Be Kind, Rewind
"I…am in awe."
In the station's briefing room, Karen stood still as a statue at the large rectangle table before them. Surrounding her were Detective's Lassiter and O'Hara, Officer McNab, and Henry and Gus, all five sitting patiently and quietly in their seats.
She on the other hand, stood with her hands planted firmly on the table, examining the reports below her until every sentence written had been memorized in her mind. The longer she looked at the words, the more confusing things got. The harder she tried to put the pieces together, the more disorganized the puzzle became.
It made no sense.
"In my 19 years of police work…I have…" She let out a deep exhale, "never seen a case come together like this."
No one dared to utter a word in responds. She shot Lassiter a look, expecting her Head Detective to offer some words.
He merely pointed back at the files in front of her, as if saying 'it's all there, I got nothin' else'
Turning to Henry, he simply shrugged.
And when she looked back down at the reports, she found nothing but random confusion.
Karen straightened her posture, finally asking, "Will someone care to explain what happened?"
Suddenly, faster than she could blink had the room exploded into a clutter of noise and words, all overlapping on each other.
"Chief, the suspect turned out to be-"
"I knew that Garber was a potential suspect but I had no idea-"
"I went in and the next thing I knew Shawn was-"
"The F-150 Silver Ford Truck turned out to be-"
"Karen, when I put the clues together-"
"Blood…so much blood…"
Vick fought the urge to cover her ears.
Voices fell quiet almost as quickly as they had spoken up. The Chief took a deep breath of air, taking a moment to calm her reveres before filling the void of silence that had fallen onto the room.
"One at a time, please." Karen said, turning to Lassiter. "Detective?"
At hearing his name, Carlton's head shot up.
"Please, explain to me how Benjamin Garber became a suspect. The last I heard, he had been clear of any suspicion."
Maybe the exhaustion had fallen taken its toll, but Lassiter could only find himself shrugging at his boss.
"Spencer's the one that pinned Garber dirty. You'll have to ask him." Carlton replied, finger pointing three chairs down from where he and Henry sat apart.
Karen looked towards his direction, "Henry?"
He shrugged as well.
"It's like I told you, the guy's behavior was too erratic." Henry started, a tired hand running down his face. "Shawn knew that, his case report detailed those things more so than the other files. He wouldn't have mentioned little details like that unless there was a reason. It didn't add up."
She nodded her head slowly. "And his ex-wife…all that was a lucky coincidence?"
Juliet shot her hand in the air, gaining everyone's attention. "Actually, Chief, not so much. As it turns out, when Ben was watching Carlton and I at McLean's apartment the night of the incident, he caught on that the hit and run was being investigated. That's when he tried to kill Michelle like he had Shawn."
Catching on to what she was saying, Buzz vigorously nodded his head. "Whan shwe kalled ahe polease, Ohhcer Dobson awwrized an ahe szene-"
"Buzz, Buzz - dislocated jaw." Gus cut off the officer, unable to fight the eye roll that followed. "What part of that don't you understand?"
As if reminded of the damage done to his beaten and swollen face, Buzz gave a tiny smile to the man sitting next to him. Unable to do much else, he pointed his bandaged finger to a stack of reports in front of them.
Gus grabbed the papers from the Chief, his eyes scanning the words until he came across the paragraph that needed to be recited.
"When she called the police, Officer Dobson arrived on the scene. He said, since she had no tag numbers and there wasn't any proof of the attempt, there was nothing that could be done. She insisted that Garber was out to kill her, and he told her she would need to file a restraining order if she felt that strongly." Gus finished, setting the files back down.
Karen paused, letting the information sink in.
"So the timing…when she came in to file the protective order…?"
"Garber had been watching her for the past few days. When he saw her head to the station, he knew it was his chance to make an attempt on Spencer." Carlton had barely finished speaking with Henry spoke up next.
"Luckily for us, he didn't expect that Lassiter and I would remember the truck he'd been driving around. Once we heard Michelle's side of the story, and discovered that Garber had been dying his hair to mask his identity, the situation made sense."
Eyes still scanning the papers, Karen couldn't seem more lost if she had been thrown out in the wilderness blindfolded without shoes. Just twelve hours ago, the very case that sat on her briefing table had been closed with no possible suspects. Not long before that had the very man who committed the crime been declared innocent by default.
And all of these answers just so happened to be a coincidence of good timing? Nearly twenty years of police work…and she wasn't kidding, she hadn't seen anything like this.
Gus, who had been quiet through most of the conversation, seemed to understand what Karen was stuck on.
"Luck." He spoke up, his hoarse voice grabbing their attention. "It was pure luck, Chief. The timing…figuring it out just at the right moment…those two remembering the beaten up truck…it was pure luck."
No one seemed to dispute that statement. Even Lassiter, the man who declared that a reason needed to be behind everything, sat back in his chair with mild agreement to the sales man. After all, there was really no other way to put it.
"Whis bust bea how Shown ahways eels."
Carlton shot his head down the rows of chairs, "What!"
"He said," Juliet sighed, "This must be how Shawn always feels."
Henry shook his head, arms crossed over his chest. "Mhm…I don't think so. Not this time, anyways. Shawn knew the end result way before any of us. It was just a matter of getting the message across."
"I can only hope that Mr. Spencer-well, Shawn," Karen corrected herself, making sure not to confuse the elder Spencer in the room. "I hope that Shawn can clear up the cob webs left from what can't be answered here."
Ears burning with silence, Karen noted how strange it felt not to hear a retort thrown back in the air.
After days of arguing, fighting, disagreements and overall no solid ground to be found, to sense everyone in the room having agreed on the same thing left them with a uneasy but calm peace that couldn't be described. A glance or two was exchanged down the line of chairs, all five wondering if anything else had to be said. And yet, they all knew the same thing. While not completely, totally and utterly over…
It was finally over.
"Henry," Karen looked up, concern radiating her eyes. "How is Shawn? The last I heard…"
"He's fine." Henry cut in. "He's out of surgery; the doctors are watching him closely tonight for any more signs of bleeding. But he's fine."
Juliet, seated next to McNab, placed a hand on his knee with a smile. "What you did was really amazing, Buzz."
Buzz merely gave a wave of his hand, a selfless grin that spoke 'nah, it was nothing.'
Carlton wasn't so satisfied with that answer. "You still have yet to explain what the hell you were doing there this morning, McNab."
Before Buzz could attempt to open his locked jaw, the Chief quickly jumped in.
"Actually, on that note, you all have yet to explain to me in sensible detail what happened after Garber was put in cuffs."
Once again, no one seemed to have anything to reply with.
So, once again, Karen turned to her Head Detective.
Carlton grudgingly sat forward in his seat. "I don't have much to add, Cheif. Like I said, I had to drag Garber out of the room before the whole incident with Spencer – both Spencer's – had even gone down. But…"
"Garber, KNOCK IT OFF!"
Carlton fought to keep both of Ben's feet planted to the ground, the grungy and foul-reeking man putting up a struggle as a pair of handcuffs made their way to his wrists. To say he was thankful when O'Hara joined him in the detainment would be an understatement.
