I was a little saddened at the lack of teen!Shawn whump, so ultimately I decided to write one myself. And FINALLY, after nearly months in the making, this one-shot was finished!
(Plus, I have a bit of a crush on teen!Shawn ;)
Choice of song? It's up to you really. Whatever you think would suit the situation.
I have loads that would work with the fic (as in the music pieces, not entirely relying on lyrics) – Pieces by RED, Shattered by Trading Yesterday (especially when the piano part comes in…piano works really well in terms of bringing the emotions of anguish to life), Cold Water by Damien Rice (the first minute of the song), Then Go by Damien Rice, 9 Crimes by Damien Rice, Delicate by Damien Rice (can't help it, love this dude), What If You by Joshua Radin, Angel by Sarah McLachlan, Wherever You Will Go by The Calling, I Go To The Barn Because I Like The by Band of Horses, etc etc.
You can tell me which one you think works best ;)
Disclaimer: Don't own. Don't sue.
Summary: Henry's grip on the steering slackened. He turned his head for a split second to face his son, but couldn't see the expression on Shawn's face as he stared out the window. He turned his attention back towards the road, only to have his eyes blinded...
This story is available on Psychfic under the same penname :)
Artwork for this story - img834(DOT)imageshack(DOT)us(SLASH)img834(SLASH)6494(SLASH)onemomenttoomanypromo(DOT)jpg
One Moment Too Many
The silence was unnerving. Only the sound of dripping rain crashing against the window filled the tension, each drop spattering with vengeance. Shawn's head leaned against the cool glass of the passenger window and watched as the sunset slowly disappeared in the distance, darkness gradually veiling the sky. They haven't said one word since the conference, and with each agonising minute passing by, their anger steadily intensified.
"What were you thinking, Shawn?" Henry started, resentfully, "Oh wait, that's right, you weren't. You never think of the damn consequences."
"I told you I didn't do anything!" his son countered, corresponding to his father's volume equally as he turned to face his father's glower.
"Well excuse me if I have a hard time believing that, especially after you confessed to another of your wind-ups in the same conversation."
"That I did do, but I did not pull off the-" Shawn ceased and inwardly inhaled a frustrated breath, "Like I'd leave any traces of evidence. Even I'm not that stupid."
Henry snorted, "Could've fooled me, kid." Shawn glared fiercely.
If looks could kill...
"I'm sorry, Mr Spencer, but this is the last straw." The principal had said, tone combined with professionalism and disappointment. "As of today your son is suspended."
"WHAT?" Shawn yelled, momentarily glimpsing the dirty scowl his father bared beside him. "But I told you I didn't do it!"
"Then explain to me why we found this at the scene." He pulled out the handcrafted bracelet a schoolgirl had once made him in the fifth grade on Valentine's Day. "According to your classmates, you have been in search of this all week."
Shawn's lips parted in disbelief. "Isn't it obvious? I was framed!"
Henry, for the first time during the meeting, spoke up after he sniggered scornfully. "That is your excuse for everything, Shawn. You. Never. Learn."
Shawn paused. That was his father's "don't even think about it" tone. Usually the younger Spencer disregarded the warning and continued to berate his father, but today was different. Today he was simply not in the mood. And even Shawn was smart enough to hold his tongue. At least until they got home.
"For God's sake, Shawn, you are SIXTEEN; when are you going to learn to grow up?" Henry yelled, grip tightening on the steering wheel.
"Gee, dad, I dunno, you probably forgot to drill that one into me during my totally normal, pleasantly-filled childhood of puppies and rainbows."
"You really wanna go there, Shawn? You really wanna go there?"
"Right now I don't even wanna be here."
"Now you listen to me, smartass," Henry seethed through his teeth, "You got yourself into this mess. You got yourself suspended when you decided to screw up AGAIN-"
"Well I'm sorry I'm such a screw up, dad, okay? I'M. SO-RRY. I'm sorry I'm not good enough for you. I'm sorry I'm not the perfect little son. I'm sorry that I ruined your perfect little family plan-"
"Oh put away the violin, would ya'? This isn't a movie about your own sob story. Save the dramatics and just accept responsibility for once in your damn life!"
"Except I don't need to this time - d'know why? Because I. Didn't. Do. It." The teen huffed.
"Oh, like how it wasn't you who didn't break Grandma's lamp when you were nine? Or take my truck without permission last year, or steal twenty-five dollars from my wallet last week?"
"I'm telling the truth this time!"
"Oh you mean like last time?"
"Dad, for crying out loud, you're a friggin' detective! You should be able to tell that it was a set-up!" Henry's scowl deepened but Shawn cut him off before he had the chance to retort. "You're always telling me to look closely at everything, take in every detail and draw a deductive conclusion-"
"-big surprise you can't even take your own advice, you hypocrite!"
"That is enough, Shawn!" Henry snapped, eyes blaring at the road ahead of him.
Shawn knew he should've stopped when that little voice at the back of his head told him it would be wise to keep his mouth shut, but he ignored it and pried further. "How about you look closely, you take in the details and draw out the right conclusion, and just do the job that you seem to love more than your own family!"
"I am warning you, Shawn Spencer." His father's voice was so low the teenager could almost hear the venom in each syllable, which meant his tone was insinuating business. He used that intimidating voice with suspects, and it didn't help Shawn's situation as it was clear that Henry wouldn't back down from his assumption. The younger Spencer took notice of the fact that Henry didn't even use his middle name, as it was associated with his own name, and it was obvious right now that his own father couldn't stand the thought of being related with him.
But Shawn wasn't about to back down. "What? You're gonna ground me for the rest of my life? Make me clean the gutters? Mow the lawn? Send me to military school?"
"That. Is.It! I have had enough of you, Shawn! Enough of your incessant whining, enough of your lies, your antics, your-"
Shawn tried to interrupt, "It wasn't my antic this time!"
"Your utter lack of respect for authority!" Henry ignored the interjection and continued.
"Why is it so hard for you to just accept that I didn't do it?"
"Well why should I, Shawn, HUH?" Henry shot back. "Give me one good reason, just one damn good reason!"
"You're what, Shawn? You're what?"
"BECAUSE I'M YOUR SON!"
It felt like everything had stopped.
Henry hadn't expected that response. He wanted to retort but for the life of him couldn't form the right words.
Shawn wanted to say more. Much more. He wanted to scream at top of his lungs at the fact that his pop should believe him when it really counted just like he calls him on his lies, that when his teacher wrongly accused him his own father would have his back.
But the lump jamming in his throat held him back. He feared, no, he knew if he spoke now his voice would quaver.
Henry's grip on the steering wheel slackened. He turned his head for a split second to face his son, but he couldn't see the expression on Shawn's face as he stared out the window. The detective sighed and turned his attention back towards the road, only to have his eyes blinded by a sudden gleam of lights.
The next few seconds were a haze.
When Henry came to, he didn't know what was going on. He had his eyes closed. All he knew was that he had the worst headache, and that he felt extremely uncomfortable. Henry groaned as his attempts in what used to be the simplest task of opening his eyelids became the most difficult.
He was suddenly struck with a wave of nausea as his mind flashed over the last few minutes of his life. He tried to sit up, but something felt wrong. His body didn't feel like it was sitting. It felt like it was…
The elder Spencer forcefully shot his eyes open and discovered he was facing an upturned outer world. That damn collision left his vehicle tumbled over on its back. There was no sign of another vehicle. His mind raced with police work familiarity as he came to terms with the situation.
Henry growled, followed by a volume of painful hissing. When I get my hands on that son of a bitch I'll-
He stopped when devastation abruptly snapped him into reality, as the worst realisation hit him like a ton of bricks…
He was not alone in that truck.
Henry made an attempt to curve his neck, but the pounding in his head was unbearable and the strain on his left knee was excruciating. He made a grab for his seatbelt and unlocked the base, pulling it aside and allowing his body to carefully slump onto the ground. The elder Spencer held out his right arm for a softer landing and turned to the passenger seat with dread, as it overcame the constant hammering of his headache.
Henry's heart shot in his throat.
Shawn's torso lay still against the ceiling of the truck, which now became the floor, one arm extending past his head as the other was positioned sloppily by his side bending at an awkward angle. But Henry couldn't see his face. The teen's head was facing the opposite direction, unconscious, but what blasted total panic in the knot in his throat was the blood that trailed from his son's ear down his hidden face. Shawn's once two shiny silver rings in his ear were now bathed in blood.
Henry's breathing quavered, resulting from the mix of throbbing pain and anguished worry.
That couldn't be his voice; it sounded too weak and hoarse. He made an attempt to clear his throat and called out once more, this time louder. "Shawn…"
"Shawn!" He tried again, evident worry escalating in his voice. His son hadn't budged an inch, not even a single strand of his John Bender-styled hair had moved as it continued to brush at his side, flopping against his face.
"Damn it!" He twisted his torso so that his left arm made its way towards his unconscious child. He placed two fingers gently against his son's neck. For almost two seconds his heart skipped a beat before finally settling after finding a pulse weakly thumping against his touch, "Wake up, Shawn." Henry lightly moved his hand and grabbed a fistful of Shawn's shirt, softly shaking him. "Wake up, son."
