AN: What has it been? Two weeks? I have no excuse… except maybe writer's block, a bus load of distractions, and life in general. So to make up, I've added what was supposed to be chapter 34 to this chapter as a tag. They go together anyway.
Chapter 33 – Rush to Safety
For once, he really didn't know what to do with this …unknown situation. On one hand, it might end peacefully. But on the other hand, if his eyes weren't playing tricks on him, this just might end badly, very badly.
And he would have to guess, everyone else was thinking the same thing because they stood frozen, waiting for the man to make a move. It was a typical tactic in assessing strange situations, considering the head detective had just showcased some very supernatural abilities, including getting up from being dead twice.
But based on the confused expressions and hesitant actions of most of the officers down the hallway, word hadn't fully gotten to them about Lassie's death.
So he'd had to guess that their caution was more from seeing the detective being able to resist four, burly officers by himself. (He didn't want to add the fact that the strap turned collar did help shock everyone away.)
"And the covered in blood part should make them very nervous too." He added as an afterthought. He swallowed the growing lump in his throat when the detective looked at him.
Those dark green eyes were freaky. It was different from the wild amber or the calm, icy blue he was used to seeing. It was a combination of both and held a pool of knowledge and resolution that neither one had. And right now, it stared at him with the same creepy calculation he saw flash through Lassie's eyes right before they left to go to the warehouse, oh so long ago.
He watched those green orbs turn away from him and do a quick look over of everyone around before settling on staring at Buzz. It looked like the detective was eyeing the gun strapped at the officer's side. That was bad, but it did show that the man wasn't being ruled by impulse like before or whatever wild thing had possessed him. Just maybe their Lassie was on the surface and he could now talk to him.
He pushed off the wall slowly. "Lassie?" He questioned. It came out soft and he quickly cleared his throat to cover his nervousness. The man continued to stare at Buzz, who looked extremely anxious under the stare. The spent taser was clinched tightly in his shaking hand.
He inched his way closer to Buzz. "Lassie?" He questioned again. The man continued to stare at Buzz. He allowed a few seconds to pass before he leaned a bit over in front of Lassie's sights and spoke again a little louder. "Las-"
"I can hear you perfectly well, psychic." Lassie growled sharply.
He straightened with widened eyes.
"And don't call me that." Green eyes filled with annoyance turned to look at him. "I don't even know why he tolerated that."
"He?" The question floated out before he knew it.
The detective's annoyance deepened. "You know who I'm talking about. That goodie two-shoes, always in the way." Lassie spat before a slight smile crawled across his face. "But now I don't have to fight anymore. I guess I could thank you for that."
"What?" He whispered. There was a thought scratching in the back of his head, but he didn't want to believe what the detective was implying.
The man then tapped the object around his neck. "He never liked this thing. It made him compliant. But it's not like it really matters now," Lassie rubbed a hand over the right side of his chest pushing the lab coat aside slightly and giving him a quick view of the bloody hole from the bullet. "That added gunshot made him disappear completely."
"I wonder…" Green eyes continued, glancing at the crowd of cops down the hallway with a toothy smirk. "If I should personally thank the officer who pulled the trigger. I can still smell the gun powder residue on his hands and I so love the color red."
In the crowd, one mousey looking man with very scared eyes quickly backed away and ran down the hallway screaming.
"Aw, he's kidding." He laughed trying to ease the tension in the air. It sounded a bit unsure, but he tried his best to cover it up. "You're kidding. Right, Lassie?"
Heated eyes glared at him and he shut his mouth.
"What did I just say about that stupid name?" Lassie growled, taking a couple of steps toward him. He felt Buzz move to step in front of him, but someone else beat him to it.
"Carlton, you need to drop this act." She said stepping up to her partner with wet, angry eyes.
She was tired. The past few days had been full of confusion and she was just tired of it all.
The unanswered questions.
The answers that made more questions.
And her partner being right in the middle of it, holding everything. A partner who was standing in front of her, breathing and alive…
"But a few minutes ago, you didn't feel a pulse and neither did the medics …or the hospital."
She pushed away the thought of Carlton being dead. There was no way he was dead. This had to be some trick, some kind of show to get out of answering those questions.
Her fist tightened. "I- We need answers."
The irritation on Carlton's face quickly settled into amusement.
"Answers? You want answers." He mused before seeming to appear next to her with a hand wrapped lazily around her right shoulder. She felt a slight tingle at the contact and she glanced to the right to see a stunned Shawn and Buzz getting up off the floor in front of an equally stunned group of officers. Her eyes widened when another hand moved to caress her throat softly like sharp knives against skin. It was a familiar touch and Leo's words suddenly floated in her head.
