Juliet knocked softly on the ajar, laminate door, and when met with a sound of approval she pushed it open all the way and entered. Closing the door silently behind her, she stayed solitary in her comfort zone.
There was an uncomfortable pause as she and Shawn took each other in. She realized, with a pang, that this was the first time she had been alone with him since... well... since it happened. At everyone's insistence, Shawn had found himself maneuvered from his classy support of Lassiter's hood and on the way to some form of hospital to have his shoulder finally checked out. He seemed to put up disturbingly little fight. It was then that it truly hit her how much Shawn had been through, and that was just from what she already knew, from gibberish texts and 'Fast and Furious' car chases.
"... You're like Vin Diesel!"
"That would make Jules Michelle Rodriguez and you Paul Walker!"
"This is no good.... I just really don't wanna be Paul Walker. Not even for one day!"
Now she needed the rest of his story. She never liked statement-taking but this felt just awful. She never expected this to happen to Shawn of all people. And this damned awkwardness between them... since when had she and Shawn been barely able to stay in a room together anymore?
'Since he told you he loved you.'A small voice in the shadows of her mind mocked her.
Juliet scoffed to herself, 'Yeah. That would be before he said goodbye to Abigail.'
She felt an odd, worryingly familiar emotion well up at her name, similar to when she saw the two toothbrushes and female clothes at Shawn's place. She licked her lips.
"I think they've officially reached the "he-has-a-draw-she-has-a-toothbrush-stage."
Juliet looked up at him, unaware that her eyes were glued to the floor and swallowed as she observed him fully. Shawn was perching on the edge of a gurney, his injured arm held stiffly against his bare chest. Under any other circumstances, Juliet would probably have allowed some indulgence in the sight that was Shawn Spencer's torso, but the moment was littered with imperfections - namely the bandage (a proper one this time) with a light pink centre covering his shoulder.
'Because he's not yours to gawk at, ' the voice returned with a vengeance.'He made that clear when he hung up on you.'
Juliet didn't trust her voice to answer to his greeting and simply nodded, tapping her fingers anxiously against the manila file clutched tightly in her aching fingers. Her knuckles were almost white from the grip. Shawn's eyed the folder warily from behind heavy eyelids, "Statement?" he said it with such defeat, such tired resignation, that she couldn't help but feel a pang of sympathy for the psychic.
"I'm sorry Shawn." she said genuinely, "I want to wrap this case up as soon as possible. I'm sure you do to." She added pointedly.
He smiled at her weakly, honestly too tired to attempt some form of humor, "Guess so."
Juliet snagged a chair from somewhere behind her as Shawn shifted back and leaned against the wall at the head of the gurney, rubbing his shoulder absent-mindedly. She wasn't even sure he was aware of the action.
"So," he said after a moment, "What did you want to know first?"
She took a deep breath, honestly unsure she wanted to hear any of this and certainly reluctant to make him re-live the experience - though morbid curiosity born of a Detective kept her from running out of the room that very second. She gulped, swallowing her emotions down. Shawn was just another case. Another kidnap victim of circumstance.
'Get a grip O'Hara.' She scolded herself.
"Why don't you start with what happened after Garth Longmore... fired his weapon?"
Shawn regarded her with a raised eyebrow, the hesitation not lost on him. "Sure you wanna be doing this?" he asked, with genuine concern written across his features. Juliet couldn't really blame him for asking, she must have looked like she was about to smash into a thousand, million pieces with just one touch.
She bristled however, even at his good intention, "I can do my job, Shawn." she snapped, immediately regretting it, "Please..." she added slightly softer this time, "Just answer the question."
Shawn paused a moment, and Juliet watched as he stared off into the corner of the room. An arm automatically raised to place a hand against his temples, before he seemed to realize the action and it fell back into his lap with a plop. His jeans were filthy, Juliet noted absently, caked in dirt and blood. She suppressed a shiver.
"Longmore found me just as I caught his partner rehearsing on the second ice cream truck... he tried to stop me from leaving, threatened me with the pistol," he rubbed his eyes with a smirk that didn't quite reach his dull eyes, "God Jules... I honestly didn't expect him to do it." he chuckled, sounding frighteningly empty, "Next thing I know, he's drug me over to this God awful yellow car, and I'm stuck in his trunk and he was taking me God knows where..."
Juliet bit her lip and nodded. Though she had pressed record on her standard, silver voice recorder that sat on the tabletop, she noted down what he was saying in quick short hand, admittedly just to give herself something to do. Shawn was watching her pen bob up and down as she needlessly made notes, waiting patiently for her to finish. She had no doubt that he knew exactly what she was doing.
Juliet cleared her throat, "Ok, so you were in the trunk of the yellow roadrunner, but there were traces of brake light found along the road. Can you explain what happened there?"
There it was again – that far off, distant look he always wore when recalling something, in sharp contrast to his eyes when he was truly focused on what he saw in front of him. Juliet could only wish at present that she could crack the odd enigma that was her resident psychic.
