Disclaimer: Don't own Psych.
A/N: You guys, after long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long last – here it is! The final chapter, the conclusion to Hit the Road! A HUGE thank you to everyone who has read and reviewed and stuck with me throughout the hiatus – this is for you guys! Please review, and enjoy!
Warnings: some mild language, and some whump and non-descriptive descriptions of injuries
Hit the Road, (Uncle) Jack, and Don't You Come Back No More!
Shawn was in some deep, deep trouble. Deeper, even, than Gus's Puma, which had to be nearing the earth's core by this point (and, inner-Gus, FYI, he didn't care that that's not how mud holes worked). He held his hands above his head, the right one trembling in pain. His jaw stung where he'd just been backhanded brutally by Mark. Wavering on his feet, he knew he couldn't stand much longer. Not that it would be a problem in the near future if something didn't change. As it was, he didn't even have to be psychic to know that he was moments away from being shot and buried in the hole he'd just painstakingly dug to uncover an imaginary treasure.
"Look man," he said, forcing himself to maintain eye contact with Señor Che, as he seemed to be the most volatile at the moment, with his wide, mad eyes and tomato-red face, "I—I think I t-told you the wrong place – accidentally, man, don't shoot!" He took a deep, steadying breath as Che's finger inched back slightly from the trigger. "All this forest l-looks the same, man, and in case you f-forgot, I've got a couple busted fingers that are m-making it hard to think. M-maybe it was over th-there—" He turned slightly to the left, gesturing with his uninjured arm to the base of a tree that pretty much looked identical to every other one in the woods.
Apparently, sound must travel faster than pain, Shawn found himself thinking as he watched, almost detached, as the gun fired, spitting a bullet into his left bicep like a grade school bully with a spitball. He watched with disgusted, light-headed fascination as the bullet ripped through the fabric of his shirt, then through the fabric of his flesh, muscle, and straight into the bone, a dark red halo of red blossoming angrily from the wound.
Then the pain came, like fire and ice mixed together in some grotesque cocktail of torture and hatred. Shawn screamed at the sudden onset, clamping the palm of his right hand over the wound and feeling hot blood flow against his skin. At least one good thing came from getting shot, he thought dully as he swayed precariously on his feet, head somehow managing to be lighter than air and heavier than lead at the same time. He wasn't thinking about his broken fingers anymore.
"Spencer!" He forced his head up to meet the steely gaze of Señor Che, whose gun was now levelled at his right kneecap. "Where is the gold?"
Shawn could barely comprehend the man's words beneath the debilitating waves of pain and the odd rushing in his ears. Odd. I didn't realize I was at the beach. Shoulda told Jules to wear a bikini…
"Where did you bury it?"
Shawn blinked at Mark, who had echoed his Spanish counterpart with the question. Gold? Black fog was swelling in his mind, curdling his vision, and the rushing tide was getting louder and louder, threatening to overtake him at any second…
The sound of the gunshot jerked Shawn back into a state of semi-awareness, and he flinched back, teetering, eyes roaming his body, waiting for another welling of blood from a wound he just couldn't feel yet. But nothing came.
Instead, as he watched, Señor Che slid to the ground, the gunshot wound in his chest leaking out onto the forest floor. Funny, thought Shawn as he eyed the blooming crimson spreading from Che's chest, I don't remember that being there before. Ice crept over his skin, freezing him from the inside, sending painful, wracking shivers in shockwaves all over his abused body. He stumbled back, falling, falling, and then was caught at the last moment from behind, held up against a muscled chest.
Good catch, he congratulated his rescuer blearily, but decided to rethink his thanks when he felt something cold and hard was ground into his temple. Even in his state of shock, Shawn was easily able to recognize the feel of the unforgiving barrel of a pistol.
Detective Lassiter got his chance to take out the man closest to Spencer. Unfortunately, that chance only came after the false Mexican agent had shot the psychic in the arm.
"Detective!" He didn't move at the anguished hiss from the eldest Spencer a few yards from his own position, but he knew that Henry was barely maintaining his composure at this point – hell, his son had just been shot before his eyes. If Lassiter didn't take this bastard out, Henry was going to rush out into the fray, training and protocol be damned, and probably get himself shot trying to save his son. So in the second it took for the man to prepare the next shot and point it at Spencer's kneecap, Lassiter had shot the man in the chest.
