A Bridge Too Far
Shawn loved being at the Santa Barbara Police Station at night. He couldn't quite explain it, but it gave him a sense of accomplishment, especially after a real big case went down. If he had to compare it to anything, it was like someone leaving the office after an honest day's work and expecting a promotion in the morning. Of course, the check held loosely in the psychic's hand pretty much reinforced this feeling, honest work or not.
It had been a busy week. Chief Vick was the first to pull him in on a drug cartel case that could prove monumental for their status if they closed it quickly enough. The group they were looking for moved fast. They'd visit a city, make their deals with customers, and skedaddle before they even left of trace. The SBPD was lucky enough to get a hit on one of their members in the area, and from then on, time was a blur. Shawn hadn't even noticed a week had gone by and they were hot on the tails of their suspects due to one of his own leads. They had managed to catch the majority of the cartel, along with most of their stash, right when they were about to flee, leaving only a few to get away.
So here he was, strolling out of the station after a long day of being congratulated and flaunting his importance. This case had been huge, and he was already looking forward to what other adventures he could have in the future.
Stuffing the check into his pocket after giving it one last glance, Shawn headed toward his bike, which was sitting comfortably in the Head Detective's parking space. The lot was mostly empty except for a few other cars, the night shift officers either out patrolling or inside doing desk work, leaving it eerily silent after such an excitement-filled day. He was just about to pull out his keys when he spotted headlights turning into the station, his heart leaping somewhat when he recognized Lassiter behind the wheel.
"Lassie!" Shawn shouted, trying to hide his smirk when he saw the look on detective's face. He stopped on the curb and waited for the cruiser to pull up fully before waving briefly. Lassiter seemed to be making every attempt at ignoring the psychic, turning off the engine and getting out without saying a word to him.
Unfortunately for the cop, Shawn seemed intent on having a little fun with him before his ride home, and hopped forward. "What, no congratulatory greeting? No 'good job, Shawn' or a hug that I know you've always wanted to give me?" he asked, spreading his arms wide, like he was expecting it to come any minute.
Lassiter's jaw clenched and he sighed, finally stopping to glare at Shawn. "I don't have time for you tonight, Spencer. I want to get this over with so I can go home," he said brusquely, gesturing to the back seat of the cruiser. Shawn just then noticed that there was a man in the backseat, handcuffed to the bars that separated the front seat from the back. The psychic actually recoiled somewhat when he caught the glare from the thug, filled with so much hate and malice he had to stop and wonder what he did to get such a stare.
Shaking his head, Shawn looked at Lassiter, trying to avoid the tense gaze of the criminal. "Is he one of the… druggies that ran away?"
"Yes. Caught him right before he was about to leave the city limits. Had a whole stack of the drugs in the backseat to prove it," the head detective replied, sounding a little proud of himself. Shawn could give him some credit on that one, because car chases were really not his forte anyway; he suffered through enough of that to last a lifetime.
"Ah, well, good work, then," he said awkwardly, not used to praising the detective. He stood there expectantly, watching Lassiter open the back door and pull out the thug. When he said nothing in return, Shawn raised his arms like he'd been offended. "Not even a grudging 'great job, Spencer' as a response?" he asked, now crossing his arms, a pout on his face.
Lassiter shook his head, closing the door to the cruiser and heading up the steps with the criminal in tow.
"Aw, come on, Lassie! You guys wouldn't have caught them without my help! You owe me!" Shawn knew he sounded a bit whiny and arrogant, but he'd kill to see, just once, words come out of Lassiter's mouth that weren't derogatory or something that criticized the way he worked. Sure, he may deserve it most of the time, but Lassiter couldn't deny that he got results on nearly every case he worked on.
The head detective stopped at that, and turned to look at Shawn with his fiery blue eyes. "I don't owe you anything, Spencer. No one deserves any special treatment just for doing their job. That should include you as well." With that, Lassiter turned on his heel and started up the steps again.
