AN: Kudos to anyone that recognizes me from LJ. I'm extending my to speak. (Technology seriously isn't my thing, but I'm giving this place a shot.) Thus, I'm loading all my stories here as well.
This is my second only fanfiction ever, and I actually don't like it all the that much... But other's seemed to like it so...

Disclaimer: the prayer at the end belongs to 'The Boondock Saints' movie, but don't worry, they've got nothing to do with the story. I just really like the prayer.

WARNING: for character death and angsty themes.

"More people have been slaughtered in the name of religion, than for any other single reason. That, my friends, that is true perversion." - Harvey Milk

'Twenty-seven hours (and seventeen minutes) wasn't a long time, right? I mean, he's randomly gone off and done something stupid for longer than that. I know the story of when he up and left in the middle of the night and ended up in Texas. So it's not a big deal. Nope, not a big deal at all... Hell, it's nothing compared to the time no one saw him for a week and a half and I was forced to drive to San Francisco to look for him. Asshole was having the time of his life at some strip joint while I was getting premature gray hair. He's probably doing that now; drooling all over the stage. ...Or he could be on the stage...

'Point is, this is NOT a big deal; I will not worry about this. It's normal for him to be gone for twenty-seven hours (and twenty-three minutes). So just go to sleep. ...Any minute now, you'll be asleep. Peaceful dreams of a gently rocking boat and sunshine, not him dead in an alley somewhere while you're lying around doing nothing -- God damn it!'

Carlton groaned as he sat up, pushing over the covers and setting his feet on the floor. If he got up now, there'd be no chance of him sleeping, so he didn't leave the bed. He turned on the lamp on his night stand and looked longingly at his cell. For once in his life, he wished it would ring, and he'd hear that excited voice, exuberantly explaining his latest 'vision,' or the trailer of a new movie he just saw on TV, or something equally mundane.

After five minutes of staring, he switched off the lamp and laid back down, not bothering to pull the covers up. Ten more minutes of tossing and turning amounted to nothing, and he thought of how strange it was that the only time he could sleep right was after a late-night call from the same person occupying his thoughts. His many complaints about said calls were always waved off with the same enthusiasm that they were made in. It was annoying as all hell, but fuck, what he wouldn't give to hear that voice.

He rolled over again and glared at the red numbers of his alarm clock. 12:47 They were mocking him. 'You can't do anything for another twenty hours,' they said. No matter how Guster or O'Hara tried to persuade Vick, she'd stick to protocol. He blew out a breath and rolled onto his back, staring aimlessly at the ceiling. Lassiter damned himself for getting so caught up in his emotions, and damned Spencer for being an idiot.

"Death ends a life, not a relationship." - Robert Benchley

It was a bright and sunny afternoon, and it shouldn't be, because Carlton felt like the world had fallen away beneath his feet. He stood back as the funeral progressed, not trusting himself to get close to the coffin until the others had left. He couldn't even force himself to look as the priest spoke, but mumbled along with him. Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. As far as he knew, Shawn was one hundred percent agnostic, so he was not quite sure how this ended up a Christian burial.

Gus was standing near the head of the casket with Juliet sobbing into his shoulder. The senior Spencer was on his other side, staring blankly at the ground his son was soon to be buried in, the occasional silent tear sneaking its way down his face before he'd angrily wipe at it. To be honest, Carlton was slightly worried about Henry. He was a good man who didn't deserve all he'd been through. Then again, Shawn was a good man too; he didn't deserve death at all, especially not that kind of death.

The funeral continued without any interruption, save the occasional hiccuping sob or sniffle. Most, if not all, of the Santa Barbara Police Department had gathered in the cemetery, as well as many people Carlton had never seen before but was sure Shawn had mentioned at some point or another. After what seemed like an eternity, the priest stopped talking, and people began to place flowers on the casket, murmuring their good-byes to, in Carlton's eyes, the greatest person to have graced the planet. Eventually, only Karen, Juliet, Gus and Henry were left. Not a word was said among the four, all simply staring at Shawn's wooden bed. In Gus's case, Carlton thought, he was staring in disbelief; he was still in the denial phase. Henry's been angry since the news was passed on to him, and Juliet was still depressed. Karen had already moved on to acceptance. Does that mean he should have been the one bargaining? Carlton's already had quite a few talks with God, but the bastard doesn't seem to be listening.