"Kid, back to the bed. Now."
The detective barely caught a glance of the scene occurring just across from him, where in the corner of the hospital room Henry gripped his son's shoulder's like he was leading a blind man. His bare feet tripping over wires and IV bags, Spencer giggled – actually giggled as they made their way to the bed.
Shawn chuckled, "Whoa…tilt-a-whirl."
Having both wrists in handcuffs, Juliet dashed from helping Carlton control their suspect to keeping any more blood from spilling out of McNab, who was still seated on the floor and smiling like a baboon.
The mob of nurses that came rushing in seemed more attentive to the gushing blood that flew from the officer's nostrils than the actual patient in the room. If it were any other time, and if he didn't have a crazy lunatic in his hands, Lassiter would've expressed his discontent to that, and he would've expressed it with a rainbow of colors.
"Yes, yes, tilt-a-whirl." Henry mumbled, "Shawn, bed. Now."
Just as Carlton was about to ask if everything was alright, or some sort of mixture of those words, a thrash of 230 pounds crashed into him and sent him slamming into the wall.
He had lost his patience.
Nearly a week of exhaustion, frustration, hopelessness, and a sickening guilt that he only recently came to terms with had boiled down to this very moment. With all his might, Carlton threw Garber not only out of the room, but down the hallway that led outside. He felt no remorse when the man's knees hit the hospital tile with a harsh crack.
"You," Carlton hissed, "Are under arrest for the attempted murders of Shawn Spencer and Michelle Paton. Anything you say or do can and will be held against you in a court of law."
He bent down, grabbing Ben by the dirt-covered jacket and throwing him back on his feet. "You have the right to speak to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you." Carlton grabbed his shoulders and spun the man around, facing him eye-to-eye.
"Do. you. understand?"
The pools of green that stared back into his sent a chill down his spine. Not out of regret, and surely not out of fear. No, as Carlton stared straight into Garber's eyes, he saw only one pure essence boring straight back through him.
Ben scoffed. "You ain't got nothin' on me."
"Are you RETARDED!" Lassiter snapped. "You tried to kill two people! If you think that you're getting away with that, you are off your rocker, Garber!"
His eyes never flickered. "Prove it."
Carlton had enough. With his hands gripping the chain of the handcuffs, he spun Ben around in the direction of Shawn's hospital room.
"There!" He shouted. "That, right there. That man in that damn room. Is that enough proof for you! That you crashed into him going over 70 miles per hour, threw him into a light pole, and let him bleed out for over five hours!"
With the horde of nurses running around inside the room like chickens with their heads cut off, you could barely catch a glimpse of either Spencer, though the occasional truffle of brown hair from the youngest could be seen on occasion.
Nonetheless, whatever he was looking at seemed to make no impression on Ben. You could show him a dancing cow and he'd have the same expression. It was as if he was staring straight through space.
"I want to see my Chelle."
He could barely keep the laugh from emitting through his throat.
"You…you are legitimately crazy." Carlton shook his head, grabbing Garber's wrists and leading him down the hallway. "You're not going to make this interrogation easy, are you?"
Ben weakly fought against Lassiter's hands. "I want to see my Chelle!"
"Code Blue, Room H5B. Code Blue, Room H5B."
Halfway down the recovery unit, Carlton found himself back-tracking his steps until he was able to peek his sight to the corner of the hallway, dragging Garber with him the whole way. A gray-haired doctor came rushing to the room, stethoscope and white jacket swinging in the air as he rushed into the same room where the code was called.
"Get him out of here, now!"
"Get a surgery room prepped, asap!"
"Page Doctor Briggs, let him know we're on our way!"
"I want to see my Chelle!"
Carlton was shocked back to reality, where he threw Garber away from the sight almost as quickly as he threw himself away from it.
Walking down the hallway, he grumbled, "You're about to experience your worst nightmare, Garber."
"Damn, Lassie!" Gus whistled. "You went all John McLane on his ass."
Fingers rubbing at his left temple, Carlton held back a groan. "Guster, you realize there are moments where you're worse than your counterpart?"
"Awually, I hawe to awgree with hem. Tottawy Die Hawd."
Carlton shot forward in his chair, infuriation running through his veins. "McNab, will you stop talking!"
There was a pause in the room as everyone, the Chief included, tried to comprehend Lassiter's outburst.
Before The Chief or even Juliet could even consider punishing him for the tantrum, a Styrofoam cup was shoved in his face from two chairs down his way.
"Carlton," Henry tiredly said, "You need this more than I do."
Karen blinked, taking a moment before shaking off the incident that had just occurred. As she shuffled through the papers below her, she cleared her throat hesitantly.
"Okay…gentlemen…" She started, "Detective Lassiter? Care to share your interrogation report?"
Carlton took one more sip of the stale and slightly backwashed coffee before setting it down on the table. "Yeah, he's crazy."
Gus huffed, "No duh."
"No, he's crazy." Lassiter repeated. "He's had bi-polar disorder and a lingering social anxiety disorder that developed into severe schizophrenia after he discovered his wife was cheating on him. He was a ticking time bomb ready to explode; currently occupying a nice white room as we speak."
This seemed to go over Gus's head.
"What?" He managed to choke out.
Ben? The same Ben that they had brunch with, shared stories with, laughed at the same stupid jokes with? If his world hadn't already been turned upside down, this surely would've done the trick. Pinning Ben as a lunatic was like pinning Juliet as a prostitute – though he'd never utter that analogy out loud.
He was shocked.
"From now on, Gus," Henry spoke up, "You guys are doing background checks on your clients. I don't care if you have to hire me to do them…they're being done."
Gus didn't seem to hear his friend's father. "Ben was…?"
"Crazy as a bag of hammers." Carlton wouldn't look at him as he spoke, but instead merely pointed at his stack of papers in front of them.
Gus didn't bother to look at the papers. The proof was in the pudding, and the pudding was his best friend lying injured in a hospital bed. Still, the truth was hard to swallow.
Juliet frowned, "Sorry, Gus."
The apology seemed to do nothing for him. Eyes staring ahead, he couldn't wrap his mind around the words he'd just heard. The same man he and Shawn had become such good friends for, if only for a short while, had been someone completely different than whom they thought. He didn't know if he felt hurt, shocked, disgusted or just moot to the whole deal.
Maybe, like Lassiter, he was just too tired to deal with his emotions.
Chief Vick's voice brought them back to focus. "Okay, as great as this information is, it still doesn't explain what happened between the time Garber was taken out of the hospital and where we are now." She said.
All heads either bowed to the floor, or looked in another direction.
Karen sighed, "Detective O'Hara?"
"I'm…sorry, Chief, but I was hauled out by staff before I knew anything serious was going on." Juliet admitted.
Buzz nodded his head, "Amd I-"
"And Buzz," Juliet interrupted, "was taken downstairs to be treated for his injuries. Gus, where were you?"
