Disclaimer: I don't own Psych. If I did, every episode would have involved whump.
Henry's Allegory of the Doghouse by Emachinescat
A Psych Fan-Fiction
SUMMARY: Just when Henry is wondering if trying to repair his relationship with his son is worth it, after all, he gets a call that changes everything. "Mr. Spencer? It's Gus. I'm at Santa Barbara General. There's been an accident." Spellingg Bee AU; part 2 of "AU That Glitters" series. Contains spoilers and whump.
Series: Second in AU That Glitters
A/N: Dang... I wrote this way sooner and way faster than I expected... and then I just couldn't wait to post... I'm on fire! :) Seriously. Someone get a fire extinguisher, por favor.
Oh, and the title is totally based on Plato's Allegory of the Cave. Couldn't resist; the English professor is strong with this one. I was going to call it "Of Motorcycles and Men," but it doesn't have the right ring to it. Both, though, are literary allusions. Can you tell I teach English? ;) Also, I'm crossing my fingers that the medical stuff is right. I did do research, but if I get anything wrong, it's on me, because I am decidedly not a doctor. I, much like our dear Gus, don't have the stomach for it.
Please enjoy and let me know what you thought! :)
Henry's Allegory of the Doghouse
When Henry ventured back outside, dusk had come and gone and night was beginning in earnest. He wasn't surprised to see that Shawn had left without saying goodbye. He was even less surprised that he'd left the doghouse unfinished and the tools out. With a grunt of irritation, Henry lugged the pitiful excuse for a doghouse back into the garage and tossed the toolbox in behind it. Half wishing that he could slam down the garage door to get some of his irritation out, he had to settle for jabbing the control button repeatedly and aggressively.
He should have known. Shawn had never finished anything when he was a kid; why would he start now? Never mind the fact that he was pushing thirty. Henry snorted. Face it, Spencer, he ordered himself. Shawn never grew up, and chances are he never will.
Stomping back up the stairs to the porch and slamming the front door behind him, Henry found himself wondering if it was even worth trying to salvage the mess he and Shawn had made of their relationship at this point. Shawn obviously wasn't trying, just like he never tried at anything. Why should he have to put in all this effort if Shawn was just going to give up, like usual?
It wasn't about the dog house, he realized. It never had been. It was, and always had been, about their relationship. With a small, unamused chuckle as he puttered around, getting ready to turn in, Henry acknowledged that his relationship with his son was the doghouse. Too much effort to make it work, stuffed into a dark corner until it necessity demanded it be dragged out and refinished, but it was still too much effort to make it work, and so… and so back in the darkness it went.
Shawn internally cursed that stupid doghouse as he veered his motorcycle around a wide curve. Why was nothing ever simple with his father? For Pete's sake, Shawn had asked for a tiny favor, and his dad had dragged the Hound Hotel from Hell out of the garage and insist that Shawn finish it. Did he not realize that this case was time sensitive? If he was going to solve this case and keep his standing at the police department, prove that he wasn't a one-hit-psychic wonder, he needed results and fast. Did Dad not realize that this kind of thing was one of the reasons he'd left home in the first place?
Yeah, the divorce and being there for his mom were factors – big ones, in fact – but did his father ever stop to consider that what might have driven Shawn away – driven Mom away – might have been his overbearing, overruling, stifling iron grip? No, of course he didn't. Because all he cared about was results. How many hats, Shawn? How many hats?
Who – the hell – cares?
With a frustrated sigh, willing to admit, at least to himself, that he was, by this point, possibly, brooding, he tried to clear his mind and focus on the road before him. Maybe he'd given up a little too soon. As much as he hated that idiotic doghouse, it was, unfortunately, his key to finding out what had poisoned the spelling bee judge. Tomorrow, he'd come back and fix the damn house, get his results, and go back to avoiding his dad as much as possible.
The headlights of a larger vehicle coming up fast behind him indicated that someone wanted to pass. Shawn kept to his side of the road to let them by, but they just kept coming. Before Shawn could figure out what exactly was going on, they were on him, jarring the back of his bike and sending him careening off course.
Shawn struggled to regain control of his bike, but it was too late. The last thing he saw before being tossed from his bike and toward the rocky ravine on the side of the road was a large van, headlights blazing, overtaking the smoldering corpse of his bike and disappearing over the hill.
Then there was pain, and everything went black.
Henry's phone woke him up.
Looking at the clock on the nightstand, he saw that it was just a few minutes to midnight. "Seriously, Shawn?" he grumbled as he fumbled out of bed and groped around for his phone. Who else would be calling him this late? And probably wanting some asinine favor as well. Well, tough luck, kid.
