Complete Summary: Eleven years ago, Shawn was a key player in the sting of a serial killer - and nearly became another victim in the process. No one knew. Now former acquaintances from a secret life are dropping by, the horrible past that Shawn thought was buried is being dug up, and the murders have resumed - and Shawn is the main target on the hit list. With the psychic unwilling to give up any more information about his mysterious past than he has to, will his friends and family be able to protect him? Or will a killer's thirst for revenge be fulfilled? Rated for possibly gory, violent later chapters and some mild language. Shules
Eleven years ago, Shawn was a key player in the sting of a serial killer - and nearly became another victim in the process.
No one knew.
Now former acquaintances from a secret life are dropping by, the horrible past that Shawn thought was buried is being dug up, and the murders have resumed - and Shawn is the main target on the hit list.
With the psychic unwilling to give up any more information about his mysterious past than he has to, will his friends and family be able to protect him?
Or will a killer's thirst for revenge be fulfilled?
Rated for possibly gory, violent later chapters and some mild language. Shules
A/N: Thanks to everyone who has sent me messages prodding me to keep working. This story will be finished eventually - life just makes it hard to get there. You guys are much to good to me, and I thank everyone who keeps coming back despite my sporadic updates. I'll do my best to move faster, but I can't make any guarantees as to when the next chapter will come out. Real life has a tendency to explode on me.
Thanks to mav32 and zookitty for looking this over for me. Any and all mistakes are still mine.
Connecting Dots without Numbers
"Any luck getting those reports?" Lassiter demanded as he approached O'Hara's desk.
O'Hara held up a finger, frowning at whatever the person at the other end of the phone line was telling her. Her shoulders slumped as she rubbed her forehead. "Yes, I understand – if you would just –" Lassiter's eyes narrowed as the blond tried and failed to get a word in edgewise.
After a moment, her eyes flashed as her jaw stiffened. "Listen to me!" she snapped. Lassiter blinked as she smirked in satisfaction and continued, "I understand there is confidential victim information in those reports. I don't want to endanger those two anymore than you do. I would just like to have copies of the reports that are as complete as possible without violating their safety."
She paused and listened for a minute before nodding. "Yes, that will be just fine. How soon?" She grinned and leaned back in her seat. "Thank you. That will be great – and if you could have it sooner, it would be even better. Yes. Yes, thank you."
O'Hara sighed as she hung up the phone, grin dropping off her face as she pinched the bridge of her nose. "What were you saying, Carlton?" she asked, looking up at her partner.
"Have you been on the phone all afternoon?" Lassiter asked, resting his weight on the corner of her desk.
O'Hara nodded, a scowl twisting her typically pleasant face. "I kept getting bounced around from department to department before they sent me to archives. Honestly, what self-respecting law enforcement officer would want to work for the FBI?" she declared with a roll of her eyes. "At any rate, we should have a copy of the entire McKillian investigation by morning. But they have to go through and edit out any reference to the two survivors – minimize the chance of the copycat figuring out just who survived. Apparently only a handful of people know who they actually are."
Lassiter nodded once. "Can't fault them for that, I suppose," he declared. "Even if it is pointless."
O'Hara tilted her head. "Why would you say that?"
"Hixson said he's always suspected McKillian had an accomplice."
"And you both think this copycat might actually be that accomplice," O'Hara finished grimly.
Lassiter shrugged a shoulder, running a hand through his hair. "Preferable to thinking that someone might actually admire McKillian enough to copy him."
O'Hara wrinkled her nose. "What did Josh have to say?" she asked quietly.
"He says Connors was definitely at that concert. Last time anyone saw him was at the after-party," Lassiter replied, flipping through the small notebook in his hand. "He left around ten – apparently to work on an upcoming project."
"So, Michael went through all of that trauma in less than two days," O'Hara murmured with a grim frown.
