Chapter One:

13 minutes

It had been three very, very long days for Gus.

This was his current mantra as he pulled into the awaiting parking space in front of the Psych office building. Bags already forming under his eyes, he took one last look at the clock underneath his dashboard before shutting off the blue Echo with a sigh.

'6 am…' He mentally groaned, '4 hours of driving straight. I'll be lucky to catch an hour nap before work.'

It wasn't that he didn't enjoy attending the completely-paid-for pharmaceutical conventions that Central Coast had to offer. In fact, any other time Gus would thoroughly enjoy the time away from Santa Barbra to divulge in the wonders of discovering new medicines and prescriptions, all the while interacting with his fellow kind. It was what he would call his 'trip back into the normal world'

Sadly, the long week of juggling his full-time job and cases at Psych seemed to suck away any energy he had left over to relish the wonders of the 'normal world' After a weekend of work-related learning at the convention, the 4 hour drive home left him feeling as though he spent a month in his car.

He didn't blame anyone but himself, seemingly taking on more than he could handle even while knowing he had a packed weekend in front of him.

Still, Gus couldn't help but find himself a little bitter as he approached the Psych building. He would never blame Shawn for the lack of enjoyment he had at his – what was it that Shawn called it? Drug seller meeting? Yeah, forget that, he blamed Shawn a little bit. As if that wasn't anything new.

Gus decided he would think of his revenge later. For right now, his plan was to quickly snatch the Central Coast memos that he had forgotten on his desk Friday before leaving town, go home and shower, maybe nap, and start off the work-week with a few cups of coffee.

Monday's sucked, he decided.

Pulling out of his pocket the key for the Psych office, Gus went to unlock the door when his hand stopped just centimeters before touching the lock.

"Wha…" He trailed off, confused.

Just slightly was the door already cracked, the slit not even large enough to be considered any definition of the word 'open' And yet it was. Their office door was unlocked, opened, and waiting for any burglar to take their plasma TV or Wii.

Gus's face went red, 'If I find a homeless bum defecating on my sofas I will KILL Shawn!' He thought as he aopened the door, peering around carefully before stepping inside. Better safe than sorry; it would be his luck that some creep was waiting behind the door with a baseball bat and chloroform.

If he got chloroformed, he would really kill Shawn.

Though a baseball bat wasn't a bad idea…Gus snatched the nearest weapon he found in reach, deciding not to dwell on the fact that a Lethal Weapon box-set wouldn't do all that much damage if he was held at gunpoint or…hell, if the burglar had their toaster he would be screwed.

Rounding off the corner, Gus's eyes darted around the room to find the source of any possible intruders. Couch, desk, desk, chair, trash, sofa, lazy boy…

The search result had his stomach dropping to his feet like a brick, and he could feel his heart resuming its proper beating once he found his breath again.

Though Gus would swear he forgot how to breathe at the sight before him.


He discarded the Lethal Weapon DVDs, hearing the faint sound of its abandonment to the floor as he rushed to the Lazy Boy chair. "Shawn!" The whisper turned to a shout, and as his brain tried to comprehend the situation, Gus fell on his knees in front of his friend.

His ears pounded as blood rushed through his head. He could barely hear the sound of his knees cracking on the ground, or his hand slapping against Shawn's face harder as the seconds went on. His attempts went from slight taps to full-on hitting.

It was a disturbing sight. It was a sight he never wanted to remember. Shawn lay sprawled, literally sprawled on the lazy boy. If it weren't for his once-soaked clothes sticking to the leather, he would've slumped to the floor long ago. His clothes damp, his skin muddy and his hair a combination of both, his friend looked like he had just hitch-hiked from Kansa to the sunshine state.

Gus panicked, "Shawn, this isn't funny!" He fumbled for his cell phone, his hands suddenly very cold – because why else would they be shaking like a hypothermia patient? It wasn't shock, that's for sure. Fearless Guster didn't do shock. "Come on Shawn, answer me!" Gus practically screamed. Okay, maybe shock wouldn't be such a bad assessment.

Panic wasn't the word anymore. Because Shawn's face was deathly pale – no, pale wasn't the word for it. His face was gray, like a corpse, and the dark circles under his eyes put a gothic teenage girl to shame. And his skin was cold. Like a corpse.

And Gus could barely feel a pulse.

The 911 operator said an ambulance would arrive in about 13 minutes. 4 hour trip be damned, the next 13 minutes was the longest of his entire life.

Gus would do just about anything right now to trade the current sight of his best friend for a drunk, peeing homeless bum.