As if remembering the salesman, everyone turned to where he sat, the man having suddenly found the Arboricola floor plant to be the most interesting object in the room.
"Bathroom. Puking. So much blood…"
Juliet's eyes widened, though not surprised she was a little taken aback. "Ahhh."
A beat of silence fell over the group before Vick stepped in once more.
"Henry?" She directed her words to the eldest and retired detective.
Shrugging, Henry didn't have a lot to offer. "Karen, I told you – Shawn's sutures ripped open and he began to bleed out again."
Tired, cranky, and ready to go home, the Chief wasn't close to letting that be the final answer she heard.
"Okay…how about some detail on that statement?"
Henry perked an eyebrow. "And how so?"
Karen returned the look.
"Pick up where Detective Lassiter left off."
Years of wisdom and experience gave Henry the knowledge of when he could still fight a battle, and when he had lost. There was no getting out of this one, and it was obvious to everyone in the room. He sat forward with a sigh.
"The damn kid wouldn't get back in bed…"
"Yes, yes, tilt-a-whirl." Henry mumbled, "Shawn, bed. Now."
Though the giggling had yet to cease, it became uncomfortably obvious that Shawn was beginning to lose his footing as they made the eight foot distance to his bed. It almost amazed him how a simple and short distance had since tripled between half-carrying his son, and shuffling away from the mess that had been created in the fight. Henry made sure that if one of them were to trip over the blankets or IV bags, it would be him.
Still, not even halfway to the hospital bed and it made his heart jump at how fast Shawn had paled. Giggling or not, the kid was not fine.
With a lopsided grin, Shawn chuckled as his father guided him through the mess.
"Hehe…slip..slip-ar-y. Slip..slipp…" While he fought to find control over his tongue, his eyes having squeezed tightly shut. "Slip…pery. Hardtotalk…"
Henry paused, gripping one arm around Shawn's bicep while keeping the other steady on his shoulder. "Shawn, wh-"
His attention was stolen for a moment, only a split second as the the outburst from across the room startled him. His eyes caught sight of Lassiter, the detective fighting against the thrashing scum of dirt that had done all this to begin with. His grip tightened on Shawn's shoulders, steadying the man for a moment while he made sure that the detective had a grip on the situation at hand.
He couldn't deny the desire to leave Shawn and beat the lunatic to a bloody pulp.
It was only when Carlton and Garber were out of the room that he noticed all three nurses who had arrived were on their knees, caring to the freakish blood nose that Officer McNab had going on.
"Sir, sir, just tilt your head-"
"I'md finde, I'md FINDE!"
His hearing almost didn't pick it up. Henry was so caught up in the chaos around them that the small, tiny voice that escaped Shawn had gone over his head until the very moment that the man went slack in his arms.
It took approximately 0.3 seconds for his world to collapse.
It was 0.1 second for him to realize that Shawn's knees had buckled, and the kid was heading towards the floor at lightning speed.
It was another 0.1 second for him to keep Shawn from hitting the floor at lightning speed, barely getting a grasp under his armpits before the kid had a chance to further bruise himself up.
And the other 0.1 second? He'd remember that moment as clearly as when he had seen Shawn for the first time after the hit and run, when the kid was so near deaths door that the doctors had prepared them for the worst.
He'd remember it so well because Shawn looked practically the same right now as he did then. That scared him more than the fear he felt racking through his body just minutes before, running through the hospital like a mad-man to reach his son.
Shawn swallowed hard, no doubt harder than any human should have to. "Da..d."
As Henry fought to bring Shawn upright, the kid nothing but deadweight in his arms, he noted every little detail he could.
Pale, cold and clammy skin, shaking limbs, hard breathing -
"Shawn? Shawn, damn it, come on kid." Henry was almost positive that his son couldn't even hear his voice anymore, but he wasn't about to let the kid pass out on a cold hospital floor.
In a rushed struggle, they both managed to make their way to the hospital bed, where he waited until Shawn was back on the mattress before he let his nerves and panic take over.
His scream echoed the hospital room
"I need a doctor!"
Maybe it was the shake in his voice, or the way he shouted so loudly even the staff downstairs could hear him, but the pile of nurses who so bluntly ignored them before finally seemed to pay attention to the issue at hand.
"Sir, what is it that I can help with?"
Henry didn't even let her finish the last word before he interjected.
"Get his doctor. Now." Henry demanded, his finger pointing out the wide-open door not far from them.
Slightly insulted, the red-haired nurse tried to step forward. "Sir, I'm perfectly capable of-"
Henry wasn't too sure what made the nurse realize how serious he was. Perhaps it was his threatening tone, or the suddenly deteriorating condition of his son, but nonetheless, he was thankful for it. In that moment, he watched as her eyes bugged out of their sockets and she rushed out of the room in haste, though not before jostling one of her co-workers into realizing what was happening right behind them.
The second nurse seemed to realize it too. It was then Henry realized it hadn't been his threatening voice.
"Sir, lay him back. Now!" Her voice cried almost as loudly as Henry had just seconds before. "NOW!"
Henry, slightly startled, fought to find the switch on the bed that reclined the mattress. Luckily, the nurse was in action before his mind could even comprehend that she had gone from McNab to them as quickly she did.
As Shawn was reclined in the bed, it hit Henry like bricks at what had caught the nurses, though not his, attention.
"Cindy, why aren't the alarms going off!" Nurse two shouted, fiddling with the wires surrounding Shawn. "Damn it – sir! Get him to open his eyes, we need his eyes open."
Henry gulped, his ears ringing so loudly that he barely heard what the nurse had said. His attention was only focused on two things – his son's lips and fingernails, both turning blue as the ocean.
He snapped back. "H-He just collapsed. He started to feel out of it and he-"
"Okay, I understand." She held her patience together, eyes never looking up from the wires she handled. "But I need you to get him to open his eyes."
"Shawn, son – come on." Henry didn't hesitant to gently grip Shawn's quivering jaw, startled at the coolness that radiated off his skin. "Come on, son. Don't do this to your old man, not twice in a row. Shawn-"
A voice interrupted the chaos.
"Okay folks, what do we have going on here?"
Henry spun towards the sound, eyebrows darting down in confusion at the new comer in the room. Dressed in a white lab coat was a middle-age man, probably not much older than himself judging by the salted colored hair he carried.
Between all that his nerves had encountered not only in the past week, but in the past five minutes, Henry didn't bother to bite his tongue when he said, "Who the hell are you?"
"Hi, yes," The doctor nodded in his direction as he helped the nurse with hooking Shawn back up to the monitors. "My name is Doctor Cade. Is Shawn here still conscious; can we get a responds out of him?"
"Wait, no," Henry shook his head, "Doctor Anderson is his doctor."
"Doctor Anderson was his doctor. Your son is under my care now, and it's very important that you help me-"
Henry cut him off, "I'm sorry; you'll have to excuse me, but considering the fact that a lunatic ran through this room and tried to kill my son, I hope you understand my hesitance towards anyone claiming that-"
This seemed to catch Doctor Cade off guard. "Where the hell is security!"
