Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Henry Spencer dressed in his dress uniform walked up the front porch of his house. He and his wife spent the day at the funeral of a fellow officer who was gunned down on a routine traffic stop. Nine year-old Shawn had spent the day with the Gusters. Shawn had known something bad had happened, but wasn't sure what. As they arrived home after picking Shawn up, Henry opened the front door and held the door for his wife and son. His wife stopped, placed her hand on his shoulder and gave him a gentle kiss on his cheek before continuing inside. He smiled warmly at the gesture, the first time he had smiled all day. He realized he was still holding the door and that Shawn had not gone past yet. He was about to yell for him, when he realized that his son was staring up at him.
"Yes Shawn," Henry could see the boy was waiting for permission to ask a question.
"Why are you so sad," the little voice asked as Shawn looked down at his feet instead of up at his father.
"Well," Henry gently lifted Shawn's chin so that he could look his son in the eyes, "one of my friends from work was killed and your mom and I went to his funeral today."
"He was hurt at work?"
"Could you? Forget it," Shawn stammered, and began to run into the house. Henry caught his arm and crouched down to be at Shawn's level.
"Whoa, finish your question."
"No, you'll get mad."
"Shawn, I promise I won't get mad," Henry said. He had a feeling he knew what the question was. "The only way to know the answer is to ask me."
"Could you get hurt at work and die," Shawn's voice was so quiet, Henry almost couldn't hear him.
"Come here," Henry sat down on the front steps and pulled Shawn to sit next to him. He kept an arm around Shawn's shoulders. "You know my job is dangerous, right?"
"You know that I do my best at my job every day, right?"
"Shawn, look at me," Shawn turned his eyes to his father, "Son, I promise that everyday I do my best to keep my partner and myself safe, but I can't promise you that I'm never going to get hurt or die, because it happens."
"But I don't want you to," Shawn said. Henry smiled at that comment and hugged Shawn a little closer.
"I know you don't, but that doesn't still make it a possibility. Everyone dies someday Shawn, and fathers should always die before their sons."
"Why," Shawn asked.
"It's the natural order of things."
"What does that mean?"
"You'll understand when you get older. Now go inside and get cleaned up for dinner." Shawn ran off into the house. Henry sat for a while longer and hoped he didn't traumatize the kid.
Approximately Twenty-one Years Later
Shawn rolled over and glanced at his alarm clock. It read 3:30 in the morning and his cell phone was ringing. "What the," he mumbled and turned on the light. The caller ID read Dad.
"Dad, what's so important that you had to call now? Some more of my old stuff you need me to pick up," Shawn said sarcastically. All he heard was someone breathing heavy, almost struggling. "Something's wrong," he thought.
"Dad, you there? Is this a prank call? I do have caller ID."
"Shawn," his dad's weak voice said. His dad was not supposed to sound like that. Shawn started to worry. "B&E, 11-99," Henry almost whispered.
The wheels in Shawn's head started turning. "Breaking and entering, officer in need of assistance," the meaning of the police code automatically popped into his head.
"Dad? Are you all right?" All he heard was silence, "Dad, answer me."
"Shawn, call for back-up," his dad's faint voice told him.
Shawn used his other hand to pick up his land line and dial 911. He kept the cell phone to the other ear to listen for his dad.
"911, what's your emergency," the operator asked.
"Someone broke into my dad's house. He's been hurt. You need to send an ambulance," Shawn blurted out, and then he told the operator the address.
"I'm sending units and an ambulance to your father's location," the 911 operator said. Shawn hung up the phone and went back to talking on the cell phone.
"Help's on the way Dad. Dad?" Shawn was beginning to freak out. "Dad, please say something," he pleaded. As he tried to talk to Henry, Shawn pulled on some jeans.
"Shawn....I'm, ....proud of you," he rasped, let out a pained sigh, then there was silence. Shawn heard the phone hit the floor.
"Dad, Dad," he screamed into the phone. He ran into the living and pulled on his sneakers and jacket. He grabbed his helmet, shoved his phone in his pocket, and was out the door. As he rode over to his father's house, he kept hearing those words in his head over and over, "proud of you." He pulled up to see some police cars with light flashing and an ambulance. He jumped off his bike and ran toward the house, removing his helmet as he ran. He threw it down as he got closer. One of the officers stopped him at the door.