A few minutes later, even they were leaving. Henry spared him a weak, forced smile and a nod as he guided Gus to his truck to take the young man to his parents' house. Vick came over to the tree Carlton was partially hiding behind and put a hand on his shoulder. "Don't kill yourself over this Carlton." He wasn't sure if she meant that literally (he'd be lying if he said he wasn't considering it) or figuratively. "He wouldn't have wanted that."

"I think he would have wanted to live." Carlton clenched his jaw, making his mandible hurt like hell because he's been doing that a lot lately for various reasons.

She bit her lip and turned away, but she wasn't quick enough; he could see the tears forming. Juliet was waiting in Karen's car, and he could see her hands shaking as she clutched a soaked cloth tissue. Karen's weren't much better as she gripped the steering wheel and drove away.

Carlton finally approached the flower-laden cherrywood coffin, stopping just a few inches away from where Shawn's head would be. He opened his mouth, then closed it, then repeating the process twice more; he had had an entire speech planned to say good-bye to the annoyance/love of his life, but now he's not sure what to say. They'd been dating for barely five months, not even living together, when Shawn broke into his house yet again (as Carlton had refused to give him a key until he learned to clean up after himself) and made him a surprisingly romantic dinner, all because it was officially the longest relationship Shawn had ever had. Carlton never told the younger man, but he'd made plans to take him to New Jersey to visit his sister and her family after their six month anniversary.

But it was all over now. All because of some psychopath with an obsession that centered around Shawn.

After a stretch of an unknown amount of time, Carlton gave up on searching for something meaningful to say and just reached into his coat pocket. He pulled out Shawn's favorite CD of MorningWood and traced it with his finger gently. Shawn would always leave it in Carlton's stereo, so instead of being greeted with Mozart, 'Everybody Rules' would scream in his ear.

"I don't think they have music like this up there, so you'll have to sneak it past the pearly gates. If anyone asks, I didn't give it to you. At least it's censored," he joked. Carlton placed a small kiss on the case before setting it on the coffin. "Love you." He walked away, smiling at the thought of Shawn strip-dancing to 'Take off Your Clothes.'

"The good die young because they see it's no use living if you've got to be good." - John Barrymore

There was a tape on his desk this morning. No one knew where it came from; the mail-boy said he didn't remember putting it there. Carlton handled it carefully with rubber gloves, half-expecting it to blow up. After finding nothing wrong with it and no note attached, he went to the evidence room and put it in the VCR. A minute of snow and the TV's tracking, then the image of a man in a priest's robes and an executioner's mask came up, and Carlton felt his blood turn cold. The man spoke directly to the camera, and he half-thought about turning the tape off then and there because he wasn't sure he'd be able to hear what he knew he was going to.

The psychopath raved about God and false prophets for almost fifteen full minutes before he said something that made Carlton want to kill the man slowly and painfully, instead of just plain old killing him. "He's being punished at the moment, made to suffer the same as our Lord. He will be executed at midnight Sunday morning." The camera panned to the right, and he fought the vomit back down his throat while O'Hara let out a choked sob behind him. Shawn was tied to a chain-link fence in a crucified position, his shirt and pants missing and his boxers almost torn to shreds. It looked like Shawn might bleed to death before midnight, judging by the blood dripping down his legs and wrists.

That was more than Carlton could take, and he left as quickly as his weak knees would allow, leaving the other officers to begin the work. He collapsed against the wall beside the door to the evidence room and took in a shaky breath.

'Shit! SHIT!! Fuck! Fucking protocol, fuck the code book! Why didn't we do anything before this? I knew something was wrong, they knew something was wrong! We knew something was wrong, and we did nothing because of fucking protocol!' Carlton ranted and screamed in his mind, willing his thoughts to overpower the sounds coming from the next room.

The next few hours passed completely by Carlton Lassiter. For the first time in his life, he wasn't quite sure what he should do. The others all let him be, because while it was never outright stated, he and Shawn did nothing to hide their relationship. Vick barked out orders to every officer in the precinct and Juliet worked just as hard as the others, if not harder, even though she had to stop every now and again to wipe her eyes. When nine o'clock rolled around, Carlton was seven seconds away from having a panic attack before someone finally got the right kind of tip off.

After she commanded the units, telling them the address and situation, Vick turned and looked at Lassiter, who was checking to make sure his gun was loaded.

"I'm going," he said without looking up, keeping his eyes on the pistol.

"I know."