"I know you got so caught up in the rush that you almost tore your pretty partner's throat out."
The thought and touch almost brought her back to being helplessly tied to a chair in the dark basement of that warehouse with a tall shadow leaning over her.
"Taste…" It had said coarsely.
Her breath hitched in her lungs when Carlton leaned down and whispered some words very harshly in her ear. The words, thoughts, and memories rebounded in her head making it hard to process what he just said, but she had heard it perfectly.
"The Carlton you know isn't here, woman." He had growled.
His mind hadn't caught what happened between standing behind Jules and ending up on the floor with Buzz, but he could deduce that Lassie had somehow thrown or pushed both of them to the floor all in a span of a few seconds. How was the man able to that? He didn't know. But the answer to that question wasn't important at the moment.
"Let her go." He demanded jumping to his feet.
Lassie threw him a sideways glance before standing up fully. The earlier amusement was replaced by indifference.
"You don't want to hurt her." He motioned his hands toward Jules. "She's your partner for crying out loud."
Lassie's eyes glanced down slowly drawing a line across her neck with a finger. "She's not my partner."
He saw Jules flinched when a small trickle of blood escaped from the thin scratch.
"I have no connection here, so killing a few people is nothing to me." Lassie looked up, meeting his eyes.
He could see nothing, but truth in the green color.
Lassie then cocked his head to side as if listening for some far away sound before his head jerked to stare down the hallway behind him. Gus gulped and rushed to hide the pipe in his hand.
"But it'll have to wait." He heard Lassie mumble before turning his attention back on everyone. "Now if you don't want anything bad to happen to her, I would highly suggest no one try to attack or follow me."
No one moved and it took everything in him to do the same. His fist trembled as he watched the imposter pick up a struggling Jules and start to back track down the hallway past Gus, heading towards the back exit.
"And psychic," Lassie paused grappling with Jules for a moment. "Say hi to Leo for me, if you find him before I do." The man then turned and ran the rest of the way disappearing around the corner and out of the exit with Jules still in hand.
The cool morning air hit him as he burst from the back door of the station with the struggling woman in his arms.
"Stop moving. You're going to make me drop you." He growled scanning the parking lot for a passage of escape. It was much easier and a lot quieter when she was unconscious, but he couldn't knock her out. It wasn't needed. Nor could he just leave his ticket to freedom. If he did learn anything from watching in the background, it was that hostages gave leverage. Leverage that was desperately needed at the moment.
Because frankly, getting shot hurt.
His vision wavered a bit before correcting itself. He silently cursed.
At hearing people running toward him from inside the building, he took off in a random direction. The door banged open just as he reached the tall fence of the perimeter. He looked it over before backing up to get a running start. The woman screamed for him to stop as he leaped over the barb wire fence and landed on the other side. Throwing a smirk over his shoulder, he ran across the street. The early morning rush hour was just starting, so a few cars honked at him. He made sure the woman wasn't in any danger when a car almost hit them. But he could feel she was thinking the exact opposite.
"He wouldn't like for her to be hurt."
The midnight blues in the sky were starting to lighten as he ran using the buildings and roofs as cover for his escape. He kept running until his body thought it was a good time to start passing out and he paused to clear his head between some buildings miles away from the station, but close enough to his intended destination. He choked down the onset of coughs and once the lightheadedness eased, he took off again with her in tow, kicking and screaming.
He didn't stop until he was right across from where he wanted to be and he gently let his hostage go from his tight embrace. Exhausted, but not showing it, he stood there expecting her to run like hell away from him. Instead, she just stood there and stared at him. She looked shocked.
Well it was her apartment building across the now vacant street.
"And don't forget, I also dodged cars, scaled walls, and ran across roofs to get here."
He looked at her with annoyance. "What? Go on." He waved at her. "You're free-" His right hand quickly covered his mouth as swift coughs shuttered his body. He felt liquid on his palm and he quickly wiped it on the already soiled coat. His eyes glanced at the blond woman.
She was scrutinizing him and she had every right to. He had just technically died, came back, told her he was someone else, and threatened to kill her not a few moments ago.
"She's trying to figure me out." Shrugging, he turned and started walking away. "Well, let her do whatever. I'm leaving."
His mind was already in the process of figuring out the next best route to take in correcting the imbalance and gaining his full strength back. After that, he would have to pay that bastard a visit for starting all of this.
