It had been three days since his fight with his dad and Shawn had no qualms about avoiding it like the plague. Sure there had been incessant calling, threatening, unexpected visits at Psych and his house, but Shawn usually found a reason to disappear at a moments notice.
Gus had played along at first, still quite upset about the call he got, but now he was growing irritated at the childish display on both ends.
"Shawn. Call him. Talk to him. Send him a smoke signal for all I care, but I swear if that phone goes off one more time, I'll make you eat it." He said irritably from behind his lap top.
Shawn rolled his eyes and threw his stuffed frog at him. "I can ask Jules for some Midol if you need some."
Gus opened his mouth to reply but was cut off by the sound of their phone going off for the sixth time that day. Before Mt. Saint Gustersaurus could explode Shawn answered the phone.
"Sha-" His father's voice sounded.
"No, we don't want any cookies." Shawn said with a bored expression.
"What? Shawn listen her-"
"No, last time they were stale and a waste of seventy dollars. And my thin mints were missing." Shawn replied rolling his eyes.
"Shawn! Stop preten-"
"Until you come out with a delicious pineapple flavored one, I don't want any." Shawn clicked the phone off before his father could go off on him for ignoring him completely.
Carefully he set the phone upside down in the charger and sat back at his desk with a playful grin on his face.
"That wasn't the Girl Scouts of America was it?" Gus asked matching his grin, forgetting his anger instantly.
"Not even close."
Shawn sat still for a moment before jumping up. "I'm bored. Smoothies?"
Gus thought it over for a minute, "You know that's right." He gazed at Shawn before getting up, and opened his mouth again.
"Why do I sense a 'but' coming on?" Shawn asked grabbing his keys. The company car was finally delivered and Shawn couldn't be happier at how the Dodge Challenger turned out. It was lime green with their logo in white spanning across the back window.
"No but, just a question," Gus said smoothly.
"No. Not yet at least," Shawn said before Gus could ask.
"As long as you promise to talk about it."
"Gus, do cow's lay eggs?"
"No. Promise me. Or I'll tell the girl at Jamba Juice that you were sent to jail for being a psycho stalker and she's your new target."
"You play dirty." Shawn said with narrow eyes.
"I left it for three days. Now promise me we'll talk."
"Fine. But not now."
"Duh, we are getting smoothies. Smoothies are not 'serious discussion' drinks. That is tea, or coffee. Or even a cocktail." Gus explained grabbing his jacket.
"Tea and crumpets later?" Shawn asked playfully as they left the building.
"Shawn, you don't even know what crumpets are."
"A thick, flat, savory cake with a soft, porous texture, made from a yeast mixture cooked on a griddle and toasted to a buttery perfection."
Gus paused for a moment in disbelief. Shawn smirked before climbing into the car.
"Lassafrass!" Shawn exclaimed as they entered the police department. Lassiter's face screwed into a distasteful look.
"Spencer." He said sharply and returned his attention to his computer. Juliet shook her head and turned to greet them.
"Hey Shawn, Gus! What brings you down here?"
"Getting our check from the last case. Chief called and said it was ready." Shawn explained easily. Gus narrowed his eyes behind his friend but didn't press the matter. The two moved quickly towards the Chiefs office.
"We've already been paid. You said there was a case for us!" Gus whispered into Shawn's ear.
Shawn shrugged. "Well not really, but you wouldn't have came down here if I hadn't asked!" Shawn whispered back. He raised his hand to knock but stopped seconds before hitting the door. With a thoughtful look he pushed through the door and said,
"Karen! My favorite surrogate uncle's niece!"
Chief Vick looked up with a wary look. "I'm the only one Mr. Spencer." She eyed the duo before nodding at the chairs in front of her. "Take a seat. I wasn't aware you were bringing company Shawn."
"I wasn't, but a smoothie turned into a churro run, which turned into a jerk chicken fest. Then before I knew it, it was time for our meeting."
Gus coughed into his hand. "Bullshit!"
Chief Vick raised an eyebrow but said nothing. Shawn sighed and rolled his eyes. "Fine I sensed my father was at Psych and I haven't talked to him since our little fiasco. But the rest was totally true. For the record though, never eat jerk chicken after churro's, that's like instant heartburn and gut fire."
Gus nodded, "I'm still burning."
The Chief shook her head and gave a small smile. "The reason I called you in here Shawn was to see how things were going. And to ask why a car suddenly appeared in my driveway, in place of my modest sedan, with my license plates on it."
"Fine, mostly. Still coming to grips with it all being real, and that I won't be able to crash at his place again." Shawn said, avoiding the car. Chief Vick shot him a pointed look and he relented. "And one of the thousands of cars that he owned was perfect for a police chief mother and I sorta had the title changed and then kind of got your tags moved to the new vehicle."
