Title: Friends, in Sickness and in Health: Burton Guster
Challenge: #3 Sickness
Word Count: 1569
Rating: Possibly PG-13 for blood
He knew the instant Shawn started screaming that something was really wrong. Despite the fact that all Shawn seemed to do when he was playing the psychic was scream and twitch and otherwise make an idiot of himself, Gus could still pick out the note of real pain (and fear) in the cry. It took him longer than it should have to figure out where Shawn had run off to while he played the part of distraction, the decent-sized house feeling like a mansion as he dodged through doorways, Karen Vick hot on his heels.
He caught a glimpse of dark clothes, a medium-sized body disappearing out the back door as he barreled into the kitchen, but he didn’t have a chance to focus on it. His mind was too busy trying to wrap itself around the fact that Shawn was lying on the ground, left hand clasped to his right shoulder, blood dripping between his fingers. A hint of bloody foam (bad, that was bad bad bad, he knew that much) showed around the other man’s mouth as he continued to chant those horrible, bitterly truthful words (I’m bleeding, Gus, I’m bleeding), almost laughing, definitely in shock.
It was his name that Shawn was repeating over and over again, him that Shawn was looking at with glazed eyes, but it was Karen who shouted orders to her men, brought in protection, knelt down next to the injured man and tried to keep any more liquid from escaping. Shawn yelped (or tried to, but God, that sound wasn’t right) as she applied pressure to the injury, face paling noticeably, but he didn’t pass out.
“Shawn, you’re all right. Now hush.” Vick’s voice was no-nonsense, demanding, insisting of the universe and the world and Shawn himself, and she maneuvered her head around to follow the man’s wandering gaze, leaving him no choice but to look at her.
Gus didn’t know if it was the first time she had called Shawn by his given name, but that was the tone he would always hear it in from now on whenever he considered the prospect.
The paramedics were there faster than he had expected, faster than they had any right to be (but Karen had made it perfectly clear in five words that heads would roll if they didn’t immediately teleport there for her man down, so it wasn’t surprising). Shawn went with them relatively quietly, docilely, far too docilely. He hated doctors, hated hospitals, hated anything that could tie him down.
But he’d just left a blood patch a good three feet in diameter on the floor, and Karen was washing blood off both hands, had pints of it soaked into her pants, and that just didn’t bode well for anybody.
He didn’t bother to ask the paramedics if he could ride with Shawn in the ambulance. Blood was never something he was good at handling, and watching them cut into Shawn, even if it was to try to help him… no, he’d be more helpful standing here next to O’Hara. The young detective didn’t look much better than he felt.
When she finally suggested they ask Vick’s leave to go to the hospital, he merely nodded and followed along behind her. He couldn’t look the police chief in the eye as they left.
She’d been able to kneel down next to Shawn when he needed it.
All Gus had been able to do was stand there.
Henry Spencer almost beat them to the hospital. Gus felt his shoulders hunch as he looked at the older man, anticipating (but not ready for, not now) the storm that would likely follow. The elder Spencer opened his mouth as though to say something, paused, and instead sank down into the chair next to O’Hara.
The following hours were perhaps the most peaceful ones he had ever spent with Henry.
Karen put in an appearance later in the day, when Shawn was out of surgery but still unconscious in recovery. She didn’t look at Henry, and Henry didn’t say anything to her, but the tension between the two of them was palpable. Both left an hour or so later, and Gus sighed before pulling out his phone and calling in sick to work for the next few days.
He might not have been able to kneel down in that pool of blood, but he could sure as hell sit by Shawn’s bedside until the idiot woke up.
Shawn woke up halfway through the night (proving that inconsiderate really was his default setting).
“My shoulder hurts.” The words were slurred, and Shawn reached slowly for his shoulder with his left hand, eyes slitted in concentration.
Gus slapped the offending appendage away. “Because you were shot, and poking a gunshot wound isn’t going to make it any better.”
“Oh.” Dark eyes (still glazed, and hopefully that would change soon) blinked at nothing a few times. Then a broad smile swept across the fake psychic’s face. “I was shot.”
“Yes.” Sighing, Gus tried to resist the urge to bury his head in his hands. “Most people don’t think that’s something to throw a party about.”
“Of course they do. If you survive, they throw you a welcome-back party. If you don’t, it’s wake-time, and Gus, you’re going to do mine right.”
Gus almost started arguing the fact that he was going to outlive Shawn, but seeing where they were (and Shawn’s normal lifestyle, where being a fake psychic for the police actually really didn’t rank up there on the list of death-inducing employment schemes) it seemed a bit pointless.
“Really, though, it’s good. He took the time out to shoot me. Not one of Karen’s men, me. That means that he saw me as a threat, and—” Shawn twisted a bit in his excitement and froze, all color draining from his face.
“Shawn! Stay still.” Gus waved one finger menacingly at the other man, wanting to reach out, to hold him down, but not sure where he could touch him without causing more harm.
“Ow.” The noise was soft, pathetic, as was the forced smile that followed it. “What damage? Because breathing deeply shouldn’t hurt.”
“Bounced off your clavicle, taking a good chunk out, tore up your right lung a bit, and exited out your back between the third and fourth rib.”
“Ow.” The grin was genuine this time. “Gus, you’ve got to get them to draw me a picture of that path, because no one’s going to believe me.”
“Shawn…” It was amazing how easily his best friend’s name could be turned into a threat. “Stay still and rest, all right? And get it through your head that getting shot is a bad thing.”
“Yes, Mom.” Shawn made every annoyed facial expression short of sticking his tongue out, but he did settle down and shut up.
Gus probably should have known that was a bad sign.
The fever spiked the next morning, but alarm didn’t really start growing until the next evening, when it had reached 105 and seemed to have no intentions of dropping despite repeated injections of various medications into Shawn’s IV line. Gus called Shawn’s dad to tell him what was happening, but the phone at the house just kept ringing.
That was all right. Henry Spencer didn’t need to hear what Shawn said during the days that followed.
O’Hara visited every day, though she never stayed for long. A few minutes, a half hour, an hour once, when Shawn was quiet and still and almost dead. Karen put in one appearance, at a bad time, and heard things she really shouldn’t have, but she didn’t comment on them. She just grasped Gus by the shoulder and said she wanted to see both of them in her office soon.
What really surprised Gus were the times he would look up and catch a glimpse of Lassiter in the doorway. The man was always ducking out of sight by the time he looked, face grim, but he was there.
By the time the fever broke and the infection was under control, Shawn had lost a good fifteen pounds, and Gus was fairly certain he had lost ten. Things got better from there, though. Slowly, surely, Shawn’s usual charm and light-hearted attitude returned. He started dating his physical therapist. He learned to take it easy by trying to have a pillow-fight with Gus and almost passing out due to lack of oxygen.
By the time they got back to detective work, Gus was ready to shoot the man himself.
(Except not really, because he could still hear Shawn’s scream, every time they set foot in a strange house, and so he stayed close to the fake psychic, refused to be used as a decoy or distraction.)
It was the first time Shawn had a “vision” while they were on duty that he really knew things were back to normal. Karen stood in the doorway, arms crossed over her chest, hiding a grin with a small frown as she watched Shawn twitch and bark on the ground. Lassiter rolled his eyes and turned away. Juliet bit her lower lip and covered her mouth with her hand, stifling a laugh.
When Shawn ran up to Lassiter on all fours (and with only the faintest hint of favoring of his right arm) and bit him on the ankle, Gus knew for certain that everyone was all right.