Nothing but the sound of still silence continued to linger.
His fatherly instincts unconsciously took over, leaving very little space for logic cop thinking, and allowing his next move of curling his fingers around his son's face despite receiving the slight twinge from extending his arm further, vigilantly turning it towards his line of vision. He felt his heartbeat accelerate at the touch of warm liquid and anxiously absorbed the bloody appearance of the younger man's face. A large gash on Shawn's head left a stream of red liquid coursing down his jaw and staining the white shirt underneath his open dark blue, denim jacket.
"Oh God…" Henry shuddered breathlessly, "Shawn, wake up, now!" He cuffed lightly on the unstained side of Shawn's pale face. "C'mon, kid!"
Within an instant he caught movement from Shawn's lips, followed by the inaudible sound of his voice, "I…didn'…d'…'t…"
Henry's heart tightened.
"Shawn!" He heard his father call out, "Damn it!" The teen's head jerked up as he stared into the eyes of the cop across the dinner table. While Henry had his arms stubbornly crossed, continuing to give his son a hard stare, Shawn noticed there was no food on the table.
So what was he doing here?
How did I even get here? Shawn wondered. I don't remember coming back home…His attention went back to his rigid father and began challenging the glower. "I can't believe you still don't believe me!"
"Wake up, Shawn!"
"I am awake! It's you who needs to wake up and listen!"
"Wake up, son." Shawn noticed by now that his father's voice began to soften.
"Oh, so now it's son, is it?"
"C'mon kid!" Henry's voice rose slightly, with concern lacing in his tone.
"Dad, I told you, I DIDN'T DO IT!"
The cop uncrossed his arms and placed his elbow on the table, "I'll make ya' a deal, pal." By now, Shawn took notice of the sudden change in his father's expression.
What're you playing at, old man?
"I'll believe you, but only if you wake up."
The younger Spencer raised his eyebrows, "What the hell does that mean? Is this another one of your tests? Or are you just going senile? At this point I'll bet my money on the latter."
His father seemed to have ignored his remark and continued, "I believe you, kiddo, but you need to wake up. Now!"
Shawn turned his focus away from the older Spencer and noticed that he was no longer sitting in the kitchen. Nothing but a void of white, with the exception of the kitchen table and the chair he sat on filled the area. "Dad, I don't understand…"
Within that instant a sudden illumination of white beams blinded Shawn's vision.
When Henry heard the sound of soft coughs arising and disturbing the tension-filled atmosphere, the weight of the world lifted from his chest. His son was finally coming to.
Shawn's eyelids sluggishly rose, revealing his mother's hazel eyes. Henry had never been so happy to see those heartfelt orbs.
"Shawn?" The cop unobtrusively inquired, staring at the now fragile looking teenager.
Another round of faint, fatigued coughs arose before fading into soft moans of pain. The young teen parted his lips intending to respond, but found himself struggling to obtain the sensation. "D…ad…?"
"I'm here, son." The elder Spencer sprawled closer to his son, closing the large gap between their seats.
"Ar…." Shawn swallowed deeply, engrossing the worrying appearance of his father while he stared into his concerned eyes and noticed a trail of blood on the side of his face, "Are….you….'kay?"
Henry raised his eyebrows, palpably surprised by the question. "Yeah, Shawn, I'm-" That damn lump again; "…I'm fine." His hands found its way to his child's forehead before considerately pulling back the loose strands of hair blocking his brow.
Shawn's eyelids began to droop again. "Good…" The word held out in a prolonged outbreath.
Henry immediately grasped that his son was falling back into an engulfment of unconsciousness. "Shawn!" The teen's eyelids sprung back from gripping the overwhelming urge to descend into darkness. "You need to stay awake for me, buddy," his father pressed on.
"…can't…t'…tire'…" Shawn couldn't even make the effort to form the right words any longer.
"Well tough luck, kiddo, you're just going to have to fight it."
Before Shawn could respond, an outburst of coughing escalated, and it didn't stop until a course of red liquid spilt out of his mouth. Breathing was suddenly becoming a very difficult challenge to accomplish. Henry's panic-stricken eyes remained on the spewed blood while he attempted to help Shawn sit up slightly so he wouldn't choke; ultimately leaving the blood to spatter onto his own shirt as his son's head slouched on his chest. Shawn groaned as the strain from shifting alone left discomfort in his torso.
"You still awake, pal?" Henry spoke after a few seconds. He shook the younger Spencer's shoulders lightly under his grip before finally receiving a weak moan.
"I...I…" Henry looked down at the enfeebled teen, his heart shattering while comparing an image of a normally vibrant Shawn as he watched him now struggling to articulate an upcoming sentence, "…Do…you…be…belie-ve me?" He listened to Shawn struggle for breath in between, "I…didn'…d-do…it…"
The normally gruff-like detective fell apart as he felt a spring of tears forming in his eyes, but he held them back for fear of frightening Shawn. The last thing he needed was to worry his child in his current weakened state. Right now, Shawn needed him to be the same rock he had been for as long as he could remember, more now than any other day.
"I know, son. I know…"
At the sound of reverberating sirens in the distance Henry's head perked up, wiping any remnants of previous rest he endured during what felt like an eternity. Finally! He smiled.
"You hear that, Shawn?" When he looked down that smile immediately faltered. When he no longer felt any movement from the child under his arms they began shaking beneath him; his heart sank into a bottomless pit of anguish.
Shawn wasn't moving.
Henry's breathing began trembling, "Sh…Shawn?" His grip around Shawn tightened as he began to loosely stir him, "Shawn, wake up!" His son's head lolled in the opposite direction. "No! Shawn, up. Now! I'm not asking!" He continued to shake his son incessantly, "SHAWN!" When tears once again leaked in the corners of his eyes, he no longer held them back. He just didn't have the energy to fight against them anymore. His main focus was entirely on getting Shawn to open those kind hazel eyes, so he let them flow gently down, allowing them to softly land onto his child's face while he continued to shake Shawn from his slumber.
Because that's what Shawn was doing. He was sleeping. And Henry held onto that statement like a lifeline. He didn't –no– he refused to accept anything else.
Henry took no notice of the sirens now resounding in his ears, or the muffled voices in the background while paramedics instructed him. Everything around him slowed down. When arms tried to pull him away he harshly yanked back and held a firmer grip on his kid, prolonging to yell at his sleeping child. But soon Shawn was slowly being pulled away, as was he. Yet he continued to fight like his life depended on him, like Shawn depended on him.
When he was out of that Godforsaken truck he watched Shawn being positioned carefully onto a flat gurney. He ignored the persistent, stifled voices drumming in his ears, and hardened his stare onto Shawn as a paramedic ripped through his son's shirt.
Shawn wasn't going to be happy about that when he woke up. That was his favourite shirt. He loved that shirt. His mother bought him that shirt.
While being dragged onto a gurney he continued to watch as two defibrillator pads were placed onto his son's chest.
"Charging at 200 joules," he heard a female EMT proclaim. "Clear!"
Henry inwardly gasped as the shock had made Shawn's upper body momentarily leap.
But to no avail.
"Charging at 300!" The elder Spencer listened to the sound of the defibrillator roaring to life as the medic opposite the female increased the joules. "Clear!"
"Charge again!" she called out yet again when the young boy beside her failed to stir the second time. "Clear!"
"No pulse," the male EMT stated after that third spring. Henry's hands flew to his face and tears prickled his eyes as he struggled to watch Shawn battling to come back. The male paramedic began shaking his head sympathetically, "Janette, this kid's a lost cause."
"NO!" All four paramedics jumped at Henry's exclamation. "You are not going to leave my son to die!" He fought hard to keep his voice leveled, even when his vision blurred behind the tears, "I won't let you!"
Another paramedic closer to his side placed a warm hand onto his shoulder. "Sir, I need you to calm down-"
Henry callously jerked away from her touch, "How do you expect me to keep calm when I'm watching my son fight for his life?" He felt himself swaying slightly, resisting the urge to fall into a drowse.
Janette, as the male EMT called her, turned her head back towards the teenager with determination. "Charge at 360!" she commanded.
Sighing in defeat, he increased the energy from a twist of a button. "Charging at 360."
That was the last thing Henry had heard before his eyes began drooping heavily, no longer able to keep himself awake as his vision started hazing in obscurity, the remaining sight of his son briefly hurdling once more fading into darkness.
A week later…
"Here." Henry placed two pineapple pancakes onto a plate and shifted the platter across the kitchen table. But Shawn hadn't made a move to grab his favourite pancakes. He just sat there, just as he had for the past week, staring catatonically downwards nowhere in particular. "Eat up, Shawn," his father insisted.
After a minute Shawn absently shook his head and looked up. "Huh?" He watched the detective lower his brow, steering into the direction of the plate in front of him. "Oh…I'm not hungry."
Henry sighed and sat back in his chair. "Not again, Shawn."
"What do you want me to do?" The young teen retorted.
