If You Could See What I See
There hadn't been enough time in that short interaction to make a real decision. Not a decision with anything other than instinct to back it. The kid hadn't recognized his voice. But really, was that even a factor at this point? He hadn't recognized it this time, but what about a week from now? A month? At any time those memories could come back and ticking time bombs were never safe to leave unattended. He'd known it even before approaching the young man. He couldn't take the risk. He just needed to deal with this and split out of town. Hell, it would even be easy. The one thing he had picked up on, in that single interaction with the kid, was that getting into trouble seemed to come easily to him.
Nobody would even think twice if it found him again.
And nobody would ever suspect a thing.
His first attempt at paying for a taxi with Gus's card ended in embarrassment and threats of arrest by the driver who'd accused Shawn of shenanigans when he'd passed the man his buddy's library card. It had felt just like the Visa and with the invention of the Kindle nobody used a library card anymore. He hadn't thought twice about it.
Once actual money exchanged hands the driver had shown a more sympathetic streak. Uncomfortably so as he'd opened the taxi door for Shawn and grabbed his bicep. Though Shawn had tried squirming away, repeatedly insisting that he was fine, Grubbers the friendly taxi man hadn't released him until his free hand could brace against the wood frame of the office door. Mumbled thanks was enough by that point and the man had set him free with a jaunty admonition to “stay safe”.
There had been a moment, after the sound of the cab had pulled away, when Shawn had panicked at being without both his key and cell phone. Finding them in his left pocket had poured a shiver of cool sweat between his shoulder blades, wondering how he could have forgotten putting them there.
He felt a narrow sliver glide into the crease of his thumb as he felt down to the knob. Pinpointing the keyhole with his fingertips, he dragged the head of the key across the opening, wiggling it as he tried to force it into the slot. Three tries and he was already muttering language more favored by his father than himself.
Why was it so damn hard!?
Grinding now, he gave up on finesse and jabbed the key towards the hole, certainly leaving marks and gouges around the narrow opening. But finally, finally it slid in place. Thank God! Sucking at the meaty part of his thumb as he pushed inside and let the door hang open behind him, he felt out the immediate area with his toes just to be sure a wandering desk hadn't made its way across the floor the last time he'd stopped by. Migrating furniture aside, no major obstacles covered his path other than a couple of paper balls – nothing with enough bulk to drop him to his knees.
He found his desk after a long shuffle bent forward like one of those rheumatoid afflicted old men from Shady Pines. Desperately hoping he hadn't been spotted lock-kneed and scrambling towards any solid surface, he kept his hand planted on the center of the desk while he pivoted around to where his chair supposedly sat. More success and he felt both shame and gratitude to make a solid landing on the cushion.
Would it always be this way? A series of steps just to get to the next safe patch of ground? Like the games he played with Gus when they were kids – the floor is lava so you can only hop from rug to rug, the safety zone being when you made it outside. But that last rug was always so hard to reach. Running jump and just the right landing would glide you like a rock star to the threshold. Miscalculate, though, and on top of skinned elbows there usually involved a lecture from the old man about roughhousing and scratching the floor. As if the blood filling in the cracks of your elbow were a lesser blight than some invisible scrape on a patch of wood usually covered by braided cloth anyhow.
Why had he come here anyway? Did he think he could do something? Maybe call up the Chief. Get in on a case? Never mind the poked out peepers, he was still useful! Maybe he didn't have Gus's Super-Smeller but he could hear like a vicuna and had the could literally taste the vibes of the air – he was so Blind Fury it was sick. He just needed a sword. Maybe a pair of scythes. Ken could totally hook him up. Probably even had some weird uncle or great grandfather that could train Shawn in the ways of blind combat.
The sliver still embedded in his palm had began to throb a little mini beat and Shawn forwent sucking the wound to lightly dragging his fingertip over the place he'd been impaled. Spit softened skin didn't give away any secrets and he grumbled as he felt around for some kind of tool. Dad would have leaped at this little repair job – always going for the finest honed needle, though sanitary measures usually had involved wiping it down the front of his shirt before plucking at whatever bit of wood or glass had jabbed itself into tender flesh. Berated time and again for flinching before the diamond sharp tip could even get within feet of his person, Shawn wasn't prepared to call in reinforcements for this one annoyance. How wimpy would that be? Calling dad cause of a sliver.