No one expected Jack's partner Mark to be as quick, agile, or quick-thinking as he was in that moment. In the time it took for Lassiter, O'Hara, and Spencer to charge into the clearing, each one of their weapons pointing at a different one of the three remaining men, Mark had lunged forward, snagged a drowsy Shawn before he hit the ground, and had a gun to his head.
"Come any closer," the man said, desperation coating his voice, "and I kill him."
Henry stood helplessly as his idiot brother's ex-partner began to back away slowly, dragging a limp and barely conscious Shawn with him. He tightened his grip on his own handgun, knowing that Detectives Lassiter and O'Hara were doing the same – looking for an opening, any chance they had to take out the kidnapper and rescue the hostage. Although he knew that there was nothing that Lassiter could have done to prevent what had just happened – the false agent had moved like a viper, without warning, and there'd been no time to stop him once that trigger had been pulled. The head detective did take the first opportunity to shoot the bastard when he was momentarily occupied with readying the next shot; even Henry could not find fault in the detective's quick and accurate shot.
Henry focused his gaze on the kidnapper's face, despite wanting nothing more than to look at his son to assess his condition, lend him whatever meager support a resented father's gaze could muster, assure Shawn that it was going to be all right. Unfortunately, he couldn't afford to take his eyes off of Jack's ex-partner for even a fraction of a second, and so he resolutely held gaze and gun on the man, while his mind yearned to seek out and comfort his injured son.
"Let him go," the retired officer ordered steadily, despite knowing that his words would fall on deaf ears. He recognized the look in Mark's eyes – he'd seen it in the face of far too many desperate criminals.
"Stand down," Lassiter supplemented, his voice like stone. "You've got nowhere to go."
"I swear, I will kill him!" Mark all but shrieked, tightening his grip around Shawn's chest, eliciting a small moan of discomfort. "Lower your weapons, turn around, and let us leave, and the kid won't die right in front of your eyes."
"You know we can't do that," Detective O'Hara's voice rang out from somewhere to the right, surprisingly steady, though his trained ear could detect a tiny tremor of anxiety, "and if you shoot, you will lose your leverage. Surrender now; don't make this any harder than it has to be."
"Don't test me," Mark ground out, but he stopped backing away. The men on either side of him mimicked his actions, though Henry could see from the tautness in their calves that they were ready to bound away at the first opportunity. "This smartass certainly has, and it would give me great pleasure to send a bullet through his skull. I mean it; weapons down, or he … dies … NOW."
Shawn's senses were on the fritz, going in and out of focus, sometimes cutting out completely before wandering back into the picture, like, Oh, hey, sorry. Did you need us for something? The only sensation that stayed constant was the pain, hot sparks of agony resonating in his arm, head, hand – and discomfort in his chest where something was wrapped around him, squeezing him, pulling him close. He struggled to remember where he was and what had happened, but it wasn't until his hearing decided to once again join the party that he heard a familiar voice and a sliver of awareness jolted back into his fuzzy, pain-wracked mind. Dad.
Just three words – Let him go – but he latched on to them with everything he had left, cracked his eyes open marginally, and assessed his predicament the best he could. From what he could tell from his vantage point, this definitely looked like it was a textbook hostage situation. He could see one of his captor's muscular arm snaked around his chest, could feel the barrel of the pistol against his forehead, could see his dad, Lassie, and Jules in a semi-circle facing him, guns out, could hear Marky-moo's order to relinquish their weapons or else. And beside Shawn and his captor, to the left and slightly behind, was the mud puddle that had eaten Gus's shoe.
The sight of the mud hole recalled an earlier memory to Shawn's mind – a thought he'd had previously, a half-baked plan that was almost doomed to failure before it was even attempted. In his befuddled state, however, the fake psychic forgot about the "half-baked" part and impulsively put his plan into action.
Without another second to spare, he threw his body weight back with as much strength as he could muster, leaning to the left with all his might.
And he and Mark did a sideways synchronized swan dive into the mud puddle.
The next thirty seconds were absolute chaos. Before the detectives and Henry could react to the gunman's ultimatum, Shawn's limp body suddenly stiffened, and with what looked like every ounce of strength he had left, he flung himself back against his captor, and the two ungracefully tumbled back and into a great sticky mud hole to the left.