"That is, if they didn't get my hint and I get to Leo first…"
His hands tightened into fists just thinking about everything, all the years of work...
Suddenly a sharp flare of pain flashed through his chest, making him stumble a bit in his step. Holding his chest, he collapsed against the wall as a couple of coughs came through.
"Damn, must've reopened some wounds." He grimaced, feeling blood drool down the side of his mouth. Through the black edging at his vision, he felt the tingle of familiar energy and he fought to keep it all back. "Just a little longer… until I find someplace safe."
He vaguely heard footsteps coming his way and he quickly tried to compose himself to glance up at the now towering woman through his blurry vision.
"Did you not get the idea of freedom?" He asked pushing away the pain to throw her a diluted glare.
She ignored him to grab his arm and pull him up from the ground.
"What are you doing?" He asked alarmed at her action as he was forced to stand.
"Sling your arm over me." She answered.
"Sling your arm over me." She repeated.
He didn't do it, so she took his arm and threw it over her shoulder.
Paralyzed by the pain and too stunned at the unexpected change of heart, he allowed her to lead him across the street, into the building, up the stairs, and into her apartment.
She led him to the kitchen and made him sit on one of her kitchen chairs.
"Stay here." She ordered.
He watched her disappear down the hallway before letting his eyes wander around the room. It immediately fell on the mirror hanging on the wall. His bloody reflection stared back. He quickly looked away, subconsciously wiping the blood from his mouth with his sleeve. The remains of the handcuffs gave a small clink with the movement. He looked at his hands.
"Nothing is out of place." He noted, flexing his fingers. "But…" Looking back up, he took notice that the dark blues outside the window had lightened to blue. Something moved in his peripheral and he looked over to see the shadows grow slowly dark and begin to wave in a nonexistence breeze.
"That's not good." He thought. "I can't stay here." He muttered, slowly moving to stand up. His chest protested the movement, but he ignored it.
Then something rubbed against his leg and he jumped up from the chair. He heard the soft meow before seeing the animal stare at him from under the table. He growled at the mangy animal.
It meowed again and then slinked off past him and into the living room.
"Don't growl at my cat." The woman said reappearing with a wet towel and first aid box in one hand and a phone in another. Putting the first aid on the table, she pushed him back in the chair and placed the towel on his face.
Growling, he immediately pulled it off. "What is up with you? I threatened to kill you and you bring me into your house."
She threw her own glare before quickly dialing three numbers and placing it on her ear.
He again jumped up from the chair with the towel in his closed fist and tried to snatch the phone. She stepped away.
"No hospitals." He glared.
She ignored him. "Yes, I would like to request an ambulance…"
"No hospitals." He repeated. "Or did the previous trip not stress you enough."
She looked at him. Her whole demeanor had saddened and he took this opportunity to take the phone from her. His finger hovered over the end button before he took notice that she never called, just dialed the number.
He heard her mumble his name and he looked up at her. She was staring at nothing and her eyes were shining with tears. He noticed her legs shaking and he took a couple of nonchalant steps toward her.
If her legs were to give out, he would make sure she didn't hit the floor.
And even if it didn't show on his face, he had felt his own demeanor sadden at catching such an agonizing look on her face. He sighed at feeling the need to explain, but again he knew he couldn't say anything. It wasn't his place.
"But I could ease her worry just a little bit." He glanced sideways at her dazed form."You know I didn't die." He stated plainly.
Her eyes turned to look at him.
"And I'm not possessed or anything like that."
Her tearful eyes looked at him. "B…but how? You had no pulse. I felt-"
"You felt nothing because it was too low." He saw the why on her face before it came out of her mouth and he shook his head in response. "There are some things I can't explain."
He looked away. Tall dark shapes with stretching branches were forming in the corners of the room.
"But..." He turned to the woman trying to ignore the growing problem of time. "I do apologize for my earlier actions. I got a little carried away."
Her right hand wrapped around her throat covering the now dried patch of blood there. "There were too many things going on. I had to leave before-" Then the collar started beeping and his face fell. "That started." He quickly stepped away from her. "Damn, too late." He mumbled.
They stared at each other. Carlton didn't move, so she didn't move.
The beeping continued for a minute before dying away and the tension eased along with the annoying sound. She saw him exhale the breath he was holding.
He looked thoroughly confused.
"What was that about?" She asked.
He rubbed the back of his head and looked around.
"I can still smell them." He answered.
"Smell them? What pineapples?"