Hand pawing over his desk he found a growing number of unsightly words crowding his throat at the span of clean – suspiciously clean surface that met his search. Gus. As if a pencil left out of its cup meant disaster for his recovery! What it meant was that Shawn had no clue where to find any of the items his brain insisted were right there! He had a perfect picture of the layout – every knick knack no matter how haphazardly placed, was cataloged and easily referenced when he really put the time into thinking through where he'd left something. But now in a feat of 'just trying to help' his buddy had wiped out any hope of finding something as simple as his stapler. Or a letter opener. Hell, a safety pin. Probably all tucked in his drawers – Shawn snorted that Gus might have even color coded everything. Now that he could get away with such excesses of organization. Shawn would never know after all...
The quest for something pointy abruptly died when the desk phone rambled. Great. Where the hell...
Eyes wide, as though it actually could help, Shawn reached towards the sound only to meet more open air. Waving in slow circles, he felt his fingertips brush against plastic seconds before toppling the phone from its base. Clattering free, he thrust his hand after the device, chasing it down before it could scramble to the floor. Trapped under his wrist, he held it flattened to the desk until he was certain it wouldn't make another break for it.
Thumbing the button, he shoved the phone into his shoulder so he could wrap his free hand around his sling and slump into his chair. His adventure had already drained him and he couldn't have been at the office for more than fifteen minutes tops.
“You've reached Psych...”
“Shawn, there you are! Why aren't you answering your phone?”
This didn't qualify? Of course, one could assume this was about the cell phone nestled in Shawn's back pocket. The cell phone that hadn't jingled at him in over a day. The cell phone that no longer held a charge which was why he'd relied on the house phone rather than make the effort to try to find wherever his charger was hidden. Granted, in plain sight qualified as hiding.
“I told you I was going out...”
“You said you were wanted to get out of the house, I thought you meant you were going to go sit on the deck, not hitchhike to your office!”
“I didn't hitchhike, I called a cab.”
“You snuck out and you didn't bother letting me know!”
“I didn't know I was on a curfew!”
Huffed breath on either end of the phone. The low thrum of headache that never really went away pounded awake at the completely unanticipated shoutfest. Anger with his father wasn't new but the frequency of their fights was becoming disturbing. It was the fall of 95' all over again.
Pulling the phone away from his ear long enough to thump it against his thigh, Shawn sucked a couple more breaths until he was able to control the urge to hang up. Dad knew the number, he'd just call back anyhow.
“Look, dad, I just needed to get out okay? A couple hours. If it makes you feel better I'll call Gus and have him pick me up after his route and bring me home again like a good little prodigy.”
“First, I think you mean prodigal. Second, unless you plan on waiting till tomorrow you're gonna be there a while. It's after ten, Shawn.”
“Pm??” No more afternoon naps – they totally threw him off! No wonder dad was worked up enough to call SWAT. He'd assume the muffled sound on the other end wasn't his father laughing at him. That would be uncalled for. And then he realized it was his imagination when Henry spoke again, no trace of mirth in his tone.
“Couple hours then. If you need to leave earlier, call me. Otherwise I'll come get you in a little while. But Shawn... just keep me in the loop... kay' kid?”
It had almost sounded, for a second, as though his dad had been about to lay down that curfew law for real before remembering both how ineffective as well as straight bizarre that would have been. Shawn smirked at the idea.
Could have ended worse. Almost had. They really needed to stop doing that. Headache aside it was just wearing to climb back into good graces with one another. If they weren't sharing a house it'd be easier to just let the fights progress in their natural way. But maybe this was the better option.
Shawn fiddled with the phone a while before shoving it towards where the dock was resting... supposedly. At least now he had a solid excuse for not hanging it up again. Though having an excuse kinda took a measure of the enjoyment out of it.
For the second time in minutes he was questioning why he'd dragged himself to the office at all. Dad had had a point – the deck would have been closer and easier if he'd just been looking to get out of the house. What difference did any indoor space really make anymore other than to option up various challenges to navigation? TV could be listened to just as easily at his dad's place so it wasn't the plasma. Video games were totally out without Gus there to guide him and what was the point of doing that anyhow? Yeah, they'd actually tried it a few days ago – neither admitting to how pathetic it was.
