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Chapter 12

Gus sighed, twisting his hands around each other. He hadn't washed them yet. Dried blood coated his skin, staining his palms a deep red. His shirt was colored with gruesome stains, ruining the lavender dress shirt. The knees on his khaki pants matched his shirt and hands, and for the first time in his life, Gus could care less about the state of his clothes. He briefly wondered why it was all over his shins, too, but well, that's what happens when you kneel in a pool of blood. Gus felt his heart stutter at the memory. A pool of blood.

Shawn's blood.

Gus sat on the plastic chair in the waiting room of the hospital, his body screaming at him to lean back. His muscles were sore from leaning his arms on his knees. But Gus didn't move. He just stared at his hands, running through everything that had happened, trying to find something he could have done. Something he could have possibly tried to do to stop all of this from happening.

Gus had chosen a chair against the back wall of the waiting room. He was the only person in this row of chairs. He didn't want to be around anyone else.

He couldn't.

He could still feel the dried tears on his cheeks. After a while, he got tired of wiping them away. He knew for certain if Shawn had been there, Gus would have gotten an earful for letting them fall. And he would have welcomed that earful, if only to just hear his friend's voice.

But Shawn wasn't here.

Shawn had been in surgery for two hours and thirty-seven minutes. Almost thirty-eight, Gus realized, tilting his wrist to check the time again. He couldn't fathom how slowly time seemed to move and yet how incredibly fast his heart was beating. It just wouldn't slow down.

Gus shivered. The hospital was air-conditioned and the blood was still damp on his clothes. How it could possibly still be damp after two hours and thirty-eight minutes, Gus didn't know.

He also didn't care.

Everything around him was a dull blur. He'd tuned everyone out by this point, unable to deal with Henry interrogating the detectives about everything they should have done at the scene. Henry's coping method was the last thing Gus needed right now. It was the last thing anyone needed.

Gus sighed again, rubbing his eyes. He was doing it again. He was thinking about it. All of it.

Everything that happened the moment that bullet left the gun.

It happened quickly. So fast, in fact, that Gus almost missed it. He'd been so lost in his head, so many disjointed thoughts rushing through his mind as he tried to process the four words he had just heard that felt like a knife in his chest.

Your son is dead.

A loud ringing echoed in Gus' ears. Shawn wasn't dead. He couldn't be. He just couldn't. Ice slid down Gus' spine. Suddenly, perhaps the most absurd thought running through Gus' head jumped to the front of his mind.

Del Taco. Shawn had just filled out his punch card for Del Taco; he and Gus were going to celebrate. It was a big deal for Shawn—it was the first time he'd filled out a punch card without losing it. But with the whole Juliet fiasco, Gus had completely forgotten. And for some ridiculous reason, his mind thought that this was an appropriate time to remember. But…

Shawn wasn't going to get that free lunch. He would never get lunch again.

Because he was dead.

Those words were spinning around in Gus' head so quickly that he almost missed it, and would have if Henry hadn't said anything.

"Shawn!" breathed Henry, and Gus' head whipped up, catching the glimpse of a blur shooting out of the forest. It was Shawn. A ragged, uncoordinated and dirty Shawn, but Shawn nonetheless.

Gus felt the intense pain in his chest subside and the ice thaw in his veins. He heaved out a breath, watching his friend tear out of the branches and run across the pavement—

Straight into the line of fire.

Shawn reached Juliet just in time, and he threw himself toward her, causing both of them to crash to the ground as the gunshot went off.

But not before the bullet found a target.

Shawn and Juliet hit the ground hard, skidding across the pavement. They were separated by a few feet of space.

Gus was running in an instant, his friend's name bursting from his lips. The silence of the night was shattered, chaos erupting around him but Gus didn't stop. He was running as fast as his feet would take him, straight for his best friend's broken form. Gus' heart jumped into his throat. Shawn was lying on his back.

Motionless.