She opened her mouth to speak but decided against it. Instead she stood and strode around her desk with a stern glare. Shawn gulped as she bent forward to him. Karen took one arm and wrapped it around him in a hug before leaning in to whisper, "If you ever do that again, I'll make sure that pretty little bike of yours becomes property of Carlton Lassiter."
Shawn smirked, "You hugged me!" He whispered back. Chief Vick rightened herself with an annoyed look.
"You can't prove it, and I'll deny it to my grave."
Later that night Gus cornered Shawn by stealthily hiding both sets of keys.
"Gus!" He pouted. "I'll miss tonight's episode of America's Got Talent!" Gus rolled his eyes.
"You have it set up to be Ti-voed. Besides you promised."
"I said eventually, not tonight!" Shawn countered grabbing his frog of his desk, glaring at Gus the whole time.
"In my book eventually is now. Why can't you just talk to me?" Gus looked at him with a soft face. Shawn turned his head away from him and shook his head.
"I'm not ready, not yet."
"I've known you since we were five, so I know that, that line is bull. You'll never be ready, but you need to talk about it. I can clearly see that it's eating away at you."
Shawn shrugged. "Not much to talk about. Stuff happened and now the one guy that was like a father figure to me is gone."
"I know that's not all. After the fight your father kept repeating 'What don't I know about him?' and I couldn't say anything, because you know what? I don't know all that much about what happened when you took off."
Shawn sighed and flexed his hand around his frog. "Yeah, I know." It was a simple statement. Gus continued to stare at him, mentally probing him.
"Shawn, I know you don't want to, but in all the years I've known you, you've always been okay after talking about something difficult. Like the night your parents told you they were getting a divorce. It was painful, but you felt better after we talked for six hours and missed the Thundercat's marathon."
Despite the somber mood Shawn cracked a grin, "You were so pissed about that."
"No I was pissed that your father called six times and my mother yelled at us."
"Your mom's a big softie when she's mad."
"Please, it's like having Jack Nicholson as a mother. She even kind of resembles him when she yells."
Shawn groaned, "You seriously didn't just compare you mom to Jack Nicholson did you?" Gus shrugged his shoulders with a smile. "Dude, that is so wrong on so many levels."
"We're off topic again."
"I'll call Juliet."
"You are a dirty fighter."
"Damn straight. After being your best friend for all of eternity you pick up a few tricks along the way."
Shawn just shook his head sadly. "Honestly I don't know where to begin." He sat there looking at Gus for a long moment. Neither broke eye contact until the phone rang. Gus groaned and said,
"I'll get it. But I swear if it's your dad I'll kill you Shawn."
"It's not my fault," Shawn muttered sourly.
"Gus put Shawn on."
"He's not here sir."
"Like hell he isn't. I can see his bike from here, and that ugly 'company' car of his. Let me speak to my son."
"Sorry, but that isn't happening."
"Gus, if you know what's good for you, you'll let me talk to my damn son!" Shawn cringed as he heard his father's voice raise.
"No sir, if you know what's good for you, you'll leave us the hell alone." Gus said back before slamming the phone down.
"If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go barricade the door now."
Shawn grinned after his friend and helped him shove the bookshelf across the door. "Not really necessary, but a good precaution."
"I just cussed at your dad Shawn. My ass is going to become jerk chicken!"
Shawn shook his head, "Nah, you'd be the burnt ends served with a side of sweet and sour barbeque sauce."
His head ached, his vision swam, and he was sure that there was something in the beer he'd drank. He'd only had three, maybe four, but at this point the couldn't remember what way he was walking, or why he was even walking when he felt like this.
All he wanted right now was his nice comfy bed and maybe his mom there to soothe his pain. Yeah, he'd like that. His mom always knew the right way to calm him down when he was sick.
But she isn't here, the rational part of his mind reminded him. She's somewhere in Washington at a conference. Or maybe she's back home in Santa Barbara.
As those thoughts floated across his brain the sensation of vertigo took over his body and in a rapid rate of speed his face was closing in on the concrete sidewalk.
His skull connected with the ground and white hot pain coursed through his brain. A muffled cry escaped his mouth. He tried to move his arms to hoist himself up, but they remained motionless. The pain in his head, the nausea in his stomach, and the darkness at the edges of his vision began to intensify.
"Help!" He tried to call out, but all he managed was a slurred moan.
"…the rent-a-cop they hired to patrol campus found me almost immediately. He thought I was just some drunk kid who passed out, but I guess I had seizure or something. I was rushed to the hospital where I proceeded to OD on the date rape drug." He finished while looking at the floor. Shawn really didn't want to see the look on his friends face, especially when he was just starting to get over that bit of his past.
