Title: Friends, in Sickness and in Health: Karen Vick
Challenge: #3 Sickness
Word Count: 1371
Rating: Possibly PG-13 for blood
It was the bullet that put him in the hospital, but it was the pneumonia that almost killed him.
She should have known something like that would happen—had known, in a way, had been prepared for the eventuality of her resident psychic managing to piss off just the right people and get himself hurt. What she hadn’t been prepared for was it happening on her watch, with her people there.
She’d almost thought that it was another one of his fits when he started screaming Gus’s name, the advanced silencer that the killer had used succeeding at its job.
Gus had known better. As soon as Shawn’s voice hit the vowel he took off, and she’d followed, alarm growing at the obvious panic in his movements.
It took everyone else until he got to the “bleeding” part to move. Even then, some of them assumed he was “channeling the spirit” or some such.
(“Gus! Gus, I’m bleeding!”, and the thickness of blood and the pain and the fear in his voice, how could they think it was anything other than pure worldly truth?)
Gus was the first to get there, the only one to catch a glimpse of dark clothes disappearing out the back door, but he froze as soon as he saw Shawn. She didn’t blame him. Anyone would be caught off guard by the sight of their best friend writhing on the floor (though that wasn’t so unusual, given it was Shawn), blood seeping into his shirt, onto the kitchen linoleum. No, it wasn’t odd that Gus stopped, and maybe she should have given him another moment to gather himself, but once she had her people out back searching for the perpetrator and guns around to guard them…
“I’m bleeding. Gus, I’m bleeding.” Shawn was grinning, practically laughing, but his voice was hoarse, more than a trace of blood in it, and his hand was shaking too badly for him to apply pressure to his own shoulder, though he was trying.
He was already on the floor, so she figured there was no harm in simply forcing him to lie back and stay still as she applied real force to the wound, hoping to stop or at least stem the scarlet flow. The psychic’s face paled even further as she did, but he didn’t pass out, and that was a good sign.
He was quiet when she told him to shut up, though, and that was a bad sign.
The paramedics were there within five minutes, just as she’d ordered, and she gratefully turned the far-too-quiet man over to the professionals.
She washed the blood off her hands in the kitchen sink, forensics team be damned, because there was no way she was driving to the hospital with that redness turning into a sticky mess on her clothes and the steering wheel. Nobody tried to stop her. Most of the beat cops were too scared. O’Hara was busy standing next to Gus, engaging in her own version of shock. Given the look on the poor civilian’s face, Karen hoped her detective had a significantly less guilty form of shock going on. Lassiter was busy barking orders to everyone, but she did notice one or two surreptitious glances towards the door through which the medics had left, at the two stationary targets in the seething mass of people, at the drying blood patch on the ground (and if those voids in the drying liquid were any indication, she would need to burn these pants later, because if she dared to look down there would be bloodstains there, as well).
Shawn was alive and in good hands, though, and that was what mattered. She was considering offering Gus a ride to the hospital, but O’Hara beat her to it by quite a bit, and she had to deal with calling the elder Spencer and explaining to him how his son had been shot at a secure crime scene.
That might have been easier if she’d been certain of the details herself, but she wouldn’t bet any money on that. As it was, she was grateful that all she received at the hospital was the cold shoulder.
The psychic made it through surgery fine, and his prognosis was good, but he was still far too pale and quiet, and Gus tiptoed around him too much for it to be comfortable. So she left, intent on filling out as much of the paperwork herself as was possible, not certain she could trust the two detectives to do it correctly (not wanting to force them when it seemed both were smarting from the unexpected blow).
She wishes she had talked to Shawn then, because the next time she saw him he was shaking, delirious, body wracked by coughs, body and mind failing before an unrelenting fever of over 104 degrees.
(She could ignore the fact that he blatantly proclaimed he wasn’t psychic because in what should have been the same breath he also claimed to be a comic star, a ghost and an Interpol agent.)
Gus was back to being the unfaltering support, constantly by his friend’s side, though the toll it was taking on him was obvious. Every time Shawn made even the faintest cry of distress, Gus would flinch.
She didn’t ask where Henry Spencer was. She wasn’t certain she wanted to know.
O’Hara dropped by the hospital every day after work for the week of hellish uncertainty as human determination and ingenuity fought nature’s well-adapted, silent killers. Lassiter would disappear every once in a while on a longer-than-usual break, and when Karen dropped by the hospital she saw his name on the visitor’s list, though Gus didn’t ever mention him putting in an appearance.
The end of the week brought a much-needed release of tension around the station as the news that the fever had broken and Shawn was finally resting (really resting, not unconscious or comatose or worse) circulated throughout the precinct. The number of gifts and flower arrangements sent to his room increased several-fold that day.
(Because it’s better to send a congratulations, hope to see you soon than a bouquet that will end up acting as a funeral wreath.)
It was still almost a month before he was back in all his glory, or most of it, a slight favoring of his right arm and a shortness of breath if he did too much (as well as Gus’s still paranoid presence hovering in the background, on edge for the fall rather than watching from a distance to see if it would happen) reminding everyone of what had happened.
The shortness of breath seemed to have little effect on his visions, though, and he was back to flopping around on the floor within a week. She was glad, for once, that he didn’t just tell them what he knew. The theatrics were what her people needed to realize that everything really was still all right.
By the end of week two, Lassiter was asking her again if he could hand-cuff the man (though still not threatening grievous bodily harm, not yet) and she could have done without the theatrics.
Within a month most of the station seemed to have recovered, pushed what had happened from their minds, and there were only slight hints left. The guard was always tight, always thorough as they swept the crime scene. Someone was always trailing behind Shawn and Gus, ensuring that the two came to no harm.
And she was always off to the side, watching, quirking a smile at Spencer’s frustrated actions as he tried to work under the more stringent security. Psychic or not, the man was good at what he did, and she was glad to have him back.
(And she was glad and grateful that it was just blood, only blood that had flowed out onto her hands, and not a life.)
They never did find the man who shot Shawn.
She never dared ask Henry Spencer where he had disappeared to during the week his son fought for his life.
She hoped Shawn never did, either. It was always hard to keep the blood from catching in other people’s eyes, even if you washed it off immediately.