"I want you to eat something." He sighed once more. "Look I know the medication is making you feel nauseas but you're just going to have to suck it up."
"Suck it up? Well how about the next time a doctor prescribes you heavy medication let's see how you manage to suck it up."
"Don't get smart with me, Shawn. I'm doing the best I can, here."
"Well I didn't ask for your help!"
Henry threw his fork onto his plate with a resounding clink. "Goddammit, Shawn, why do you always have to make things so damn difficult?"
"Oh I don't know, probably because my left arm is in a sling, my chest stings every time I move, my brain feels like it's going burst out of my skull and I'm almost completely deaf in one ear!"
"I already gave you the amount of recommended pain medication. You just have to be patient until everything heals."
"D'know what? You can't say that to me. You practically healed within a few days, you barely even limp anymore."
"Well, life's not fair, Shawn."
"Oh you wanna talk fair? Let's talk about fair. How is it that I ended up breaking my arm in three different places, dislocating the shoulder on the same arm, fracturing two ribs, breaking one rib, with a collapsed lung that required surgery, a head injury with countless stiches and a ruptured eardrum, and you only ended up with a concussion and a dislocated kneecap?"
Henry huffed frustratingly in response and stood from his seat. "Forget it. Let's just get you upstairs."
"I don't want to take anymore naps, I'm sick of sleeping!"
"Well it's a big wonder why you feel so much like crap."
Shawn vigilantly lifted from his chair, pushing away the slight swaying notion. "I can't deal with this right now. I'm outta here."
"And just where the hell do you think you're going?"
"To school," he replied bluntly. Shawn didn't care where he went, just as long as he was away from here. After he was released from the hospital he'd been stuck in the house for three days with nothing but the cycle of constant fighting which subsequently turned into excruciatingly awkward silences thereafter.
Henry paused for a minute, dumbfounded by the answer, then fell into a grip of dry chuckling, "Figures it would take a car crash for you to willingly go to school in the morning." He sighed. "Alright, I'll drive you."
"NO!" Henry visibly recoiled in surprise from the sudden outburst. "I mean…it's a nice day, I'll walk."
"Don't be ridiculous, Shawn, I'm driving you."
"I said no!" the younger man firmly stated.
It was clear to Henry that his son just wanted to get away from him, but the detective wasn't going to back down that easily. "Fine," he retorted, "then I'll walk with ya'." Even if Shawn didn't appreciate the extra company, it was for his own good. Henry couldn't let the boy walk alone in his condition.
"End of discussion."
Shawn had endured a lifetime of painfully awkward tensions with his dad, but nothing compared to this moment in particular. His father was practically glued to his side as they both continued to head down the street. Shawn shifted to the side to provide some distance from the uncomfortable touch as his mind attempted to questioningly wonder when was the last time he 'leisurely walked' with his old man. But instead, his mind had driven to thoughts of the incident.
No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't fully recall what had happened in the crash. He wasn't sure what was real or when he was dreaming. First he was sitting in the kitchen with his father's stern glare and then next thing he knew he was being held tightly, almost affectionately, by someone within his father's truck. But that couldn't have been his father. There was just no way. Henry Spencer was not an emotionally driven man. So he figured that part was a dream too.
One thing he was sure of during the entire ordeal was that he was in pain. A lot of pain. And he couldn't cry or yell because he was too exhausted at the time. It felt like he was trapped within a tight coffin. Nobody could hear him scream.
Henry pretended not to notice Shawn slowly creating a gap in between them and let the kid retain some dignity. He may act like a little child but he was visibly an adult, and there was no way he would let his father latch onto him like he was an eight year old. Henry didn't bother retaliating, just as long as he was close enough to keep an eye on.
While Shawn let himself drift off, Henry let his own mind wander over the events during the week.
It was then that Henry remembered the call he received from the principal the day after the incident. He remembered storming out after a session of yelling when the teacher explained to what he believed was a 'misunderstanding'. He remembered seeing the look of a student's face while he cowardly leaned away from Henry's terrifying glare and closer to the principal. The principal had apologised profusely for the mix-up after a student confessed he was simply 'getting back' at a fellow classmate for just a simple laugh.
Henry couldn't find the least bit of humour in the scenario. If it hadn't been for this foolish student he wouldn't have experienced the most terrifying moment of his life. The one moment when he thought he lost a child forever, lost the one thing that made sense in his life. During that instant he truly believed he was never going to get his son back, or see that aggravating yet warm-like smile, or listen to one of his new found love of referencing. More importantly, he thought he lost the opportunity to make things right.
But to his genuine surprise, life threw him a second chance.
When Henry woke up in the hospital he had been a wreck, devastated about the death of his child. Until his doctor mentioned that his son was fighting well to pull through. Henry found himself staggered frozen for a minute and eventually gathered his emotions in check before hurrying his way to see his son, even if his knee did agonisingly throb.
Focusing their attention back into the direction of the road ahead, the two Spencer men curved their heels at the upcoming corner of the street, and that's when a car sped its way down the road. Henry suddenly felt a strong grip on his forearm, and looked to his side to notice his son's hand was clinging almost desperately onto him with a subtle frantic expression. Henry had watched with surprise as the kid finally let go once the car had turned away from their line of vision. Shawn continued to walk further as if nothing had happened. What troubled Henry most was the fact that Shawn was probably not even aware he was doing it.
And that's when it hit him; when Henry realised what this was really about, finally understanding why his son had refused to step into the truck with him, why the teen had been more easily frustrated than usual, what the truly gripping reality of the situation was;
Shawn was traumatised.
Henry's heart dropped for the first time since after the accident. The worst part of this realisation was that he should've seen this coming. But the truth was Henry was so used to seeing Shawn as a tough rebellion who laughs his way through uncomfortable situations that he failed to see that Shawn was still a young boy at heart. And an experience like this would petrify someone as innocent as him to the core. It was obvious that Shawn wasn't ready to be facing people. Not when he was still dealing with the evidently severe aftermath.
"C'mon," Henry started as took a soft grasp of Shawn's good arm. "We're going home."
"Wait, what?" The younger Spencer pulled away from the touch. "So when I finally admit I want to go school you won't let me?" He grinned as he raised his eyebrows, "Maybe I woke up to an alternate reality back at the hospital? 'Cause if that's what it takes for you to get off my back I should be in car crashes more often."
"Shawn!" Henry snapped menacingly as he pulled his son to face him. "That's not funny."
"Lighten' up, pops." He rolled his eyes. "It's called a joke. You should try it sometime. That way at least children wouldn't cry when they see that grouchy face," Shawn said while emphasising his point with an attempt to form one of his father's scowl. When he pushed passed his father to continue down the pavement Henry pulled him back.
"This isn't a joke, Shawn!" his father yelled, then his voice softened, "And I know you know that." Shawn didn't know how to respond to that. Instead he just gazed into the concerned eyes of his father. Henry stared right back.
BECAUSE I'M YOUR SON!
That's what Henry hears. Now, every time he looks into those gentle hazel eyes, all he could hear were those four words echoing through his mind, each reverberated sound heightening his on-growing guilt. He had not been there for him at that moment. But now he was going to help Shawn through this trial no matter where their fights take them. This time, he wasn't going to let him suffer through this alone. He was going to be right by his side as he should've been right from the start.
"Dad…" Shawn started, with sincerity lingering in his voice, but before he could continue a figure approached the Spencer men.
"Shawn? Mr Spencer?" They both turned to greet a puzzled look on Gus' face.
"Gus!" the teen beamed. "What's up, buddy?"
"I was going to ask you the same thing." He eyed the both of them. "What're you doing here?"
"Shawn actually wanted to come," the cop replied with a sigh.
Gus raised his eyebrows and stammered in confusion, "He…wha-…?"
"Dude! Did you forget? We have a presentation today."
"No, Shawn I didn't forget, especially since I was the one who did all the work….again."
The younger Spencer raised his lower lip to form a pout, "But I had a legitimate reason this time." He slightly raised his sling.
The colour of Gus' face drained as guilt shaped his features. "No-that's-not-I-mean-"
"Relax, man, I'm just playin' with ya'." He slapped his friend's shoulder impishly as the school bell rung, grabbing the attention of the three men. "I guess that's us," Shawn shrugged casually, which had caused him to wince from the slight twinge of movement. He absently removed his right hand from Gus' shoulder and onto his to smoothly rub the strain, "Later, pops." Gus was about to follow his best friend when a hand took a hold of the crook of his arm. He turned to see a strange look on Henry Spencer's face.
The detective leaned closer and kept his voice low, "Take care of him, will ya'?"
Gus was baffled by the request, but quickly gathered his stunned posture and nodded as if to say "of course". Henry watched the young model student rush to catch up towards Shawn's side before turning to head his way home.
"Dude! Look at all these numbers!" Shawn enthusiastically started as he turned to his best friend while making his way down the stairs of the school entrance.
"I can't believe Cindy Crafter gave you her number," Gus retorted indignantly.
"I can't believe half the female student body gave me their numbers! Looks like Christmas is coming early this year."