She mentally shook herself.
"My dad taught me to kick out the tail light when,not if, I was ever trapped in a trunk, so I could see where I was at," he paused, noting Juliet's incredulous look, "I know. The neighbour thought him shutting me in the trunk was weird too."
"In his defence, I think I'm he only kid whose dad taught him how to... kick out a tail light..."
"Carry on." Juliet prompted, after Shawn's momentary silence. He jerked as if caught by surprise.
"Sorry. Er, yeah. Kicked out the tail light which was when I texted Gus what I could see on the road – orange cone, peace sign..."
"Sorry, can I just...?" Juliet held out a hand to stop him, "Gus would refer to your partner, Burton Guster?" she confirmed, nodding apologetically towards the recorder.
"Oh. Sorry. Yes, Burton Guster."
"And that was when you told him to had been shot?" she asked, wincing at how harsh her words felt tumbling out from her lips.
Binshot not lol.
Shawn grimaced, a hand brushing his shoulder nervously, "Yeah. I managed to open the trunk though. He stopped and I ran into the woods. He chased me and I tried to get him off my tracks..."
"A straight line is the shortest distance between two people. Zig zag, zig zag! That's right, throw them off their course!"
"I must have blacked out as soon as I lost him. Woke up at the base of a tree. Shoulder hurt like a..." he seemed to struggle to find a good enough analogy, before sticking with, "like hell. I didn't know what I was doing there for a moment 'til I moved. I mean, before that I was having this really weird dream involving a flock of geese and..."
"Shawn!" Juliet interrupted again, "Is this really relevant?"
Shawn looked at her innocently – Juliet realized he hadn't even noticed he was doing it. It was just to get everything out in one go in sharp, short sentences, like ripping a band aid off a wound.
"Go on, Shawn, what happened after you woke up?
"I ran. Across the road and to this gas station – Rhoda's," he sighed and tipped his head back towards the ceiling, "So stupid. I should have tried to flag down a car or... hell tried to make it back to the city on foot." He scolded himself with such ferocity, Juliet stared at him, shocked.
"You couldn't have known."
"Garth... Ricky... whatever... he was a mechanic. A God damned mechanic,so the first place I go to is a gas station?" he rubbed his eyes with the heel of his hands, "Anyway, I was bleeding pretty bad at this point and I asked the guy at the door to call the SBPD and ask for Lassiter."
"I'm sorry, I'm getting blood all over you... Shawn Spencer... Detective Carlton Lassiter... look, he's really motivated..."
"Next thing I know, he's hit me round the back of the head with the phone. I blacked out.... again."
He stopped and Jules paused in her writing to glance at him. It seemed he had almost forgotten to narrate his string of memories as they played out in front of his mind. Indeed, she felt as though she was intruding upon something that was Shawn's and Shawn's alone. Something private, where only snippets could be seen at given times, which, she was starting to recognize in Shawn a lot. His method of investigation, and even his life in general. Juliet wasn't one to make her life public knowledge, but sometimes he just let something slip that had her interest caught, before he was back to regular, eccentric but good looking in jeans Shawn.
He was now rubbing his arm with such earnest; she was seriously concerned about the bleeding starting up again, as it had only started to slow the free-flowing stream he had earned from his escapades on the highway. She reached out and lightly gripped the active fingers, pulling them away from the bandage. He jerked as she did so, surprised by the sudden contact.
She gazed at him, blue eyes deepened in sympathy, "We can take a break?" she suggested softly, lightly rubbing his cool knuckles with her comfortably warm thumb. He shook his head, eyes never wavering from his safety spot upon the wall ahead of him.
He said it so resolutely, Juliet found herself slightly taken aback.
"Shawn... it's ok if..." she started softly but was cut odd as he finally snapped his head toward her.
"No." He looked at her almost pleadingly, "Please. Jules. Just let me finish."
She nodded silently, her eyes wide as she removed her hand and gripped her biro once more as Shawn continued from where he left off.
"I woke up to them arguing – guy from the gas station was yelling at Longmore... you know, I never got the guy's name. The partner wanted to kill me, but Garth wasn't so sure."
"I say we just shoot him in the head and ditch his body somewhere...I want you to imagine a bullet coming from that gun, penetrating your skin and lodging in your brain... I got more than enough plastic bags for your body parts."
He swallowed before carrying on, "I dunno... Longmore just didn't seem to be the bad guy in all this... I don't think he wanted me dead. He was a sniper, yet he missed by head or heart from three feet, when he could kill from fifteen hundred yards."
"If the wind conditions are right."
"And he didn't just let me bleed to death either. I mean..." he smirked to himself, "he wasn't quite Hugh Laurie but I guess the thought was there. And it did serve some purpose... even if I did bleed through it in like... fifteen minutes..."
Juliet stopped him again, "So you woke up to them arguing. Then what?"