"Nope, that problem was solved." He looked at her. "Do you happen to have anything with lavender in it?"
"Solved?" She thought before saying, "Yes, I have some lotion with it and a couple of flowers someone brought for me over there." She pointed to her kitchen counter. "Why?"
He shook his head with a slight smile.
"You just saved yourself…"
"I guess it's safe to stay here." He continued walking pass her.
"What do you mean?"
"Do you have an extra pair of clothes I can fit in?"
"Where's your shower?"
"Where's a good place I can sleep? Maybe I'll sleep on the couch."
He was still asking questions and talking to himself when she walked over to him and pushed him in the back. He coughed a little in his hand before turning to her.
"Hey, what was that for?"
"You weren't listening to me." She glared.
He glared back.
"What is going on, Carlton?"
Green eyes stared at her, so different from the usual blue or that strange yellow in the interrogation room.
"Can I get cleaned up first before I explain anything? It's really making me feel bad."
She narrowed her eyes at him. "You sure you will explain everything to me after this?"
He shook his head.
"Not everything." Her expression grew annoyed. "Because I don't know everything. But I'll explain what I know about…" He motioned to himself. "This."
Her expression lightened. "Ok. I'll get you some clothes. One of my brothers should have left something here and then I'll get you patched up."
Chapter 33.5 – Letting Go to Make You Stay
"What am I doing? How can I easily accept what he said?" She thought as she flopped on the couch. "If what Shawn said was true and if Carlton wasn't lying at the station…"
She glanced at her closed bedroom door, where her 'partner' was getting himself cleaned up. She could hear the water running in the shower.
"What if this was some thing that Leo helped take over my partner? Something that had some hidden agenda to perform."
She shook her head at the thoughts. It sounded crazy.
"Along with Carlton feeling comfortable wearing a collar."
There was a part of her that was starting to believe it, but her detective side wanted all the facts and continued to believe in his innocence. It was a major part of her that still trusted him and didn't feel scared around him. Even back at the station, she didn't exactly feel scared. Yes, she was nervous when he grabbed her and told her those things, but she knew (or felt) he wouldn't do anything to really hurt her.
The foggy memory of that basement still clung to her, though.
She rubbed a hand across her cheek before letting it drop back on the couch.
"If he really wanted to kill me, he could've done it ten times over. He had plenty of opportunities."
And she could have easily ran away when he let her go.
She sighed looking at her gray cat as it sauntered over to her and jumped up on the couch. Her hand started to rub the soft fur.
Maybe it was the careful way he ran through the streets with her in tow, screaming bloody murder. Or the very familiar one-sided Lassiterian argument they just had right before she agreed to find him some clothes. Or the glimpses of blue she kept seeing when he talked to all kept her hopes up that her Carlton wasn't really dead; that it wasn't her fault he 'disappeared.'
But this new Carlton was weird. He felt wrong. Almost like he was trying to be Carlton, but had to keep himself detached.
"Speaking of detached, not one time has he said my name."
Now that she thought about it, at the warehouse he was acting the same way.
She huffed. "Everything is so confusing."
Tiredness was starting to creep in and she yawned. She glanced at the buzzing cell phone in her hand before lying her head down on the edge of the sofa to keep watch of the bedroom door.
She had sent a quick text to Shawn while she was getting the wet towel and first aid for Carlton. It was just to let him know that she was alright. He had responded back asking for her location. She didn't give it to him. She knew he would make things worse. So instead she had texted that she was fine. Shawn didn't stop texting and even called a few times. She ignored them.
She yawned again and her eyes drooped.
And then they popped open when she felt someone tapping her shoulder. She looked up with tired eyes to see someone unexpected standing there.
Looking around, she quickly sat up. A light colored blanket slid off her shoulders and she grabbed it before it hit the floor.
"Where did the blanket come from?"
"Jules." Shawn said in relief.
She looked back at him as he fell to his knees and pulled her into a hug. She spotted Gus standing a few feet away looking a little relieved himself and strangely nervous.
"Are you okay?" Shawn asked pushing her at arm's length, so he could see her. "He didn't do anything to you?"
She shook her head. "No. What are you doing here? How did you find me?"
"No time for that. Come on." He then pulled her up from the couch and hurried her toward the door.
"Shawn, what's going on?"
The blanket was still wrapped around her shoulders, and as she was pushed past the threshold of her apartment and into the hallway, her mouth opened in disbelief when she saw the four heavily armored police officers lined against the wall.