Gus huffed grumpily, still trailing over his previous complaint, "Man! I've been trying to get Cindy's attention since day one. Last year I broke my arm and didn't even get a single sympathy card from her."
"That's 'cause I told her your arm was suffering a flesh-eating bacterial disease."
Gus threw a murderous look at his best friend. "I knew that was you!" He pointed his index finger at Shawn in preparation of sending a reprimand but halted when Shawn's smile suddenly faltered to form an anxious expression. Gus turned his head to focus in the direction of Shawn's gaze. A relaxed looking elder Spencer stood leaning his back towards his parked truck and staring directly at the duo.
When Shawn didn't make a move to step closer Gus made a start, "I guess your dad's picking you up." Henry shifted upright from his position against the truck and headed straight towards the pair.
"Dad?" Shawn spoke. "What're you doing here?"
"What does it look like? I'm taking you home."
The teen snorted. "I think I can manage my way home, dad."
"Your medication will wear off soon enough and you'll tire half-way."
The younger Spencer felt a sensation of frustration inwardly rile up. "I can handle myself," he almost seethed.
Henry sighed and took a hold of Shawn's right arm. "Sorry, kid. You'll have to face this sooner or later."
"Face what? Are you manhandling me?" When the young teen saw that the familiar red truck was becoming closer in his line of vision his feet began to drag. He attempted to rid himself from his father's firm grip, "Dad! What the hell are you doing?" When his father didn't answer, Shawn's attempts grew stronger, "Let go!"
Gus watched the scene in astonishment as his best friend tried to fight off his father. He knew the two hardly got along but this was just outlandish. Why was Shawn trying so hard to ditch his father's offer? Mr Spencer was right. Shawn needed to get home before his pain meds wore off.
But despite that his best friend still continued to resist; so much so he was beginning to make a scene.
"Stop it, Shawn!" the detective exclaimed as he opened the door to the passenger side of the vehicle. "You're getting in the truck!"
"LET GO!" This time he pulled away so hard his father's grip loosened and left him stumbling beneath his feet, sending him flying towards the concrete ground. Henry watched in surprise before kneeling to help his son stand. Shawn leaned away from his touch, leaving a momentary flash of hurt in his father's eyes.
"Shawn!" Gus hasted towards his friend's side. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," he muttered, taking his best friend's offer to support him upwards.
Once Shawn was steady enough to hold himself upright Gus made a start at him, "What's wrong with you, Shawn? Your dad's just trying to help!"
"Well I don't need his help, Gus!" he snapped. Shawn made a start to walk away before anyone else commented on his outburst. Gus turned to his best friend's father with a dumbstruck look.
"It's okay, Gus," Henry stated as he stepped into the driver seat. "Just get him home safely." With that he drove away.
Burton sprinted to catch up to his best friend but didn't say anything for a while. But he began to contemplate striking up a conversation when Shawn suddenly adopted a habit of momentarily leaning closer to him at random.
"Why do you keep doing that?" Gus asked with a mix of annoyance and concern.
"Doing what?" Shawn returned, perplexed.
He shifted closer to Shawn until their arms touched, "That!"
Spencer's brow creased. "What're you talking about? I don't do that."
For a moment Guster was sure his best friend was up to another mission of Gus pranks, until it dawned on him that Shawn's meds may be beginning to subside and causing his friend's energy to drain, "Are you feeling okay?" he asked, feeling uncomfortable at the whole scenario. He wasn't quite used to a quiet and genuinely hurt Shawn. It seemed unnatural to watch the normally vivacious young man become distantly noiseless.
"Of course I'm okay!" Shawn shot back as if it was the most ludicrous question someone had asked him, but the slight fatigue lacing in his tone failed to convince his retort. Gus had left him alone after that, knowing Shawn would never willingly admit defeat to exhaustion.
Once Shawn stepped into the house with Gus by his side Henry turned his attention away from the kitchen counter. He watched as Gus cohered to Shawn's side, his arms encircling his back to keep him from collapsing. When Shawn slopped onto a chair Henry nodded at the model student with gratitude.
"I'll see you tomorrow, Shawn." Gus smiled.
"Wait, you're leaving?" the young Spencer asked.
"I don't need to be here to watch you sleep. Plus, I have a lot of work to do."
"Fine then. Go. Leave me trapped in the dungeon with the beast!" Henry rolled his eyes.
"Don't be so dramatic, Shawn. Besides, I'll be here tomorrow morning." He paused for a second, "Beasts and dungeons? You need more rest than I thought." With that, Gus closed the front door behind him, leaving a mockingly hurt Shawn and an aggravated father.
Henry returned to grab some dishes from the counter and placed them onto the kitchen table. He turned to his son as he watched his eyes beginning to droop. "Did you manage to keep your lunch down today?" Shawn shook his head and silently winced at the unpleasant memory of rushing out in the middle of class and retching violently into the toilet. Henry sighed and distractedly scratched the nape of his neck. "You'll have to eat dinner. You can't keep going on like this without a decent meal."
"Well I didn't exactly ask for a built-in food rollercoaster. It's not my fault I can't keep anything down."
"I know that, Shawn!"
"Then why are you acting like it is?"
"Yes you are! Like how you blamed me for that stupid prank!"
"That was different!" Henry shot back.
"Oh, was it?" Shawn scoffed. He didn't have the strength to continue. This fight was draining him of the energy he had left for the day. He sighed and wearingly stood. "I'm going to my room."
"Not until you eat." Henry remained standing with his trademark move; his arms crossed stubbornly. When Shawn saw that his father wasn't going to back down he huffily sat back in his seat without a further word. His other reason for backing down came from the grumbling in his stomach. He really did miss the taste of food without the constant worry of heaving. So he swallowed down the prescription of tablets and proceeded to consuming some dinner.
Henry stretched his back and rolled his eyes towards the clock above the television to read 9 PM. It's been two hours since his son fell into the grip of fitful sleep. He switched off the TV and continued to extend his sore arms.
He then heard a resonance of police sirens from the outside. The cop would've been on his late night shift tonight if he wasn't on leave. The detective in him really missed being at work. Although back when he spent a great deal of time at the office he always wanted to find more time to spend with his only son when it dawned on him that he was seeing less of Shawn by the day.
How he had been a fool.
Would he really think it would be that easy for them to see eye-to-eye after a simple case of bonding time? When they did manage to spend more than a minute in the same room all they did was aimlessly dispute against one another, stubbornly refusing to back down from their own side of the argument. And it was evident this wasn't going to change anytime soon.
Henry reached for the last step towards the upper part of the house before he heard shuffling from his son's bedroom. Furrowing his eyebrows in uncertainty while his cop instincts kicked in, he cautiously stepped closer towards the room, now facing the entrance. Before he managed to take a hold of the handle the door abruptly swung open and there revealed a frantic Shawn with his right hand clasping his mouth as he speedily pushed past his father, almost knocking him down with alarm, and racing towards the bathroom before slamming the door shut.
Henry gathered himself after the unexpected confrontation as his face visibly scrunched at the sound of his son's brutal retching. He cautiously opened the bathroom door and watched as Shawn continued to cough into the toilet. Okay…so maybe it wasn't exactly the best idea to force feed his son. Henry hesitantly placed a gentle hand on his son's back when the hurling didn't stop.
Shawn didn't have the energy to care enough to pull away. At that moment, he actually welcomed it. He embraced the circular movement as it relaxed his sore and rigid posture.
Henry flushed the toilet once his son's episode subsided and proceeded to helping Shawn lay back against the bathtub sitting beside them, taking a seat beside him thereby after.
"How can people have an addiction to this crap?" Shawn weakly started, pulling his knees to his chest and burying his head in his right hand.
Henry didn't respond as he watched his son attempt to even his breathing with heavy exhalations. Shawn slightly stretched his knees and placed his right hand onto his chest to stroke it with ease; his face began cringing slightly.
"Ready?" Henry asked as he slowly stood. Shawn didn't say anything as he strived to stand. The elder Spencer had wanted to help his struggling son but after the fiasco in the school grounds he was sure Shawn would push away. But before he could make a decision an arm latched onto his while the young teenager tried to balance his upright position.
Shawn didn't face his father as he mumbled an apology, much to Henry's disbelief. The cop didn't respond. Instead, he accepted his son's unpredictable need for support. Shawn then began slanting slightly and ended up swaying onto his father's side. Henry immediately held onto him before the teen fell flat on his face.
This time, Shawn didn't apologise as he concentrated on the sudden built of tightness in his chest.
"Shawn?" Henry asked, worriedly.
A few seconds later his son's face crumpled before responding hazily through his seething teeth, "My chest…"
Henry's heart began pounding with uneasiness. "What about it?"
"It hurts a little…"
"Okay," the cop solidly stated. "We're taking you to a doctor."
Shawn's head shook sideways. "No…I'm fine."
"Shawn, what part of this is fine?"
"I just need…a goodnight's...re..."
Suddenly the weight in Henry's arms grew tenfold as the young man's body began sagging closer to the floor, "Whoa!" The cop exclaimed and held tighter onto his son before the grip loosened further. Throwing Shawn's right arm over his shoulders Henry began to half-drag the boy to the closest room for a bed, which happened to be his room. Once he carefully placed the young man onto the bed he hasted towards his telephone and called for an ambulance.
