Author's Note: Never written for Psych before, but I gave it a go for a writing group activity, and this was the result. Thought I'd post it in case anyone was interested. Not really sure when this takes place in the series . . . just somewhere . . . in the middle, I guess.
Also, I'm throwing in a language warning for some strong language. Happy reading, ya'll. :)
Demons in Dim Light
Shawn didn't know how he'd lost everyone else. He'd wandered down a dark hallway to see if it led to anything interesting, but when he met a dead end, the rest of the group had moved on. Somewhere. He couldn't seem to find where.
His investigation had led him to this abandoned commercial building, so he put on a show at the station to coax good ol' Lassie and sweet, sweet Jules to check it out. And they all came, along with a handful of other officers.
And somehow, he'd lost the whole lot of them. Even Gus. Shawn kind of figured his best friend would've followed him, so he was genuinely surprised to find himself alone halfway down the corridor. But he knew Gus, and he could practically hear his reason for not following: "I'm not going down a creepy hallway, Shawn. That's where killers hide."
Well. He did have a point there.
Shawn sighed, softly brushing fingers through his hair to re-sculpt it to perfection. Even dim lighting was no excuse for poor hair form. The sweet, baby cherubs of locks would weep if he let even one hair fall out of place.
"Guys?" he called, walking alone down another dark hallway. Where was everybody? How were they so quiet in such an empty building? He didn't even have a flashlight. He had to go by the dim light of distant windows.
His dad would gut him for being so woefully unprepared.
He let out another sigh, stopping as he put his hands on his hips. Honestly, he thought he would spot something by now. Everything suggested their victim had been killed here and moved, so there had to be something. A smear of blood. A sign of fresh damage. Just . . . something.
Maybe he was on the wrong floor.
He moved to take a step.
Then a hand clamped over his mouth, jerking him backward.
And a spike of agony sliced through his lower back.
A guttural, pained scream tore out of his lungs, completely smothered by the hand over his mouth. No one would hear him.
"Should've kept your mouth shut, psychic."
Panic thumped wildly against his ribs. He had to get out. He had to escape.
He tore the hand from his mouth, throwing an elbow back into his attacker's stomach. There was a grunt as the man stumbled back, and Shawn promptly collapsed to the floor. His back throbbed with wild waves of pain, his limbs strangely weak and uncoordinated. Fighting against his body's own reluctance, he crawled forward, desperately pulling himself to safety.
A hand clamped around his ankle, roughly yanking him backwards.
With a tortured cry, Shawn wriggled against the hold, kicking with his free foot. It connected with something, eliciting a howl from the other man as he took a few steps back.
Shawn clung to his fear, using it to propel himself to his feet and sprint down the hallway. He had to escape. If he didn't run, he'd die.
The pain was electric and burning at the same time. It was agonizing. But he couldn't stop. He had to keep going. His feet were starting to clumsily stumble over flat flooring, and he could feel a strangely cold wetness at the back of his waistband. It felt like his body was shutting down, failing him.
Against his will, his legs slowed, his body sagging. He fell against the wall, using it as support while dragging his deadening weight along.
"Help," he called, his voice raw and not half as loud as he hoped it would be. But he couldn't draw in enough breath to fuel a proper shout. Fuck, he couldn't even find the strength to walk. "Help. Please."
He'd given it his all. He'd put everything into his escape.
And his body had nothing left.
The last bit of energy he had fluttered away, and his knees buckled beneath him. Unable to hold himself up, he dropped to the floor, sprawling across the dust and must.
He gasped sharply as another hot spike of pain jolted through his back, spiderwebbing across his whole body. Shawn tried to listen past the agony-fed ringing in his ears, straining to catch any approaching footsteps.
Step. Step. Step. Step.
Shawn froze, struggling to hold his labored breathing.
Someone was coming.
The footsteps came closer, then paused, as if distracted. When they started up again, they were faster. And getting faster. Into a full run.
Shit, this was how he was going to die. In a dark hallway, trying to crawl away from a murderer after he stupidly left the group.
He shouldn't have left the group.