When he looked at the number on displayed on the screen, though, he didn't recognize it. Damn telemarketers were getting a lot more ambitious these days. Still, a spike of foreboding rose up in his gut. Telemarketers didn't work these kinds of hours. Even they, devil spawn though they were, had to sleep sometime. And Henry didn't give his number out to just anybody, so who…?
Clamping down on the sick feeling trying to encapsulate his being, Henry answered gruffly.
The voice on the other side was quiet and shaky. He didn't recognize it until it said, "Mr. Spencer? It's Gus."
Guster? Really? Henry could've sworn he had the kid's number, if only to keep tabs on Shawn. Maybe he'd gotten a new number, or Henry hadn't added Gus's number when he got his own cell phone earlier in the year. Either way, it looked like it was his son's much-too-patient-and-forgiving best friend calling, which meant that Shawn had done something stupid. Again.
"Gus? What did Shawn do this time? You're not at the Mexican border, are you?"
The next words froze Henry's veins and released the fear that had been trying to build up inside of him. "N-no. I'm at Santa Barbara General. There's been an accident."
Henry was out the door before Gus finished speaking, in his truck, and speeding toward the hospital.
God, please. Not again.
When he arrived, it was to find Gus pacing back and forth in the ER waiting room, arms crossed tightly across his chest, a breathy keening noise accompanying every breath. Henry recognized it instantly as a panic attack, as he'd had to coach a much younger Guster through several of them when he and Shawn were kids, once when a large, but harmless, spider had found its way onto Gus's sneaker. That one had been a doozy.
But Henry didn't have time to put the kid gloves on (oddly enough, it'd always been a lot easier to don the kid gloves for a kid who wasn't his own). Stalking over to Gus, grabbing the frantic man by his tense shoulders, and spinning him around to face him, Henry demanded, "What happened?"
Gus's eyes were red-rimmed, but he managed to regain relative control of himself. "I'm not sure. I got a call about forty-five minutes ago from the hospital. They said that Shawn had been in an accident and that he was en route to the ER. They didn't give me much more than that; I'm waiting on the doctor right now."
Henry's heart tripped over its metaphorical feet in relief. That meant Shawn was alive. Hopefully, he would stay that way. Then Henry could kill him himself. How many times had he told Shawn to get rid of that death machine?
A thought suddenly occurred to him, and it troubled him more than he cared to admit: "Why'd they call you? Why didn't I get a notification?"
Gus was suddenly very interested in a stain that looked disturbingly like dried vomit on the waiting room's wall.
"I don't know; they told me I was Shawn's emergency contact."
Henry's heart sunk like lead into his gut. "What about me? Last time—"
"I don't know, Mr. Spencer. I'm sorry. Shawn must have changed it. You'll have to ask him, I don't know…"
The wheezing was starting back again. Releasing the tension in his shoulders the best he could, knowing that Gus wasn't at fault, Henry gently guided the young man to an empty chair and sat him down. After Henry had settled in beside him, he spent a few moments studying his son's best friend. He hadn't seen the kid much since Shawn had left home. Hadn't seen him at all since he'd left for Florida and come back last year. Kid must be keeping himself busy, he assumed. He looked good, though. Other than the obvious panic attack ravaging his systems.
"It's okay, Gus," Henry said, awkwardly patting the young man's back. Once Gus had calmed down enough, Henry rose to his feet. "I'm going to go to the front desk, see what they can tell me."
From behind his hands came Gus's muffled reply, "Good luck with that. They wouldn't tell me a thing except to please sit down and we'll let you know as soon as we know something." The high-pitched mocking tone was so petulant, it nearly caused Henry to let out a bark of hysterical laughter. Instead, he made his way to the desk, determined to get some answers about his son.
Three frustrating minutes later, he sat back down beside Gus and let his own face drop into his own hands. "Dammit."
Gus's muttered "told you" didn't help matters any, and Henry closed his eyes and tried to stave off his own waves of panic.
Dammit, kid. Why didn't I check up on you sooner? I should've asked you to stay for dinner… I should have made you finish it… I should have gotten rid of that damn bike a long time ago.
It was a little over an hour later when a nurse poked her head into the room and announced, "Shawn Spencer?"