Henry hated hospitals.
He loathed them.
No one needed be to constantly reminded of death and grief every time they stepped foot into these entrances, especially someone in his age. Last time he was here, which wasn't that long ago, he was sure he lost his only child. Before that, his partner was shot. And the time before that, his father had died from a heart attack. So, undeniably, anyone would hate to be taken back to the place of memories they fight so hard to lock away. That included the unbearable image of his only son clinging between the border of life and death through a mere device of a respirator.
Now that was one memory he was happy to erase.
"Mr Spencer?" Henry's head spun to the side so quick he was sure he would've given himself a case of whiplash. Shawn's doctor, who had dealt with them since the start of this ordeal, took a seat beside him.
"How is he? What happened?" Henry's knee absentmindedly shook with anticipation as his two hands roughly rubbed against each other.
"It turns out that his body was rejecting the painkillers, which is why he may have been experiencing the persistence of these side effects."
"You mean Shawn's allergic to Vicodin?"
"That's another way to put it yes."
"So how's he doing now? Is he okay?"
"We managed to rid of this medication from his system and he's recovering well. But he will be sore for a while." Henry sighed with relief as the doctor continued, "Has Shawn been experiencing other symptoms aside from the vomiting?"
"Uh…just before he was brought here he said his chest began to hurt."
"Anything else? Light-headedness, mental or mood changes, unusual tiredness, anxiety or fear?"
At the latter Henry's head perked up, "Actually yes. He has been more troubled lately…"
The doctor's head nodded, "Okay. We'll be prescribing another set of painkillers and hopefully this would adjust better with his body. Please call me if any unusual symptoms continue to persist."
"Thank you, doctor." Henry shook the man's hand in gratitude. "Can he go home?"
"We'd like to keep him for the night for observation. If no further complications arise you can take him home within the next morning." He smiled as they both stood, "Room 103. Down the hall, to the left." Henry nodded in appreciation and ensued towards the directions given.
By the time he reached into his son's room Shawn was fast asleep due to the heavy medication. The elder Spencer took notice of a needle wedged into the midpoint of his right arm to link a tube into an IV as it added a chemical substance into his body, in what he assumed were the new painkillers the doctor prescribed.
It was no wonder Henry was losing his hair. If Shawn continued to scare his old man like that he'll be bald by the time he reached his mid-forties. He took the chair beside the bed and carelessly sat with a heavy sigh, his hand wearily ironing his restless features.
Henry was awakened by the sound of a familiar voice resonating in the atmosphere of the serene night. His back suddenly strained and he realised he was sitting in a chair. He then remembered he was still in the hospital, and that voice belonged to his son.
"Shawn? You awake, buddy?" Henry sat up and ignored the tension in his shoulder blades. The young teen's eyes remained closed as he responded with further incoherent mumbling. The doctor had told him that he may be a little disoriented at first but it usually faded as his body would adjust.
Yeah, he heard that one before. He contemplated for a second to call a nurse until-
Except Shawn hadn't been talking to him…not directly anyway.
He was dreaming.
Henry's eyebrows drew into the centre of his forehead, is he dreaming about…? His thought was cut short when a Shawn began to flinch slightly. Standing from his uncomfortable hospital seat his jaw prodded up and down in uncertainty, as his head twisted awkwardly back and forth looking for a solution.
"Uhh…" Henry's hands began fiddling at the hem of his jacket with insecurity. What the hell was he supposed to do? He was never the "comforting" type and it wasn't going to change anytime soon. That was his mother's job. Well, she was supposed to be here but got caught up with a pile of work in Vancouver. He had insisted that she didn't have to make the long journey knowing that their son was alive and recovering, but still. He – no wait – Shawn would've appreciated the visit. Especially since they both missed her dearly. She did ask for regular updates but Henry ended up losing her number. Great, he was never going to hear the end of that one.
It had been a year since the separation; a year of painful silence within the household, with a mixture of daily combat and a rollercoaster of emotions crippling day by day. Now that Madeline wasn't around there was no wall of security between them, holding them back before either of them proceeded to say or do something they would later regret. Consequently, now there was a stack of regrets, and it was growing by the day.
Do something! Henry prodded himself, snapping back to the delirious teen, "Uh…Shawn?"
The younger man hadn't reacted. Instead his flinching intensified.
"Ca-" Shawn flinched again and this time almost collided with his father's face, "Calm down, son…"
The heart monitor quickened its pace, resulting in Shawn's hastened breathing.
Henry leaned closer, holding down his arms. "Easy, kid." He realised within that second it was the wrong thing to do, as Shawn began fighting back restlessly causing the EKG machine to escalate Shawn's numbers. "Take it easy!" Henry didn't even notice the nursing staff hurrying their way towards his son until he was asked to move so they could take over. Shawn's doctor then entered with a plastic bag, which he opened to reveal a needle as he filled it with a substance. Henry turned away as his doctor pinched the syringe into his son's arm to sedate him. The shuffling gradually eased within seconds, along with the mumbling.
"Can someone please explain to me what the hell is going on?" Henry seethed, voice shaking in frustration and fatigue.
The doctor nodded to the rest of the staff to signal their leave. He then turned towards the anxious father. "Why don't we step outside?" he asked.
Within the next couple of minutes Henry found himself listening to the doctor explaining how Shawn developed a fever as a result of a side effect from the medicine, and that it was normal as it would subside by morning; it was one of the reasons why they needed him to stay overnight. As the doctor went on Henry's hands flew to his face, rubbing over his weary features. He was so exhaustingly flustered he didn't even notice the medic had stopped talking.
"Why don't you go home and get some rest?" the doctor had asked after a minute. The cop pulled away from his hands and looked up at the man as if to say "are you freaking serious?" As the doctor caught onto the expression he continued, "We'll take care of him tonight and you can come and pick him up tomorrow. Don't worry, he's in safe hands."
Henry contemplated the offer for a second before shaking his head. "I can't." He sighed. "I just…can't." He truly couldn't do it. He couldn't continue to feed his on-growing guilt any further than he already had.
The doctor beside him made a start when his patient's father didn't continue. "Is everything…okay?"
"What do you mean?" Henry said, puzzled.
"Usually victims involved in a crash can also be affected emotionally, even mentally. Did anything take a turn for worse at home after the accident?"
Henry thought for a second. "Shawn's been…walking. A lot."
The doctor sat back. "I see." Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, he inwardly concluded. "And you?"
"I'm fine." Henry sighed heavily, and before he knew it his heart spoke before his mind, "His mother hasn't been around and…and I just don't know what to do anymore."
The medic nodded his head in sympathy. "Well, I can recommend a few trauma counsellors that could-" he halted when Henry snorted. "What's so-?"
"Shawn's not going to agree to it. The kid isn't too keen on the idea of someone messing with his head." He continued to chuckle dryly.
"He may not have a choice this time. If he wants to close this chapter in his life he has to deal with it one way or another."
"Believe me, I tried."
The doctor's eyebrows drew to the centre of his forehead. "What do you mean?"
"Kid can't even go near a car, let alone expect him to sit in one."
"That's where the therapy comes in. You cannot, by all means, push him. Forcing him would only make it worse and he will fight back."
Henry didn't say anything.
"Doctor Van Kirk?" A nurse approached the two, ending their bleak conversation. "Chief wants to see you in his office."
"Alright." The nurse then walked away he turned back to Henry. "Think about it. Oh, and ask the nursing staff for a bed cot, it's better for your back." When the doctor drew away from Henry's line of sight he jadedly stood up, moaning in pain after a few clinks.
Tossing the clothes he had grabbed before riding with an unconscious Shawn to the hospital in the previous night towards the now fully awake teen, Henry allowed his son some privacy while he made his way towards the restroom. Nestling the cold water between his warm hands, his face leaned closer for the cooling impact. His mind circled over what will happen when they prepare themselves to leave the hospital. Both of them were in no condition to walk all the way back. It was too strenuous for Henry's back and Shawn's current sore, pain-medicated state.
Henry sighed. Maybe it was time to consider the doctor's option of recommendations; because Shawn couldn't go on like this, and the further he remained with this affliction the longer it would take for him to recover, physically and emotionally.
"Ready?" Henry had asked once he was permitted to enter Shawn's room.
"Yeah," Shawn returned, monotonously. Refusing to be let out with a wheelchair being slowly pushed by a nurse (why extend the stay when all you wanna do is get the hell out? Even if the nurse was smoking hot), Shawn made his own beeline for the exit with his father by his side.
"I called a cab," Henry stated, sounding more comparable to a confession.
Shawn swiftly turned his head to the side to face his father but didn't say anything for a while. Then he looked up. "I'll see you at home."
"Whoa, whoa!" Henry tugged at Shawn's good arm and pulled him back. "You're not going anywhere!"
"Ow! Would you stop doing that?" Shawn retorted.
"There's nothing wrong with your right arm," Henry countered and continued before Shawn had the chance to respond. "Look I know it's been…rough, but I think it's time we talk about what happened."
