what there is to know

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what there is to know
by templemarker

Notes: Thanks to mod & recipient, aithine; and to callmesandy for beta services. Originally posted here for 2010’s you_know_thats_right challenge.


Henry loved his kid, but Shawn wasn’t always quick on the uptake.

Sure, Shawn could figure things out–if you got him to pay attention for more than a minute and a half. And if he thought it was funny. But try to get him to be serious about something–for example, his life–and it took either a world-class trick or unexpected restraints to make him do it.

Henry never thought he’d have to use the same crap he used to get perps to talk on his son. Particularly since he’d spent so many years teaching his son to evade those same tactics. There were only so many boneheaded things Henry could let Shawn get away with (six months as a bartender in Tahiti; ski instructor in Colorado; that damn motorcycle) before he got sick of watching him run around like a demented eight year old. Come to think of it, Henry didn’t think Shawn had been as bad at eight as he was at thirty.

Burton Guster had been hanging around the Spencer house since kindergarten, and had never gone away, not even when Bill Guster started to get a little snippy about Shawn’s behaviour around middle school. Of course, by then there was no chance of splitting the boys up. They were as thick as thieves and twice as much trouble. The only time they’d been separated, as far as Henry was aware, was Gus’s move to college. Gus went to college and Shawn spent four years moving from place to place every six months. At least when Gus moved back to Santa Barbara, Henry had a fifty-fifty chance of seeing his son a couple times a month. Henry kept in touch with Gus after he left high school, just brief check-ins; it was the only way he could find out what Shawn was actually doing with himself. Gus was the tether that kept Shawn around.

Henry couldn’t remember when he’d realized that; must’ve been when the boys were teenagers and they had their first fight over a girl. It had been a damn silly-looking tussle in the front yard, over Maria Haversham, who ended up turning both of them down for the Winter Formal that year. Gus had gone away for three days, and Shawn had made himself scarce too. But all the officers in Santa Barbara knew to look out for Henry Spencer’s son, so Henry knew he was okay. It was only when Gus shuffled into the house, looking mulish but staying for some iced tea, that Shawn came crashing into the house, tugging Gus away. It became clear how the rest of the road would lay out.

Where Gus was, Shawn would eventually be. It was something to put faith in, when Shawn didn’t give Henry a whole lot of other opportunities for certainty.

Henry loved Gus like his own kid, if he was being honest. He was smart, respectful, and soaked up information like a sponge. Gus came to Henry when Bill didn’t have enough time for him–which was more often than Henry would like, but he couldn’t fault Bill for it–and returned Henry’s things cleaned and without damage. Some days Henry felt like he’d raised them both, an inseparable pair; but he could never have called them brothers. Maybe when they were real young kids. But by the time they were teenagers, Shawn’s jealousy towards anyone Gus set an eye towards was palpable, and Gus’s quiet sabotage of every relationship Shawn had was clear even to someone who wasn’t a decorated police officer. (Not that it was hard to sabotage Shawn. He did most of the work himself.)

And then, Gus went to college, and Shawn spent all four years being mad at him for going away. That’s about when Henry started calling ’em “partners” in his head, and he didn’t mean the kind whose wife brought chicken salad to a pot luck. No, his son was a foolish, smart-assed man with too little concern for his own safety, but it was clear there was no one else for Shawn but Gus, no one else who would ever fit the space Gus had carved out for himself there.

Not that he realized it, of course. Hell, those four years when Shawn was running around from place to place like a headless chicken seemed to be an expression of unsubtle panic, and Henry would have laughed his damn head off about it if he hadn’t heard the sad note in Gus’s voice everytime they spoke. Gus didn’t seem to buy a clue until well until his senior year in college, when Shawn crashed in his apartment for six weeks between deep-sea diving off the coast of France and shaving alpacas in Georgia. Something changed in that time, and Henry didn’t ask to many questions about just what; but Gus came away from that interlude of Shawn in his life as if something was made clear to him, clear and certain. Henry wasn’t too surprised that Gus moved back to Santa Barbara, or that Shawn came trailing back into town a few months later.

The thing was, Henry treated ’em both like nothing had changed, because nothing really had. He didn’t ever think he was going to get the traditional crap out of the pair of them–but then, he’d never expected that from Shawn anyhow. Well, he might get grandkids, if Gus decided he wanted to be a parent and put his foot down. But Henry wasn’t holding his breath on any of it. If they wanted to use this whole private detective thing as a front, well, Henry was fine with that as well.

At the end of the day, he’d never seen Shawn as happy as when he was with Gus, and he’d never expected to have Shawn in his life half as much as he actually was now, being in this thing with Gus here in Santa Barbara. Henry had constantly been forced to check his expectations with Shawn, but here he was, with a son who owned a small business and had a stable relationship and came to dinner every Sunday whether he liked it or not, because that’s when Gus was going to be. After raising a smart-mouthed, too-clever, itinerant little shit of a child for most of his life, he was rewarded with a smart-mouthed, too-clever, rooted little shit of a kid. There were worse things.

Henry remembered something his father had told him when Shawn was born. “Don’t make plans,” he’d said, clapping Henry on the shoulder and staring at his new grandson. “That kid’s just gonna break ’em.” Henry hadn’t listened then, and maybe that’s why he’d found it so frustrating when Shawn had never listened to him either. But Henry hadn’t expected Gus, and maybe what you couldn’t expect made all the difference in the end.

2 Responses to “what there is to know”

  1. Kernezelda Says:

    *clasps hands* Oh, I love this! I can see Gus&Shawn or Gus/Shawn, but those two are joined at the hip either way. *hearts*

  2. Tray Says:

    Insightful. I liked this, and that it was from Henry’s point of view.

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