Disclaimer: T'were these my characters, I'd pen their tale of woeful romance verily all the day, but alas! They belong to Steve Franks and the network called USA.
For my Lu, as always. :)
It was one of those moments you'd never forget.
Like the moment before impact in a car accident.
Or the last time you saw your father alive.
The dinner where you proposed to your girlfriend and she agreed to become your fiancée.
One of those moments that you could recall in perfect clarity for years afterward.
Even if you didn't want to.
I was standing there, my heart pounding to deliver the adrenaline through my system, blood racing through my veins and sharpening my senses.
It was a situation that I'd been in before, but not one I really enjoyed.
But then you'd have to be crazy to enjoy being in a situation where everyone had a gun and you never knew if—or when, or by who—the silence would be broken, the room erupting in gunfire.
Or you'd have to be Lassie.
But then I kind of thought those two went together in his case.
Of course, I can only assume that it was a very memorable moment. Pretty much every moment for me is that memorable. Not by choice, I assure you.
Genetics, some weird quirk in my brain, or just the fact that I had a relentless father ... I had no idea why I could remember everything. I just knew that I could.
For instance, there was a breeze through the room.
In through the front door behind Lassie and the others on the SWAT team, out through the back window behind our suspect.
I could smell exhaust from the freeway, the fainter scent of the ocean beyond it, and the bakery down the street.
Lassie was wearing a hideous tie—not that that was unusual, but this one was particularly gag-worthy.
He didn't even have kids or a wife to blame it on, so I can only assume it was a gift from his mother.
Which did nothing to explain why he was actually wearing it.
And Juliet... She was gorgeous.
Of course, I might be biased.
It's pretty normal for a guy to think his girlfriend's gorgeous, right? Of course it is.
But today... Today was one of her especially spectacular days.
She had her hair done up in that flippy... french twist... thing. I don't know what it's called but I love it.
Sharp grey suit with that magenta shirt that made her eyes really glow—I love that shirt. It's one of my favorites.
And in that moment, she had her gun up and pointed across the room, a fierce little scowl on her face. She purses her lips when she does that and it just makes me want to—Yeah. I love that face.
You know, having a near perfect memory makes for a pretty good imagination.
Being able to remember everything makes it very easy to figure out what could come next.
And I just remember thinking that red and magenta clashed really horribly.
I know, right? What a weird thing to think—and to remember so clearly.
Anyway, I was off to the side. Safe and sound—or as safe and sound as you could be in a room full of guns waiting to go off. Either way, I wasn't in the line of fire.
But Jules was.
I remember looking at the suspect, at his darting, nervous eyes, and his shaking hand and his sweaty forehead... and thinking, He's going to shoot. He's going to try and take someone with him.
And then I followed his sights over to their intended target.
You know, I don't actually remember what came next?
Except the noise.
It was... loud. Louder than loud. Deafening, but... more somehow.
The next thing I remember is opening my eyes and seeing Juliet there, just inches away.
She was trying to say something, probably calling my name or something.
I don't know. I still couldn't hear.
Another shadow fell over me and I looked at Lassie who'd joined us.
I couldn't hear him either, but he looked pretty mad, so that's probably not such a bad thing.
And then fire.
It was everywhere for a moment, burning me alive, and I wanted to scream—then it condensed into a single point of agony on my chest, where Juliet was pushing down. I choked, gurgled... probably passed out for a few seconds, to be honest.
Sound returned with a roar, like when you're watching a battle scene in a movie on mute and then someone hits the button to put the volume on high.
"Dammit, Spencer, what the hell did you think you were doing?"
"Shawn? Stay with me, Shawn. We're getting help here in just a minute. Just hold on, baby."
Staying awake became harder to do then. It just... it hurt. So. Much.
Juliet's hand on my cheek made me open my eyes again, slippery though it was.
It didn't register until much, much later that it was wet with my blood.
"Shawn, honey, stay with me. Focus on me, okay? Shawn. Shawn?"
"Why the hell would he do that?" Lassie demanded. "Jump in front of you like that?"
"I don't know," Juliet said. She wasn't doing so well. She sounded calm, but she was about to break. "I don't— Shawn! Stay with me! Shawn! SHAWN!"
I don't remember anything after that.
"He's a very lucky man."
"He's a very stupid man."
"Love—" My witty retort was sadly ruined by a cough.
"Shawn?" Juliet's voice frantically called as I hacked and coughed my way through almost passing out.
Damn but that hurt. Why the hell wasn't I on drugs?
Didn't know that voice, but when I opened my eyes I realized why. It was the doctor and I'd never met him before in my life.
I tried to speak, but my throat was too dry.
Juliet stole my trick of mind-reading and appeared on my right with a cup of ice chips.
Best. Frozen water. Ever.
Once I'd sucked a few down and no longer felt like I was about to bring my lungs up, I tried again. "Mr. Spencer is my father," I croaked, then looked at Lassie. "Love you too, buddy."
Lassie rolled his eyes, but I could see the way his shoulders relaxed.
Juliet laughed wetly and wiped at her eyes with the back of her hand before offering me another spoonful of ice.
The only thing that could make it better was a little bit of flavoring.
Like a snowcone, you know? Pineapple, of course.
"Mr. Spencer, you had us all very worried," the doctor said. "But as I was telling the detective here, you're a very lucky man. The bullet went straight through the meat of your shoulder and missed the bone and major arteries and veins. You'll have some soft tissue damage and there is some physical therapy in your future to regain full use of your arm, but there shouldn't be any permanent damage."
Juliet bent and kissed me full on the lips, resting her forehead on mine for a moment.
"Sorry," I whispered. I really hadn't meant to worry her. There just hadn't been time to warn her.
"What the hell were you thinking, Spencer?" Lassie demanded again.
"He was going to shoot her. The spirits—"
"O'Hara had a vest on, you idiot! You did not!"
"Carlton," Juliet scolded. "Take it easy. He just got out of surgery."
"I what?" I asked.
"I don't care, O'Hara! He wouldn't have been in surgery if he hadn't jumped in front of a damn bullet!"
Surgery? Yikes. I grimaced. I really hadn't meant to worry her that much.
Not that I would have done anything different.
"It was above the vest," I said.
They both turned to look at me.
"What?" Lassie snapped.
"He was—" I paused, swallowing in an attempt to hold off coughing, and Juliet hurried to give me another spoon of ice. "Thank you," I said, and sucked on the cold bits.
When they were gone and I was pretty sure I could speak again, I did. "He adjusted his aim. It was going to hit her above the vest."
Lassie's scowl froze for a moment and horror colored Jules' face.
"What?" she asked.
I nodded and groped for her hand, squeezing it when she met me halfway. "I had to, Jules. Best case, he would have hit you above the collarbone; worst case, thorough the throat.
"He might have missed, or hit the vest anyway, but I couldn't take that chance. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to worry you."
She squeezed my hand. "It's okay, Shawn. I— I'm just glad you're okay." She kissed me again and I savored that kiss.
I had no regrets about what I'd done, but I was really glad it had turned out better than I expected.
"It was still a damn stupid thing to do," Lassie growled.
Jules glared and I couldn't help the laugh, even though it sent pain flaring all up and down my side.
"But ... I'm glad you did it," Lassie conceded. He pointed a finger. "Just don't do it again, dammit."
I smiled. "Can't promise that, Lassie. But I will try."
I fell asleep not long after that, the doctor who'd left during out conversation returning with the good stuff for my IV.
Juliet stayed in the chair next to my bed, refusing to let go of my hand.
As I drifted off, she murmured, "Thank you, Shawn."
Anytime, Jules. Anytime.
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