Gus nearly dry-heaved at the sight of the gore on his friend's face. Gus dropped to his knees at Shawn's side, pain ricocheting in Gus' legs but he ignored it. Shawn's head was tilted toward Gus, and a deep gash on his forehead rested underneath his hairline. Blood coated the skin on his face and matted his hair. Shawn's eyes were shut. Black and blue shadowed underneath the blood and mud coating his skin. A shiver shot down Gus' spine at the paleness of Shawn's face.

And the stillness of his body.

Gus' heart froze. Shawn's once-blue shirt was now almost completely red. Through the rips in the material, he could see the blackening wound on his side, trickling blood down his bruised skin. But it was the hole in Shawn's chest that Gus was staring at, wide-eyed. The blood spread fast through the ripped cloth and Gus' hand hovered above Shawn. He was in complete and utter shock.

Gus placed a shaking hand on Shawn's shoulder, to try to rouse him, but suddenly Gus felt something under his knees. A pool of blood streamed down Shawn's torso and onto the pavement, spreading beneath Gus' knees like black water.

"Oh, my god, Shawn..." whispered Gus, watching the blood. "Oh, my god…"

"Shawn!"

Gus whipped around, suddenly realizing the chaos around him. Officers were running. Gunshots went off as they took down Shawn's kidnapper and Gus couldn't help angrily thinking that they were just a little damned late, now weren't they?

Henry was skidding to a stop next to Gus, and they both ducked as the bullets flew.

"Holy shit, kid…" breathed Henry, falling to his knees, all the color draining from his face, taking in the sight of his wounded son. Henry placed a gentle hand on Shawn's cheek. "Shawn?"

Shawn didn't move.

"Shawn," said Henry, stronger, worry wavering his voice. "Talk to me, son!"

Nothing.

Henry's gaze dropped to Shawn's chest, and without hesitation he suddenly ripped open Shawn's shirt. For the second time that day, Gus was grateful he hadn't eaten anything in over ten hours. Shawn's torso was almost completely covered in blood. A blackening wound down by his waist had stained his skin with dark, dried blood, but he must have reopened the wound. Fresh blood trickled down his side. But that was nothing compared to the fresh gunshot wound somewhere in his chest, bleeding a river of blood down onto the pavement.

"Holy—"

Gus turned. Lassiter was kneeling at Juliet's side, his hand on her back as she desperately tried to catch her breath. Lassiter stared at Shawn, his face white. "Henry," he asked. "Is he…?"

Gus watched as Henry fumbled to get his fingers to Shawn's neck. Shawn didn't react to the touch. His head lulled ever so slightly to the side. Gus felt Shawn's blood seep through the material of his pants. It was warm. Terrified, Gus put one hand on top of another and pressed down on Shawn's chest, over the bleeding wound, trying to stem the flow. Blood streamed through his fingers.

"Henry, ambulance is here," came Vick's urgent, panicked voice behind Gus. Gus didn't even attempt to turn around to look at her. Because Henry's shaking fingers were still against Shawn's neck.

And tears were brimming in Henry's eyes.

"I—I can't feel it, Karen," whispered Henry, a tear dripping down his face, falling into Shawn's shirt. Henry frantically shifted the placement of his fingers against Shawn's neck, hysteria creeping into his voice. "I can't feel anything!"

Shawn was still. Gus didn't remove his hands from the wound, feeling the blood flow between his fingers, like the life trickling out of his best friend. "Shawn… please, man—" he begged, but Gus felt a firm grip on his shoulder tug him away from Shawn.

"Please, clear the area."

After a second tug from the EMT, Gus let go of Shawn, and backed slowly away, watching as the three EMTs gathered around his best friend, trading medical phrases in hushed urgency, pulling a stretcher beside him

The sound of a door swinging open snapped Gus out of the memory. He'd become accustomed to that sound, hearing it every twenty minutes or so. It was a doctor. He was a different doctor than the nurses who'd come out before. He looked around the room, holding a clipboard. Gus sat up. This was it.

