AN: This chapter is dedicated to each of you who read and left me a review. This story truly would not have been the wonderful monster that it is without your support. I am so grateful. Thank you!
Henry wasn't sure what was worse. No, that was a lie. Watching his son being tortured; that was the worst. But watching his son struggle with his fever, listening to him moaning in pain despite the pain meds that were coursing through his body, listening to him ramble in his fever-induced hallucinations, watching him writhe on the bed and fighting against the restraints…that wasn't easy, either.
This was the start of his second day in the hospital, and Henry couldn't stop thinking that his son was supposed to be killed on this day. He couldn't stop thinking that Cole had stabbed Shawn with the intention to kill him. He had been so close to losing him. If they had arrived even a minute later…he'd be planning his son's funeral.
He leaned over to put his hand against Shawn's forehead. The fever had broken early this morning, and for the last several hours, Shawn had been sleeping peacefully. He pulled back, startled, when Shawn suddenly shifted under his hand, burrowing his head into the pillow.
"Shawn?" He reached out again to touch Shawn's face.
Shawn flinched violently away from his touch. "Please…please don't hurt me. I thought you were done. Please…" He begged.
Henry's heart clenched at the words. "Son. Open your eyes. Come on, kid," He urged.
The terror fled from his son's face, to be replaced with confusion. "D…Dad?"
"Yeah, kid. It's me. Open your eyes," He said softly.
Slowly, Shawn opened his eyes, looking at his father. Henry smiled at him, reaching down to gently clasp his hand. Shawn followed the movement, his face contorting in confusion as he looked back up at Henry.
"What…happened?" Shawn asked, his hand clasping Henry's tightly before he slowly let go and pulled away.
Henry's eyes narrowed at his son's unexpected withdrawal. "What do you remember?"
"Cole…Cole stabbed me. I thought…thought I was dead."
Henry nodded at the words. "You almost did die. You weren't breathing when we found you." Henry rubbed his hand over his face, wiping away the fear that came with that memory. "But you're going to be okay. You'll be in the hospital for awhile, but you'll be okay."
Shawn broke away from his father's gaze to look around the hospital room, and Henry could see his disappointment. A sad smile tilted the corners of his mouth. "No one else…wanted to get stuck with…with guard duty? Why are you even here?"
Henry took a deep breath, his son's withdrawal finally making sense. How could he have expected Shawn to realize that everything had changed since he had been taken from them?
"Because you are my son. And I'm going to stay here, for as long as you need me. The others will be here soon. They're worried about you, too."
He saw Shawn's eyes grow unfocused, saw his blinks get slower and longer. He reached out to run his fingers through Shawn's hair when Shawn spoke.
"Worried? I don't…don't understand. Why…would you…care?" He whispered before sleep claimed him once again.
Henry closed his eyes, shaking his head at Shawn's words.
"Mr. Spencer? Is everything okay?" Gus asked as he hurried to Henry's side, carelessly tossing the coffee he had just purchased into the trash.
"Yeah…yeah, everything's fine. He just woke up for a minute."
Gus studied Shawn for a long moment before turning to look at Henry. "Was he okay?"
Henry shook his head slowly. "No. No, he wasn't. But he will be." He reached out to brush a rough finger against Shawn's cheek. "He will be."
"Are you two ready?" Karen asked her detectives, her attention torn between them and the DA waiting for them. They nodded, and she led the way into her office, urging them to sit around the table.
"I'm not late, am I?"
She looked up in surprise to see Adam Hornstock standing in the doorway, a confident smile on his face. She sent a quick look at her detectives, who both looked surprised at the lawyer's arrival. She narrowed her eyes at her senior detective, who looked just a little too surprised. He smiled faintly at her, one shoulder lifting slightly in a shrug.
The DA sighed, his agitation obvious. "Hornstock, what are you doing here?"
"I'm representing my client. What are you doing here, White? Trying to put an innocent man in prison?" He replied as he moved into the office, putting his briefcase on the floor as he sat in the chair opposite the DA.
"An innocent man? You are here for Shawn Spencer, right? The same man who lied to the police for years about being a supposed psychic?"
