A/N: Still one of the best shows on television, but we can't help but wonder what it would be like with a little more grit. What if Shawn and Gus faced were a little more dangerous?

Warnings: Nothing too graphic. Just a lot of emotional stress for our heroes.

Dedication: To everyone back home in good ol' NJ. Being an ocean away makes us appreciate the comforts of home a lot more.

.***.

Gus: Shawn? What are you doing here?"

Shawn: I came here to save you. Tuesday the 17th

.***.

When Shawn woke up, he was in a white room tied to a chair. And this wasn't like the interrogation rooms at the SBPD, where he knew that that stain had been caused by Lassie throwing his coffee against the wall in an attempt at intimidation, and behind that window McNab was probably conforming to stereotypes and eating a donut.

No, this room was white in a way that wasn't clean or cheap. It was the absense of creativity, of thought. Shawn made a motion to get up out of the chair and couldn't break the ropes. It didn't matter, though, he would have fallen back down if he'd gotten up anyway. He was startled by his own lack of strength.

So he was stuck there, without anything to get clues off of. Only the white, white expanse of the room, and he thought he'd go insane. He needed to look at details, to gather information, to formulate a plan...but the room was defying him.

He settled in for a long wait (and anyone will tell you that Shawn Spencer just doesn't do long waits) and thought about the last time he'd woken up in a strange room alone.

It was after that case that took them down to the docklands. Shawn had gotten a lead and dragged Gus down there, and even though his oldest friend insisted on calling for backup they didn't actually wait for it (his father, Lassie, everyone chewed him out for it later..."backup only works if you wait for it." After this incident, Shawn waited, but not because of their words.) They went in and found the suspects just where they thought they would. In a make-shift meth lab.

Here's the thing about meth labs: they're unstable. Especially the highly illegal kind (here, Gus would point out that meth labs were always highly illegal, but Gus wasn't here.)

Unstable things have a tendancy to blow up.

He and Gus were thrown in opposite directions: Shawn towards the door, Gus...not. Shawn staggered to his feet, coughing, yelling, and that's when the SBPD decided to show up, of course, and Shawn remembered thinking vaguely that if Gus's mother-hen tendancies hadn't called them there, the mushroom cloud might have.

"Shawn!" Juliet ran to him and Shawn swayed unsteadily, blinking blood out of his eyes. The heat of the fire was prickling his skin, but somehow he didn't feel the pain. "Come on! We need to go!"

"Gus!" Shawn threw off Juliet's desperate grip, ignored Lassie's shout of "Spencer!" and ran back into the flames.

He was dragged out by Lassie and McNab, who each took an arm to haul him back. He struggled against them, kicking, screaming as he'd never screamed in his life. "Gus!" It was a desperate shout, ending in an almost-sob.

"You can't help him!" It was Lassie who took him by the shoulders, McNab melting off somewhere else. It was Lassie who shook him until Shawn raised his head, blinked against the too-bright blaze of the inferno. He was expecting to see anger and only saw sadness and regret written all across Detective Carlton Lassiter's face. "I'm so sorry, Shawn."

He passed out then, and Lassie managed to catch him before he hit the ground. Later, Shawn would say he passed out not from the deep cut on his leg or the head wound or the stress but out of sheer amazement that Lassie had called him Shawn.

When he woke up in the hospital room - which had been white, sure, but not white like this mind-numbing place - when he woke up in the hospital room alone it was like that moment when he'd been thrown back by the explosion and the wind had been knocked out of him. For a handful of heartbeats he couldn't breathe, could only sit there and think over and over Gus is dead because of me.

And then, like his subconsciousness manifesting itself into undeniable truth: there was Gus, wheeled in by his father, looking burned and hurt but mostly fondly aggravated. "I told you not waiting for back up was a bad idea." And all Shawn could do was grin like and idiot, his hand flopping on the bed for purchase until Gus grabbed it with his own, squeezed once. I'm alive. We're alive.

As long as that was true, then Shawn could survive anything.

Even a completely white room. When the door finally opened (minutes/hours/days) later, Shawn realized why that memory had come to him so suddenly. It wasn't the whiteness of the room, the sparse decorations. It was the person who'd been with him right before he was in this room.

"Where's Gus?" He was proud of his voice, defiant and not at all scared, the question shot like a bullet at the man who entered the room. He looked like he could have easily played Agent Smith in the Matrix movies, and if Shawn had had his side kick to rollt he punch line off of, he probably would have said something to that effect. Instead, he shrank back from the gun in the man's hand, thinking that this was the level of intimidation Lassie always hoped to be able to give off.

The man smiled, that crooked sneer villians so often assumed. "I told Delgado your little friend would be the perfect leverage. He just wanted to go for the vague threats of bodily harm, but I know your type Spencer." Shawn shouldn't have been surprised that the man knew his name, and he wasn't, not really. More revolted, and his name coming out of that sneering mouth made tiny hairs on the back of his neck stand up.

"Dad's a cop. You rebelled for a little while, but eventually you got into the crime-fighting buisness yourself. You would be noble, right? Not at all presuaded if we told you we'd kill you if you don't cooperate."

Shawn found himself staring at the gun. He really hated guns, even if he could shoot them with no problem. Long ago, his father had taught him to respect the power of a gun. How one tiny squeeze could end another human's life.

The villian was still monologuing, which Shawn would have made fun of if he wasn't so damn scared. "So you need a better reason to break the law for us. And I got a good reason: you do what we want, your friend won't die."

Why was it that good guys always had to play by the rules and the bad guys could break them? You don't bring other people into conflicts. You don't kill civilians. This was such a basic moral code that for a moment Shawn was stunned. And then he started cursing through his teeth, too angry and scared and confused by this whole situation for his voice to be any more than a hiss. Every time he tried to speak normally, he found a lump caught in his throat. The kind you get when you're desperately trying not to cry.

Agent Smith let him rage, stood there impassively, gun held in a slack hand, and waited until Shawn had finished yelling, until he'd struggled so much against the ropes that his wrists were bleeding. Then all at once Shawn went limp, knowing that he had no choice. He would do anything necessary to make sure Gus didn't die.

So he finally raised his eyes to meet the cold, calculating ones of Agent Smith and murmured, "What do I have to do?"

.***.

that was just a little taster. another chapter should be up fairly quickly, where we'll actually pick up the thread of the story. it's not a nice story, but there's a lot of love. ya'll know what i'm talking about.

questions, comments, gripes or concerns...just drop us a line.