Henry and Gus clambered to their feet and followed her when she beckoned them over. "We'll just take a moment to talk before we go see Shawn, okay?" She led them to a quiet hallway to the left of the main bustle of the ER and into a small office better suited to be a broom closet. "Have a seat." Gus and Henry scrunched themselves into the two hard plastic chairs nearly stacked on top of one another on one side of the office. For two people who hadn't properly spoken in years, it was a little too close for comfort, but neither complained, too focused on getting information about Shawn.
"Hi, I'm Lily Eastridge," she introduced herself. "I've been helping Dr. Davis with Shawn; he's finishing up with him right now. Are you Shawn's father?"
Henry dipped his head. "Henry Spencer; this is Shawn's friend, Gus. How's my son?"
"Overall, he's pretty lucky, Mr. Spencer. It could have been a lot worse. Still, he has some pretty extensive injuries, but none that should prove to be life-threatening. Your son should make a full recovery."
Both Henry and Gus breathed sighs of relief. "Thank God," Gus exhaled.
The nurse smiled. "So this is what we're looking at right now." She consulted her chart with a quick flick of her eyes before continuing, "Shawn was brought in via ambulance after a passerby spotted his motorcycle off of Nilesferry."
"He was on that backroad on his bike? No wonder he crashed," Henry couldn't help but grouse. How many times had he told Shawn to stick to well-lit roads, especially at night.
The nurse allowed his micro-tantrum, then went on as if nothing had happened. "We did several tests, including an MRI, an XRAY, and an Ultra Sound to check for internal organ damage. Ultimately, we treated Shawn for a severe concussion – no skull fracture, but it was probably a close thing – and a broken wrist."
The nurse raised her eyebrow at Henry's brash, but somewhat relieved, tone. "No. He had a couple of other concerning injuries, including a four-inch-long gash in his left shin and a dislocated kneecap." Gus and Henry winced in synchronization, but Nurse Lily wasn't done just yet. "This leads me to what is, along with the concussion, perhaps the most severe and concerning of his injuries. Shawn sustained a complete tear to his patellar tendon."
Gus said a word that Henry didn't even know was in the kid's vocabulary. Outwardly, Henry shot the kid a disapproving look. Inwardly, he was a bit proud of him. Didn't know Gus had it in him. But that led him to realize that something that would incite such a reaction in someone like Gus was probably not good at all for his son.
"Can we speak in layman's terms?" Henry asked irritably, his worry for his son coming out as it always did – through gruff words and brash tones.
"The patellar tendon's what anchors the kneecap to the shinbone," Gus explained. "It's usually a pretty debilitating injury, especially a complete tear."
The nurse shot Gus an impressed look. "Wow, are you in the medical field?"
Even in his state of worry, Gus managed to adapt a smug look on his face and flick the side of his nose like a mosquito had just landed on it. "I'm in pharmaceuticals. Surprised I haven't seen you around here."
"Gus, time and place," Henry snapped. "So what are you going to do about the tendon?"
"We've scheduled him for surgery first thing tomorrow morning. Dr. Cunningham is doing the procedure; he's very skilled at what he does. After that, Shawn will have to go through some pretty intensive physical therapy, and he may have a limp for a while, but he should, eventually, regain full mobility and function of his leg again."
"Thank God." This time it was Henry's turn to thank a deity he wasn't even sure he believed in.
"Can we see him?" Gus asked.
"Certainly. Fair warning, he is in a good deal of pain. We do have him on morphine, but low doses so that we can better monitor his concussion overnight. As long as those symptoms don't worsen, the doctor should be able to use an anesthetic to put Shawn to sleep during the surgery instead of a local one, and we should be able to bump up his pain meds after the surgery." She gave them an encouraging smile. "Now, if you'll follow me, I'll take you to Shawn. The doctor should be getting him moved out of the ER and into a room shortly, and then you can stay with him tonight if you wish."
Shawn looked, for lack of a better word, like hell. Lying there with his left leg bandaged and suspended above the bed, IV pumping drugs – but not enough to dull the shine of pain in his eyes and on his forehead – into his arms, head bandaged, eyes unfocused and glassy, wrist in a splint until they put it in a more permanent cast…
"Dammit, kid," Henry said for what felt like the hundredth time that night. He reached out, hesitated, then told his pride to shove it and brushed a strand of sweaty hair off of the kid's forehead. "I told you that damn thing wasn't safe."
Shawn seemed to be having trouble following the conversation, because at least two and a half minutes passed before he responded, words slurred and voice hoarse, "'t wasn' my fault."
Henry shook his head. "It never is, kid."
"N-no," Shawn gasped, squirming slightly against the pain. "Wasn' an… acc'dent."