"You mean the man who spent the last several years helping to put criminals behind bars?"
"So he's fooled you, too? That's a shame. You've been doing so well with your practice the last several years; are you sure you want to get involved with this case?"
The smile fell from Adam's face as he narrowed his eyes at the man. "Why don't we just get down to business? First, no charges will be brought against Henry Spencer or Burton Guster."
White pursed his lips, but nodded in agreement. "Fine."
Adam flashed a smile. "Good. I always knew you could be a reasonable man." He moved on quickly before White could comment. "Now, what exactly are you charging my client with?"
"Do you have to ask? Mr. Spencer is a con-man. He misrepresented himself by claiming to be psychic, lying continuously to the police!"
"Mr. Spencer solved hundreds of cases, putting hundreds of dangerous criminals behind bars. And not only," He said, cutting off the DA as he tried to speak, "Not only was his own well-being threatened on several cases, but he also put his life on the line for many members of the police force-Buzz McNab, Carlton Lassiter. In fact, Detective, how many times did Mr. Spencer provide a necessary distraction to save lives?"
Lassiter opened his mouth to speak when White scoffed.
Adam tilted his head, lifting an eyebrow in question. "Oh, I'm sorry. You're not impressed by Mr. Spencer's selfless actions?"
"You're getting off topic, Hornstock," The DA growled. "The man lied continuously, to the police, for several years! He knowingly represented himself as a psychic to law officers! Including Detective Lassiter!"
"A misdemeanor," Adam said, waving his hand as if to brush off the other man's words.
"And one misdemeanor is punishable by a fine or by six months in jail. How many times did he represent himself as a psychic?" White shot back. "The number of times he perpetrated his lie doesn't make it a simple misdemeanor anymore."
Adam leaned against the table, his intelligent eyes locked on White. "What are you really angry about? That Mr. Spencer told a harmless lie when he said he was psychic, in order to help the people and police of Santa Barbara? That lawyers are trying to find a way to overturn a court ruling on criminal cases because of Mr. Spencer's involvement? Even though you and I both know that can't happen because the SBPD has solid evidence and confessions for each of those cases," He said, shaking his head. He narrowed his eyes, a slight smirk crossing his face. "Or are you angry because he called you Mr. Grumpy Monkey Pants in court last month while accusing you of being on the take in the Hernandez case?"
White stiffened. "That has nothing to do with this! Mr. Spencer lied!"
"Yes. Continuously. To the police. For several years. I think we've all got the idea. The truth of the matter is, Mr. Spencer was a valuable resource to the police and the community of Santa Barbara. And you want to send him to jail, when it's just not safe for him there."
The DA pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head.
"I have a compromise," Adam offered.
"What is it?" White asked, the words barely legible through his clenched teeth.
"Six months community service, working cases with the SBPD."
"You've got to be kidding!" White burst out, his incredulous gaze encompassing each person in the room. "Community service doing the very thing he got in trouble for?"
Adam shook his head. "Six months of solving crimes, legally, as a private detective."
He looked over at Karen, who leaned forward in her seat, quickly catching on to what Adam wanted from her. "Think about it, Mr. White. Mr. Spencer was a valuable asset to this department before, and with this deal, he can continue to be one."
The DA pursed his lips, crossing his arms as he stared down at the table. It took him several minutes to reply. "Fine," He bit off angrily, looking back up at Adam with a glare.
"Excellent," Adam grinned.
Karen looked over to see Juliet smile brightly and to see Lassiter holding back a triumphant grin of his own. She smiled back at them. "You two are dismissed. Keep me informed, please."
"Yes, Chief," They responded simultaneously. They hurried from the room, Juliet already pulling out her phone to give Henry and Gus the good news.
"Let's work out the rest of the details, shall we, gentlemen?" She asked, giving Adam a grateful smile.
The first time he had woken, he had been confused. He had felt comfortable for the first time in a long time, and his mind had conveniently forgotten about what had happened in the cabin. Then he had heard a voice, calling his name. The pain that he hadn't noticed before came back; muted, but still insistent, while his mind had flooded with memories. He had started to panic, and he hadn't been able to distinguish his father's voice from the voice of his tormentor. He couldn't stop himself from begging to be left alone, for Cole to leave him alone.