"Shawn!" Henry yelled, having to wrestle his panic under control at the sound of a gun's report. Without a second thought, he lunged forward, dropping to his knees beside the squelchy mud, and pulled his son from the foul goop. Shawn was lying on top of a squirming Mark, and wasn't moving. His eyes were closed, and his face was deathly pale, and there was blood on his cheek.
With trembling hands, Henry plucked the pistol from where it had landed in the mud a few inches away from Mark's grabbing fingers, tossed it in the general direction of Lassiter and O'Hara who were subduing the two henchmen, and promptly sat on the kidnapper, effectively stilling his struggles to extricate himself from the sticky puddle. The anxious father cleared the muck from his son's face the best that he could, nearly fainting with relief when he saw that the bullet had missed Shawn's head – his idiot son must have jarred it when he decided to take matters into his own hands – and had merely gazed a shallow groove across his right cheekbone. Blood oozed from the cut, but it was minor, and Shawn was breathing, if unconscious, and the perp's struggling beneath Henry was slowing…
It was over.
Thank God, it was over.
Gus, back at the car, heard the sharp report of gunshots and was barely able to restrain himself from running and screaming – either toward them in a pitiful attempt to save his best friend, or away in an even more pitiful attempt to save himself – by convincing himself that what he was hearing were the melodic notes of justice being doled out to the jerks who had kidnapped his friend.
It seemed like hours later – though it could have only been thirty or forty-five minutes – that he heard the wail of an ambulance and a cacophony of other sirens on the main road, and then, another half-hour later, the sound of haggard footsteps approaching his direction.
Gus ducked down behind the front seat of the car, wary of any nefarious goons coming to further ruin his day, but sank back in relief when he saw it was a very muddy and bedraggled Lassie and Jules trudging out of the trees. Lassie had something clutched in his hands, and he had an extremely unhappy look on his mud-splattered face, but Juliet's eyes, though subdued, were not defeated, and Gus knew that Shawn was going to be okay.
He scrambled out of the car to meet the detectives, spewing questions faster than he could coherently form them, resulting in a jumbled mess of high-pitched squeals. Thankfully, Juliet seemed to know what he was trying to communicate and answered his implied questions with restrained patience. "Shawn is going to be okay, Gus – Mr. Spencer is riding with him in the ambulance to the hospital. We've got the four kidnappers who were here, and Shawn was able to tell us where the other two are hiding out, so we've got a team going that way right now."
Gus opened his mouth and blurted out another incoherent mess of words, which Juliet skillfully translated. "Like I said, Gus, the paramedics said Shawn will be fine eventually. He has a concussion, some broken fingers, and a gunshot wound that fractured his arm, but—"
"Shawn was shot?!" Gus cried weakly.
"He'll be fine, Guster," Lassiter piped in, though there was an unidentifiable kind of weariness on his face, faint lines that, had it not been Lassie, Gus would have been convinced spoke of concern. "It was a flesh wound."
Gus breathed deeply, heart still beating a frenzied tattoo in his chest, but the tightness easing somewhat in his gut. He wouldn't be able to totally relax until he actually saw and spoke with Shawn, but hearing the detectives' reassurances did calm him somewhat.
Though still concerned, he looked curiously at the mud-coated object in Lassie's hands. "What's that?"
Lassiter rolled his eyes. "Spencer was clutching this for dear life when we dragged him all the way out of the mud; God knows how he managed to fish it out when he did." He thrust the whatever-it-was into Gus's hands, his upper lip curling with disgust. "He insisted that we give it to you when we saw you."
Astonishment quickly overtaking the disdain at the mud now oozing over his hands, Gus wiped some of the mud off of the surface of the object and laughed out loud. "Holy crap," he chortled, while Lassiter and Juliet looked on with looks of irritation and amusement on their respective faces. "Shawn found my Puma!"
