I've Heard It One Way

Chapter 1

Shawn Spencer sat propped up in his hospital bed after having his burst appendix removed. He still ached, and his side throbbed when he so much as moved, so he stayed in mostly one position, doing all that he could to not aggravate the stitches. Considering he was usually in perpetual motion, it was testing his patience.

After a while he drifted, only to wake up to find his doctor standing next to his bed with an all too serious look on his face.

"Hey, doc…what's up?"

He cracked a smile at the man, who only faintly smiled at the joke. Yeah, he'd probably heard it a million times, but this was the first chance that Shawn had ever had to use it, so he was going to take advantage of it, of course. It was about the only thing he could take advantage of in his current situation.

Doctor Richards just gave him a look, and that was when Shawn knew. It wasn't just his appendix. It was something else.

As the doctor explained what they had inadvertently found while taking out his appendix, Shawn simply listened. He was confused by what the doctor was telling him, even though he perfectly understood every word of what was being said.

He had come in for a burst appendix. And now this.

Shawn already knew the instant he heard the word that he wasn't going to tell anyone. Not his father, not even Gus. All he would get would be looks of pity, and he hated pity. Well, no, actually he didn't, but this would be a different kind of pity. One that he didn't like.

And besides. He'd be gone before anyone realized that there was something wrong with him. He'd skimmed Gus's copy of Grey's Anatomy, as well as read things about it in the past out of random curiosity, and he knew that it would have only a few symptoms that could easily be passed off as symptoms of other, more common illnesses, like the flu, and then he would simply be…gone. He wasn't going to wax philosophical about it, and he wasn't going to think about the consequences of not getting chemotherapy. His mother would strangle him for his decision, but it wasn't hers to make. Or his father's. It was his.

He already knew that he had no desire to drain his father like that. Shawn didn't have health insurance, after all, but he did have a life insurance policy no one knew about. He would put his affairs in order and set everything up to go to his parents, Gus, and Lassi and Jules. He didn't have anyone else in his life, anyway.

Doctor Richards stared at him for a moment, and then said, "There are treatments-"

Shawn cut him off.

"How long?"

"There are treatments," the doctor repeated, but the psychic cut him off a second time, his tone no longer light, instead bitter and brusque.

"How. Long."

The man clasped the clipboard in his hands and let out a frustrated sigh, obviously upset by Shawn's dismissal, but answered him anyway, despite his patient's obstinacy, and said, "Considering where it's at already, I'd say about nine months. A year, at best."

Shawn nodded.

Before the psychic could cut him off another time, Doctor Richards said, "Mr. Spencer, I highly advise against refusing treatment. With treatment you could have a much better chance at-"

"At what? Prolonging my suffering? Prolonging my family and friends' time to see me turn into a husk of my former self as I wither away next to nothing while I undergo chemo?" He sneered. "Sorry, doctor, but despite my good looks and charm, I am not a selfish person and I will not try to prolong my life at the expense of theirs. It's going to be bad enough when I go, so I'm not going to make them think that I might have a chance when you and I both know that it's gonna take me sooner, rather than later."

He turned his head to the side.

"I know that my father is footing the bill for this daybed and spa, which means that you feel obligated to tell him, but if you breathe a word of my condition to him, I will sue you for everything you've got."

It was an empty threat, but Richards didn't know and Shawn saw the quick, micro-expression of fear flicker across the man's face, and he knew that he'd won. Shawn mentally smirked and then coldly dismissed the doctor, leaving him alone to stew in his thoughts.

The instant the door closed behind him, Shawn felt the first tear slide down, hot and salty, his eyes stinging as he tried to keep the rest of them from falling.

How the hell was he supposed to deal with this?

He was Shawn Spencer, psychic extraordinaire, fancy loose and foot free…or was it the other way around?

"I've heard it both ways," he muttered to himself, trying to make a joke out of it when, really, there was nothing funny about it. This was going to be hell, and he knew it, but he also knew that if he accepted the treatment that it would be the worse hell.

He had no desire to see his father look at him with that clenched jaw and false bravado that silently said that everything would be alright, even though he knew it wouldn't be. He had no desire to see his mom brought to tears at knowing her baby boy would eventually be taken from her. He didn't want to look at Gus and see the fake smile; too much effort being put into pretending that everything was normal. He didn't want to see Jules looking at him with those soft brown eyes of hers with sadness and regret.

Interestingly enough, he knew that Lassiter was probably the only one who would treat him the same.

He could practically hear Lassiter saying, "That sucks, Spencer," followed by a, "Now, get the hell off my case." It made him smile in spite of his situation. As much as he pestered the man, Carlton Lassiter was actually someone that Shawn deeply admired and respected. In a world of corrupt cops and people with negligible morals, Lassi was as stalwart and as loyal as they came.

And, though he would never say it out loud, he was one hell of a cop, and a pretty damn good detective.

He had good instincts…well, most of the time. His only failing was that he wasn't willing to make those intuitive leaps. He held back, and Shawn knew that he could be better than he was if he simply trusted his gut more often.

Realizing that he was thinking on Lassiter more than was necessary, he focused back on his situation. He was terminally ill and was going to stay away from treatment. The decision wasn't hard for him, and that worried him to some extent, and he couldn't help but wonder why it was so easy for him to give up. Why it was so easy for him to simply say goodbye, then to try and fight it. What he'd told the doctor was the truth; he didn't want to make his family suffer. But, also, he knew he had a much more selfish reason…he wanted the excuse.

Now, he could do and say whatever he wanted and not be afraid to act on his more desperate desires…of course, he did that anyway.

Shawn lifted a hand and quickly wiped the tear track from his face, and just in time, as his father stepped into the room.