Shawn raised his right hand. "Whoooaaa, I didn't sign up for any bonding contract while I was in the hospital."
Henry rolled his eyes at his son's remark. "Tough, kid, you're just going to have to deal with it. Talking about it would-" his son began shaking his head. "Look, Shawn-"
"Dad, let's face it, I can't even remember the last time we had a decent conversation. And even if we did manage to sit and talk like civilised people, we both know how it's going to end. If Sean Connery and Harrison Ford couldn't afford to make it work, what hope do we have?"
Henry crossed his arms and exhaled. "Okay, Shawn, first of all, Connery and Ford resolved their disputes long enough for them to work together as a team to save their own lives-" Shawn raised his eyebrows unexpected to his father playing along, "-AND actually managed to get along by the end of it. Second of all," Henry jabbed lightly at Shawn's chest, "you don't have much of a choice this time."
"Of course I have a choice, dad, I always have a choice. And my choice is to walk home. Goodbye," he saluted bitterly and turned to leave, only then to abruptly halt. They were both so consumed in their own debate they didn't even notice the cab arriving beside them and had waited for past few minutes. Well, Shawn hadn't.
Then it clicked to the young teen, he was distracting me the whole time!
"Come on, Shawn." This time his father had placed a light hand on his shoulder, directing him towards the back as he opened the door for his son. Shawn could hear his own heartbeat as he stepped closer and just as he was about to strode in grisly images flashed through his mind. His breathing quickened. His heart began racing as he immediately pulled away from the car and his father's touch. He then stood there trying to get his heart to decelerate.
"Are you going in or what?" the cab driver called out.
"Give us a second!" Henry snapped. When he turned back to the teen his face softened. Shawn was fidgeting at the hem of his jacket while his gaze followed the hospital grounds. The detective sighed. "It's either this, or therapy."
Shawn looked up. "I choose neither. Besides, I don't need therapy. I can get into a car if I want to. I just prefer to lead a more active lifestyle."
"Hello! Are you going in or not?" the cab driver yelled impatiently.
"HOLD YOUR HORSES!" Henry barked back and then mumbled "jackass" as the driver's arms flew in disbelief. He turned back towards Shawn. "Active lifestyle? I distinctly recall asking you to go hiking last summer and you said, and I quote, 'I would rather cut off my own legs'."
"And that made me realise just how inactive I was." Not to mention I would've been stuck with you for hours, Shawn inwardly added.
Henry sighed. "We're straying off the point here. We need to go now, before your meds wear off."
"I'll speed walk," Shawn simply replied.
"Not this time. You're getting in." Henry stood in his son's way and crossed his arms. Enough was enough.
If Shawn's left arm was sling-less he would've crossed both arms to meet his father's current trademark stance equally without even realising it; yet even without the arms-across-chest move he still managed to pull off the posture with just as much effect. "Make me."
They stood there for a good minute, not even taking any notice of the driver opening his door, stepping outside and watching the two Spencer men on their eccentric showdown with a raised eyebrow and a look that said 'what the hell are these two doing?'.
"I'm not backing down, dad," Shawn broke the intense silence. "And you can't stop me from going home."
"Who said I was stopping you?" Henry shrugged off casually.
"You're doing it right now!" The teen's hand pointed directly towards his father opposite.
"I'm only stopping you from straining yourself because you're not thinking clearly!"
"My thinking's very clear! It's you who's being straining."
Henry's face scrunched. "That makes no sense, Shawn. Now, get in the car."
"I said I wasn't getting in!"
"And why not?"
"I told you because-"
"That's not the reason!"
"Yes it is! What else would it be?"
"Somewhere at the back of your mind-" Henry jabbed two fingers at his son's forehead, making sure it was away from his healing gash, "-you know exactly what it is!"
Shawn swatted the hand away. "There IS nothing else!"
"Then why can't you get in that car, Shawn?"
"Why are we going in circles? It's because I don't want to!"
"And why not?"
The teenager's hand flailed. Seriously, why were they reiterating everything? "Because walking-"
"NO Shawn. It's not because it's a lovely day and the sun is shining or that you enjoy-"
"Well why can't it be that simple?"
"Nothing's ever that simple, Shawn!"
"It is for me!" the teen emphasised with a hand to his chest.
"You think it is. Gus thinks it is. Your teachers think it is. Anyone who's ever met you thinks it is-"
"But I don't buy any of it. I've known you your whole life, kid. You seem to forget I can read you like an open book. I raised you-" The teen flailed his arms and turned. "Don't you dare walk away from me, Shawn!"
"What the hell do you want from me?"
"I want you to admit it. Out loud. To me. To yourself." Shawn parted his lips but his father cut him off."I want you, for once in your Goddamn life, to tell me the truth!"
"What truth?" Shawn didn't realise the pitch in his voice elevated an octave as it amplified, grabbing the attention of a few people sitting on the hospital benches.
"You know what!"
"Would it kill you to clarify?"
"Why won't you get into the car, Shawn?"
"I don't want to, dad!"
"And why don't you want to?"
"NO! Enough is enough, Shawn! Why. Won't. You. Go. In?"
"BECAUSE I CAN'T ALRIGHT?" Shawn yelled, now breathing heavily in between his cries and seizing the attention of a few more onlookers as he did so. Even the cab driver had looked taken aback. "Is that what you wanna hear? HUH? I can't! I CAN'T DO IT!"
Henry's expression calmed despite his galloping heart. "What can't you do, Shawn?"
"What you want me to spell it out for you? I CAN'T GET INTO THE CAR!"
"And why not?" the cop's voice softened, afraid if he couldn't keep composed his son would back down from the upcoming confession.
"BECAUSE….because…I'm…" Henry stood silently, edging warily towards the frantic boy. Shawn swallowed hard and stared catatonically at the ground, his features covered with subtle shock, stricken with realisation. Suddenly, he couldn't face his father. The next few words were so softly uttered Henry almost missed them. Shawn was finally facing reality, "I'm terrified…" he said, almost as if to himself.
When a hand gently found his shoulder Shawn looked up to notice his father just a couple of inches away. "And it's okay to be scared," Henry reassured.
Shawn blinked slowly and then shook his head. "No, it's not." He turned and began walking away.
Henry couldn't reach him in time after Shawn pulled away. Quickly turning to the cab driver with an apologetic shrug, he turned back towards his distressed son and strode carefully to his side.
For several minutes, they both remained silent, Shawn too caught up in his own thoughts and Henry too afraid of alarming his son further. In the end they both decided it would be best to just remain that way until they reached the house. Needless to say they both began feeling drained half way, but Shawn's persistence continued to follow through despite the exhaustion. Henry was no exception. If he had to strain his back to save his kid some emotional stress then so be it, at least until Shawn could stand on his own two feet.
As Henry left the door open for Shawn to make his way in, he fumbled between his thoughts trying to gather a way of breaking the agonising silence. And he needed to come up with something fast because Shawn was already heading towards his room wordlessly.
"Uh…do…" Just say it, Henry, spit it out! He pushed himself mentally. "Do you, uh, wanna watch a movie?" He absently scratched at the back of his head. "I think there's a Cops marathon if you prefer-"
Shawn didn't even turn. "No thanks," he impassively mumbled, continuing to make his way to his room. There was no emotion behind that reply. He didn't sound upset or angry or even annoyed; just…aloof.
Henry sighed and tossed the keys towards the kitchen table with a loud clink. He made his way to the fridge in preparation of making breakfast, since the hospital didn't exactly offer a buffet. At least this time, Henry hoped Shawn may be able to hold down his food without any problems.
When Shawn hadn't returned downstairs hours after breakfast, Henry contemplated whether he should head up there himself and talk to the boy. He hesitantly made his way up the stairs silently and stood facing his son's bedroom door a minute later. His fisted hand remained in the air for a few more seconds before finally tapping against the wooden entity, each tap harshly breaking the previously very still atmosphere.
"Shawn?" he softly pondered against the door. When his son didn't answer Henry reluctantly took a hold of the knob and warily poked his head through the open gap. Shawn was lying on his bed sideways, his back turned towards Henry's line of sight as his left arm was carefully cradled to his chest.
"Shawn? Are you sleeping?" Henry peered over the bed to take a closer look at his son's face.
"Go away," Shawn replied feebly and almost too quietly.
Henry hesitated for a few more seconds before finally deciding to take a seat on Shawn's bed. At least now he was able to take a better look at his son's face.
When Shawn felt his bed shifting downwards from his father's weight he made no attempt to move.
Henry stayed silent for a couple of seconds, still trying to put together the right words. He couldn't even remember the last time he attempted to comfort his son…wasn't it when Shawn couldn't sleep from watching a horror movie several years back? Even then he had some trouble explaining that dead people remain dead; they don't get up, they just decompose; explaining that part frightened Shawn just as much as the idea of the dead walking.
Henry sighed. Where was Madeline when Shawn needed her? "Son…"
"Dad, I really don't feel like talking," the younger Spencer immediately replied, his tone lacing with fatigue.
