Fading Days

Summary: The days start fading faster and darkness comes too soon, along with a sense of dread. Because Shawn has seen the pattern: with winter comes Yin.

A/N: This was written awhile back ago, which is why certain new developments have not been accounted for within the story. I figured it was time to post this one, considering next week is the Yin/Yang conclusion episode.

After that night, winter seems to drag on forever. The days and nights, though never cold by the rest of the country's standards, manage to chill the Santa Barbara natives.

The winter, it weighs them down.

Shivers and backward glances.

Hiding under jackets, layers, anything – just hiding.

Sleepless nights and new locks and...and fear.

This is the way they spend their winter, with memories always lurking in the far corners of their minds. Memories of cold water and clock hands, tremendous heights and tears soaked into a partner's jacket.

Spring, however late, arrives like a Godsend.

The flowers bloom and the team can't help but recover. Just a little.

It's harder to be afraid of shadows when the sun is out.

Juliet is healed, for the most part, though she still checks the locks on her door three times a night.

Lassiter's hands stop jumping to his gun with every sigh of the wind.

With each passing day, Gus finds it harder and harder to remember how it felt to have Juliet's life cradled in his hands.

Henry stops watching Shawn every day, stops giving his son anxious glances to see how he is coping with the fear and trauma of that night.

Shawn, for his part, manages to get real sleep once spring fades into summer. The warm sun wears him out, and the nightmares seem to stop. He finds a sort of middle ground with Juliet. An almost something with the hint of more. With Abigail went the tension, and now their friendship is back and so is something hopeful between them. This year, he hopes secretly, will be the year they finally get it right.

And that's the thought that usually gets him to sleep each night.

They can almost pretend like it never happened, like they aren't scarred and damaged from the Yin and Yang game.

But summer doesn't last. Could never last.

The days start to fade faster and the darkness of the night comes too soon. Shawn becomes uneasy. He tosses and turns in bed again, and when he does sleep, he wakes up in a cold sweat and with a panicked heart. Because Shawn has seen the pattern.

The first round of Yang's game came in the winter. Yin came in the winter, too.

And the winter is here again.

Everyone feels it; everyone knows that another nightmare may begin at any time.

The bags return under the Chief's eyes.

Buzz stands stiffer and takes longer to smile.

Juliet becomes nervous and never walks out of the station alone anymore, always finds a way to sync up with Lassiter as he leaves. Like he's the only thing that can save her from falling.

Lassiter, in turn, maintains his shooting skills, demanding even more pinpoint accuracy of himself. His gun is his solace, the last weapon to fight a foe he's never seen.

Henry's eyes follow Shawn everywhere; he won't let him out of his sight.

Gus watches the bushes for predators. For monsters like Yin.

And Shawn feels the heaviness in his chest, a growing dread and fear. His eyes dart around constantly. His head hurts and the nightmares come back. Sleep becomes a long-forgotten memory.

They all know the pattern and the fear strikes their hearts and attacks their minds.

With winter comes Yin.