst ways. Shawn and Gus visit Buzz in the hospital. His ever-present smile is still there, but it's sad and tired and strained. He looks older now, and Shawn doesn't like to think about just how much innocence this game of great stakes has already cost – to so many.
And then they visit his house, because Shawn can't forget the promise he never quite agreed to, but still intends to keep. Ben scurries around the cage as Shawn lifts it carefully into his hands. Its weight feels like his guilt, his fear, his grief and regret.
After that, they stop only briefly at their respective apartments to pick up some clothes and other necessities for the night.
"What's with the mouse?" asks Henry upon their arrival at his house.
A long silence. Shawn can't bring himself to answer.
"He was Mary's." Gus informs him solemnly.
Henry looks away. "Just don't let him get out. You know I don't like vermin in my house..."
They eat dinner that evening amidst their usual squabbles. Shawn finds it oddly comforting to know that his father doesn't care what he's been through – at least not enough to keep from picking a fight.
"The least you could have done is brought over some beer." Henry accuses sternly.
"No one wants to see you drunk, Dad. Didn't you end up singing Total Eclipse of the Heart last time?" Shawn quips. Henry scoffs and denies it as Gus hogs the corn-on-the-cob.
It's almost like it's just another evening at Dad's.
They watch some television (no movies and certainly no Hitchcock, Shawn will never be able to watch those again). Henry flips back and forth between various sports and, for whatever reason, the Food Network.
Gus starts dozing on the couch after not too long, and when he jerks awake awhile later, Henry tells him to take the guest bedroom.
Gus nods sleepily. "Thanks, Mr. Spencer." he says, heading to the stairs.
Henry starts to snooze in his chair not long after that, his head dipping down to his chest almost comically. Shawn takes his father's snores as his cue to call it a night and head up to his room as well.
As he settles in his old bed, he has to admit that this house is still home. There's something comforting in these cool sheets, this room of his childhood and teenage years. Somewhere below, he can hear his father, obviously awake again, making coffee.
It feels like mornings when he was kid and he'd listen to his father rummaging around in the kitchen; Shawn never wanted to get out of bed on those days...
He stays awake for too long, mind replaying the events of the day over and over again with horrendously vivid detail. He doesn't want these reminders and this constant fear; he just wants to sleep and be grateful for what he has not lost.
Some hours later, the exhaustion starts to finally overpower all other thought. He falls into a light doze.
And it isn't long after, it seems, when he snaps awake to hear someone entering his room. He is over-alert, his senses going haywire with fear and adrenaline. But he can't see anything beside the shadowy figure in the dark. He grabs around his nightstand for potential weapons. His hand closes on the base of his lamp.
"Who's there?" he demands, tensing.
"Shawn, calm down. It's just me."
Shawn relaxes slightly at his father's familiar voice, but it doesn't stop the anger from forming in his chest. He turns on the lamp and glares at his father. "What the hell are you doing? I thought you were..." He trails off, unwilling to admit to his fear.
Henry understands anyway, and he doesn't know what to say or how to act. "Sorry, Kid...I just wanted to make sure..."
When Henry trails off, Shawn impatiently gestures for him to continue by rolling his hand.
Henry struggles for words he doesn't want to say. " I just...wanted to make sure that you were okay." he finishes awkwardly.
Shawn shakes his head. "I'm not the one he would target, anyway." he replies calmly, and then a horrible fear sweeps over him. "Did you check on Gus?" he asks, fighting off a renewed sense of panic.
Henry snorts. "Yeah, I looked in on him. I knew you'd want me to. But only for a second. You know he snores like a -"
"Bull elephant? Yeah, I know."
Shawn sits up in his bed, then attempts a smirk to lighten the mood. "Dang, Dad. How long has it been since you checked on me while I slept? When was the last time? When I was twelve?"
Henry smirks back. "Try eighteen."
For a second, Shawn can't believe it and doesn't know quite what to say. After a long moment of silence, Shawn finds his voice. "You were still looking in on me when I was a teenager?" he asks, not sure whether he should be enraged, horrified, or pleased.
Henry shrugs. "Maybe by that point it was mostly checking up on you, rather than checking in on you."
Shawn smiles slightly. "I remember when the biggest problem I had was planning ways to sneak out at night...the good ole days, huh?"
Henry snorts again, but makes no comment. Which is unfortunate, Shawn thinks, because now he has no distraction from the topic at hand. The words are out of his mouth before he can retrieve them. "Dad...I'm not sure I know what I'm doing anymore."
"I'm not sure you ever did, Kid." replies Henry, meeting his son's eyes.
Shawn looks down at his hands, which are clutching his blanket tightly. "You told me not to get involved...back when this first started. I should have listened."
"I know a waitress who'd say otherwise."
Shawn looks up in surprise; he has just admitted that his father has been right all along, and instead of lecturing "I told you so," his father is rejecting the acknowledgment. Henry pulls up the chair by Shawn's desk and sits down.
"I'm glad you didn't listen to me, Shawn. I was wrong. I was being selfish. I just wanted you to be safe, but I was willing to risk a lot of innocent people..."
"But it doesn't matter, Dad. It's still innocent people, just ones I actually know and care about."
"You have to play because you're the only one that can stop them. Yin and Yang targeted you because you're damn good at what you do, Shawn."
"What a compliment." says Shawn sarcastically, rolling his eyes. "What do I do now? How do I protect everyone?"
Henry stands up from his spot on the chair. "It's never a guarantee, and I know that's hard for you to accept, but as long as you have hope for the best outcome...you can't quit."
"I wish I could."
"If I play the game again..." Shawn trails off, afraid to voice his fear of losing...everything.
Henry puts his hand on his son's shoulder. "I'll be there for you. And Gus and Juliet and Lassiter and Vick, too. We'll take him down together, Son. I won't have it any other way."
Before Shawn can say anything at all, Henry leans in and kisses his head, as if he's a child again. "Goodnight, Shawn," he says, and Shawn wants to joke about his father's new sentimentalism, but the words stick in his throat.
Henry turns and is almost at the door when Shawn finally finds his voice. "Goodnight, Dad...and thanks for..."
Henry nods back at him. "Anytime, Kid."
And then his father is gone, and Shawn is left alone again. He settles back down on his bed, closes his eyes, and breathes in deep. He is not yet broken, not yet fallen. In his mind, he sees them all and understands what each has given him.
The Chief's confidence.
Gus's loyalty and friendship.
His father's love and support.
These are the things that keep him standing, even when the world shakes beneath his feet.
Shawn sighs and allows a small relief to wash over him. What was it his father said? As long as he has hope for the best outcome...he can keep fighting.
Tonight, they're safe.
And whatever happens tomorrow – he can't deny that he has the best support system ever.
A/N: See, I was going for an optimistic tone, which is another reason why this was so long - it was impossible to reach optimistic until you went through some acceptance of the bad, otherwise it wouldn't be realistic. Anyways, reviews are much appreciated, and I mean that more than ever for this fic.