"You're going to have to, especially since therapy-"
This time, Shawn's head curved towards his father with a stunned look etching his features. "I never said I was going to see a shrink."
Henry raised his eyebrows and sat upright. "They're not shrinks, they're trauma councillors, and of course you're going to therapy, Shawn."
"Well I don't need it."
"Oh you sure proved that during your public performance."
Shawn irritatingly sneered at his father's remark and then turned back to facing his window mutely. "I don't need it," he repeated after a few seconds, this time sounding a little less convincing.
Henry raised his arm in attempt to place a comforting hand on his son's upper arm, but pulled back the second he got close, all the while the teen unaware of the move. He couldn't. He just wasn't the comforting type. Not while Shawn would be aware of the comfort. "Shawn…"
"Leave me alone, dad," Shawn said, the same weak tone continuing to linger in his voice, and before Henry could retort the teenager interrupted to pleadingly add, "Please."
Henry didn't move for some time. He couldn't remember the last time Shawn had actually used that word without sounding sarcastic or forcefully polite. In fact, he never even heard his son plea for anything before; and that's what worried Henry the most. That's when he realised that he had to at least try to comfort his son; he had to push away any thoughts of uncertainties and momentarily break down the wall of security he had built for himself throughout the years. Because they had to face it now, his mother was not in their lives anymore and she wasn't going to waltz back and commit to the family anytime soon. Henry is the only family Shawn has left, and vice versa. When the car crash took place, he instantly discovered he couldn't live through losing Shawn too. Despite their differences and relentless arguments, he loved the boy dearly and that would never change, even if he would probably never admit it out loud, especially to him.
So the elder Spencer sucked up whatever security issues he held and placed a reassuring hand on his son's arm, feeling Shawn flinching slightly beneath the touch.
"Shawn, look at me." The teen didn't move. "Son." Shawn sighed, realising the old man wasn't going anywhere, and briefly closed his eyes before slowly curving his attention towards his father. "You seem to forget that I was there the other night. I know what you're going through."
"You don't seem to act like it," Shawn muttered.
"Because I've dealt with it," Henry replied as he pulled his hand away now that he had Shawn's attention. "And now it's your turn. I know it's especially harder for you-"
Shawn's eyebrows rose as he sat up, leaning against his bed. "You actually went to a therapy session?"
"So why are you so insisting for me to go?"
"Because obviously you can't deal with it on your own."
"I can too! You just haven't given me a chance!"
"Who knows how long it would take for you to get over it, if at all." Shawn opened his mouth to counter but Henry didn't give him the chance. "AND the longer it takes for you to close this chapter in your life the harder it'll be to overcome it." His voice softened, "You can't spend the rest of your life living in that one moment."
"I can handle myself, dad."
"That's the thing, Shawn," Henry was already beginning to become frustrated. "You don't have to handle things on your own this time. Let them help you, and don't say you don't need their help. Especially since the incident is a lot more…vivid for you."
It was true. Shawn's rare memory was always considered a gift, until recently it was proven that it can be a terrible curse.
"If it helps…" Henry continued, "I can come along."
Shawn gave him a look. "How could that possibly help?" It was Henry's turn to give him a look. "Look, dad, I just…" Shawn looked down at his fingers, refusing to meet his father in the eye. "I don't think I'm up for therapy."
This was going nowhere. Henry knew once Shawn made his mind up it took a helluva lot more to convince him otherwise; that and the fact that he rarely listened to his father. Sighing, Henry lifted himself off of the bed and headed back down, giving Shawn some time to think.
At the sound of the front door knocking the elder Spencer placed his newspaper onto the table and pushed his chair backwards, momentarily saving his answer for the next crossword puzzle.
"Good afternoon, Mr Spencer." Gus smiled at the gruff looking detective as he stood out on the porch.
"Oh hey, Gus." Henry returned the smile. "Come on in."
Once inside the student turned to face his best friend's father, "Shawn in his room?" Henry nodded wordlessly, signalling Gus to continue. "I stopped by this morning but no one was around."
The cop sighed as he sat in his previously occupied chair. "Uh…there was a small incident last night and Shawn ended up staying in the hospital. We came back just this morning."
Gus's heart skipped a beat as he furrowed his eyebrows with worry. "What happened? Is he alright?"
"Yeah, yeah," Henry reassured, "he just…he was having a bad reaction to the painkillers. Doctors say he'll be fine now with this new medication. Hopefully," he ended with a grumble. Henry stood up once more. "You staying for dinner?"
Gus nodded, "If you don't mind."
"Go on up," Henry directed his head towards the stairs. "I'm sure Shawn would appreciate your company right now." As soon as Gus began turning the other direction Henry stopped him. "Wait!"
Gus immediately turned his head. "What?"
"Err…" the elder Spencer played with his thinning hair. "There's something I need to talk to you about." Gus stood silently in concern, awaiting his friend's father to continue. "And I'm hoping, since Shawn actually listens to you-" Gus snorted, "Well, since he considers your opinion," Henry corrected, "I think you have a better chance of convincing him to do this."
Gus' eyebrows drew to the centre of his forehead. "Do what?"
"Cover me, COVER ME!"
"I'm trying, I'M TRYING!" Gus exclaimed.
"Dude! You left me hanging! How could you leave me to die?"
"You did the exact same thing to me the last time we played!"
"Would you boys keep it down?" Henry interjected once he entered the living room. "I really don't want to get another call from the neighbours about the noise."
"It was only one neighbour and, as always, it was Mr Filch. He's just a grouchy old man who has nothing better to do than to just sit there with his creepy cat and catch me in the act. He's on to me like twenty-four seven," Shawn said and then turned towards Guster. "I really don't know what that man has got against me."
Henry provided a tray of drinks and placed them onto the small table in front of the teenage duo. "Oh I don't know, Shawn, maybe because you kicked a ball straight into his window to which it then bounced off his walls and completely shattered his whole living room." He handed a small amount of medication towards his son.
"I helped clean it up," Shawn shot back and pulled his head back to swallow down the pills. "Besides it was like a gazillion years ago! That man really needs to learn to let go." Shawn ended his statement by swallowing some water.
Henry waved his arms, silently agreeing, and headed back towards the kitchen.
"You know," Shawn called out to his father, "you wouldn't have to worry so much about the noise if you just-"
"You're not getting a television in your room, Shawn!" Henry shot back immediately.
Shawn grumbled in response, "Can't blame a guy for trying." He took more sips of the water and returned his attention back towards his best friend. "So what do you wanna do now?"
Gus shrugged. "We could play again."
Shawn contemplated the suggestion for a brief second then shook his head, "Nah." They both placed their controllers onto the mini-table in front of them.
"Abigail asked about you," Gus started after a moment of silence.
Shawn's eyebrows immediately shot up as his face broke into a smile. "Really?"
"Yeah," Gus nodded in response.
"What did she say?" The teen eagerly turned to focus on his best friend.
"She was asking how you were doing and that maybe she might stop by to say hello."
At the end of the living room Henry involuntarily eavesdropped as he continued to cook dinner.
"Oh my God…" Shawn's head turned towards the front. "What…what did you say?"
Gus' eyebrow lowered in amusement. "I said that Shawn would appreciate-"
"No! No! No! No!" he waited his right hand with a disapproving motion.
"She can't see me like this! I'm a total mess!"
"Shawn you've been after this girl, for like, ever and now she is actually willing to come by-"
"But my dad hasn't gone back to work yet!"
Henry's ears perked up. Gus furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. "So?"
"So," Shawn urged, "she'd end up meeting my dad!" Gus shook his head questioningly as if to say 'why would that be a problem?'
"Dude!" Shawn continued, "Don't you remember the last time I brought a girl home? The incessant questions, the interrogation, the background check."
"Oh my God, you were actually serious about that?"
"Gus, I do not kid when it comes to Sergeant Drill over there."
Back in the kitchen Henry rolled his eyes in amusement and muttered something along the lines of "for his own good".
"The poor girl got freaked. So there is absolutely no way I'm ever letting Abigail meet my dad."
Gus exhaled noisily and discreetly turned to face his best friend's father after a few seconds, to which Henry gave him a subtle nod of encouragement. "So…" he awkwardly began, "I've been thinking about what happened the last time I saw you."
"When I confessed to messing up your chance with Cindy?"
"No," Gus retorted, irritated by the reminder. "About…the fiasco with your dad."
Gus sighed. "Come on, Shawn, you and I both know how hard this accident has been affecting you."
Shawn sighed and leaned back. "Gus I really don't-"
"Just listen," the model student interrupted. "I know it's probably not in my place but you're still my best friend and I'm just trying to look out for you, and so is your father." Shawn's lips parted to speak but Gus stopped him, "Just listen, I think..." he took a deep breath, "I think you should see someone."
"This isn't going to go away, Shawn."
The younger Spencer suspiciously turned to face his father's back as he continued to cook, "My father put you up to this, didn't he?"
"It doesn't matter, because I agree with him."
"Shawn, be serious!"
"I am! Despite what my father thinks, I don't need to talk to anyone."