"Hey, Shawn. Doctor Richards just said that you can take visitors." Shawn nodded. "Good, then…how are you?"

His dad was as awkward as ever, and Shawn smiled and replied, "Oh, you know, just have a hole in my side where they took out a vital organ, but, you know, doing peachy. I'll be back to running laps around you in no time, pops." He shifted, trying to sit up further, and then winced. "Or, you know, walking laps around you. Whichever comes first."

Henry grinned in spite of himself and moved closer to the bed.

"Again, your appendix is not a vital organ."

"By the way, dad," Shawn added as casually as possible. "Thanks for footing the bill."

His father's eyebrow went up, immediately suspecting.

"Shawn? What's wrong?"

Shit. Now he had to be flippant and cover up.

"What makes you think something's wrong? Because I just apologized?" Before his father could go off, the younger Spencer shook his head and said, "I mean, I nearly died!"

At those words, Henry's stoic and skeptic look returned.

"You had your appendix removed. You're fine."

Shawn, not resisting the golden opportunity, began to ham it up, milking the scene for all it was worth. He hated having to perform in front of his dad, but he knew that being overdramatic and blatantly immature was the only way to keep his father from suspecting he was hiding something.

"No, dad, my appendix burst inside of me, putting all of my other organs at risk!"

"Name one."

"My kidney, of course."

"You have two of those, and you only need one to live."

"Well, then, my pancre-drenal gland, for one! I only have one of those!"

"No such thing, son. It's either your pancreas or your adrenal gland, neither of which were in any danger."

"My diaphragm?"

Henry groaned.

"Will you give it a rest?"

"But, I lost a vital organ," Shawn said once more, knowing it was the straw that would break the camel's back.

His dad responded by rolling his eyes, and snarking, "I believe we had this conversation earlier. Twice. I'm not having it a third time," and then walked out of the room after patting his son fondly on the leg, neither of them feeling entirely reassured by their conversation.

Seconds after his father had gone, Lassiter stepped into the room, looking annoyed, with a file in his hand.

"Spencer."

"Lassi."

Lassiter stood there a moment longer and then reluctantly dragged his feet over to Shawn's bed and dropped the file onto the psychic's lap, looking utterly resentful of every second that he stood there. Shawn had already deduced that the chief wanted his advice on a case and that Lassi was against it. It was obvious.

Shawn glanced at the file, which to Lassiter looked like he was aimlessly flipping through it, even though everything that appeared for an instant became permanently engrained in his memory, and he said, before Lassiter could get a word in edgewise, "Karen wants me on the case, huh? Money extortion. Fascinating."

Lassiter glared at him and snatched the file from Shawn's hands and snapped out, "It was her idea, not mine, and if I had it my way you wouldn't be anywhere near this case. First of all, you're still in the hospital, doped up on drugs. You're barely helpful when you're not on drugs, so I don't know how this could be any better. Second of all," he added, batting Shawn's hand away as he tried to grab the file back out of the detective's hand, "You don't know the case like I do. We've been working on it for nearly two weeks and-"

"It's the sister-in-law."

The detective glared at him, but Shawn knew he was right. The girl in question was Lizzie Brae; with blonde hair, blue eyes, a killer figure and at only 24-years-old, she wasn't lacking in looks. Her husband wasn't getting any of the family money from what Shawn could see, and in her most recent picture there was Louis Vuitton-not-a-knockoff-purse hanging from her newly-purchased-Calvin-Klein-jacket-clad arm. She worked as cocktail waitress in one Santa Barbara's less reputable bars, Scooter's. No way she was affording that stuff on her own. It was obvious that she was using leverage that her husband was actually gay (Shawn could see the look he shared with the bodyguard in the photo), to silently use him to extort money from his brother, without any suspicion falling onto her. Resentment and payback at the same time. It was easy.

Lassiter glanced at the file, obviously still angry at him, but then something in his face cleared as he glanced at the same photo that Shawn had committed to memory after a mere second from seeing it.

"The sister-in-law, huh? She seemed nice enough, and we interviewed her twice, but she panned out. Of course, O'Hara was the one that interviewed her. I had some doubts. Something about her felt…off. If it is her, and that's a big if, then where the hell would she be hiding the cash?"

Shawn's memory latched onto the numbers he'd seen the folder. A list of addresses for Lizzie's husband, Scott McTaggart. 114 Kepler Rd. It was abandoned, but only two miles from Lizzie's place of work, which was heavily frequented by the kinds of people that would do anything for a girl like her. As well as near a local gay bar. That was where the money was being held.

Shawn flung a hand up to his head and gasped, as a sudden stab of pain lanced unexpectedly through his side at the abrupt movement, finally breathing out, "Kep…Kepler! I'm getting something about a Kepler? And something about a…a…" He stifled a small scream as the pain lanced up through his ribs and quickly hissed, "It's near a skateboard…no, not a skateboard, motorized…with wheels…"

"A scooter?" Lassi supplied.

"Yes! A scooter…"

Suddenly Lassi's eyebrows lifted.

"Lizzie Brae works at a bar called Scooter's, and, if I'm not mistaken," he added, flipping to the back of the folder, "McTaggart has a house out there that he hasn't used in years. I'll contact the realtor and get a key and a warrant first thing in the morning."

He turned to leave and then unexpectedly turned around and said, "Thanks for the tip. I'll make sure that you get the check."

"Awww, Lassi…are you going all soft on me?"

The detective clenched his jaw and stalked out of the room, slamming the door behind him, and the psychic grinned. Some things never changed. However, his humor faded all too quickly, and he was soon back at where he started before. Angry at the world for giving him his damn disease.

At least it would be quick.

No time for anyone to notice.

Or for anyone to miss him.