Letting his frame sink back and back until the chair tilted, Shawn considered that he'd have been better off had he just beelined for the couch upon entering the office. Sure he'd probably have missed the call from his dad but seeing the downside to that was a struggle. At least now he had a decent reason for feeling so exhausted. Ten pm. Man, he had to get one of those bumpy watches Gus had been telling him about.
He'd been resisting those little aids for weeks. Outright refused any offers to learn Braille though both his physical therapist and doctor had been pushing that he sign up for classes. Abby had been the worst about it – they'd actually fought about it a few nights ago, her side of the argument ending in sniffs and silent anger at his refusal. He'd felt like the world's worst boyfriend and a very special sort of ass but he still hadn't given in. And he hadn't been able to explain why either. He knew why but saying it aloud wouldn't have strengthened his point. It was a stupid superstition but he couldn't shake the idea that if he started to live like a blind man he'd stay one. This was something to recover from not accept. This wasn't what he'd signed up for and who's business was it anyhow whether or not he could read bumps on paper? Like that would really help anyhow. I wasn't as though Vick was going to start printing up Braille case files for when he returned to...
Besides, his sight would be back by then so it was moot. And he repeated the word in his head, moot, enjoying the sound it made.
He yawned and tilted back even more. A few seconds of thought on the subject had taken away the appeal of making for the couch after all. And it wouldn't be the first nap he'd taken in his chair, though he knew his stiff muscles weren't likely to loosen up on the firm pleather. Still, he had his pain meds for that.
And letting that be the last thought to concern him, he invested the next three minutes into drifting off.
“We heard ice cream on our police scanner and it happened to be Gus's snack time...”
“This is my associate, Donut Holestein...”
Branches whapped across his cheek, drawing blood, but he couldn't stop – no time to stop – to breathe. Run! Keep running – he's going to kill you!
Wheezing through his chest – no more air, none! His legs were liquid and he was stumbling, tripping over every branch and root in his path – no more, God no more! Growling anger behind him so close! Run!
“We can talk, we're just two men, speaking...”
Dad, I can't keep going! What do I do!?
Find a safe place – stay out of sight, hurry!
“I will shoot you.”
A tree – close enough – had to be enough – can't go any further – so tired – it hurts...
His body collapsed in the nest beneath the tree – roots curved around him – woody guardians as the beast ran past, still snarling – furious. Bleeding – he was bleeding – worse again from running the hot throb of it was thick across his chest. Was he dying? He couldn't stay upright – slumping down towards the dirt and leaves, root catching his body – stones filling his limbs. So tired...
“I'd have been happy just stealing the ice cream...”
The chair lurched as Shawn's arm flew out in a wild arc – wheels scooting as his legs flailed – body rocking backward and floor impact imminent he threw his hand over his head to protect his already broken skull – only to have his terminal momentum stopped short.
Gasping several deep breaths at the adrenaline downpour from the near fall he pushed his hand out in front of himself, instantly encountering a solid chest – a quick sweep back and forth confirming that arms were braced on either side of himself, hands locked on the arms of his chair and the reason he hadn't added a new concussion to his injuries. Hating that the next involuntary reaction was a round of trembles, he slumped against the seat back as he felt his father straighten and release the chair – the shift in heat source moving just slightly left.
He nodded, sniffing as he scrubbed a hand under his nose. What the hell was wrong with him?
“Hey, I know you! You're Garth Longmore!”
Another gasp, though it wasn't from spent fear this time, but shock.
“I'd have been happy just stealing the ice cream...”
But it wasn't just words... He could see it too, in his head. The memory suddenly more real than the room he was in, he could even smell the gunpowder from the exiting round.
“I'd have been happy just stealing the ice cream...”
“Shawn, talk to me, kid.” Hand touched his arm and he jerked, turning towards the motion as he felt the cold of that night sweep over him. Too long since his last dose of meds, the pain in his shoulder added a very agonizing layer to the report of the weapon that concussed through his mind.
His dad was still hovering and there was no need for sight to know that he was worried.
“I'd have been happy just stealing the ice cream...”
Blast of fire and pain, body thrust backward and striking hard packed dirt – tall frame lunging after him and grasping his arms, agony through his ruined shoulder, pleading and struggle...
“What's happening, kid?” Soft query as the air flow beside him shifted. His father had couched by his chair and Shawn didn't fight with the sudden need to grasp at his father's sleeve. Desperate for the touch of something in the present as the images from the past took over his mind.
“Dad I'm... I think I'm starting to remember...”