"Sir, you can't go in there."
"My dad is in there. Please I've got to go help him."
"Buddy, you don't want to go in there."
"John, let him in," a voice behind Shawn said. John stepped aside and Shawn ran in.
"Oh no," he whispered as he stared at the scene before him. Two paramedics were working on his father. He stood there frozen as they shocked his dad's heart. He noticed a body near the back door. His father's gun was on the floor near where the paramedics were working.
"We got him. Let's get ready to move," one of the paramedics said.
"I'm coming," he told them.
"Who are you?"
"I'm his son." The lead medic looked at him and nodded. "Let's go."
The ride over to the hospital was quick. Shawn learned that his dad had been shot twice, once in the stomach and once in the shoulder. Henry was stabilized enough to move, but the paramedics were worried about his blood pressure. There was a flurry of activity as the stretcher was unloaded and sped off. A nurse led Shawn to a waiting room and asked him to fill out some paperwork.
At about 5:00 am Shawn decided to call Gus. "Shawn, it's a little early," Gus' tired voice whined.
"I'm at the hospital," Shawn said.
"What? Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. Someone broke into my dad's house and he was shot twice. It doesn't look too good Gus." Gus could hear the fear and sadness in his best friend's voice.
"I'll be right there."
"You don't have to," Shawn told him.
"Yes I do. I'll see you in about twenty minutes."
Gus arrived as promised and found Shawn sitting in a chair, eyes closed.
"Hey," Gus said as he sat next to him. Shawn looked over at him and nodded. "Are you doing all right?"
"Not really," Shawn said as he stared at the ceiling.
"He'll be fine," Gus said.
"You don't know that Gus," Shawn almost whispered. Shawn wondered why people always said things like that. His father never let him have any delusions. If a situation looked bad, it was bad. No false platitudes could change that.
"Sorry, you're right," Gus said and joined Shawn staring at the ceiling. Gus hated that he didn't know what to say to Shawn.
"I'm just glad you're here," Shawn offered. Gus immediately felt better. A few minutes later a doctor arrived in the waiting room.
"Mr. Spencer, I'm Dr. Johnson. Please don't get up," the doctor said as he noticed Shawn and Gus starting to stand up. They watched as he sat down in a chair directly in front of them. Shawn knew what the doctor was about to say as soon as he saw the man take a deep breath.
"Oh God," Shawn whispered. Gus looked at Shawn in surprise and then back to the doctor.
"I'm sorry to have to tell you that your father died on the way to surgery," the doctor looked at Shawn. Shawn's eyes immediately filled and he stared at Dr. Johnson as the doctor kept talking. "The artery to the stomach was severed. There was too much damage and the blood loss was so severe. There wasn't much we could do."
Shawn hung his head and starting shaking it slowly back and forth. Gus placed his hand on Shawn's back. Shawn stopped moving his head to look back at the doctor. Tears were flowing down the young man's face. "Can I see him," he asked.
"Shawn, are you sure," Gus asked.
"Yes," was the short reply.
"I'll make some arrangements. Just give me a few minutes," Dr. Johnson said and left. Shawn placed his face in his hands as his elbows rested on his knees.
"He called me, not 911, me. Why would he do that," he asked Gus. Gus could hear the pain in his voice.
Gus swallowed, "Well my guess is that he knew it was bad and he wanted to hear your voice."
"That's crap. He hated me."
"Shawn, your father did not hate you. Why do you think he had you over for dinner, gave you a hard time about your bike, and made you come and get your stuff? He used that as an excuse to see you. He loved you Shawn."
Shawn made a cry/laugh, "No Gus, he loved to annoy me. You want to know what the last thing he said to me was."
"If you want to tell me," Gus replied. There was a pause. Shawn's breath hitched as tears continued to flow down his face.
"He said," Shawn took a deep breath to calm himself, "‘Shawn, I'm proud of you.' He did that to annoy me."
"Shawn, stop," Gus said sternly.
"He did, Gus. He knew it would annoy the crap out of me that his last words to me were nice. And you know what I said?" Shawn voice cracked with his emotion. At this point, he was pacing around the room.
"What," Gus looked at the pain on Shawn's face. He felt so helpless to do anything to help.