The footsteps drew closer, and in a frantic effort to get away, he dug his fingertips into the cheap office carpeting, quickly dragging himself along in quick bursts of surprising strength. The harsh fibers scraped and burned his elbows and forearms, but he didn't care.
He just had to get away.
He just had to get away.
A hand gripped his shoulder.
This was it. This was the end for Shawn Spencer.
"Spencer, what the hell are you doing?"
"I . . . I found . . . " Shawn tried to find the words, but relief hit him like a tidal wave, overwhelming his brain as tears nipped at his eyes. "You found me."
In the dim light, Lassie looked confused. "Were you lost?"
"Thought I was . . . thought I was dead."
Lassiter frowned at that, his brows furrowing in suspicious concern. With a quick click, bright light cut through the dim hallway.
"Shit," the detective growled, dropping the flashlight as he urgently tore off his blazer. The abandoned flashlight rolled across the carpeting, waking strange shadows against the walls. Shawn could only admire the odd angles and shapes as he let his cheek practically melt against the rough fibers.
When he least expected it, there was an immense pressure against his back, eliciting wild barbs of pain that rippled outward. In response, he could only muster enough energy and breath for a weak, choked cry as he wriggled feebly.
"Stay still, Spencer. You're bleeding pretty heavily."
For a moment, Shawn wondered if he'd accidentally slipped into a dream. Did Lassiter actually sound worried?
"Dispatch, we have a civilian down—send a bus immediately."
Through the fog, Shawn could hear the grainy, buzzing response from the other end, though he couldn't make out the words. Shawn's eyelids drooped, feeling heavier with every passing second.
"You stay with me, Spencer. Help's on the way."
"Like hell you are," Lassiter spat. "Keep those eyes open."
Shawn tried his best. He really did. Lassie sounded really mad this time—he didn't mean to take it too far.
"'m s'rry," he muttered, eyes closing. There was a sharp slap to his cheek, and his eyes sluggishly opened again.
"Don't apologize. Just stay awake."
But he couldn't. His eyes were closing. His senses were fading.
". . . ay . . . ake . . ."
He felt numb. Floaty.
". . . encer . . ."
He couldn't stay awake.
It was the low throb in his back that coaxed him to consciousness. It wasn't the sharp scent of disinfectant. Nor was it the telltale bustle of medical staff outside the room.
It was the ache, nestled deep in his lower back.
He thought it would either be the beeping of a heartrate monitor or the creak of the pearly gates. A clear sound of life or death.
But there was neither.
So was he . . . alive?
Or was this some kind of unconventional afterlife no one had told him about?
Uncertain, he cracked open his eyes, wincing against the blinding light of midday.
The corners of Shawn's mouth dipped downward as he blinked into wakefulness. Slowly, he turned toward the voice, his vision clearing bit by bit.
He didn't expect the raw, shriveled thing that was his voice. But the croaky question came out all the same, still clear against a dry throat.
"Yeah, don't get used to it," the detective mumbled irritably. He was settled wearily in a generic hospital chair, dressed in his "plain clothes" suit.
So he was off duty. And he was here?
"Before you ask, I sent Guster home to take a shower, and your father needed some sleep before he strangled someone." Lassiter crossed his legs, his expression bored. "O'Hara had to file some paperwork at the station, but she'll be back soon."
The older man, by all appearances, looked completely disinterested in Shawn's hospitalization. But Shawn could see behind it. He could see the slightly mussed hair, the partially wrinkled shirt, the weary, sunken eyes . . . Lassiter had been here for hours. And judging by the rubbed-red patches on the detective's forehead, he'd been worrying here for hours.
"There's no strong Irish hairline I'd rather wake up to," Shawn teased, his voice still painfully raspy, no matter how many times he'd tried to swallow it away.
"Don't hurt yourself, Spencer," Lassiter growled, getting up wearily to retrieve a cup with a spoon on the bedside table. Carefully, he dug the spoon into the cup, managing to get a couple ice cubes. "Damn nurses have been in here every hour to replace this thing, so might as well put it to good use."