"Not all of it – the coroner called back with his preliminary results. He thinks the cause of death was the broken neck – severed his spinal cord clean in two," Lassiter reported, scanning his hastily scribbled writing. "Most of the superficial bruising occurred before death, but most of the broken bones happened postmortem. Gunshots were also postmortem, but it's hard to tell at this point if the lashes and burns were pre or post."
O'Hara's eyes narrowed. "Why so sketchy?"
Lassiter let his notebook drop down to his lap as he looked at his partner. "Coroner thinks the body was put into some kind of container after death, which sped up the decomp process. The body wasn't extremely bloated because of the bullet holes – they let the majority of the air out. Makes TOD difficult to determine, but he thinks it was probably sometime Sunday night."
"Do we have any idea how this compares to McKillian's killings?"
Lassiter shook his head. "No – that's why we really need those reports."
"Conklin told me he'd try to have them here by the end of his shift if he could. So hopefully by five," O'Hara told him. "Otherwise it'll come first thing in the morning."
Lassiter glanced at his watch. "Okay. That means at least four hours from now. Ballistics is still looking at the slug the coroner recovered from the body. Three of the wounds were through-and-though, but the fourth lodged up against the spine."
O'Hara sighed. "Anything to do in the meantime?"
"You can go home," Lassiter replied seriously. He held up a hand when O'Hara opened her mouth to protest. "I know you were here early working on paperwork – McNab told me. And I also know you stayed late last night. So go home, get some rest. Once we have those reports, I'm sure we'll lose plenty of sleep."
O'Hara sighed again, but smiled faintly. "Yes, sir. Let me finish up one thing, and then I'll go."
Lassiter stood up off her desk. "You better be gone within an hour, O'Hara. I know how your 'one thing' turns into ten."
This time Juliet grinned widely and held up two fingers. "Scout's honor, Carlton."
Lassiter rolled his eyes but headed for Vick's office without another word. O'Hara chuckled and turned back to her computer, jiggling her mouse to wake the computer.
Before the sleep mode had even worn off, she caught sight of two familiar faces heading straight for her desk. "Gus, Mr. Spencer," she greeted as the pair approached. "What are you doing here? Where's Shawn?"
"We're here because of Shawn," Gus replied seriously.
Juliet raised an eyebrow. "Is this about your fight this morning?"
Gus nodded. "We need your help."
"With what?" Juliet asked.
"We need you to look up some records between 1995 and 1996," Henry told her.
"What kind of records?"
Gus and Henry glanced at each other for a moment before looking back at the detective. "We need to know what Shawn was doing then," Gus replied finally.
Juliet immediately frowned. "I don't know-"
"Juliet, please," Gus interrupted. "We think –" He paused as Henry nudged him with an elbow. "Okay, I think that Shawn knows a lot more about what's going on than he's saying. And we – I – think it has something to do with whatever happened to him right after we graduated from high school."
"You have no idea what he was doing then?" Juliet asked.
Both Gus and Henry shook their heads. "Like I said, he kept in touch for a little bit, but then he completely dropped off the grid. No one we know heard from him for almost a year," Gus told her.
Juliet chewed her lip. "I still don't know, Gus. I'd love to help you, I really would, but…"
"Were you at the crime scene of that copy cat?" Henry asked. When the blond nodded, he continued, "I never personally saw any of the bodies of McKillian's victims, but the pictures I saw were enough. If this guy is doing even half of what that bastard did, we have to stop him. And if Shawn knows more about this than he's saying, then we need to find out why he's not talking about it."
Juliet glanced over towards Vick's office, where she could see Lassiter conferring with the chief. She focused back on the pair in front of her, leaning forward slightly in her chair. "Okay. Lassiter ordered me to leave within an hour, so I'll see what I can find out in that amount of time. Is there some place I can meet you?"
"We can meet at Psych," Gus declared. "I doubt Shawn will be there today. And if he is, maybe we can convince him to tell us what's going on."
Henry snorted. "Gus, this is Shawn we're talking about. He may not be great at keeping most secrets, but if it's big enough he turns into a human Fort Knox."