They rushed in as soon as they were cleared from the door.
"Shawn?!" She yelled.
"It's okay, Jules. All that matters is that you're safe." He moved to embrace her in a protective hug.
She pushed him away to go back into her apartment, yelling for her partner. Shawn grabbed her and pulled her back to him.
"That is not Lassie, Jules."
She pushed away from him again, glaring. "He is still there."
Shawn just shook his head.
"Chief." One of the entry officers said walking out.
Turning in shock, she didn't even notice Chief Vick standing there. A white bandage cradled her right cheek.
"Yes." The Chief called out with authority.
"We have searched the premise. All is clear, except for one bedroom. It is locked. We are waiting for your order to breach."
The Chief quickly glanced her way before nodding her head. "You have the clear to breach."
"Yes, ma'am." And the armored officer disappeared back into the apartment.
Pulling away from Shawn, she made her way to stand beside the Chief.
"I'm happy to see that you're okay, Detective O'Hara." Chief Vick stated still facing the entrance to her apartment.
"Chief," the armor officer appeared again. "There are no hostiles in the room. Everything is clear.
Her shock was evident, but the Chief's stayed hidden.
"However there is a note left on the bed. We have not touched it."
She glanced at her boss. Chief Vick just nodded her head and entered the apartment. She quickly tagged along behind her and she heard Shawn and Gus followed her in.
As she followed quietly, her eyes caught something strange making her stop.
"What's wrong, Jules?" Shawn asked from behind her.
"My lavenders…" She muttered questioningly looking at the relocated vase of purple flowers sitting on the end table next to where she was sleeping.
"What about them?" Shawn ventured a little forward to look at them.
"They were in my kitchen." She said throwing her blanket on the couch.
"Hey, what gives? Two of them are missing. You didn't give them to someone?" He whined. "They were only for you."
"Shawn." She rolled her eyes.
"Detective O'Hara." She heard the Chief call.
"Yes, Chief." She answered.
Once she reached the entrance to the guest bedroom, her boss handed her a small white piece of paper.
"Decipher this as quickly as possible. We need to locate Detective Lassiter fast."
She glanced down at the note.
"There's no telling what danger he poses to the public." The Chief added.
Dropping her hand by her side, she looked back up at the Chief, ignoring the obvious sign of Shawn and Gus trying to see what was written.
"Chief, Carlton isn't going to hurt anybody." She started. Everyone, who witnessed the station incident, gave her a funny look, as if to say 'really.' She stood defiantly against their stare. She had to defend her partner, but his pseudo-threat was fresh on everyone's mind.
"Juliet, you can't be serious." Gus cried out. "He almost killed us in that room. He threatened to kill you."
"But he didn't kill us or me. He was trying to get away from the station, and from us. He had told me when he dropped me off here and I pulled him into my apartment." Another wave of funny looks passed through the group and she quickly assured them she wasn't crazy with her next sentence. "He was coughing up blood and on the verge of passing out. I couldn't leave him out there."
A few seconds of silent acceptance passed through the air. She glanced at the unusually quiet Shawn before Chief Vick spoke up.
"So Detective O'Hara why was he trying to get away from us?"
She opened her mouth to respond, but quickly closed it.
"He didn't tell you that. Did he?" The Chief stated.
She shook her head. "No, but he was going to, and then I fell asleep." She answered dejectedly.
"There had to be a reason for him to leave in the obvious, bad condition he was in and I'm going to assume the worst-case scenario." Chief Vick stated staring directly in her eyes.
"And what's the worst-case scenario?" Shawn asked finally speaking.
"Mr. Spencer, I believe Leo is controlling Detective Lassiter's actions some way, either by chemical or mechanical means. It also seems that Leo used Detective Lassiter as a distraction to escape." The Chief's eyes scanned the three of them. "He might even be programmed to meet Leo somewhere. That is why we need to find him as quickly as possible. If they meet, Leo could decide to use him for another purpose or dispose of him completely."
Another wave of silence floated through intermixed with tension.
"Now Detective O'Hara decipher that note as quickly as possible."
She nodded her head at the Chief and looked at the note.
Make puppy sit and stay
AN: The note is a nod to a challenge posted on psychfic, about writing a whole story in code. It interested me, but the challenge itself is a bit much. It took me a while just to get this small code to portray what I wanted.
So if you happen to crack this riddle, then here's a cookie (::) or two (::) (::)
And if you want a hint, just leave a review stating so. Or wait until the next chapter, which will thankfully be posted on Sunday.