"I was tied up with duct tape... again. Only this time I had a chair, which was pretty thoughtful in their own messed up right. Wrists, legs, stomach, shoulder..." he subconsciously gestured to each body part as he referred to them, "I felt pretty out of it, if I'm honest. Blood loss and whatever."
"This is without a doubt, the worst pain I've ever been in in my entire life."
"I almost lost any hope of you guys finding me."
"I'd very much like to weep. If that's ok."
"But then Lassiter and my dad showed up."
Juliet glanced up at that part, "You saw them?"
Shawn nodded, admiring the woollen blankets under his legs, as if suddenly expecting them to shout out the secret to life and the universe itself. As if he expected '42' to be branded into the standard issue hospital sheets.
"Yeah. Yeah I saw them. Longmore's partner went out to talk to them. Didn't want his greasy head anywhere nearthem." He said the last part in an almost growl, with an odd protective inflection to his words before softening again to carry on, "Longmore had his fingers digging into my windpipe." He lightly demonstrated and Juliet suddenly noticed the small bruises on her friend's neck in growing horror, "Tried to shout. Screameven for Lassiter. But nothing came out. God,I just wanted out. I honestly didn't care what they did to me if it meant dad and Lassie found me."
"They turned around."
"Carried on walking."
"Sh, sh, sh..."
"They left me."
Juliet felt a sudden threat of tears at his lost, vulnerable tone and gripped his forearm momentarily with her free hand. She honestly had no idea what to say to him, or could even comprehend the frustration and loss he must have felt.
"As soon as they were gone, they were arguing again. My phone started vibrating and fell off the counter."
They had finally gotten to it. The moment Juliet had been dreading, yet morbidly anticipating, as if she wantedto torture herself, or indeed, the pair of them. That stupid yet genius phone call which had saved one, but destroyed the other.
"I managed to get my hands free," Shawn continued, either not noticing, or choosing to ignore Juliet's sudden discomfort, "Grabbed the phone."
"Hello! Hello! ... Gina?"
Juliet felt her entire body tense and she had to force her hand to keep moving across the page. She didn't need Shawn to tell her about this bit- it was burnt in to her memory like a painful scar, worse than any physical wound.
"I love you."
He was still talking, though it felt that she understood the words, but the meaning wasn't registering. All she could think of was his voice – tired, strained, fuzzy through the phone line. One line over and over that she always hoped yet dreaded hearing from Shawn Spencer.
"I love you."
She almost stopped him as he asked to say one more thing. Her voice showed no hesitation, wanting to give him time to say anything he needed to in the limited time he had on the phone. None of this Hollywood crap where she was going to tell him not to say it, and tell her in person. Real life didn't work like that. And Juliet knew as much as anyone that not everything had a happy ending.
That snapped her back to reality. She was a police detective, for God's sake. She was supposed to be taking a statement from a victim, offering any form of comfort to them.She shouldn't be the one who was apparently more affected by the whole thing, because quite frankly, the lack of reaction on Shawn's behalf was downright frightening. She honed in on listening to Shawn's quiet, slightly monotonous voice.
"I guess I had to call someone who I could trust. Who could pick up on what I was trying to say. Longmore was telling me to say it, I had to pretend otherwise he would have shot me... again," he glanced up at Juliet, the first movement across his features to show any form of emotion flitted across his face in the form of almost regret and something she couldn't quite place. But it was gone a slit second later as he said, "So I called you, even though I said Abigail. You would have got what I was saying, you would have figured it out. If I had called Abby, then I'd probably be dead."
Juliet studied him, her eyes pulled together. What had just happened?
She wasn't sure if she were overjoyed at the connection they had – that he would phone herin what he probably thought would be his last phone call rather than his own girl friend, or even Lassiter to come find him, because he felt she understood him. But then, he obviously thought she could handle him saying those cursed words. Maybe he didn't see it after all. But then, the look he...
"Anyway, after I hung up, Longmore's partner came out, caught us before we could pretend I hadn't used it. Pulled out a gun."
"Howstupid could you be, letting him use a phone?!"
"They started arguing again. Longmore standing up for us both."
"No, he was just calling his girlfriend, man..."
"Then he cocked the pistol."
"It's over! I'm putting an end to this..."
Shawn rubbed the bridge of his nose, "He shot his own partnerJules. How could anyone...?" he paused to compose himself, and launched back into his flat, emotionless tone that was becoming clearer and clearer as the story went on, "grabbed me, and tied me up in the back of the pickup truck."
Juliet nodded, having returned to her notes.
"And you know the rest." Shawn added, with a tone of finality. He was done. And Juliet knew, instinctively that she wasn't getting anything more out of today. She couldn't blame him. She wasn't going to push.
All she could really focus on was subduing that voice. That mockery in the back of her mind gleefully saying,"You could have had him. He was all yours. You left it too long. You were too late."
"I love you."
His soft voice replaced the scorning tone.
"I love you."
The clearest she had heard him speak in the entire conversation.
"I love you."
Dare she say it back? It may be her last chance.