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Author's Chapter Notes:
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property mine. I am in no way associated with Psych, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

This is written as a submission for the "I CHALLENGE YOU!" challenge on the Psychfic forums. I hope you enjoy!
1986

The slamming door wasn’t what had peaked Henry’s interest. Considering that his son was a hurricane in size three Converse sneakers, he was accustomed to the destruction that followed in his wake. It was the quiet that settled afterward that left Henry somewhat unsettled. His son was many things, but quiet was definitely not one of them.

Henry took a step toward the kitchen, years of police training making his sneaking a subconscious reflex. He strained his ears as he moved forward, trying to pick up any indicator as to what the young boy was up to. Only steady silence met his effort, and he cursed himself for all of the training he’d given Shawn over the years – as he found himself doing more often as of late. The kid’s knack for trouble coupled with the skills he had been developing was threatening Henry with an early grave. He held on to the hope that Shawn’s head and actions would level out.

He stopped just outside the doorway of the kitchen, using the jam to brace himself as he peeked around the corner. His son’s back was to him and Henry took a quick glance over his son’s form. The first thing he noticed was his son’s bare feet; they were smudged black with what looked like asphalt dust, there was a large bandage wrapped around one of his big toes, and, most of all, they were bare. Henry was the first to admit that being a father was a lot harder than he had imagined – Shawn really didn’t help matters, so he couldn’t be too hard on himself – but he certainly knew enough to remember to send his kid out of the house with shoes on. The second thing that caught Henry’s attention was that Shawn’s movements were slow and controlled, meaning that he knew that whatever was holding his focus wouldn’t make his parents too happy. His right arm continuously dipped down and raised up to the area Henry knew his mouth to be in. A slight creaking noise wafted by Henry’s ear and his eyes locked onto a corner of the mostly hidden object that looked like woven sticks, and Henry immediately knew that Shawn was rummaging around in a picnic basket. More specifically, he was eating whatever was in said basket.

Henry took the last step into the kitchen and placed balled fists onto his hips. “What the hell is going on here, Shawn? And how many times do I have to tell you to stay out of the Quik Convenience parking lot? You could get seriously hurt with all those cars going in and out of there.”

Shawn spun around the moment he heard his father’s voice and fixed him with the best innocent eyes he could possibly muster, which unfortunately for him, Henry was immune to. Henry zeroed in on the chocolate cupcake frozen mid-way to the younger Spencer’s mouth, then flicked his eyes up to focus on the young boy’s face. Chocolate was melted and smeared onto his cheeks, which told Henry that there were a few pastries that didn’t quite make it home. A crumb dislodged from Shawn’s lower lip, rolling over his chin as the kid swallowed in what Henry hoped was fear.

“Oh, hey Dad. You’re home early.” Shawn lowered the cupcake until it was safely behind his leg.

“Don’t ‘hey Dad’ me! Answer the question. And don’t think I didn’t see that loaf of sugar you’re hiding.”

“Ugh,” Shawn muttered. He dumped the cupcake back into the basket, his shoulders slumping as he sighed. “How did you know?”

Henry took his hands off his hips and crossed his arms over his chest. “I’m a detective, Shawn. It’s my job to evaluate the evidence in front of me and to make sense of it. For instance, that black crap all over your feet is powder-like and has smeared all over my kitchen floor – which, by the way, you will be cleaning.” At this, Shawn looked down and groaned at the black footprints and blotches all over the white linoleum. “The consistency tells me that it is asphalt and the only asphalt parking lot around here is at the Quik Convenince store. Now, where are your shoes and where did you get that basket? Don’t even think about lying or it’ll be the last thing you do, kid.”

Shawn sighed again and his lower lip jutted out a bit, a habit Henry had noticed his son do whenever he couldn’t weasel a situation to his advantage. “Well, I told Gus that I could walk across the parking lot barefoot and he didn’t believe me so I had to prove that I could. I bet him his Walkman that I could do it, and I was totally doing it but I stubbed my toe at the very end and tripped so Gus said it didn’t count. Before I knew it, there was blood everywhere and Gus is a sissy so he ran home. Then Mrs. Huntz – she’s an old lady who just moved in across the street from the parking lot – she came over and helped me with my toe. Then she invited me over for cupcakes and milk and when I left she gave me some to take home because she said little kids should never go hungry.”

Henry pulled one hand out of the crisscross formation over his chest and pointed a finger at his son. “Let me get this straight; you went into this lady’s house unsupervised and ate possibly contaminated food? Of all the stupid things you’ve done, this one wins out for sure.” Henry strode over to the table, picked up the basket, and deposited it into the garbage can.

Shawn looked horrified. “It wasn’t contaminated, Dad, it was cupcakes!”

“I don’t care if it was a blueberry pie or a spaceship made out of ice cream! How many times do I need to drill something into your head before it’ll stay put in there? No parking lot, no strangers, and certainly no food from strangers!”

Shawn narrowed his eyes at his dad, a contemplative look forming on his features. “Do they really have spaceships made out of ice cream?”

“For the love of –” Henry threw up his hands and rolled his eyes toward the ceiling, trying to keep his anger in check. He gritted his teeth and said, “That’s not the point, kid. The world is a dangerous place. I mean, we just read Hansel & Gretel last night; do you remember the moral of that story?”

Shawn shrugged one shoulder and said, “Yeah, they had a mean dad. If he didn’t leave them in the forest, they would have never met the witch.”

Henry shook his head. “Of course that’s what you remember.” He knelt before his son and placed a hand on his shoulder, ensuring that the young kid’s focus was on him. “Dads might seem mean, but that’s because they have to do what others won’t in order to keep their children safe. Your mother and I tell you to stay away from strangers because there are some bad people in the world who wouldn’t think twice about hurting you. I know this because it is my job to catch those kinds of people. We make rules to make sure you know what is right and wrong, so that when you grow up you will be able to make the right decisions. We love you, kid, and we’d be really sad if something ever happened to you. You understand?”

In response, Shawn threw his arms around his father’s shoulders and hugged him as hard as he was able to. Henry was stunned for a moment, frozen in place by the out-of-character act, before he wrapped his arms around his son.

“I love you,” Shawn mumbled into Henry’s ear.

Henry pulled away from his son’s embrace to look him in the eye. “I love you too, son. Don’t you ever forget it.”

Shawn smiled and nodded before moving to walk past his father. Henry caught his arm and gently pulled him back into place. At the young boy’s questioning look, Henry said, “My floor still needs to be cleaned, Shawn. Go hose your feet off in the yard and then grab the mop and bucket.”

Shawn groaned and dropped his head. Henry turned him around and gave him a nudge toward the door. Shawn dragged his feet, literally, on his way to the door, creating an even bigger trail of dust along the way.

“I wish you’d just drop me off in a forest somewhere,” Shawn mumbled before disappearing into the yard, and Henry couldn’t help but let out a small chuckle.

Chapter End Notes:
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