Shawn tried to twist out of his grasp, but it was useless. The guy was about the same height as him, but much, much stronger. His arms were like thick steel cables, holding him in place. Unable to fight, Shawn turned to his second best weapon, behind his mind. His mouth.
"Sorry to disappoint you," he gasped. His voice sounded weak and choked. Mr. Iron Arms loosened his grip on Shawn's neck just a bit, allowing him to take in the air he needed to speak clearly. "I can fall down and play dead if you want. I'm really good at it. If you just let me go, I'll show you."
"You're not going anywhere, smart-ass."
Shawn squirmed, trying to move his head away. He hated the feeling of this guy's breath in his ear.
"Simon Quinn, I presume?"
"Wow. Maybe you are psychic after all." Quinn leaned in closer, until he was practically licking the inside of Shawn's ear. "What's the matter, Spencer? You don't like blackberry cobbler?"
"I prefer peach, actually."
His captor began walking sideways away from the doorway, dragging Shawn with him. "Too bad for you. You could have died quickly and relatively painlessly. Now, I may just have to take things slow."
Shawn felt anger flare inside him. He clenched his fists and tried to elbow the guy in the stomach, but he couldn't get his arm loose.
"You almost killed my dad, you son of a bitch. I saw what happened to him. It didn't look painless."
"Whoops," Quinn replied, sounding unconcerned. "That was meant for you, not him. But I guess you're good at screwing things up for people. Like you screwed up my relationship with Bridget."
Shawn scowled. "Dude, I'm pretty sure you did a good job of screwing that up all on your own."
Quinn rapidly pulled his right arm away and brought it forward, fist clenched, to punch Shawn in the ribs. He groaned as pain flooded his right side. Before he could try to twist out of his grasp, Quinn had grabbed him once again.
"Bridget is the only woman I ever loved. She wasn't supposed to find out about my...temporary lapse in judgment. If it hadn't been for you, she never would have."
Despite his uncomfortable position, Shawn rolled his eyes. "She was already on to you, man. That's why she came to me in the first place. I just gave her the proof she needed. What did she do? Dump you?"
He felt Quinn's chin brush the back of his head, presumably from nodding. "She didn't waste any time. Showed up at my door at 10 am this morning. I wasn't even awake yet. Showed me the pictures you took last night."
"Smart girl." The key was to stall. Keep him talking. Monologuing, just like the stupid bad guys in the movies. If he didn't show up at the police station soon, Juliet would come looking for him. Still, could he really keep Simon Quinn talking for an hour? The guy seemed really determined.
Out of habit, Shawn tried to lift his left hand to his forehead, but it was blocked by Quinn's arm. "So you bought a cobbler and poisoned it, and made it look like it was from Bridget? Stupid, man. Putting her name on it automatically tied it to this case. You might as well have signed your own name. Or delivered it yourself. Let me guess; you paid some broke high school kid ten bucks to deliver it for you."
Shawn's mind raced as he talked, trying to figure out a way to escape. He had to get out of Quinn's grasp so he had at least a slim chance of defending himself. He could try to kick him in the knee, but they were so close together he couldn't get much force behind the blow. Maybe stomp on his foot? Such a girly move, but he was getting desperate here.
"But how did you get a hold of cyanide?"
Quinn chuckled. "You're the psychic. You tell me."
Shawn's mind recalled his initial consultation with Bridget Lear. She had told him all about her boyfriend. How smart he was. Driven. A grad student, majoring in business, and..."
"The university," Shawn said as the pieces suddenly flew together. "I see a room...a room with lots of bottles...and those weird burners that are built into the desks. A lab! You studied there...studied chemistry...it was your minor."
"I'll admit it; you're good. But that was your last divination, Spencer."
Quinn's arms suddenly let loose and shoved him forward roughly. Already off-balance, Shawn flew to the ground, landing hard on his right shoulder. The force was enough to roll him over onto his back. He looked up, a million thoughts racing through his mind at once. Weapon? Shout for help? Kick? Punch? Get the hell out of here?
Simon Quinn's enraged face and huge hulking form loomed over him. Shawn pushed himself up on his hands and was about to scramble back away from the monster, when he heard a dull thunk. Quinn swayed uncertainly for a moment, looking confused. Then his knees buckled and he crumpled to the floor. His head came to rest neatly at Shawn's feet.
Shawn looked up, eyes wide. Gus stood just behind where Quinn had been moments ago, a tire iron gripped tightly in his hand. He looked down at the unconscious man smugly.
"Not so tough now, are you, big guy?" He looked past Quinn to where Shawn still lay on the floor. "You all right?"
Shawn blinked a couple of times, confused. "Gus! That was...awesome. But how did you know Quinn was here?"
"I didn't." With his free hand, Gus reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a lime green iPhone. "You left your phone in my car. I thought you would need it, in case the hospital called."
Shawn carefully pushed himself up to a standing position, heart still pounding from his close escape. "Nice work, buddy. I'll call Jules and Lassiter. Tell them we caught the bad guy for them, yet again."
Gus motioned towards the floor. "What do we do with him?"