"I said nothing. Not ‘I love you Dad' or ‘I'm proud to be your son'. Nothing." Shawn looked at Gus as he said the words and then started pacing again.
About ten minutes later, Juliet arrived at the door of the room. As she entered, she and Shawn made eye contact, he smiled sadly at her. She knew immediately what had happened. "Oh Shawn," she said as she embraced him warmly, "I'm so sorry." He hugged her back tightly.
"Hi Jules. What are you doing here," he asked as he pulled back, but not letting go completely.
"The Chief called and told me about your dad being shot. She said that you were here waiting for word on his condition. I guess, he," she paused unsure how to say that Henry died.
"He didn't," he stopped. He didn't think he could say the words without breaking down again. He looked down at her with such sad eyes that she pulled him close to her again. He wrapped his arms around her tightly and she could feel that he was shaking with grief. She knew that his relationship with his father wasn't very good, but to have someone you love snatched away so quickly was hard. She glanced over his shoulder at Gus, who was crying himself. After all, he considered Mr. Spencer a surrogate father. The amount of time that Gus spent at the Spencer house, he felt like Shawn's parents partially raised him and his parents partially raised Shawn.
Shawn felt very tired suddenly and swayed slightly as he moved away from Juliet. Gus stood and quickly helped Juliet to steady his best friend. He led Shawn back to a chair, "Here sit down."
"Thanks. Sorry you guys," Shawn said as he closed his eyes and rested his head back against the wall.
Gus smiled sadly, "Don't apologize. You're exhausted. Listen. Do you want me to call your mom or do you want to?"
Shawn opened his eyes. "Oh yeah, I should do that. Let me go see him first. Then I'll call her."
"Are you sure you want to do that," Juliet asked.
"I need to," he said strongly.
"Okay. Excuse me," Juliet said as her phone rang. She exited the room and the hospital to answer the call.
Shawn watched her leave. "This sucks," Shawn said as he wiped his eyes with his hand.
"That's the understatement of the year," Gus said.
"Do you want to see," Shawn started to ask.
"No. I just hope you know what you're doing."
Shawn chuckled, "Do I ever?"
"Yes, more than you let on." Shawn smiled at Gus' comment. Gus really did know him like nobody else did. Juliet walked back into the room and sat down.
"That was Lassiter. They identified the person that they found in your dad's house. His name was Kevin Sparks. He's a convicted drug user. Lassiter figures that it was just a random burglary."
Shawn bent over and put his face in his hands. "I hope that wasn't supposed to make me feel better," he sat up straight suddenly, "There had to be another person. There were tires tracks from the driveway to the street."
"Lassiter said they are combing the area for the car and the other suspect. But there are no witnesses or descriptions. We'll worry about that. You have other things to deal with," she said gently.
He nodded, but thought that at least a case would take his mind off this, then again, probably not. Since he started working as a "psychic" detective, he involved his dad in just about every case. After not seeing his father for several years, he started to see him at least once a week. He was lost in his thoughts when a nurse came into the room. "Mr. Spencer, did you want to see your father?"
He nodded, not sure he could trust his voice at the moment. "Do you want us to come along," Juliet asked.
"No, I want to, um, need to do this alone. Thanks Jules. Could you hang here with Gus until I get back," he asked.
"Sure," she said. Shawn glanced over at Gus, and then followed the nurse out of the room. They walked into a deserted examining room. There was a gurney with a sheet covering most of Henry's body except his head and neck. The nurse held open the door and Shawn paused as he looked over at his father.
"Take all the time you need sweetie," she said softly. He moved another two steps into the room so that she could close the door. He took a deep steadying breath and walked closer to the gurney.
"I guess I'm supposed to say something. Okay, what the hell were you thinking taking on two drug addicts that broke into your house? Just let them have whatever they want. No, you had to play hero didn't you," he said as he started to get angry, "Now what am I supposed to do Dad? Who's going to help Gus and me when we get stuck on a case? How do I tell you that I always admired you for being the only person who could piss me off just by saying my name? How do I tell you that while I've spent most of my adult years hating you, I never stopped being proud to be your son?" Shawn stared at his dad for a minute, placed his hand on Henry's chest, and smiled. Through teary eyes and a raspy voice, he said, "Love you Dad," and walked out of the room.