It didn't take long to have another flash back, but this time Shawn was surprised at how fast this one had attacked his brain.
Hide in cold sweat
All that you can turning you red
The lyrics haunted him from afar as his body convulsed violently. He wasn't sure if he'd heard them before, or if he was making them up. He was glad for them, despite the depressing overtones they provided. They gave him something to concentrate on that wasn't why his body was betraying him, why his eyelids had suddenly become too heavy to lift, why the pain in his stomach and head wouldn't go away.
His mind was hazy, he couldn't' exactly remember what caused all of this, but he wanted out. He wanted to go home to cuddle with his mom and for her to tell him he was going to be okay. He wanted to see Gus who would ignore that this happened and help him move on. He wanted life to be simple again.
He tried again to open his eyes. They wouldn't budge. Most of all he wanted to see light again, to be able to see anything that wasn't darkness. He felt his breath quicken, coming in short rasps. The darkness began to press down on him and his chest tightened as fear creeped into his mind. The panic attack intensified and Shawn fought for a breath. His lungs protested the lack of air and his mind was screaming orders to breathe. But he just couldn't do it. He couldn't will his lungs to rise and for his throat to suck in air.
"I NEED A CRASH CART!"
The voice startled him sending a brief flash of light across his eyes. Crash cart? Was he hurt? That would explain the pain.
His thoughts halted as a strong jolt coursed through his body. He went numb in response and felt tears prick the back of his eyes as a wave of pain hit his brain. The jolt happened again moments later, stronger than before. He wanted to cry out but the cry was stuck in his throat along with the breath that he couldn't swallow.
"GAHH-!" His cry was cut off by something heavy being forced over his mouth and nose. Instantly oxygen was being forced into his body. He was glad for it because now his lungs could relax, but the rest of his body convulsed with the pain that was a result of the jolts.
His head grew even foggier and slowly the darkness won out and he was no longer conscious.
For a moment after his flash back it was totally silent. Gus held a steady gaze at his best friend, pondering what exactly to say, what could he say to offer comfort? In the end he settled on a low whistle. "I always knew you were part cat," He offered blandly. Shawn simply shook his head in return.
"Then I should tell you about how I lost life eight then," He said seriously. Gus' eyes came up sharply.
"You mean to tell me there is more?"
"Tons." Shawn said before launching into the next story before his confidence was lost.
Pink. White. Red.
Those colors blended together before fading into a gray blob of nothing. Light danced before him in a taunting pattern, but it too began to fade like the colors.
He'd been stuck here in this limbo for a long while. Every now and then the colors would change and the light would get brighter. One particular time the colors turned dark and when they finished blending he noted that the shade was a sickening resemblance to blood. The light vanished completely and he was left in total darkness with a loud ringing in his ears.
That lasted for a long time. Hours, maybe.
Slowly the colors began to become brighter, and the light stayed longer before dieing. The ringing slowed and vanished.
Before him the scene of colors faded into a picture of a room. It was foggy, but he could make out a multitude of machines and a dark face behind a mask hovering over his face. To his left a light was clicked on, blinding him temporarily. A slur of words were yelled and a jolt of electricity coursed through his body leaving him numb.
It was a sensation that he had felt before, and in an instant flashes of the last time he was like this hit him full force. He was sure he whimpered at this point, but his body was beyond his control.
The colors faded back into his line of sight and eventually he men in masks disappeared all together, but the sounds of machines and rushed words still sounded once in a while.
Gus stared at him apprehensively. "You don't have to finish this one Shawn," His face held a sick look and Shawn shook his head.
"You were right, I need to. Oddly I feel better, but only just. The reliving part is still fairly taxing." Shawn paused a moment, squeezing his frog in a slow rhythm. "They said I died twice on the table, so technically I lost lives eight and seven. It took two surgeries and three days before the bleeding stopped. Once it did thought, I developed an infection and the wound wouldn't heal. That was the longest wait of my entire life." He said thickly while running a hand through his hair.
"Shawn, I really don't know what to say to this. I'd say I'd offer my sympathies, but you'd kill me. I'd say I wished I had known, but at the same time I don't, because I can see you really don't want anyone to know your secrets." Gus said moving to sit in one of the armchairs. Shawn heaved himself to his feet and followed, opting to flop on the couch.
"If I could, I would gladly erase every last memory. I think part of me thought that if I never told anyone, then it would go away."
Gus nodded understandingly. "Like my ACT incident," he said referring to the time he forgot his name while taking the ACT. "One question though," Gus began with a curious face. "How come no one on your emergency contact list was notified?"
"I refused to give my name. The only thing I would tell them was to bill my cousin Shawn Spencer."
"You can do that?"