Shawn grinned shamelessly, opening his mouth. With a hefty roll of his eyes, Lassiter spooned the ice into the younger man's mouth, quickly retreating back to the safety of his chair.
And while Lassiter's embarrassment of being caught caring was truly a delight, Shawn relished the cool, moist relief of ice even more, enjoying how it quickly rejuvenated his sandpaper throat.
"Perfectly executed, Lassie. Dare I say your ice-serving skills are unrivaled—except for perhaps an igloo architect's. The precision it must take for those bricks—"
"Oh, hell. You've been awake for two minutes, and you're already starting the pointless jabbering."
Shawn feigned offense, setting a weary hand against his chest. "I am a gentleman, Lassie. I would never jabber."
Confusion pinched at the detective's face. "What?"
"It's okay. I forgive your thoughtless accusation," Shawn huffed, shifting a little with a wince and grunt. Lassiter's expression quickly went from angry puzzlement to concern as he moved to get up.
"No, no, I'm okay," Shawn said quickly, waving Lassiter away. "Just . . . getting reacquainted."
Reluctantly, the older man settled back into his seat.
But his reaction had told Shawn a lot more than he thought it would.
A somber mood fell over the two of them, and Shawn found himself picking at the thin blanket over his legs.
"How . . ." He paused, unsure how to continue. But he had to know. "How bad was it?"
Strangely, Shawn expected anger. A wall. An excuse to not answer.
But to his surprise, he instead got thoughtful reverence.
"Bad," Lassiter muttered, staring down at his knee. "When I found you, you'd already lost a lot of blood. By the time the ambulance got there, you were barely there." Lassiter stopped, his eyes shadowed. "You were in surgery for some ungodly amount of time. And they had to push three bags of blood." He paused again, breathing deeply as if to compose himself. "Didn't know if you'd made it through surgery until about one in the morning."
Shawn could feel the weight of the situation in Lassiter's tone.
It had been torture for the people on this side. And Shawn had slept through it all.
The pseudo-psychic made the mistake of looking over at his colleague—friend?—and catching the dark look in piercing eyes.
"What happened, Spencer?"
Shawn fidgeted, wincing again as the movement pulled at his back. He stared at his lap, organizing the images swirling in his head. "I thought there'd be something down one of those hallways, so I went to take a look. I didn't even realize I'd lost you guys until I turned around to go back."
Something cold slithered down his spine, triggering a soft shiver.
"I went down another hallway to look around and—"
He hadn't noticed right away, but his heart was already racing. Like he was back there. Back in that hallway with the stranger.
"He got me from behind. I didn't hear him coming or anything." Shawn swiped a hand over his face, breathing deeply to calm his heart. "Did you get him?" He looked over at Lassiter, seeing the cold steel in the man's eyes.
"Buzz caught him fleeing the property with the knife still in his hand. He'll be going away for a long time."
Shawn nodded, his head bobbing anxiously. "Good." He pressed a hand to his eyes. "Good."
He could feel it with sharp clarity. Just like everything else. His impeccable memory would preserve the tragedy with perfect exactness.
And he'd hear that same gritty voice in his dreams for the rest of eternity.
"Should've kept your mouth shut, psychic."
"Fuck." He couldn't stop the tears. The frantic hammering of his heart. The fearful pace of his breathing.
He could feel the hand around his mouth and the scream hidden behind his lips. He could feel the very life drain out of him as he ran. He could feel his fingertips in that cheap carpeting, tugging him weakly to safety.
He'd always remember it. Every feeling. Every detail. Every sound.
The mattress dipped beside him, strong arms taking hold of his shoulders to pull him into a sturdy embrace.
And he sobbed. Sobbed to mourn his broken sense of security. Sobbed to chase away the memory. Through it all, he tried to focus on the solidarity of Lassiter's arms around him. He tried to focus on the feeling of safety. Of healing.
But he'd never feel safe in the dark again.
Beside him, Lassiter kept a strong jaw with tight emotions. He kept it all under wraps because he refused to be vulnerable—and he refused to fail Spencer. Even though the young psychic got on his nerves more often than not, no one deserved this. Especially Spencer.
No one deserved to feel unsafe.