"While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die." - Leonardo da Vinci

Though he desperately wanted to follow the gurney past the double doors, the nurses here looked pretty tough, and Carlton wasn't sure he had enough energy left in him to take them all on. One of them offered a sympathetic smile before Carlton turned back and went toward the waiting room. Another stopped him before he could reach the door though, and asked if he'd like to wash up. He looked down at himself and stared, surprised, at his shirt, covered in blood. In Shawn's blood. Mutely, he nodded, and she guided him down a different hall to a bathroom.

For a few minutes, he wasn't quite sure what to do or why he was even there. His logical mind said that he was still in shock, but that part of his brain didn't have much authority over his body at the moment. There was a quick knock on the door as one of the nurses came in to give him a green scrubs shirt. Oh yeah, that's what he was supposed to be doing. He took the shirt and nodded his thanks before the nurse left him to his privacy.

He stared at his reflection, at his blood-soaked shirt, blood-covered arms, hands. And damn it, he was burning this shirt the moment he got within reach of some matches. He didn't bother unbuttoning it as he pulled it over his head, hurting his ears because the collar was tight, having to unbutton the cuffs where his hands got caught. He didn't really notice these events, though, because he was still staring at the stains. He threw the shirt to the floor the moment he was free and looked back into the mirror. Some of the blood had soaked through his shirt and stained his chest. Looking down at his hands, he noticed his watch was stained red too, only the blood had dried to a darker, brownish color. It soon joined his shirt on the floor, and it was strange, seeing his whole forearm and hand caked in dried red (almost brown) blood but one pale wrist was completely free of the liquid.

Mechanical was the only word to describe how he felt as he turned the faucet on and scrubbed at his hands, arms, and chest with the soap. The water that ran down the sink and pipe was tinted red (not brown) for a few minutes, before fading to clear. Maybe that should have clued him in that he was clean, but Carlton kept scrubbing because he swore he could still feel the blood on him, drying and making his skin itch and he had to get it off. His skin was red raw (blood red) when he finally stopped. He still didn't feel clean.

Carlton dried himself with some paper towels and put on the scrubs, not even thinking to pick up his shirt and watch as he walked out and back to the waiting room. Juliet was there in one of the barely cushioned chairs with the hard wooden backs, and she looked up in surprise when he walked through the doors. Like she expected him to be somewhere else. Gus was on his cell phone over in the corner, and judging by the way he kept having to take deep breaths to calm himself, Carlton guessed he was talking to Henry.

Ten minutes later, Henry had joined their little group and they were sitting in silence. Sometimes one of them would get up, pace a little, ask the nurse something, then sit back down. O'Hara was surprisingly stoic through the whole time, not letting one tear fall, though Carlton knew she was moments away from having an emotional breakdown. He felt like doing the same. One hour turned to two, and two to three, and by the fourth he was this close to snapping at the nurse that he knew the doctor would come to see them when the operation was finished, but he wanted to know if she knew anything about how it was going.

Finally, the bearer of bad news came. Carlton felt like running, screaming, the moment he saw her face. It was full of pity, and she still had specks of blood, Shawn's blood, on her scrubs that made him want to vomit. She walked over to the nurse behind the desk, and the nurse pointed to them. Henry was the first to stand, but Carlton was right behind him.

"I'm so sorry." And he knew she wasn't, because, like detectives, the first rule of being a doctor is to never allow emotional attachment. He didn't blame her for it, but still called her a cold bitch in his mind.

She described what went wrong, and Carlton felt like he had a sucking chest wound of his own.

"Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live." - Norman Cousins

The ride to the warehouse from the station was disturbingly quiet, the crackle from his police radar breaking the silence once or twice. O'Hara was dead silent in the passenger seat, something Carlton normally would have been thankful for had his mind not been wandering back to that image of Shawn, bruised and bloody, crucified on a fence. He really could've done with a distraction at the moment.

A few moments later and they were pulling up to the abandoned building behind the squad cars. The officers were already out and armed, keeping cover behind their cars in case the psychopath opened fire, looking to Carlton for directions. He motioned for three of them to go around back and find a way in, pointed at two to follow him and O'Hara through the front door, and told the rest to stay outside and be ready for anything.

They walked up the stoop and he opened the door cautiously, gun trained to shoot the first thing that moves. Shawn should still be tied up and was in no condition to be walking, period. Carlton was sure he could hear movement in the next room over and motioned for everyone to be quiet. He turned the corner, gun held out in front of him, finger itching to pull the trigger. He stopped cold, because while he should have been prepared for the sight that greeted him, he wasn't. There seemed to be a cold coil wrapped around his chest; he couldn't speak.