"Blood pressure is dropping further, doctor!" A nurse retorted.
"Find me a reason why, nurse." He looked back at Henry, a forced smile on his face. "You're his father, right?"
"Mr. Spencer, your son was put under my care last night. I can guarantee you that it was done for his best interest, but as I do that I'll be needing your help."
Call it instincts, but as confused as he was, Henry not only believed the doctor, but decided to trust him.
Doctor Cade began untangling the blankets near the end of the bed. "I need Shawn's attention; can you get that for me?" He asked, all the while removing the sheets and blankets until Shawn's bare legs were revealed, his body only covered loosely in a blue hospital gown.
Henry fought off a sigh. He refused to be defeated, but the kid was impossible to wake up any other day of the week – he held doubt that he could do anything in this situation.
Yelling never did anything for the kid. He could yell until China heard every word he said and it'd do neither of them any good. His words always went one ear and out the other – to this day he never knew how to get through to the kid.
"Shawn…" Henry forced a deep breath, refusing to let his voice shake anymore. "Kid, I know you can hear me. Come on, just…do me a favor and open your eyes."
Leaning over the bed, Henry's had his face placed mere inches from where Shawn laid back, the two so close that he could practically feel the puffs of air that escaped through his son's nose.
He brushed back a strand of hair, "Come on, kid. You can do it."
One eyelid, then the other slowly but surely started to peer open. Just when Henry was absolutely positive that there were small slits between each lid, and just when he was sure that he had gotten through to his son, the sound of blaring and piercing alarms shocked him into jumping back.
"Jesus!" Henry hissed. He looked up, glaring at the doctor who still had his finger on the switch to the machine's power button.
Doctor Cade mumbled, "Sorry, Mr. Spencer." The words held very little sympathy to them, rather his eyes stayed focused on the machinery with an expression that Henry didn't like.
Yet again, he didn't need a look to tell him something was wrong. Even without the blaring alarms, the nurse paging surgery for a clear room, and the sudden rampage of extra staff in the room, he could tell you something was wrong.
"Get a surgery room prepped, ASAP!"
"Page Doctor Briggs, let him know we're on our way!"
"Shawn, you there?" Doctor Cade's voice was louder than normal, the volume finding its way over the panicked nurses while he spoke as if his patient had his ears plugged.
There was a pause, and then…
"Mhmmm..." Dry and cracked lips barely split apart, "Ela…phan...t…ca…'t…Gus…da..d..."
Shawn's head lolled to the side, his teeth still chattering with a cold that ran only through his bones.
"I'm right here, Shawn." Henry gripped his son's shoulder, the only part of him not being invaded by hospital staff. He looked up, concern flowing through his eyes. "Doctor?"
"The stitches inside Shawn's stomach have ripped open." Doctor Cade explained, working between talking to the father and unlocking the hospital bed wheels for transportation. "He's currently bleeding out again and very heavily at that. We need to get him back into surgery and fix it."
Henry shook his head. "But what-"
As they began to wheel the bed outside the room, tracking trails of blood and saline with them – and was that a gun on the floor? Regardless of what surrounded them, Doctor Cade kept his eyes locked on the father.
"I understand that you're confused, Mr. Spencer, and I promise to explain everything more later on. But right now, I need you to step aside and go to the waiting room."
His mind reeling a thousand miles per hour, Henry would've loved the chance to say more. If the scene hadn't ended so abruptly, he probably would've kept the doctor's attention for another twenty minutes. And yet, the hallways were empty before he could even blink.
He wasn't sure how long it was until he realized that he was standing in the middle of the corridor. Surely it was anywhere between a minute to thirty, though he didn't care. Once he realized that he was no longer in the hospital room, and it finally clicked with him that Shawn had been taken away, he slowly came back down to reality.
Two looks around him and Henry came to the realization that Gus and Detective O'Hara weren't anywhere in sight.
One more look and he saw Officer McNab seated down the hall in the 'family waiting area', where two kids who once occupied the space insisted on handing the nurse that treated Buzz with an unnecessary amount of Kleenexes.
He walked up, though not entirely sure what to say at first. Through the black eye, and around the nurse's hands that fiddled with his broken nose, Buzz saw the father and immediately thought the worst.
"Mr. Spancear?" His garbled voice choked out.
"Buzz…" Henry felt his shoulders drop with the sigh that fell out of his mouth. "Thank you."
It was the only words he could find.
For a moment, Henry wished that he could say more to the man that saved his son's life. But as, through the broken bones and bleeding nostrils Buzz grinned ear from ear, he knew nothing else needed to be said.
Karen gaped, struggling to find her breath again.
"Oh, my god."
She knew that something had gone down, both before Garber was arrested and after. However, hearing it in detail set her heart sinking to her legs. She stared at Henry, her eyes wide as saucers while he simply stared down at his own hands, making it obvious nothing more needed to be stated.
The room went eerily quiet, if only for a moment.
She dared to ask, "And Shawn?"
Henry put his hand in the air, stopping her from going further. "Like I said – fine. The kid will be sore as hell, having been gutted like a fish twice in one week…but he'll recover. "
Even Carlton couldn't keep his face from grimacing. He hated to think about what Spencer had coming for him, and no doubt everyone else felt the same way.
Still, after a week of confusion and stress, it was a small relief to know the future ahead of them was planned out. Sure, it was filled with recovery and a lot of paper work on the detective's end, but it was better to know what was to happen than have no idea.
They couldn't imagine what would've happened if they hadn't pushed to solve the case.
Chief Vick shook off the shock and exhaustion from her mind, focusing back on the reports laid out on the table in hopes of picking up where she had left off.
"Officer McNab," She looked up, eyes staring directly at the wide-eyed office, half his face covered in bandages. "You were taken off watch guard duty 8 pm last night. Mind explaining what you were doing in Shawn Spencer's hospital room when all this happened?"
Buzz didn't hide his attempt to fight the grin that threatened its way onto his face. He meant no disrespect to the Chief whatsoever, but as Gus had stated, the immense amount of luck in their situation still had his stomach in butterflies.
Carlton shot a look down his way, "That's a damn good question, McNab. What the hell were you doing there?"
Buzz smiled. "Well…buth Gus amd I tapled it ovar and-"
Gus rolled his eyes, quickly interrupting. "It was around midnight last night, Chief…"
'12:36…' Gus let his arm fall down to his side with a loud 'thud', vowing not to look at the watch on his wrist again until either the sun rose over the horizon, or he was held at gun-point for the time.
He had only been sitting on the bench outside the ER entrance for an half an hour, and yet it felt like a lifetime. Granted, it wasn't nearly as bad as the time he spent tossing and turning in bed, but at this point, running on barely any sleep he'd probably kill a small animal for a good night's rest.
Not to mention, there was something about hospitals that Gus was starting to dislike.
He couldn't pin the reason exactly; maybe it was the impersonal staff, the rush of emergency, or just the remembrance of his best friend laying half-dead surrounded solely by machines that kept him alive that haunted his memory. Regardless of the reason, as he sat outside the hospital, sipping on a steaming hot cup of flavorless coffee, he couldn't stop thinking about how his joy for the medical field had suddenly dimmed to a dying spark over the past week.