Shawn reached into a drawer behind him and pulled out a pair of handcuffs and tossed them to Gus. "Cuff him. If he wakes up, hit him again."
Gus shook his head. "I don't even know why you have those." He reached down to slap the cuffs on Quinn's large wrists, then hesitated.
"I want all the credit for taking him down, Shawn. Make sure you tell the cops how I knocked him out."
His friend nodded. "No argument this time, buddy. You deserve it."
"You're late," Henry said as Shawn entered his hospital room. "And please tell me you didn't bring your motorcycle to pick me up."
It had been three days since he was poisoned by cyanide. The drug was completely out of his system by now. Henry was ready to get away from the hospital and back to his own home. He was under doctor's orders to take it easy, which he would do. For a day or two, at least. It would be a great opportunity to get his son to wait on him and do chores around the house, if he could manipulate him into it. One way or another, he would get Shawn to finish cleaning out that garage.
Shawn held up Henry's keys. "I went by the house and got your truck. And some clean pants, which I hope you will don as quickly as possible." He tossed the pants to his father, who caught them easily.
"Think I can get Nurse Karen to help me get dressed?"
Shawn shuddered but made no comment.
Henry studied his son carefully. For the past few days, something had been off with Shawn. He had stopped by to see Henry several times, but he seemed uncomfortable and ready to leave the whole time he was there. Henry knew his son didn't like hospitals (who did, really?), but he sensed something more was bothering Shawn. He wasn't his usual mouthy, joking, sarcastic self. Normally, the comment about Nurse Karen would have been answered with a ten-minute diatribe on how much therapy Shawn would need to get the image of his father and the younger nurse out of his mind.
This time, Shawn barely grimaced.
Shawn had turned his back so that his father could pull on the pants and a clean shirt in relative privacy. After he finished dressing, Henry walked up behind his son and gently tapped his shoulder, making Shawn jump.
"Shawn," Henry asked seriously, "what is the matter with you?"
"Nothing," Shawn said automatically, turning to face his father.
"You've been awfully quiet the past few days."
Shawn shrugged. "And you're complaining?"
"I'll admit it's a nice change of pace, but I'm starting to wonder where the old Shawn went." Henry stepped in closer. "You weren't worried about your old man, were you?"
"No," Shawn answered quickly. He looked around uncomfortably for a few seconds. "Maybe."
Henry chuckled. "Gave you quite a scare, huh?"
Shawn took a step back. "Yes, fine, OK? Can we just go?"
Henry studied his son's face closely. Reading Shawn's face was a skill Henry had cultivated for over thirty years. He knew every look, every expression, and could read even subtle changes in mood and demeanor. Shawn now had the look that he used to get after he had stolen cookies from the jar. The same one he got after Henry caught him at the arcade playing Pac-Man instead of at school. The same expression both he and Gus had worn after Shawn convinced his best friend to write his history essay in the seventh grade.
"Don't tell me you feel guilty about what happened?"
Shawn took a step back as Henry stepped in closer. "Right now, I'm feeling claustrophobic and a little frightened. You want to back it up a bit there, Pop?"
Henry ignored him. "Shawn, it wasn't your fault."
"What wasn't my fault? You eating a poisoned dessert that I brought to your house?"
"Did you know it was poisoned?"
Shawn rolled his eyes. "Dad..."
"Answer me. Did you know it was poisoned?"
Shawn looked his father in the eye. "Of course not. But I still brought it, and you still ate it and got sick. You almost..." His voice trailed off, unable to finish the sentence.
"But I didn't. And Gus caught the guy."
"I caught the guy."
"I heard Gus knocked him out with a tire iron. He's really getting braver, you know."
Shawn still looked uncertain. It was time for the direct approach. Henry adopted an expression of annoyance.
"Look, Kid, get over yourself. You didn't do this. You were trying to do something nice. Not having had much practice at that, it backfired. But things worked out in the end. You caught the bad guy, and I'm fine, and everything is going to be OK. "
Shawn nodded. Under his hand, Henry felt his son relax a bit.
"And honestly, Shawn, I'm glad I ate the dessert and you didn't. You probably wouldn't have lasted two minutes."
Shawn rolled his eyes again and ducked out from under his father's hand. "Serves you right, trying to eat dessert before dinner. Didn't you used to punish me for doing that?"
The door clicked open and Nurse Karen entered, smiling brightly. "I just need you to sign the release form, Henry, and you can be on your way."
Henry returned the smile as he scribbled his name on the form. "It's been a pleasure, Karen." He ignored his son's disgusted expression as he watched her leave.
Shawn held up the keys again. "Now can we go? I need to go take a shower after seeing that. I feel dirty."
"I'm ready if you are."
As they walked down the hall, Shawn hesitated. "Do you think maybe you could wait in the truck for a few minutes? I want to try to get Nurse Karen's phone number."
Henry grinned and pulled a slip of paper out of his pocket. "Save your energy, kid. I already got it."
He had to laugh at his son's horrified expression and the gagging noise he made.
Yep. Things would be back to normal soon.
But first, he would let Shawn work off some of that guilt.