Forgetting the fact that Lassiter had just sounded vaguely of his father with that statement, Shawn stood still for a moment before waving his hand dismissively at the detective, even though he couldn't see it. He'd just have to try and vie for those words of praise some other time. He jogged back to his bike, swinging a leg over and fastening his helmet on. Revving the engine several times as he turns on the ignition, he begins pulling out of the parking space, pausing when he hears something over the purr of his motorcycle.
Turning in his seat to look back at the entrance to the station, an unusual sight greeted his hazel eyes. Lassiter is somehow collapsed on the stairs leading to the entrance, holding a bloody nose but also scrambling to get up at the same time. The next thing he registered is a looming figure sprinting toward him. Shawn wasn't sure how it was possible for the thug to become so terrifying in the span of less than a minute, even with hands still cuffed in front of him.
Trying to ignore the panic that seemed to overcome him out of nowhere, Shawn gripped the accelerator tightly and pulled back, almost doing a full wheelie due to the sheer force in which he sped up. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Lassiter pull out his gun, around the same time that he noticed headlights brighten his rearview mirror. Shawn cursed under his breath when he realized the man must have stolen Lassiter's keys in the scuffle and tried to tear out of there as fast as he can before the car can catch up to him.
Shawn started to hear a steady popping sound in the distance that could only be construed as gunfire, and winced, expecting to get hit at any minute. The police cruiser hurtled out of the parking lot after him, nearly crashing into several other cars on the road in the process. The side windows are cracked due to bullet holes and Shawn can only hope that Lassiter would be on their tail soon.
Quickly, Shawn does a once over in his mind to see if he could remember anything distinguishable about the man. He had dusty black hair with long, graying sideburns and a rough beard. Judging by the way he had stumbled out of the cruiser and how he was driving now, he could safely assume that the criminal was on some sort of drug, especially if he was part of the cartel they tracked down. Shawn's blood ran cold when he thought about that, thinking maybe this man could possibly be out for revenge for taking down their operation. He had announced his involvement right in front of him. He prayed desperately that the man would be more interested in getting out of the city than exacting vengeance.
Shawn watched as they sped through one, two, three intersections, with the police cruiser behind him going no slower or deviating from his path. The psychic attempted to keep his fear in check and tried to ignore the fact that the man was slowly gaining ground on him. He was approaching a tricky red light now, but he couldn't afford to slow down. Gripping the handle of his bike for dear life, he sped through the intersection. His breath caught in his throat as he was narrowly plowed into in his side by a car going the opposite way, missing him by inches. Looking back over his shoulder, Shawn tried to suppress the whoop of joy he released when he saw that his pursuer was not as lucky, and was checked brutally to the front end of his vehicle.
Gently easing off of the accelerator, Shawn began to look for an alternate route back to the station, because there was no way he was going to go through that intersection again. Spotting a side road, he quickly took, more out of impulse to get as far away from that thug as possible than actual direction. He soon became aware that he was shaking slightly, and his breath was coming out in short puffs due to the adrenaline leaving his system. Assuming he was far enough away, Shawn slowed to a stop so he could get a hold of himself, not wanting to crash because of it.
He was just considering whether or not to call Lassie, when a sound once again caught his attention. The squeal of tires echoed across the area and Shawn turned to see the battered police car make a wide turn onto the isolated road at startling speed. The right front end of it was bashed in and smoking somewhat, but it seemed to have no effect on the car's functionality. Shawn gritted his teeth and muttered something along the lines of 'are you freaking serious?' as he once again gripped his handlebars and tried to speed out of there as fast as he could. Unfortunately, the cruiser already had the head start in speed and caught up to him in no time.
Never run in a straight line. A straight line is the shortest distance between two people.
Shawn wasn't sure how that particular phrase popped into his head at that minute, but he figured it wouldn't hurt to try. He compensated by zigzagging back and forth, causing his pursuer to swerve all over the road due to the state of the driver. His heart must've stopped several times when he felt the front of the cruiser bump into his wheel and almost cause him lose control of his bike. Noticing that he couldn't keep up this routine forever, he decided to attempt something different. He hated it, and knew it could very well end badly, but he had little choice.