To make matters worse, after the incident with Shawn's doctor earlier that afternoon, he had lost a great amount of respect he once had for hospital staff. Even the nurses seemed colder to him now. He was too tired to pin his feelings on the doctors – Doctor Anderson to be specific.
'I should've never let Shawn take that altitude test for me.' Gus solemnly thought. 'I never want to come back to this place again.'
He almost chuckled at the memory of sophomore year in high school, career day leading Shawn to take every test possible from sponsors like the Army to Coastal Pharmaceuticals, all of which under different alias of course. He couldn't deny the slight interest he had found when the company called him back the next week. Abigail, however, wasn't too fond of Fountain Pen Repairments harassing her for a job placement.
The voice brought through his fog.
Gus shot his head up, looking to his left where the sound came from, and a familiar figure stood.
"Buzz?" Gus had squinted his eyes to make sure that exhaustion wasn't playing a trick on his mind. "What are you doing here?"
Giving a small but forced grin, McNab took a seat on the bench next to the salesman. "I could ask you the same thing. It is past midnight, after all. Detective O'Hara told me you and Mr. Spencer went home."
Gus didn't hide the deep sigh that escaped his lungs. He stared down at the foam coffee cup between his hands, unaware that for a moment he found the steam emitting through the lid to have stolen his attention.
"Yeah, well…after the third hour in bed, I kind of figured out that I wasn't going to be sleeping tonight."
"Ah, you too, huh?"
Gus didn't need to look up from the ever-fascinating coffee to hear the sympathetic smile that spoke through Buzz's words. It never ceased to amaze him how the officer held his spirit together even through roughest of situations. He had watched the man stretched to his very thinnest since taking watch-guard duty over Shawn's room and on numerous occasions even seen the cracks split through his broken being.
And yet he still, somehow, held it together. It took all this happening for him to open his eyes, but Gus finally saw something in Buzz that only Shawn could see at one point. That thought alone made him feel closer to the officer, in a twisted 'we're both going through this roller-coaster' sort of way.
"I feel more at use here than at my apartment…even though I can't go near Shawn's room." Gus cocked his head over, scoffing slightly. "You don't have to tell me; it's stupid."
Buzz's grin showed his pearly white teeth. "Hey, look at who you're talking to. I'm not exactly Officer McNab right now."
It had taken those words for realization to dawn on Gus. He finally looked over at the officer, who in fact was dressed in jeans and a dark, ruffled button down. Having been so used to seeing McNab in uniform over the past days, his eyes hadn't even noticed that the man was in his streets, past midnight, here at the hospital with him.
"Juliet told me." It was all Gus needed to say. His words dripped with disbelief that he tried to hide, but so obviously failed at.
When Juliet had spoken to him, along with making him promise that Henry wouldn't hear a single word of the fact, he hadn't believed it. They all knew that Buzz was risking his entire career by going against the Chief's order. At the very least offence, he'd have a black marker on his record for life.
So, it was understood why he hadn't believed it at first.
"Are you really planning on staying the night again?"
Buzz leaned back against the brick wall behind them as he crossed his legs in a casual position.
"I plan on staying until this guy is either caught, or Shawn is discharged." Buzz said, "And I've made that decision long ago. So don't try to talk me out of it like Detective O'Hara."
Gus almost laughed at the idea of even trying to do as much. He had known Buzz long enough to know that he related to Shawn in more ways than just his bubbly personality. The guy could be as stubborn as a mule, and this proved it.
"How much trouble you going to get in for that, Buzz?"
"Who knows." Buzz shrugged uncaringly. "Something in my gut tells me to do this, though. Maybe its Shawn having rubbed off on me, but….I'm not backing down."
There was no doubt Shawn had rubbed off on him. However, Gus knew that this wasn't about that. It's why he didn't fight or protest it. Sure, he wanted to – when Shawn found out that Buzz's tainted his record over him, he'd have a cow on Gus for allowing it to happen.
But, unknowingly, they held the same gut feeling. It's why Gus was here past midnight, uselessly sitting outside the hospital drinking his millionth cup of coffee that day. And it was why Buzz sat by his side, his statement already prepared for when he called out of work the next day while disregarding the Chief's orders.
Now if only gut feelings could give them answers.
Gus finally broke the silence.
"How long have you been here?"
"Eh, not long." Buzz answered, "About an hour or so. Just been walking around, trying to clear my head…"
Gusnodded, no words needing to be said.
The parking lot sounds surrounded them for a good handful of minutes, a few more people coming and going with cigarettes having been put out and phone calls having ended.
It was after the second car alarm that sounded that Buzz finally spoke up.
"Is it true, Gus?"
Gus's tiredly looking over, slightly confused.
Buzz continued, "That they kicked Mr. Spencer out?"
"Yeah, uh…" Gus repositioned himself, fighting off the sleep in his eyes. "They did. For the night, anyways."
Like Gus's disbelief had been turned to reality just moments before, Buzz found himself shocked at something he knew was true, but didn't want to believe.
"Unreal." Buzz grumbled, the shake in his head slowly being a full-forced vent of anger. "That is just unreal. It's a complete invasion of patient privacy!"
Gus blinked, taken aback by Buzz's outburst.
"Yeah, well…I told Shawn years ago he needed to put his father down as his proxy. I warned him, if it came down to paying his bills or pulling the plug-"
"No, no – I mean, yeah, I understand the proxy thing." Buzz explained, slightly apologetic to having interrupted Gus. "The whole thing though, with the painkillers? That doctor was on a serious power trip, Gus."
Gus furrowed his eyebrows. "Doctor Anderson?"
Buzz nodded his head.
"Nah." Gus waved it off. "Sure, he went a little 'do or die' for the moment, but he doesn't seem all that bad of a person. He's put up with Mr. Spencer this long – that takes serious patience."
This didn't seem to sit well with Buzz. "It's still wrong, Gus. I'm sure he's a great guy outside of this hospital…but it isn't fair what he did to you."
Gus couldn't argue with that statement, and he didn't even bother trying to defend the doctor further. Instead, he took another sip of his coffee that had slowly become more nauseating as time passed by.
He hated thinking about this afternoon. It made him sick to his stomach to see his best friend in such a drug-induced haze, panicking and struggling to comprehend smallest detail. Shawn had never struggled to take in his surroundings. Even duct-taped to a chair with a bullet wound in his shoulder, he was able to recite everything down to the amount of pens on Longmore's desk.
It was a side of Shawn he never wanted to see again. He really didn't want to remember that afternoon.
"What do you know about patient privacy laws, Gus?"
Sadly, Buzz wasn't about to drop the subject so easily.
"Huh, what?" Gus rubbed the back of his neck, fighting off the memory. "I-I know the basics, but…"
"It's just…you probably know more than me, that's all. I know what I need to know as a cop, and I'm sure you know what you know from…well…yeah."