Juliet looked slightly confused at the meaningful look the two exchanged but didn't press. "Okay. I'll meet you at Psych in an hour."
"So what are we going to do?" Logan asked.
"Well, I was thinking we could go for a round of laser tag, and maybe some mini golf or go karts after that," Shawn replied, taking a long sip of his smoothie.
Logan shot his friend a look. "Shawn."
Shawn scowled and sighed as he took a bite of his sandwich. "Nothing."
The rancher frowned. "Look, Spence, I don't want to do this any more than you do. But we can't just sit here and do nothing."
"Which is why I suggested some laser tag."
"Helping doesn't necessarily involve telling, if that's what you're worried about."
"That's part of it," Shawn admitted. He smirked ruefully and added, "It'd also be a little awkward to explain just how you know so much about this case when we were supposed to have worked on a cruise ship together."
Logan chuckled. "I wondered about that. Cruise ship? That was really the best you could come up with, Spence? I was a little disappointed."
"Well, I would've used Amazon River guide, but Gus has seen pictures from that," Shawn shot back with a grin.
"Is there seriously anything you haven't done?" Logan asked with a roll of his eyes.
"Wouldn't both you and the border patrol like to know," Shawn replied with a waggle of his eyebrows. He jumped a little as his phone vibrated in his pocket, sighing silently as he tugged it out and saw Gus' name flashing across the screen. Gus had been calling at least once every hour since Shawn had stormed out of the police station, and had left a few voicemails that didn't say much, other than asking Shawn to call him back.
Shawn swallowed and stuck the phone back in his pocket as the ringing stopped. He closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. The one time he really needed Gus' help in figuring out a case, it just had to be a copycat of the case Gus had no clue about…
"Spence? You okay?"
Shawn opened his eyes and grinned at the Montanan. He could tell by the look in Logan's eyes that the grin looked as fake as it felt. "I'm just peachy."
Logan raised an eyebrow, but didn't push the issue. His voice was soft as he said, "I know you want to figure this out just as much as I do, if not more."
All traces of humor left Shawn's face as he mashed a fry into his ketchup. "I'd like to be able to solve it without thinking about it," he muttered grimly.
"I think we both would – but I know what you mean," Logan added when Shawn shot him a sharp look. He paused, then softly said, "You still sure you heard someone else?"
Shawn nodded once, taking an extra long draw of his smoothie. "It's like I told Chuck and Phil – I heard McKillian talking with someone. I just couldn't hear who it was exactly or what they were saying. But there was definitely someone there, and I know I heard both your name and my name a couple of times."
Logan rubbed his thumb over his lower lip. "Then maybe that's where we need to start. See if there's some way we can find out any of McKillian's associates at the time. Anyone who could have possibly been involved. Someone the police and the FBI missed. From the sounds of it, that's the only person who could have killed that kid."
"And how exactly to you expect us to do that? Normally I'd be all for checking things out down at the station, but we'd never be able to find anything out now – not if we want to avoid telling Lassiter or Vick anything," Shawn replied. His lips twisted into a frown as he added, "And I don't really want to head back to Psych. If Gus is there, I have no idea what I would tell him."
"We can head to the library. I still know a thing or two about hacking into computer databases," Logan said with a smirk.
Shawn raised an eyebrow. "You realize this means I'll have to sacrifice my reputation. I haven't been spotted in a library since I was twelve."
Logan laughed as he wiped his mouth with a napkin. "Don't worry, Spence. We'll keep it discreet."
Henry glanced up as the door opened and Gus stepped through. "Where were you?" he asked, rising from Shawn's desk chair.
"My apartment," Gus replied, closing the door behind him. When he turned, Henry could see a few weathered postcards in his grip. "It took me awhile to remember where I put these."
"What are they?" Henry inquired, moving to stand by Gus' desk as the younger man sat in his chair.
"The postcards Shawn sent me the first couple months he was gone," Gus answered, handing one to Henry.