The psychopath had obviously heard the cars pull up, as he was standing right in front of Shawn, still tied up, with the executioner's mask on and a gun pointed to Shawn's head. "You're too late, detective," he said without looking their way.

"Put the gun down." Carlton was proud to say he kept the quiver from his voice though the psychopath didn't seem to hear him. Thank God Shawn was unconscious, because Carlton knew he wouldn't be able to concentrate if he had to look into those eyes he knew would be full of fear.

"And shepherds we shall be, for Thee, my Lord, for Thee."

"Down! Put it down!"

"Power hath descended forth from Thy hand, that our feet may swiftly carry out Thy command."

"I said put it down! Now!" Carlton's voice became hoarse, partly because his mouth and throat had gone dry.

"And we shall flow a river forth to Thee, and teeming with souls shall it ever be."

'Shit!' Carlton cocked his gun the same time psychopath did.

"In nomine Patris, et --"

Carlton didn't hesitate as he pulled the trigger back once he saw the psychopath doing the same. Even though it was a head shot, it wasn't able to stop the other man's nerves from carrying out the action the brain already commanded. The only lucky part was that the psychopath's body began to fall as he pulled the trigger, making the bullet lodged itself in Shawn's chest instead of his head.

"Shawn!" Juliet screamed, but Carlton didn't waste his time. He ran straight to Shawn and began tugging on his binds, trying to get him down. He needed four hands: one to support Shawn's weight, one to apply pressure to the wound, and two to untie him. The bindings were wire, though, and that was why Shawn had such deep lacerations. Carlton screamed for someone to cut him down while he used the two hands he did have for support and pressure. One of the officers pulled out a pocket knife while the other checked on the criminal and Juliet ran to call an ambulance. All the while, Carlton was muttering the same thing in Shawn's ear, mentally begging the man to listen to him for once.

"Shawn, wake up. Come on, you have wake up for me, Shawn. Please wake up."

"If you should die before me, ask if you could bring a friend." - Unknown

The ambulance was taking way too damn long to get to the scene. Carlton was very near carrying Shawn to his car and speed racing to the hospital himself, but finally, it arrived. The EMTs didn't seem to mind him hovering about, which was good, because he wasn't going anywhere unless he was heavily sedated and forcibly removed. They were probably used to frantic lovers and family members; they worked around him without blinking an eye. Shawn was set onto a gurney and an oxygen mask was placed over his mouth, which didn't seem to do much because he kept coughing up blood. Carlton knew about gunshot wounds; he knew that Shawn's lung had been pierced. Essentially, he was watching the younger man drown in his own blood.

Shawn was only lucid for a brief moment while they were in the ambulance as it ran through red lights and stop signs to the nearest capable hospital. He blearily opened one eye, like he thought the people around wouldn't see him as long as both his eyes weren't open. It would have been funny and cute (though Carlton adamantly refused to admit he'd ever used the word 'cute') if it weren't for the fact that Shawn was dying, and quite quickly according to his low Oxygen status.

"Hey, Lassy-face."

"Hey, Spencer."

"I don't think the priest-guy wanted me for a case."

'What was your first clue? The gun or the crucifixion?' "No, I don't think so either."

"...I cheated."

Carlton couldn't help the raised eyebrow. "What?"

"Last week, when we played Scrabble... I cheated. Stole one of your letters."

Maybe that should have been a clue that Shawn knew he was going to die, confessing his stupid sins, but Carlton couldn't handle that thought, so he just rolled his eyes. "I knew there was a reason you always liked being the criminal in Cops and Robbers."

"Actually, I just liked indulging your handcuff fetish." The EMT looked slightly disturbed, but Carlton was beyond caring, because Shawn tried to take in a breath and there was nasty, scary slurping sound from the bullet hole in his chest. Shawn's grip on Carlton's hand went a little lax, and it seemed like he was close to blacking out, before he tightened his fingers again. "Don't let go, 'kay?"

Carlton had to take a deep breath of his own, his eyes and nose stinging, because this wasn't supposed to happen. They were supposed to have a happily ever after, and get a dog for Shawn to name Lassie, and move in together. "...Okay."

"Since every death diminishes us a little, we grieve -- not so much for the death -- as for ourselves." - Lynn Caine