Buzz decided to leave the conversation at that. His fingers drummed aimlessly on his knee, himself having found the overweight man in the corner puffing down a cigarette to be more interesting than the uncomfortable silence that had fallen between Gus and him.
Gus, however, was focused on something else.
"Well…looking back on it, he shouldn't have forced a decision at that time." He mumbled, his memory reciting most of what he had learnt over the years. "If Shawn doesn't want the painkillers, the doctor has no choice but to respect that and discuss other options."
Interest having been peaked at Gus's muttering, Buzz found himself looking over at the salesman.
"But if I wanted to fight it, I'd have to take it up with the dean, and all these politics are involved and…" Gus shook his head. "I'm just tired, Buzz. I really don't want to deal with that."
If there was anything that he understood at that point, it was exhaustion. Buzz nodded his head, the conversation ending on that note.
Though they both would've loved to return to their pointless train of thoughts, the two suddenly found themselves immersed in the trapped bubble they had created. It was why Gus had avoided the thought for most of the day – once it was brought up, there was no avoiding it. Just like the sight of Shawn on life support, it was something he either held out of sight, or obsessed over until he drove himself into a bright, white room.
Of course it would be Shawn to drive him insane – literately insane.
Gus straightened his posture, and if only for a moment he entertained a crazy thought that had caught his interest.
Buzz glanced over, "Hm?"
The connection of insanity made no sense to his new thought process.
Gus shook it off, "Nah, it's nothing."
Buzz didn't miss a beat. "No, what?"
"You don't think…" He swallowed through the dryness that invaded his throat. "There couldn't be a possibility this doctor is in on the attempted murder….could there?"
Buzz had heard a lot of crazy things in the past week. The craziest, aside from having watch-guard duty taken off of a man that was still under extreme threat for being attacked, was a woman of three children being a possible suspect for his attempted killer. Out of all the crazy things he had heard, this didn't come close to being one of them.
"We're at the point it could be anyone, Gus."
For a moment, Buzz saw Gus deep in deliberation, a thought process so heavy that he was amazed his exhausted mind could handle such work.
After less than a minute, the man shook his head once more.
"Nah. Like I said, it'd take days to fight this."
Gus looked over just as Buzz smirked – a true, genuine smile that lit up his eyes in a way he'd only seen long before all this had happened. The officer reached into his jean pocket with a cocked his eyebrow.
"Not if you have one of these…"
Though Gus was too exhausted and stressed to truly smile, there was no denying the tug of content that pulled at his lips as Buzz flashed his badge. It was almost theatrical as the overheard lights had caught a reflection and shined a reflection across the letters 'SBPD'
Gus gave the side of his nose a flick, his stomach flipping in a way that only happened when he and Shawn were about to start another stupid and wild case.
"Let's go get Shawn a doctor that he deserves."
"That..." Henry sat back, "Would explain a LOT."
Karen shot the father a look that screamed 'well no duh, Captain Obvious', but otherwise kept her lips shut.
"Well, that would explain what you were doing there, McNab," Carlton looked over at the officer, "But what the hell made you think Spencer was in trouble? We had been seeing Garber around all week, what's your reasoning?"
Buzz paused, as if it was the first time he had actually thought about the question – which could very well be a possibility.
Finally, he shrugged. "I…dwon't knaow. A fweelaing, I guezz."
Carlton scoffed. "Don't tell me you're pulling this physic BS on me too, McNab."
Once again, Buzz could only shrug.
"Gus, how'd you…" Henry fought to find the right words. "What'd you say to get his doctor replaced? And why didn't you tell me?"
"The truth. And I didn't know if Doctor Anderson was still going to be Shawn's doctor when we got there this morning. We were told that he had the morning off and the dean said he'd have the problem worked out by the afternoon."
Juliet's eyes widened. "You guys actually reached the deanof medicine?"
"Oh yeah. And he was not happy." Gus explained, "Especially when he found out this wasn't the first time Shawn's had this kind of reaction to medicine before."
Karen couldn't stop curiosity from shining through. "Like when, Mr. Guster?"
"Just when he-…"
With the sudden wrath of a Spencer's eyes boring a hole through his skin, Gus bit his tongue before anymore could be said. If Shawn's father knew about –
He looked over and found Henry glaring daggers his ways.
"Just when he had his…motorcycle accident…" Gus bowed his head, mumbling, "All three…accidents."
There was a wide-spread of silence as this information fell to the floor, no one daring to utter a word in caution of setting off the bomb that was Henry Spencer.
Buzz was the first once to make a move – that move being pushing his chair a few inches back and away from the group surrounding him.
Henry never said a word, though. He simply continued to stare at Gus, and it didn't take a mind-reader to know that everything was being said through that mere expression.
Karen finally poured water on the blazing fire. "Alright, so, the only thing I have yet to know is…"
She turned to McNab, "Officer McNab, what happened just before you confronted Benjamin Garber?"
As Buzz opened his mouth to speak, Henry never let his eyes falter from Gus.
After a quick power nap, one that left him with a stiff neck and back, Buzz emerged from recovery unit's bathroom slightly more refreshed and awake than when he had entered.
Quickly glancing at his watch as he made his way down the hall, he mentally noted that Henry and Gus were most likely going to arrive within the half an hour once visiting hours started up. He could only hope that Gus had found a small amount of sleep since having left around five am, even if it was unpleasant and constantly interrupted like his was.
The good news was, the hospital security he had befriended over the past few days not only had no problem with him bumming outside Shawn's room, but seemed to encourage it. At one point over the night he got into a small game of black jack with one of the guards before the man was forced back to duty. The bad news? The nurses weren't too content with him breaking visiting hour rules.
Buzz knew there were only so many times he would be able to flash his badge before they called the department on him. Hopefully he got to the Chief before they did.
"Doctor Anderson, please report to radiology. Doctor Anderson to radiology."
Still wiping his damp hands on the fabric of his pants, Buzz seemed to freeze in his footsteps. Did he just hear the intercom right, or was his mind finally playing tricks on him? He quickly found his way to the nurses' station down the hall.
"Excuse me?" Knowing that his charming grin would get him nowhere, Buzz had one hand ready to flash his badge as the nurse looked up at him, annoyance made clear in her expression.
"Yes?" She answered.
"Are…are there, by any chance, more than one Doctor Anderson's in this hospital?" Buzz found himself pointing overhead at the ceiling, "I ask because I spoke with the Dean of Medicine last night, and he informed me that Doctor Anderson of the Intensive Care Unit would be off until late this afternoon. He's my friend's doctor and I just…want to make sure I don't get doctors mixed up."
The nurse didn't even need to look through her files or computer system. She merely shook her head, "Nope, just one Anderson. We had another that worked in the maternity department not long ago, but that's past tense. The Doctor you're looking for is being called to radiology. Though who called him, I have no idea. I've never heard that voice before."
Buzz suddenly felt sick. He couldn't put his finger on why, but the feeling crept onto him like the moment he had seen Shawn's mangled motorcycle hidden in the bushes. Something wasn't right.