"Shawn, I practically saw the terror in your face when you spotted your dad in the school driveway. And I'll be honest, it kinda freaked me out."
"You promised we would both get our licences at the end of this year. It's in the first section of our bucket list. Are you really gonna back down from that? Break our 'tradition' as you put it?"
"Of course I'd never back down from our endless list of things to do before we die. I was the one who invented it!" Shawn sighed and leaned back against the sofa wordlessly.
"Then, please, go to at least one therapy session. If it's really that bad you don't have to continue."
By now Henry had finished cooking and leaned on the doorway with crossed arms while a towel cloth hung over his shoulder, listening to the duo converse.
"One, Shawn. Just one," the life-long friend pleaded. "Please?" When Shawn didn't answer he insisted even further. "Otherwise I'll introduce Abigail to your father myself!"
"Try me." A wave of relief flushed over Gus as, by now, he knew that he was winning. "And I think it would help if you took your dad with you."
Shawn gave him an incredulous look. "Are you crazy?"
"It makes sense. You both went through it."
"No way!" Gus then stood up and paced in the other direction, leaving a confused look on his best friend. "Where are you going?"
"To call Abigail and bring her over."
Shawn immediately jumped from his seat and tackled his best friend over the couch. "OUCH! SHAWN!"
"Alright, alright! You win. This time."
"Good," Gus huffed. "Now get off of me!"
Henry shook his head and mumbled "idiots" before coming over and lending them a hand. "Alright boys," he started as the duo stood upright. "Dinner's ready."
As Shawn predicted, the therapy session started out uneasily, especially with his father sitting beside him. But what he hadn't predicted was the fact that there were going to be a few other strangers sitting in the same circle.
At first, Shawn was more than reluctant to engage with these strangers. But after several minutes of listening to other people talk about their traumas Shawn began to realise that his PSTD could've ended up from a lot worse than a car crash; listening to how others were coping with the help of their friends and family, and the fact that they had to pull themselves together for the sake of their children inspired Shawn to speak up. He didn't even speak as long as the others and, of course, did add in a joke or two much to his father's dismay, but to Shawn's surprise they genuinely laughed at his witticisms all the while, and before he knew it he began to feel comfortable. Even his father had contributed, mostly on his son's behalf, but he still joined for Shawn's sake. What surprised Shawn most was that he came back, and kept coming back with his father even; eventually he grew fonder of these people, especially Ronda who had taken a liking to his hair.
Within a few passing days, Shawn was ready to confront his fear. With Henry to his left and Gus to his right he was drawing near a vehicle as they slowly helped him into the backseat of the car. He was still wary of using his father's truck so his best friend's mother was kind enough to lend them her car, with the threat of returning it spotless afterwards needless to say.
After the several tight grips latching onto whoever sat next to him in a car, whether it was Gus or his father, and a racing heart pounding against his chest Shawn ultimately learnt to open his eyes and use the passenger seat without a heavy fear or doubt lurking in the corner of his mind.
Eventually, the night terrors went away and before he knew it, he was sitting beside his father in the truck once more.
It was quiet. Too quiet. Nothing but the sound of utensils clinking against their plates filled the still kitchen. Shawn's mind was racing with thoughts and after fumbling over his decision he finally gathered up the courage to ask what had been on his mind since the start of this nightmare. "Why?" he pondered softly.
Henry's brow creased in confusion as he swallowed his last bite. "Why what?"
"Why…did you do all this?" The inquiry was so quiet and slow it sounded almost too genuine.
Henry learned back in his seat, a little taken aback from the question. Concern etched over his face as he found himself at a loss for words in response. When his father remained silent Shawn looked up and pried further through a heartfelt, confused stare.
"I don't know what you want me to say, Shawn," the detective finally said, openly frank about his reply.
"I just want to know why you're being…" The teen inwardly wondered for the right word.
"I don't know! Being…"
"No, well yeah, but-"
"Then what, Shawn?"
"I don't know!"
Henry placed his elbows on the table and stared directly at his son. "…a father?" The young teenage looked up. "Because, despite your irritable claims, that's what I am, Shawn. No matter how difficult everything becomes, I have a duty to stick by you."
Where had all this come from? Shawn wondered, even though he knew deep, deep down, it was linked with the huge changes in the family; that and the combination of everything that had been happening thus far. It was exactly what Shawn needed to hear at this particular moment. His father reassured him he wasn't going anywhere. Shawn wasn't sure how to react to that but it did leave him aggravated and relieved at the same time. "I mean…why now?"
"Why now? Shawn, I've been putting up with your frolicking since the day you were born and that's not gonna change!"
"No I just-" he paused uncomfortably. "You've never..." When Shawn couldn't finish the sentence Henry stood up and took away the empty plates into the sink. "…thanks," the teen had finally said.
Henry merely nodded, accepting the gratitude in pleasant surprise, and then continued to add, "Well, you needed the push."
"Except you didn't really push me, unless you count the whole therapy incident, but it's not as bad as…everything else you ever tried to push me to do."
Henry didn't answer to that, instead he moved on before the moment took a turn towards a dispute. "You did learn something very important out of this, and…I'm…" Shawn raised his eyebrows awaiting his father to continue, his back still turned towards Shawn's line of vision, "I'm…proud of you…for that, for sticking through till the end."
Shawn's lips parted with astonishment. His father had never ever praised him, for anything. Shawn liked to think he stopped trying to live up to his father's expectations and that he could no longer care what his father thought of his actions. But judging by his surprised reaction it was painfully clear he still sought for his father's approval, even if it was subconsciously. And it really did feel…good, good to finally have the old man take pride in his son, even if it was for just a simple task of overcoming anxiety.
After finally gathering his initial shock Shawn spoke up, "Yeah, well, what hurts me only makes me stronger right?" He snorted.
Henry pursed his lips and strolled towards Shawn's side, intending to pick up his empty plate. "You know, kid," he began, "people think it's holding on that makes you stronger."
Shawn's head perked up with interest.
"But sometimes it's letting go." With a wholehearted pat on Shawn's shoulder Henry then made his way back to the kitchen, leaving a look of admiration on his son. Something that Shawn hadn't felt for his father in years.
When neither of them spoke another word for more than five minutes Shawn broke the silence once more. "Did…" Henry dried away at the plates, waiting for his son to continue. "Did mum…ever…visit me…d-during…y'know?"
Henry halted suddenly, swallowing hard, unable to think of a quick answer.
Shawn continued, "I mean I know she's been really busy lately and hopefully I didn't worry her…but...I just-…I wanna know…"
Several thoughts scattered in Henry's mind as he tried to rummage over the right one. Early in the stage of the accident, when Shawn was still unconscious with a breathing tube down his throat, Henry rarely left his side. When he did, it was to call Madeline about updates. He reassured her that the respirator was used, according to Shawn's doctors, as just a precaution and that he was going to be okay, and to Maddie that meant it didn't require an urgent visit since she assured herself he would be up and walking in no time, as well as the fact that she would be seeing him when she got back in town for a few days anyway.
Hating to see that heart wrenching look on his son's face he had only witnessed the day his mother left, there was only one answer he had to use; so turning to face his child with a forced smile that didn't quite reach his ears, he spoke convincingly yet with a hint of sadness in his voice, "Yeah, son, she did."
Three days later…
"Shawn, are you out of your mind? Your dad's going to bury you alive when he sees this!" Gus yelled, his exclamation resonating within the Spencers' garage.
"Gus, don't you see? This is the perfect solution!"
Gus' lips parted with incredulity. "How is this possibly the perfect solution?"
"It's the only way I can truly get past this…." Shawn briefly hesitated, "…problem. I mean think about it, what better way than to buy the ultimate thrill? If I can ride on this, I can ride on anything!" Shawn's attention went back to the new vehicle he proudly just bought as his hand found its way towards the seat, stroking it with delight. "Besides, look at it, ain't she a beaut?"
"How did you even afford this?"
"I saved up enough money before I quit that part-time gig. And I can truly say, best thing I ever bought!"
"You don't even know how to ride one."
Shawn shrugged casually. "I'll take lessons."
"And where will you get the money for that?"
"I just got a new job at some hotel," Shawn replied with ease. It really did seem that, for once in Shawn's life, he came prepared. He actually thought things through before doing another to what Gus referred to as "a stupid stunt".
Gus shook his head; there was no way around stopping Shawn when he made his mind up. Instead he just sighed, suddenly seeing what he hadn't seen in Shawn in a very long time – genuine bliss. If that was what it took to make his best friend truly happy, then what gave him the right to take it away from him?
Gus took another look at the motorised bike before commenting with certainty, "Your dad's gonna be pissed."
"That, my friend," his best friend's features shaped the very familiar mischievous, trademark grin, "…is the bonus."
So this was my first one-shot ever in fanfiction. Despite the lengthiness I hope I did well.
Let me know what you guys thought of it :)
Huge thanks to MysteryMeg for the wonderful encouragement. As well as VLeRoux, Alex K and Red Tigress from The Beta Branch for their wonderful feedback while it was still in the making.
P.S. I wanted to add in an epic House reference, but then I remembered…it's 1993.