"And you kept them for all these years?" Henry asked, astonished.
Gus shrugged, slightly embarrassed. "Unlike Shawn, I was able to actually keep my memory box we made in that middle school art class."
Henry chuckled a little. "I warned him that the box would go bad if he tried to put in a slice of pineapple upside-down cake," he declared as he turned the postcard over in his hand. His lips twitched a little when he saw the picture emblazoned across the side facing him. It was a panorama picture of the Los Angeles skyline. A hand-drawn pineapple rested on top of the tallest building in the photo. Henry flipped it back over and scanned the smudged, inky scrawl that was distinctively Shawn's handwriting.
Hey, dude. Not much going on around here – just doing some job training. Exciting stuff, let me tell you what. I thought I'd be done reading after leaving high school. You'd better be living it up a little at college – wouldn't want you to miss out on the full experience without me around! Catch you later.
"Job training?" Henry wondered as he set the post card on Gus' desk.
Gus shrugged again. "He never told me what that job was, and when he came back, he didn't want to talk about what had happened at all while he was gone."
Henry frowned, glancing at the postmark on the card. "This one is from Los Angeles – where McKillian was arrested."
"Yeah, but that one showed up over a year before the arrests were made. And the next month, I got this postcard," Gus told him, handing him another.
Henry glanced at the picture on the front for a moment – a snapshot of the Old Faithful geyser erupting in Yellowstone National Park – before flipping it over to read the next message.
Hey, Gus – more job training for me. If it weren't so intriguing, I'd probably reconsider this so-called path I've chosen. (Just had Chinese, and my fortune cookie talked about creating paths. Not sure why – it's not like I'm into making Zen gardens or anything… although that might be kind of fun. Maybe I'll do that next.) Anyway, hope midterms aren't killing you too badly – and you should definitely go out with that Amy girl again. I think she was really into you (you Casanova you).
The older Spencer's eyes flicked up to the stamped postmark. "Boise, Idaho?"
Gus nodded. "And damned if I know how he knew about Amy – I'd gone out on my first date with her three days before I got that postcard. We didn't even date all that long."
Henry rubbed his lower lip with his thumb for a moment before he tapped the postcard once with a finger. "Some of McKillian's victims were from Idaho," he declared grimly.
Gus' eyebrows went up. "Really?" He paused as he glanced down at the last postcard in his hand. "Were any of them from Nevada?" he asked quietly.
Henry looked up as Gus held up the postcard. The picture was a snapshot of the Las Vegas strip at night. "Yeah, I think a couple of them were."
"So what does that mean?" Gus asked, forehead scrunching in confusion as they set the trio of postcards on the desk and staring at them. "Do you think he did that intentionally?"
Henry folded his arms as he stared at the postcards. "As scatterbrained as he may seem at times, everything Shawn does is intentional," he declared. "Which one came first?"
"The Los Angeles one. Then the Old Faithful one, and then the Las Vegas one," Gus answered, reaching forward and flipping the order of the cards so they were chronological. He glanced up as Henry shifted his weight from one leg to the other. "What're you thinking?"
Henry snorted as he ran a hand over the top of his head. "That Shawn enjoys frustrating the crap out of me."
"You and me both," Gus replied with a rueful shake of his head.
The men looked up as Juliet entered the room. She had changed out of her work clothes into a pair of khaki shorts and a green T-shirt, and she was carrying a thin manila folder in one arm. "Hey, Jules," Gus greeted. "Thanks for coming."
"You're welcome, but I'm not sure how much help I'll be," Juliet confessed, entering into the office and joining the pair around Gus' desk. "What are these?" she asked, spotting the postcards on the desk.
"The postcards Shawn sent me right after he left," Gus replied. He gestured at the folder in the crook of her arm. "What'd you find out?"
"Not much, I'm afraid," Juliet told them, setting the folder on the desk and opening it. "I wasn't able to use some of the bigger databases without approval for a valid reason from the Chief, so I used what I could."