"That's impossible…" He mumbled to himself, suddenly mulling over all and any possibility's that could be.
The nurse didn't seem to mind when he abruptly walked away, not that he cared to begin with. He found himself heading in one direction, one sole destination in mind.
Walking footsteps turned to a steady, fast pace that before he even knew it turned into a full sprint. Maybe he was paranoid, or more possibility maybe the numerous night shifts had finally caught up with him. Maybe he was about to barge into Shawn's room with fists held high only to find his friend sleeping soundly in his bed.
Or maybe it was something worst.
He wasn't about to take that chance. Something told him this was the moment that he was waiting for, and that very feeling pushed his jog into a run.
When he heard the sound of objects crashing to the ground, Buzz couldn't have run faster.
He threw open the door to hospital room H5BB, the same room that Shawn had been moved to around 1 am last night. If he had his gun on him, there was no doubt it'd be held high in the air at this very moment. Unfortunately, all he had was his confidence to back him up.
His eyes shot open to the size of the moon.
'Holy crap, no freaking way.' Buzz thought.
The man repeated himself. "I said SHUT IT!"
Gun aimed firmly at Shawn, Buzz decided not to take any chances. Slowly he shut the door behind him, his hands held in the air to show no threat of weapons. The unruly and dirty brown beard on the man didn't match up with his brightly bleached blonde hair, and his wrinkled, dirty and sweat stained clothes showed that he hadn't been near a mirror in more than a week. There was a look in his eyes that Buzz didn't dare mess around with – the look of crazy.
He found their guy.
Or more so, the guy found them.
"Hey Buzz…" The greeting didn't come out as a 'Hey, nice to see you!' type of voice, but rather a cautionary tone that Shawn held tightly in his throat. "Do me a favor, would ya? That, uh…that saline is just running right through me. I could really take a leak…right now. Get me that…bed pan over there, okay?"
Buzz noted two things immediately. Shawn was not only conscious, but standing on his own two feet next to the hospital bed, which made the officer feel slightly better about the gun being aimed at the slightly helpless patient.
The second thing he noted was the gun held at the patient near the bed.
"Don't you DARE move. Neither of you!" The man shouted with his weapon still aimed, his fingers scratching at his temple. "Just…do as I say. Don't move!"
Gripping the pole to his IV line, Shawn let out a nervous chuckle. "Ben, buddy…I-I really gotta pee here. Just…let me drain the lizard, and then you can shoot me. I just don't want to die and piss myself. Come on man, that's humiliating. Look at me – I'm already wearing a dress. Let me die with some dignity."
Buzz shot his head over to Shawn, shock running through his mind. His mouth formed the same word that ran rapidly through his mind – Ben? Ben Garber?
Shawn gave the slightest nod of his head, one that Buzz knew was meant for him.
Ben seemed frozen in his tracks, still scratching his temple with the gun aimed near Shawn.
"So…Ben…Buzz is going to give me the bedpan over there, okay? You can even aim that…shiny pistol at him to make sure he doesn't pull any sudden moves."
"Absolutely. Totally, that sounds good." Buzz vigorously nodded his head, "Ben – watch my hands. I'm just getting the pan…"
As if on cue, Ben shot his aim over to where Buzz stood, the officer slowly reaching over for the metal bedpan that sat to his left. The slight shake in the crazy-man's hands made his stomach toss with nervousness that apparently not only he felt, but Shawn as well. The tremble of his nerves meant one thing – he was about to lose it.
And Shawn knew that.
With all his might – strength that Buzz found impressive for an injured man, Shawn swung his IV pole at Ben's forearms, hitting just the right spot for the gun to fall from his hands.
"SON OF A-"
Bare feet kicked the pistol across the room and underneath his hospital bed, a heavy grunt escaping through Shawn's mouth at the mere task of keeping himself balanced and stretching his stiff muscles at the same time.
Buzz didn't waste time; he ran forward and tackled Ben to the ground with all his weight, though not before handing Shawn the bedpan that he still managed to bring with him.
"Dude!" Shawn exclaimed. "I didn't actually need to pee!"
Buzz fell backwards as Ben threw a punch at his nose, "Defend yourself, Shawn!"
"Oh. Right." Shawn held the bedpan high over his head. "Ben, I'm sure someone's piss has been in this at one point, don't make me – OHFM!"
All it took was one swift kick to his stomach for Shawn to be sent hurling backwards, barely keeping himself upright with only the support of the IV pole he clutched in his hands. To say the pain was immense would be an understatement. Of all times for him to stay conscious since his motorcycle was so purposefully crashed into, this was not one that he wanted to be awake for.
The next handfuls of moments were a blur for him. If he had his eyes open, everything was a foggy blur that made it impossible for him to see who was winning the wrestling match occurring on the floor beneath him. His ears felt like someone had stuffed cotton balls in them to block the sounds around him, though every now and then he'd hear a good smack or shout from either man.
It was the gunshot that brought him back to reality.
"SBPD – FREEZE!"
Half-conscious and fading fast, Shawn knew that voice anywhere.
"Holy CRAP, Lassie!"
"Okay, so…dare I recap…?" The Chief shuffled the papers into a neatly stacked pile below her. "The man that wanted to kill Mr. Spencer – Shawn Spencer – was a former client of Psych with severe bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia that caused him to go postal on both his ex-wife and the guy who revealed she had been cheating on him for years."
She paused, waiting for affirmation from the group. A simple nod from Lassiter was all she needed to continue.
"And then to hide his identity, he had been dying his hair so that no one could figure out it was him causing this mess. However, because of Shawn's text message clues and the remembrance both Lassiter and Henry had of the same truck that had been around town all week, you were able to figure out, with his ex-wife's help, that he was the one behind the attempted murders. Am I still on the right track?"
"Sounds right, Chief." Juliet answer.
"So then, after I pulled the guard duty, McNab, you went against my orders to follow your intuition and with extreme luck, managed to catch Benjamin Garber before he murdered Shawn."
Buzz looked anywhere in the room but at the Chief. "Yes, Cteifh, ethwat's cowwect."
Karen sighed, putting the reports aside. "Is there anything else I need to be made aware of?"
The type of silence that fell over the briefing room was the same uncomfortable silence that no one would want to break, especially the longer it went on.
Eventually, Gus spoke up.
"Shawn knew about all of this."
Carlton rolled his eyes. "No – no, Guster. I am tired, cranky, and just finished a 2 hour interrogation with a crazy man. Don't you dare pull this psychic bull crap on-"
"No, that's not what I meant, Lassiter. Shawn knew as in he just…knew." Gus insisted, "He knew it was Garber, and he tried telling us the best he could – with those text messages. Then he tried to tell us before the doctor kicked us out. It's why he didn't want the painkillers. He wanted to pass on the message before it was too late."
Henry rubbed the back of his neck, "Gus is right. I know my son…he knew. He just needed us to know."
