Hero Standards

Summary: For a lifetime, he's counted on his father to be better than him, to see more than he can see, to push him towards the answer, all the while holding it in his back pocket. Long overdue tag to Santabarbaratown, just in time for the premiere.

A/N: Been MIA in the Psych fandom for too long, and I offer my apologies with this. Let's call this Henry appreciation week, shall we? Some speculation based off of the premiere episode preview, but not much. Written and posted rather quickly, so might have a few typos in there, hopefully not though.

He's learned everything he knows at his father's knee: how to tie his shoes, how to drive a car, how to be a cop even after it was the last thing he wanted to be. He's lived his life under unrelenting criticism that he's rallied against and shrugged off and rebelled but never conquered; he's always understood that he was playing catch-up to expectations, trying to fill the shoes two sizes too big, measure up to a height just beyond him.

His father's shoes, his height, his expectations.

Shawn had never meant to put him on a pedestal in his mind. Some things, it seems, are inevitable.

This – this wasn't inevitable. It shouldn't have been.

You've missed something, Shawn. Look a little closer.

For a lifetime, he's counted on his father to be better than him, to see more than he can see, to push him towards the answer, all the while holding it in his back pocket.

You should have known, Dad. Why didn't you know?

It's somewhere in the mix of rushing thoughts, even as he's raging at the hospital, at everyone, to save him. Henry Spencer needs to be saved. That's his father in there.

His father. The man who raised him, taught him, loved him. The man who played the role of hero and villain with almost equal frequency in Shawn's life, the man who forced him to grow up too fast, but also kept him smart, safe, and alive (he hasn't forgotten his own shot in the dark and who solved the clues he left behind).

There's a thousand memories stinging, of words wasted on arguments (there's a divorce and a broken family that looks different now) when he should have been saying thank you. When he should have been saying I love you.

But old habits die hard, apparently, because even now he can't hold onto the feeling without an edge of burning anger.

Yes, anger, that's what this is. Shawn's angry at his father for trusting Jerry, for not seeing this coming, for not being the great detective when he really needed to be. And he's guilty that he's angry, and he's guilty that he didn't see it himself. His father taught him and yet they both failed. Spencer men are not allowed to fail.

And his father's in surgery and Shawn manages to crack a joke or three or three hundred (he's not even listening to what he's saying anymore).

He didn't expect to feel like he'd be losing a part of himself, but perhaps he should have known.

Then his father is out of surgery but unconscious, and Shawn doesn't know any of the technical jargon and doesn't have any energy to make it up. He just knows his father isn't waking up and the doctors are useless and saying that he could go one way or the other, it's hard to say.

The others are looking at him, but he waves off their concern. Shawn will not let them see him cry: he saves that for the bathroom stall where even the persistent Juliet, Gus, and Lassie (God, even Lassie's been trying to comfort him, what has the world come to?) won't follow.

They let him into his father's room after awhile, and he sits, not sure what to do with his hands. He's made a lot of jokes about this moment, none of which seem funny anymore. He's already formed a hundred ridiculous reasons why his father can't die yet, but even his voice gives away only the truth: Dad, I still need you here. I'm not ready for you to leave me.

Henry Spencer cannot die.

There's a wedding he's supposed to attend and grandchildren he's supposed to hold, there are fights to be had and Christmas gifts to be exchanged. There are more memories to be made, the good and the bad. There just has to be more time left.

He can't stay at the hospital all day; there is too much he needs to accomplish. Shawn throws his anger and fear together and directs it towards the case, and he's never felt homicidal before but he thinks he could kill Jerry if given half a chance. He won't, of course; in the end, there are handcuffs and metal bars and justice, but none of it feels real because his father isn't awake to remind him what that means.

Maybe it's hours, maybe it's days, but it feels like years. His father is in this critical unchanging stasis, and Shawn feels directionless and lost, and not in a good way. Juliet and Gus are there, but he's never felt so alone.

He prays and tries to remember everything Father Westley has ever told him.

And then, even later than that, Henry Spencer awakes, and his first mumbled word is his son's name. The doctors go from doubtful to hopeful, and Shawn is there, the waiting, unmoving figure at his bedside.

And part of him still wants to say, how come you didn't know, Dad? Part of him still wants to rage at his father for putting him through this kind of hell, for not seeing the clues earlier, for not living up to the standards Shawn has set for him.

But then Henry's eyes meet Shawn's, and though they should show tiredness or fragility, there is nothing there but a strength and determination and a love for his son that has never faltered. Not even once.

And Shawn understands, now more than ever. As mixed as their relationship has always been, his father is his one true hero. He always has been, and always will be.

And his hero has never let him down.