Henry's heart stuttered. Was Shawn trying to say what it sounded like he was saying? "Shawn, did someone do this to you? Was this intentional?"
It was another long, agonizing minute before Shawn caught up with the conversation and tried to nod, decided against it with a wince of pain, and answered aloud, "Yes. Someone ran me… off th' road."
Anger like none Henry had ever felt welled up inside of him like a volcanic eruption. Someone had done this to his son. Someone had tried – and damn near succeeded – to kill him. He cursed. Loudly. So loudly, in fact, that he woke Gus, who had nodded off in the window seat.
"Don't worry about it, Gus; go back to sleep," Henry ordered.
Muttering something indistinct about Pluto, Gus acquiesced with a cavernous yawn.
"How'd I … get here?" Shawn asked blearily. He looked like he was about to drift off, and Henry hoped to God that the meds were starting to do something.
"Ambulance, kid. How else? Some good Samaritan saw your bike in the brush and called 911."
Shawn was now trying to shake his head and discovering that this, too, was a no-no for people with severe concussions. "Can't be right," he muttered. "The d'rection the bike … was headin' … too far out, no street lights. No one could'a seen me…"
Henry narrowed his eyes. "What are you saying, Shawn?"
"M'be they didn' mean to kill me."
Henry's eyes now flew to the opposite end of the spectrum and widened. "You think the person who ran you off the road might've called 911?"
"Why not?" Shawn asked. "Should'a been no … way t' know it was them… Pro'ly waited a few minutes … then called. Would'a attracted lotta atten…tion if they'd killed me … 'tention they didn' … need…"
Shawn's eyes were drooping exponentially now, and although Henry's first instinct was to press for details about the car that had done this – because about to crash or not, Shawn would have noticed – he ultimately pushed his cop instincts aside and waded into the very strange – and new, and awkward, and uncomfortable, but not unwelcome – waters of father instincts. Giving his son an encouraging smile that the kid probably didn't even see, he smoothed back another couple strands of hair and said, "That's a good lead, Shawn. I'll call the station right now and have them track the number and see if we can find the person who did this."
Barely conscious anymore, Shawn added, sounding like he was already asleep, "…pro'ly … find … our killer … too …"
Henry laughed softly. "Damn it if you don't manage to solve this case while concussed in a hospital bed, kid."
To his surprise, Shawn said one final thing before succumbing to slumber, "I'll fix … the doghouse … t'morrow, kay, dad?"
Amazed, with a tightness in his chest that felt surprisingly like pride, Henry shook his head at his son's drugged and concussed optimism. "Don't think you'll be up to that for a while, sport," he said, resting a hand briefly on Shawn's mussed hair. "We'll do it together when you get better, huh?"
There was no response. Henry waited a few minutes, until he was certain that Shawn was finally, mercifully asleep, then grabbed his cell phone and stood up to make the call. Halfway to the door, Henry turned to look at his now resting son. He thought of the doghouse, and of how he'd lamented the effort that Shawn didn't seem to be willing to put into it, or the relationship. He remembered how he'd wondered if it was even worth it to try to resurrect his relationship with his son.
After the roller coaster of emotions he'd ridden in just a few short hours, he'd learned one thing: It was most definitely worth it. He'd lost him once to circumstances and hard feelings. Now that he had a chance to get him back, Henry was sure as hell not going to lose him again. It would be a long, hard, tough road, and they'd probably regret taking it at some point or another, but the moments with his son tonight in the hospital room had proven that it could be done.
It would be done, just like the damn doghouse, even if he had to do all the work himself.
But smiling softly, remembering his son's offer to fix the doghouse the same day he would be having his knee opened up, he realized that he probably wouldn't have to.
Maybe, just maybe, Shawn was willing to try to fix the ragged remains of the doghouse of their relationship, too.
A/N: *squees* I can't even... I just love father/son bonding so much!
So I'm going to try not to go too much into the mystery of the episode in these AU rewrites, because I don't want to get repetitive and I'm here for the whump. I will reference them if needed, but unless the whump is really significant and could change the course of the episode (like this time), we can just assume that the episode will eventually end up like it did in the show. However, here, that wouldn't be possible, so I figured that this time around, Shawn could still solve it from a distance by figuring out it was his attacker who called 911, afraid that killing a police consultant might draw too much attention to himself... hopefully that tracked. :) Please let me know what you thought! I can't promise that I'll have the next one up as quickly as I did this one, but I do already have some ideas in mind for "Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Piece." I'll post as soon as I have it written! Until then, please review? Thanks so much for reading, you guys! :
~Emachinescat ^. .^