Jack, for the record, did not want to do this, and it wasn't because he was a terrible person or a coward or anything, like his self-righteous brother was determined to believe, but rather, because, well…
Okay, maybe he was a coward, but how did Henry expect him to face Shawn after all the kid had been through? Just one off-handed assumption about the nature of his ex-partners, an empty and false reassurance that once they knew Shawn didn't have the gold, they'd leave him alone, had gotten the kid kidnapped, beat up, and shot. Jack never meant for things to go this far, and, though he never meant for it to happen, it was so easy to forget that Shawn was his little nephew when they teamed up instead of another partner.
And truth be told, Jack Spencer was ashamed of this fact.
But Henry was right; he did owe it to Shawn to at least attempt to apologize before he skipped town again; ironic, really, that Henry was so dead-set on Jack's apologizing but equally adamant that he wanted his brother to stay the hell away from Shawn in the future. Something about giving Shawn closure or something. Jack had only been half-listening to the lecture, consumed as he was in his own miserable guilt.
Jack breathed deeply, then considered his options. Maybe if he slipped out, right now, he—
The detective with the strong Irish hairline gave him a shove in the back toward the door, crossed his arms, and glared threateningly. Henry had sure picked the most intimidating guy on the force to babysit Jack until he saw his nephew, and though he seemed as equally displeased with the assignment of making sure Jack got to the hospital without bolting, he sure was taking his job seriously.
Jack flashed Detective Lassie his most charming grin, the one that had caused his nose to be broken on at least three different cities at various points in his adventures, and then turned and knocked on Shawn's door before he had to make it four.
Henry opened the door, a mask of (barely) subdued fury on his face. "He just woke up, and I've told him you're here, so don't even think about running off."
He made to squeeze past Jack through the doorway.
"Wait," Jack stammered, suddenly panicked. "You're not staying?"
"You owe it to Shawn to face up to your mistakes by yourself," Henry spat. "But," he added, jamming a finger (Jack was slightly surprised it wasn't the middle one) into Jack's face, "you keep it short and sweet, and then you can run away, like you always do – but don't you dare do or say anything to hurt Shawn worse than you already have."
"Henry, c'mon, I didn't mean –"
Henry looked past his younger brother without acknowledging Jack's words. "Detective Lassiter, can I get you a coffee?"
"Thanks, Henry. It's a small consolation for the job you and the chief volunteered me for, but I could definitely use the pick-me-up before I meet O'Hara back at the station."
They retreated down the hall, and Jack was left to face Shawn's hospital room alone.
The kid looked like hell. Nose swollen, he had dark bruises under both eyes, a bandaged gash on his right cheek, more bruising on his head and jaw, a splint on the middle and ring fingers of his right hand, and a full-arm, lime green cast on his left arm.
"Damn, Shawny," Jack whistled softly, and pretended that he didn't see Shawn flinch back slightly, hurt, as Jack used the familiar nickname. "They really did a number on you, huh, kiddo?"
The betrayal in Shawn's eyes cut Jack to the very core.
"Yeah," Shawn said slowly, his words slurring only slightly from the pain medication he was on. "Broken arm's the worst of it, though. Apparently, a bullet lodged in the bone can make a pretty nasty mess of your insides. Who knew, right?"
It was clear that Shawn was trying to keep things light, to hide behind that mask of indifference that Jack knew all too well – because he had the same mask – but he was unsuccessful. His voice shook slightly, and it wasn't because of the drugs.
"Don't." The curt way Shawn snapped out the word actually made Jack pause.
"Shawn, I just—"
"Uncle Jack, just… forget it, okay? What's done is done, all right? That's life. Mono y mono."
Jack scratched at his chin nervously, then chuckled, "You mean c'est la vie?"
Shawn threw his uncle a scathing look that clearly communicated, I've heard it both ways, but didn't argue the point. Instead, he sighed deeply, closed his eyes, and pretended to go to sleep."
Jack's shoulders slumped, and he slouched his way to the door. With his hand on the doorknob, ready to flee, Jack impulsively looked back at the bed and saw something that would haunt his conscience until the day he died. A single tear slid down Shawn's cheek.
Screw it, thought Jack, and he spun around, plopped himself down in the ungodly excuse for a seat by the bed, and said, "Sorry, kid, but you're not getting rid of me that easily. I have to say this – I can't not say it, Shawn I—" A couple of tears threatened to dampen his own face. "I'm so sorry. I had my mind so focused on Buchard's treasure that I didn't think about what I was dragging you into. What I was leaving you to. I honestly didn't think they would hurt you—" he tried to ignore the way Shawn flinched at the reminder of his torment, "—but I shouldn't have taken the chance. You're a hell of a lot more important to me than any gold, kid. I don't blame you if you want me out of your life like your dad does, but, I just want you to know, well, I'm sorry," Jack finished lamely.