Making sure there was still a considerable stretch of road in front of him (they had somehow stumbled across the loneliest street in Santa Barbara), Shawn made a surprise move and swerved to the left, almost off the road. As expected, the cruiser reciprocated. Clenching his jaw and hoping this would work, he then leaned far back to the right as if making a u-turn. It was incredibly dangerous, because doing a stunt at that speed could throw him off the bike easily.
Shawn watched in almost a slow-mo fashion as the cruiser made to ram into the side of his motorcycle, and almost cried out in relief when it missed him by inches. It was incredibly short-live though, because the second after that, he didn't move far enough away from the side of the cruiser and the side mirror slammed into his shoulder. Shawn didn't even have time to cry out in anguish as his entire right side was forced backward due to the speed of the police car, his bike spinning out of control and throwing him into the air.
Thankfully, he had been close enough to the side of the road so he could land not-so-gracefully into the long grass. He skidded several feet and his head cracked against the hard ground due to the force of the fall. Shawn was vividly aware that, had he not been wearing his helmet, the impact would've killed him. The sheer fact that he was aware and not unconscious annoyed him to no end. That emotion paled in comparison, though, to the pain that now racked his figure. It took every effort not to cry out in response.
While any other person would have at least sat there to gain their bearings, Shawn quickly tried to sit up, knowing the danger had not yet passed. He swore he had heard tires screeching to a halt after his crash, and knew he had to get away before the criminal found him.
Shawn quickly found out that he couldn't move his left arm that much, and if he did, a wave of agony would course through his body, making him stop to catch his breath. If he had to guess, it would be a dislocated shoulder or a broken arm. He was leaning more toward the broken bone scenario. Shawn hugged his arm to his chest and took off his helmet one-handed. Bracing himself against the fence that bordered the road, he slowly stood to his full height.
Then quickly ducked back down into the grass.
The thug in question was strutting up the side of the road, his stride determined. Even from under the dim light of the street lamp Shawn could see the pupils of his eyes, wide like saucers, pretty much confirming his theory that the man was high on something. He must've coasted in the car a bit before stopping, because the police cruiser was about a half a block away. His bike was still visible on the street, only half-covered by the weeds, and that seemed to be the criminal's target.
"Crap, crap, crap, crap," Shawn muttered in a mantra, his mind frantically trying to decide what to do. He stuck his hand in his jacket for his phone, but it must've fallen during the crash, because it was no longer there, and he didn't have time to search the grass for it. There was a descending hill within crawling distance of him, and judging by the side barriers on the road, it was a small bridge of sorts, probably over a creek or river. Finding no other option, he started to head toward it at a crouch, trying not to disturb much of the grass and keeping his arm close to his chest so he wouldn't jostle it too much.
"Come out, psychic! I know you're here somewhere!" Shawn froze when he heard the man, who he would now call 'Dusty' due to his haggard look, shouted into the dark. He had reached his bike and was frenziedly searching the perimeter. The only good thing about this situation was that Dusty didn't seem to have a gun, even though he was sure that Lassiter kept a spare in the glove box. The psychic quickly scrambled forward out of panic when he started cutting through the grass.
This turned out to be a bad move though, because the criminal noticed the rustling and started sprinting through the grass in his direction. Shawn could only go so fast, still disoriented from the crash and his arm hurting worse than ever. He abandoned his attempt to hide out in the ravine, not wanting to fall down a hill in the dark and add even more injury to his list. He veered off back onto the road and to the bridge instead. It seemed to be the brightest spot on the road, covered by to street lights. The only thing Shawn could hope for at this point was that a car would somehow drive down the road and see them. And at this time a night, it didn't seem likely.
Hearing the footsteps steadily come closer behind him, Shawn finally skidded to a halt under the light and held up his hands in surrender. There was no definite way to know if Dusty would stop to hear him out, but he really preferred this option than running through the darkness to just get pounced. To his relief, the thug gradually came to a halt as well, but his expression was not reassuring; a twisted mix of hate and excitement on his crazed face.