"And?" Henry prodded.
"And, there's a huge gap of time where Shawn doesn't show up on any records at all," Juliet told them. She snatched up one of sheets from the small stack of printouts in the folder. "I found this – it's a credit card receipt from a motel in downtown Los Angeles. Looks like he stayed there for a week in June of 1995."
"Right after he left," Gus said.
Juliet nodded. "That's what I thought." She grabbed a few more sheets of paper and handed them to Gus. "Over the next few months his credit card number showed up sporadically – all in the L.A. area, and all for purchases under forty dollars. Mostly food, a few withdrawals, and a couple of movies."
"Only in L.A.? You're sure?" Henry asked, looking up sharply at her.
"Because only one of these postcards is postmarked out of Los Angeles. One's from Boise, and the other's from Las Vegas," Gus told her.
Juliet frowned in thought. "Weren't some of McKillian's victims from each of those places?" she asked.
Both Gus and Henry nodded. Gus picked up the list of credit card receipts and scanned. "He bought ten dollars worth of groceries the same day the postcard from Las Vegas was sent out," he declared.
"How's that possible? He can't be in two places at once," Juliet said.
"Well, unless his credit card was stolen, we'll have to go off the assumption that he was in L.A. for most of that time," Henry declared.
"What about the postcards?" Gus demanded. "You saw the handwriting – Shawn definitely wrote those."
Henry nodded. "I'm not saying he didn't. But it's possible he had them mailed in an envelope somewhere else to be sent out. It wouldn't take much, if he knew someone who'd be around to open the envelope and drop the postcard in the mail."
"But why would he do that?" Juliet wondered.
"I have no idea," Henry replied. "What else did you find?"
"Well, he made a final purchase at a small grocery store on August 15. After that, he completely dropped off the grid. I couldn't find a single thing – it's like he vanished off the face of the earth for almost a year."
"When did he show up again?" Gus asked.
"July 31, 1996," Juliet said. "He bought a plane ticket from Boise, Idaho and flew down to Santa Barbara."
"Really?" Gus exclaimed. "That was about a week before he showed up at my apartment."
"There's no record of him staying in any motels in the area during that time – at least, not on his credit card. But he could have paid with cash," Juliet told him. "Or the motel he stayed at might not have credit card records that go that far back. In any case…" she added, picking up the rest of the papers in the folder, "after that he starts showing up regularly. Payments on his Norton, various gas purchases across the country, a handful of employments, a warning for speeding in South Dakota, a plane ticket to Thailand – you get the idea."
"So we still don't know exactly what happened in that stretch of time between when he left Santa Barbara and when he came back," Henry declared, tossing the papers in his hand onto the desk with a huff of frustration.
"Except that he stuck around California for awhile," Gus pointed out. He sighed wearily as he scooped up the postcards. "We have all this information, but no idea how it links together. It's like trying to connect the dots without any numbers to follow."
Henry rubbed the top of his head before folding his arms across his chest. "You need to talk to Shawn, Gus," he declared.
"He doesn't want to talk to me!" Gus exclaimed, throwing up his hands in frustration. "I've called him, left voicemails – he's not answering me."
"Do you have any idea where he might be?" Juliet asked.
Gus shrugged. "His apartment, maybe. When I drove by earlier, his bike was there. But I think he still has the car we were borrowing from that dealer, so that doesn't mean a whole lot. But other than that… I have no idea. Shawn obviously knows how to disappear when he wants to," he finished, gesturing in the direction of the records Juliet had brought. He paused, tilting his head as he looked back at the detective. "Do you think you could try talking to him?"
"Me?" Juliet squeaked. "What makes you think he'll talk to me?"
"He probably won't – not about this stuff, anyway," Henry cut in before Gus could reply. "But you might be able to get him to talk about why he doesn't want to talk to me or Gus."
Juliet chewed her lip for a moment before nodding. "I'll see what I can do."