When Shawn didn't respond, he took that as his dismissal and stood to leave. He actually jumped in surprise when Shawn spoke again. "My father," Shawn said carefully, clearly fighting against the drugs in his system, "has a bug up his butt. I've told him time and again to get something done about it, but I think he's grown attached to it."
Hardly daring to hope that Shawn might be able to forgive him, Jack turned slowly on the spot to find Shawn's eyes, tired though they were, were open again and trained on him. There was no attempt to disguise the pain, betrayal, and distrust that shone at the forefront of the hazel gaze, but his words offered some measure of fondness. "I…" Shawn hesitated, licking his puffy lower lip. "I need time, and I need space. I don't know if I'll ever be able to trust you again, but…" He blinked hazily up at his uncle, "I don't want you out of my life for good, and I don't hate you, Uncle Jack. I just need…"
"Time," Jack finished for his nephew, equal parts relieved that Shawn would one day forgive him and disappointed that today wasn't the day. "I can do that, kid." Only hesitating for the briefest of moments, Jack leaned over and squeezed Shawn's uninjured shoulder affectionately. "Love ya kid. Get better. See ya around."
Shawn nodded minutely, his eyes uncharacteristically serious as they held Jack's uncommonly earnest stare. Jack managed a watery smile before he turned away, striding toward the door.
He turned, saw Shawn about to drift off to sleep but still hanging on to tell him one last thing: "Take the elevator in the B wing. Dad's in the cafeteria in A wing, and I don't think you wanna see him right now."
Smiling at the warning, Jack chuckled softly, discreetly brushing under his eye with his thumb. "Thanks, Shawny."
Not today, he thought as he left the hospital and pulled out of the lot, but someday. And as much as he wished he could make things better right here and now, someday was good enough for Shawn, so it would have to be good enough for him, too.
A/N: I hope you all enjoyed that as much as I did! This whole story was a blast to write! So a bittersweet ending hints that Shawn may be able to forgive, if not trust, Jack someday, but I tried to be realistic in the way I portrayed his reaction to Jack's actions. I will say, I know that I didn't do an in-depth hurt/comfort aftermath ending, but that was never where this story was ultimately heading. I do have some good Henry and Gus moments, as well as some worried Lassie and Juliet moments, but the focus of this story was always meant to be Jack and his part in all of this. Let's be honest, if I did a huge hurt/comfort scene with every character in it, I'd have needlessly extended this story several chapters beyond what it was intended to be. However, if you haven't already read it, my full-length fic The Finch and the Mockingbird has a gratuitous amount of aftermath/hurt/comfort feels from all characters involved in that story, if you're itching for more hurt/comfort. Also, I'm a huge Shules junkie, but this fic didn't really lend itself to much Shawn/Juliet interaction (like at all), or much Juliet in general. While I do regret that, the story had to go in the direction that it did, or it wouldn't have been able to maintain its original purpose. Sorry Juliet lovers for not featuring her very much in this story - this one is a very family-centered story, but I assure you, there will be Shules in stories to come! :)
Also, I had Shawn call Mark "Marky-moo" in his head, because it sounds like something a half-delirious (or even completely with-it) Shawn would nickname a baddie named Mark, and also, it's a nod to one of my favorite YouTubers, Markiplier, who sometimes calls himself Marky-moo lol. Not that Markiplier is a gun-toting, treasure hunting maniac. He's just a dude who plays video games. It was just a fun little Easter egg I thought I'd add in, just for my own amusement, really. Anyway.
Hopefully you all felt that this was a fitting conclusion to the story! I will be adding to The Hunter, the Psychic, and the Bathrobe in the near future, as well as to my drabble episode tag series and a new AU whump episode tag series I'll be starting soon, pretty frequently, so please be on the lookout for that!
Again, please let me know what you think, and thank you all SO MUCH for your support and patience throughout the course of this fic! I love you guys!
~Emachinescat ^. .^