Like a dog with his tail between his legs, Carlton backed off the issue. After all, it made perfect sense. While he'd never admit it out loud, the detective had to give the man some credit. Even unconscious Shawn had managed to solve his own case. From the traffic cameras, to the text messages, to the garbled drug-included ramblings….Guster was right, Shawn knew.
"We got there in the nick of time, didn't we?" Juliet's voice was barely above a whisper, the sudden realization falling on all of them that even a minute too late could've changed the entire outcome of not only the case, but a man's life.
Henry nodded his head with a deep sigh. "Yeah…we did."
Karen couldn't handle anymore. She put the reports in a folder and threw open her desk drawer, placing them out of sight, and out of mind.
"I think we've all had enough chaos for the time being." She announced, turning to Lassiter and O'Hara. "Detectives…good job. Get me Shawn's statement and we can finally close this thing – for good this time."
Both detectives nodded their head, assuring the Chief such would be done.
"Henry, Gus…" She turned to the two men, "A thousand thank you's. This couldn't have been solved without you both."
Henry waved it off, too tired to explain how he didn't expect nor need a thank you from the Chief, rather he was just relieved his son was finally safe.
Karen immediately turned to the other man, "Gus? Since this was technically a case, with or without Mr. Spencer, you can expect a consultant check by the end of this week."
For a brief moment, Gus's face lit up with happiness that seemed out of place with the dark bags under his eyes and stressed-ridden face. It was short lived as Henry turned over to the man, his hand slapping on his shoulder.
"Yeah…you can expect that money to go straight to Shawn's medical bills, Gus."
And like that, it was as if a kid had his candy taken from him.
The Chief's voice brought nothing but dread to Buzz.
"Juckst tell iat to be strwaight, Tchwief. Wrieen up, bwlack-marchked, fiweed? Whaet is it?"
Karen shook her head, "To the contrary, Officer. While you did go against my direct orders, I'm very pleased with your bravery and confidence towards the case and the situation you were faced with. You did your job and then some protecting a civilian."
Buzz's swollen and bandaged face managed to show an outline of shock and surprise at her words.
"It'll take a few days to convince the DA to understand what happened, and until we get things settled I'm putting you on a paid personal leave…but I can assure you that you'll still have a job here with the department next week. If it weren't for you, if it weren't for all of you," Karen pointed her hand to all five people occupying the room, "This case would've had a much grimmer conclusion than I like to think about. Thank you for your hard work."
With that, Karen spoke two words that sounded like heaven to their ears.
Without missing a cue, Henry shot over to Gus before the man had a chance to lift his butt from his chair. Fingers finding a grip on the collar to his button-down, the father pulled him back into the seat with a 'thud'. Buzz was the first to witness the action, and scampered out of the room to avoid any more confrontation.
Juliet was in serious consideration to follow him.
Lassiter found himself slightly amused.
"Three, Gus?" Henry's anger was impossible to miss. "The last I heard, it was one, and that doesn't include this whole mishap."
Gus barely held back his groan of annoyance. If there was anything he hated dealing with the most, it was an angry Henry Spencer, and while he did technically get himself in this mess himself, he was going to make Shawn pay for it.
"Listen, you'll have to get the story from Shawn, Mr. Spencer. I made a vow not to utter a word until one of you was dead."
"A vow or a pink promise?" Henry quirked an eyebrow.
Gus scoffed, "Same thing. Either way…talk to him."
"Not that I don't want to interrupt this lovely conversation here," Carlton winced as he stood up from his chair, stretching his stiff back in the process. "But I wasn't lying earlier when I said I had seen more of you people than I care to admit. If you'll excuse me, I'm going home and reconnecting with my bed."
"That sounds heavenly." Juliet muttered, wondering just how long it had been since she had lay down in her own bed and gotten a nights rest. She had to imagine it was around the same time Gus had done as much himself.
And yet, having the case wrapped up and nothing left to do but sleep, the salesman was the last to leave his chair.
"Want to grab some coffee?" Gus spoke up, his attention focused on Henry. "Some real coffee."
Henry paused for a moment, as if he was deliberating an answer he already knew. Exhausted, worn to the bone and ready to call it quits for the next six months, he somehow found himself shrugging his shoulders with carelessness.
"Whitby's sound good?"
"You know that's right."
Gus put his fist forward, receiving a look from the father as if he had grown ten octopus legs and started speaking Spanish.
Henry shook his head. "No."
"Come on." Gus whined, "Bump it."
"No." He repeated.
"Come on, bummpp ittt..."
"Gus, I will not be lowered to your and Shawn's immature ac-"
Suddenly, a small and pale fist found its way between the two men, a look go their left revealing that Juliet was the one who collided her knuckles with Gus's.
"There. Happy, Gus?"
"As a matter of fact, I am." Gus replied, "Thank you, Juliet."
There was something about the tone in Gus's voice that made it impossible for her to fight the grin that fell onto her lips.
Maybe it was the carefree innocence that had returned to his spirit, but in that moment, the two friends smiling back at each other, she finally felt like everything was going to be okay. Though not perfect, and not the way it was…she could smile again. And that made it okay.
"Are you in, detective?"
The voice breaking through her fogs, Juliet looked over at Henry with surprise.
"What's that?" She blinked, processing the question. "Oh I don't know. I should really…I mean…"
Henry tilted his head slightly to the side, unknowingly giving the same charming look that she always saw in Shawn when he wanted her to do something with her. If she wasn't so exhausted, she probably would've laughed at the sight.
"What the hell. Count me in."
"You have fun with that." Carlton mumbled, passing by the trio on his way out. "O'Hara, see you in the morning. Henry, Gus – hope not to see you for weeks."
"You know you want to, Carlton." Juliet called out, causing the man to stop in his footsteps.
"No, as a matter of fact I don't." Carlton replied.
Gus chimed in, "Come on Lassie. Don't be a party pooper."
The growl was low and deep and probably unheard by the three, but as Lassiter turned around, he gave a stare that could probably kill little children. Forced between his comfy, soft and relaxing bed or staying awake for another three to four hours wasn't a choice he wanted to make.
Henry saw the man's deliberation, and he gave a simple shrug as they headed out of the briefing room. "You're more than welcome to join us, Lassiter. Or not. It's up to you."
With that, the Chief and Officer McNab having left prior to them, Carlton was the last to make his way out of the room.
He found himself pausing for just a moment as he closed the door, finding it hard not to remember just a week ago when the case had started up and he was in this very spot, fate being unsure if they'd even catch the guy behind it all, and if Spencer would make it out alive. More importantly, he remembered the suffocating feeling of if things would be radically different in his life when he woke up the next morning.
Finally shutting the door, it was hard to deny the resolution he found at knowing tomorrow morning, he'd wake up to a better world. One more lunatic criminal put in jail, and another victim having found justice.
Tired eyes watching as Henry, Gus and Juliet walked together down the station hallways, Carlton's car keys rolled between his fingers with pointless deliberation. Eventually he made his way out of the department and into his Crown Vic, ready for a deep sleep that would welcome him at home.
If he just so happened to wind up at Whitby's before that, well, it would be because they did have some good coffee.