"Can't we just, uh, talk about this?" Shawn started, taking several steps back on fear alone, still cradling his arm.
"I don't think so," Dusty said, sneering at him. "You messed up my whole operation. Do you have any idea how long it took me to set that up? Two years. And you knocked it down in one night. For that, you pay." He started walking toward him at an agonizing pace.
Oh, awesome. Not only was he one of the deranged druggies, but he was the leader of the deranged druggies. "You don't have to look at it that way! Maybe, think of it as an official start to your rehabilitation. A positive change to your life! All those drugs can't be good for you." Shawn knew his argument was weak, but he was backed into a corner in this situation. A rat in a cage with no cheese.
"Somehow I don't see prison as a positive change," Dusty replied coolly, continuing his slow stride.
"You don't have to go to prison. Why don't you just leave now? I promise, I won't tell anybody," Shawn pleaded; it was getting desperate now.
"I plan to, as soon as I'm done with you." Dusty cracked his knuckles, now close enough to the consultant to invade his personal space.
Being so close to the felon, taking in his dreaded appearance, smelling his putrid breath, Shawn just couldn't take it anymore. He wasn't going to go down without a fight, even in his flimsy state. He was tired of being pushed around. Maybe he didn't become the cop his father used to be, but he certainly knew how to protect himself. He was starting to understand a little better why being a cop was so important to his dad. To keep scum like this off the streets.
Shawn slammed his fist into Dusty's face.
Dusty recoiled to the side, nearly falling to his knees due to the force of the blow. Shawn just stood there for a minute, looking like he didn't even know what happened. He didn't know it would hurt so much either; he had never punched anyone before. His eyes widened as he caught Dusty's gaze after he recovered, which was positively murderous. Blood was dripping down his chin from a split lip and Shawn didn't think he'd ever seen someone so crazed.
"Uh, sorry?" Shawn weakly said.
Shawn was greeted with a fist to his chin. Before he could even register the hit, he was falling backward. He whipped out his good arm to try and catch himself, but it was no use, and he crashed to the ground, the back of his head hitting the cement pretty hard and sending his world into a spin.
He didn't even have time to reorient himself before he felt hands gripping the front of his shirt and hoisting him upward. His back slammed into something hard, and he had to crack open an eye to realize it was the solid barrier that bordered the road and looked over the ravine. If Shawn didn't realize it before, he certainly knew he was in trouble now.
Several more fists and a knee to the stomach resulted in the psychic gasping, looking for air he could not find. His back scraped upward against the barrier by Dusty's strong hands until he was almost sitting on it, hovering dangerously close to the ravine below. Shawn's head lolled, knowing that glancing behind him would not help things. The pain in his broken arm was strangely numb now. He barely registered Dusty saying something, the grip on his shirt slowly loosening.
It was over. Dusty had won.
Both men looked up at the sound of the new voice to find Head Detective Carlton Lassiter, stepping forward, his perfect aim directed toward the thug's heart. His usual sour expression was twisted up into something unreadable. If Shawn had the energy to greet him, he would have, because nothing had given him more relief at that moment than seeing him there. He vaguely wondered how the cop had been able to sneak up on them without notice, but quickly wiped it from his mind. Dusty's face was incredulous, and if possible, even more rage-filled than possible.
Lassiter took another several steps forward, gun still poised to shoot. There were bright, flashing lights heading up the road behind him. He glanced at Shawn and fought the urge not to wince. He looked horrible. Hair and jacket covered in the rock dust that surrounded them, several bruises and scratches etched his face, and judging by the way he held his left arm like a ragdoll, a broken arm. There could be other injuries not immediately seen from this light either. His grip on the gun tightened as his gaze turned back toward the thug, expression filled with malice.
"Let. The psychic. Go." He ordered.
Instead of complying like Lassiter thought he would, Dusty just smiled, looking evil and sinister. The cop's eyes narrowed as he realized what he was about to do before it even happened. He started to move forward, but he knew it would be too late.
"As you wish, detective." And he let go.
Lassiter watched as Shawn Spencer fell backward and disappeared into the abyss below.