Shawn.

The doctor looked down at the clipboard and Gus heard him ask for family and friends of a name he didn't recognize.

Gus' head dropped back down to his hands. Not Shawn. He tried to tune out the doctor as he proceeded to give a middle aged woman good news about her fiancé. Good news. Gus would kill for good news. Hell, he would kill for any news at this point. Well… Gus reconsidered. Maybe not any. Propping his chin up on his fists, Gus surveyed the waiting room again. Juliet, Lassiter and Henry were maybe ten feet away from him. Juliet and Lassiter leaned back in their chairs, as if just like Gus, they'd both straightened as the doctor walked through the door. Henry was pacing next to them, not having taken a seat since he got out of the ambulance. He'd stopped mid-pace as the doctor came through the door, but now started up again. Henry had blood stained on his own clothes—one of his typical Hawaiian shirts. It was a shirt Gus was sure Shawn would disapprove of, and would probably be quite satisfied had been ruined.

"Hey."

Gus looked up as Juliet took a seat beside him. She clasped her hands together on her own knees. Her clothes were stained with mud and scattered dark blood stains. Gus couldn't help noticing the bruising around Juliet's throat and the fresh cut on her forehead. A white bandage had been placed over it by one of the EMTs after Shawn had been taken to the hospital.

"I don't think I asked," said Gus, eyeing the bruises. "But are you okay?"

Juliet gave him half a smile. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just… scared." Her voice was still slightly raspy.

Gus nodded, his gaze drifting back to the floor, his voice a deflated version of himself. "I hear that."

"He's going to pull through," said Juliet, wringing her hands together. "I mean, it's Shawn. He's too stubborn to let something like this beat him."

Gus was quiet for a moment. Something had been haunting him all day long. He shook his head and said, "I just don't get it."

Juliet tilted her head. "Don't get what?"

"I have a car." said Gus simply. "He has his Norton. If he needed a ride, why didn't he just ask?"

"Gus—" began Juliet, but Gus rubbed his eyes and cut her off, muttering, "This never would have happened.

"Gus, this isn't your fault," said Juliet firmly, putting a hand on his shoulder, turning him to look at her.

"You're right," said Gus sharply, and the words were out of his mouth before he could stop them. "It's yours."

Juliet's hand fell from his shoulder. Gus shut his eyes, kicking himself. He hadn't even been blaming her. It just came out.

Or had he been?

"Jules—" began Gus, but Juliet stood up without a word.

"Jules, please, I'm sorry, that came out wrong," said Gus quickly, standing up and grabbing her arm gently.

"No," said Juliet, eyes flashing, tugging her arm out of his grasp and putting her hands up in mock-surrender. "I'm sorry. But, Gus, I told Shawn I needed space, I didn't tell him to get himself shot!"

"Don't go blaming this on Shawn, now," spat Gus, heatedly. "That bullet wasn't meant for him—"

"What's going on over here?" demanded Henry, walking up to the two of them.

Both Gus and Juliet answered in unison. "Nothing."

Henry raised his eyebrow and crossed his arms, and suddenly Gus felt fifteen years younger, standing under the glowering stare of Shawn's father after he and Shawn did something stupid. Well… after Shawn did something stupid and dragged Gus into it. "We're not blaming anyone." Said Henry firmly. "Shawn needs our support, he doesn't need us—"

"We're not blaming anyone?" asked Lassiter suddenly, standing up from his seat and approaching the group. "Oh, so your endless ranting about how our officers should react isn't blaming anyone?"

"That's different," said Henry through his teeth. "There were a dozen things your officers could have done. How about setting up a perimeter?"

Lassiter shut his eyes and let out an exasperated sigh.

"Excuse me?"

The four turned around. A young doctor was standing behind them, in the doorway to the surgical ward. He was holding a clipboard, and he looked down to read off of it.

"Family and friends of Shawn Spencer?"

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