He had been shocked to realize it was his father; confused, too. It didn't make sense to him. Why was his father watching over him? And why would anyone else be worried about him? They hadn't wanted anything to do with him before Cole had taken him. What had changed? Why?
When he surfaced the second time, he could hear them talking, their voices mixing in a quiet cacophony that soothed him. Lassiter, his father, Gus…and Juliet.
It still didn't make any sense to him, but he was willing to accept their company for as long as they were willing to offer it.
He felt fingers brush across his face, softly, gently. Jules… His heart jumped. The last time she had touched him, it had been in anger. But not this time.
He had thought he would never see her again.
He wanted to see her now, but he was afraid. What if she was angry still, and was just letting pity soften her reaction to him? And who was to say that wasn't what had happened with the others, too?
That didn't matter right now. He needed to see her. He forced his eyelids open, waiting for his eyes to focus. When they did, it was to see her smiling gently at him, no trace of anger or pity on her face.
"Hey there, sleepyhead. We've been waiting for you to wake up," She said softly.
He tore his eyes away from her to see Lassiter, then Gus and his father. None of them looked angry... He returned his gaze to Juliet, finding it difficult to look away from her. "Jules…" Vaguely, he noticed the others were leaving the room to give them privacy. He saw her hand move to continue its soothing journey across his face, and his gaze caught on the ring sitting on her hand. An involuntary smile crossed his face.
He had really messed up this time. Juliet was not happy with him. He needed to fix it, but he was out of money. All of his funds were currently going to a very expensive purchase for her, which left him with few options. Hopefully, she would appreciate this gesture.
He knocked on her door, getting down on one knee, his present held up for her to see. The door slowly opened to a still-angry Juliet, and he held his surprise up a little higher, shaking it slightly and making it rattle.
"What are you doing?" She asked, crossing her arms.
"I'm really sorry. Please forgive me?" He shook his present again, a smile twitching his lips when he saw her roll her eyes.
She took the cheap plastic container from his hand, popped the lid, and took out a ring. She looked from it back to Shawn, shaking her head. "Usually, when a guy is trying to apologize, he buys flowers or jewelry."
"I got you a ring!" He defended himself.
"From the quarter machine. I don't think that really counts."
He let his tongue rest against his top lip as he judged her mood. When he saw the sparkle in her eyes, he knew he was safe. "If it helps, it took me four or five times to find a ring I liked, so it's more like a dollar twenty-five."
She laughed, slipping the ring on her finger and then pulling him to his feet. "I forgive you," She said, giving him a kiss.
His hand reached out to capture her hand, his finger rubbing lightly against the cheap ring she wore. "I…was sure I bought…something a little more expensive," He said, wondering if he was pushing his luck just by mentioning the other ring. Wasn't it enough to know that she was here?
"You did. And when you're better and are ready to do so…you can give it to me."
He swallowed, stunned by the absolute honesty in her expression and her voice. She…she really meant that. For some reason, she still wanted to be with him. He was too tired to figure out why, or even to question her over her change of heart. He was starting to fade again, but he rallied his strength, needing to do something before he drifted off to sleep again.
He slipped the ring from her finger and held it up to her. "Forgive me?"
He held his breath until she took the ring and placed it back on her finger.
"I do," She said.
The words were a soothing balm to his damaged emotions, and he sighed in relief.
"Do you forgive me?"
He forced his drooping eyes open to answer her. "Nothing to forgive."
"Of course you would say that," She said, as she leaned forward to press her lips gently against his. "I love you," She said when she pulled away.
He blinked, a surprised smile curving his lips. He would never be able to explain the joy those three words gave him. "Love you, too…"
He closed his eyes, letting himself drift off again as Gus, Lassiter, and his father walked back into the room. He listened to them talk and felt something inside of him start to relax. He didn't know what was going to happen tomorrow; but for today, for this moment, they were here with him, supporting him.
And for now…that was enough.
AN: If you're interested, I am trying to plan out a sequel to this story. I would love to hear your thoughts on this last chapter or the story as a whole. Again, thank you so much!