"I did. Quite plainly I just didn't talk, not even when the asked me about my pain levels and such. I was too wrapped up in self pity, but in the end it worked out because if my father knew any of this, he wouldn't hesitate to use it as a lecture." Shawn sighed, "Ready for lives five and six?"
Gus just shot him an exasperated look.
"Well technically they aren't really lost lives, but the situations could have gone either way."
Before he could continue his phone began to play a simple melody that signaled an incoming call. He debated for a minute on whether or not to answer it, but in the end he decided to at least see who it was.
"Jules?" He said aloud and looked at Gus.
"Answer it. It might be important."
Shawn rolled his eyes, "Or you just want a break to soak in my soap opera life."
"You know that's right. I'm going to go grab a beer, want one?"
Shawn shook his head and cleared his throat before answering the phone. "Jules!" He said with a bit to much enthusiasm. Behind him Gus snorted.
"Desperate!" He coughed into his hand. Shawn flipped him off behind his head and listened for Juliet to reply.
"Shawn! You answered," She said with a hint of surprise.
"Why wouldn't I?"
"You didn't answer my last four texts."
"Wait, you texted me?" Shawn said with confusion. He would have heard his phone go off if she had, but then again he was a bit preoccupied.
"Shawn are you okay?"
"Why wouldn't I be?"
"That's not an answer."
"I'm fine," he said with force. It wasn't that he didn't want to talk to her, it was that he didn't want to talk to her, now. Gus sat back down in front of him and rolled his eyes.
"Smooth," He whispered.
"What to do you expect?" Shawn hissed covering the phone.
"Less forcefulness and a better acting job," He hissed back.
"Let's see you try!"
"I'm not the one she called."
"Hello? Shawn? Are you there? That's it! I'm coming over to Psych."
Shawn jumped at the sound of her voice, having forgotten about her while fighting with Gus. "No! Wait! Jules that's not neces-" The ominous dial tone filled his ears and he cursed loudly.
"Jules is coming."
Gus shrugged, "Good, that'll save you telling her about the rest of your non-tella-novella."
"What? There is no way I'm telling Jules any of this."
"You have to now." Gus said smugly.
"Your planning something…" Shawn said through narrow eyes.
"Nope, but it's healthy. That and I don't want to be the only one who knows this stuff. You know how I get when we share secrets only we know. I'm a ticking time bomb Shawn, one day I'm just going to explode."
"You know about the fake psychicness." Shawn pointed out.
"So does your father."
"What about the pier with Abigail back in high school?"
"You told your mother and now Abigail knows."
"When I glued everything to Lassie's desk?"
"The entire police department knew except Lassiter."
"You aren't going to let me win are you?"
"Not a chance."
Shawn sighed and sent his friend a glare. He returned it with a nonchalant shrug and a grin.
"Juliet!" Gus greeted her with a grin. She returned it before making a B-line to the couch with her hands on her hips.
"What is wrong?"
"Where to begin…"
Gus looked on with annoyance. "Shawn! It takes her four words for you to crack and I have to hide your car keys and badger you for three days?"
Shawn shrugged innocently. "You are just too fun to rile up buddy."
Gus sat in his chair with a huff. Juliet rolled her eyes and sat beside Gus.
"To save time, I'm going to do a brief overview of how I lost four of my nine lives." He turned to Juliet, "I am three parts jackal, but eight parts cheetah."
It took some time, but Shawn repeated every bit of his story to Juliet, with a bit more confidence than the first time. It was strange telling her all this when she really didn't know him all that well. Besides obscure eighties references, an odd affinity for pineapple, and a die hard addiction to smoothies, this was the most she had ever found out about him in one sitting.
He had to give her credit, she didn't interrupt once, and she bit back the sobbing chokes that Gus couldn't. Shawn could see that it was paining her to hear all this, but he wasn't about to stop. Gus was right, it was good to get it off his chest. Cole was right in that respect too, but Shawn was never able to find one thing Cole had been wrong about.
As the words poured out of him, along went his self pity, the angst that had built up, all the sadness and pain over loosing Cole, and every bit of bitterness associated with his father.
Before him sat two of his closest friends who listened to what he had to say, nodded in the right parts, and looked genuinely concerned for him. Instantly his fear of being treated different dissipated and he was left feeling good. Great even.
As he finished his last story about being held hostage during a bank robbery he smiled through sad tears that he wasn't aware had started falling.
"And the best part about this all is that crazy old bastard who taught me life's greatest lesson: Never push away anyone who wants to be there for you, because if you do it'll be a long and lonely life."
Finally he was done talking and he sat back against the couch and let himself relax. Beside him Gus sat and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. Juliet followed suit and wrapped her arm around him and gave him a long hug.
For a long time they sat like that, and for that Shawn was thankful.