Author's Note: This story started out as a rather spirited discussion my friend and I had during season five and this first half of season six. I love this show, but I have been frustrated with it lately. It seems that now that Shawn has gotten his girl, he's regressed back to an almost child-like mentality. I really liked the way they were maturing his character through season four, but then five came along and it seemed to stop. In six, he seems to be regressing. Then, we debated what it would be like when Juliet found out Shawn wasn't psychic. Basically, there are three options. Juliet could get angry and they'd have a fight about it, Juliet would accept it by saying she knew about it all along, or Juliet would never find out. The only real option to me is the first; the second is too much a cop-out and the third is just frustrating. So, out of that I spun this situation. I was figuring I'd do alternating chapters from Juliet and Shawn's point of view. Warning: the story is heavy on introspection, as I am trying for their thoughts. Poor Lassie just got caught in the middle of it all. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own Psych, I am just practicing my writing skills.
That single word echoed in my head, like a plea that had fallen somewhat flat. The word felt hollow, empty, as if it had once held meaning to me but lost it, and was now the only word on earth I could say. "Why?" It tasted dry and dusty as I managed to whisper it out. I didn't know words could taste. I didn't know a lot of things... until today.
"Why?" The word made me feel cold. In fact, though I live in Santa Barbara and it is warm for most of the year, a clammy chill had seeped into my bones. I felt as though I would never get warm again. All around me were voices, constantly buzzing. There were loud noises; voices that droned on and on, the steady beeping of monitors, the tinny sound of an intercom. Yet none of these words seemed to reach me, and I sat motionless in the small waiting room, pinned against the wall so I could see all exits, like my partner had taught me...
Carlton. Unbidden, the recent memory of the last two hours played in my head. I shoved it away. It took effort, but I was getting better at it. The same thing had happened to me after I was kidnapped and hung from a clock tower... was it really two years ago? At the moment, it seemed like yesterday. Anyway, even after I was rescued, I kept picturing myself hanging above the ground in an electrified chair. It was terrifying... but then my partner had stepped in. After rescuing me, he let me break down. He held me tight; let me cry on his shoulder. Never once did he give me that, "toughen up and deal with it" speech. He just let me be, because he knew that was what I needed. There was a lot more to Carlton Lassiter than anyone in the department ever gave him credit for. I'm proud to have him as a mentor.
I blinked as the room came into complete focus again. Someone, a kind nurse probably, had draped a blanket over my shoulders. I gratefully sunk deeper into it, glad there was no one else in the room. Taking a deep breath, I looked at my phone again.
I took a deep breath to steady my nerves and tried to call Shawn again. Of course I had already tried to call him (twelve times, to be precise. Maybe I'd stop at thirteen just to irritate him. Shawn thought of thirteen as an unlucky number; and goodness knows I couldn't get any unluckier today.). He hadn't answered his phone. Every time, I got the Psych voicemail. This time was no different.
"Hey, you've reached Psych" Shawn's voice answered. "Head Psychic Detective of the SBPD Shawn Spencer and my partner, Emilio Jazzle are out searching the world for amazing new uses for pineapple. Supposedly, there's a woman in Flagstaff Arizona who can make top ramen and pineapple cookies in the shapes of pinwheels... some say they are to die for." At this point in the message, the voices switched, and I could hear the practical voice of Gus intoning, "Leave us a message, and we will get back to you." The phone beeped. I hung up. I couldn't bear to leave another message. When Shawn finally checked his messages, he'd be spooked enough already. And the last thing I needed today was an unstable emotional reaction.
Really, though, I didn't know what to expect from Shawn. After the entire Despereaux disaster, I was frankly a little worried about Shawn. Surely, he'd have to realize that he'd have to deal with death sometime. I mean, come on! He'd been shot once, captured almost a dozen times, and almost killed more than many of our seasoned cops in the precinct. Did he expect to live forever?
"No," I reminded myself quietly. "Don't you remember what he told you when you asked him if he was ever frightened? He said he is a psychic, and he knows when he'll get out of a situation just fine." At that moment, a flicker of anger began to smolder in the pit of my stomach. But I was so cold I could barely feel it.
Shawn. Just the mere thought of him made me feel weak in the knees. He is my other half in so many ways... where I am serious he is fun, and where I am stressed he is relaxed. He gets me so completely, and not only that, he knows when I need to be held and when I need to be silent. At first, when I met him, I thought he was fun to flirt with. I thought he was extremely immature, though. I mean, what grown man really keeps a Furby? He was fun to tease... but I was looking for a man, not a boy.
Then Abigail came along. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't hate the woman (like so many of my acquaintances expect me to). In fact, I'm grateful to her. She opened up the side of Shawn that even I couldn't see, the side of Shawn that made him a grown, mature man. He cared for her, and showed he could be a man when called to be... and when all was said and done, he put her above all others, even me. When she left him, I was secretly thrilled. Shawn had changed from some boy with supernatural gifts to a man with amazing powers. Really, who could resist?
But ever since we began dating, Shawn has seemed... distant, somehow. Regressive. As if... as if the thought of life forever with me seems frightening, even ugly. I'll admit I'm not ready to settle down just yet, but I would like to settle down one day. And I just can't keep from wondering... will Shawn ever be ready to settle down?
That depressing train of thought coupled with my annoyance that Shawn hadn't called me back yet, as once again my cell phone brought me back to reality. For a moment, I had been in another time with Shawn... on a bridge in the mist, in the air in a balloon, anywhere but this terrible cold empty place. The whisper of comfort those memories brought me faded like fog on a shower door, and once again I was in a hospital waiting room, waiting for news of my partner.
Another couple of hours passed. No word from Shawn or Gus. No word about my partner. The Chief had been by; so had Henry. They had tried to get me to leave, to at least change into some different clothes, but I refused to go until I had word of my partner. Henry settled into a chair next to me while the Chief went to go file paperwork and make statements. The press was already upon us.
Henry didn't say a word, he just offered me his shoulder as a pillow. I leaned over on him, trying unsuccessfully to get comfortable in those terrible torture devices they had the nerve to call chairs. I finally stopped squirming. From a long way off, Henry was apologizing for Shawn's absence, but I didn't really listen. The flicker of annoyance and anger I had felt before began to grow... you see, there was something I had missed. Something I should have seen, being a detective. Something I had already thought of. My brain hurt with the effort to remember. My eyes slid shut, and against my will, I began to dream.
"O'Hara, when against my better judgment I said I'd let your boyfriend plan this stakeout... I meant that we'd be sitting comfortably and safely in a bullet proof car listening to Talk Radio or Johnny Cash... not standing out on the cold windy beach running a snack cart. I mean, come on! Who buys churros and cotton-candy in the middle of winter?"
"Carlton," I sighed. "Come on, when has Shawn been wrong?" At my partner's dubious look, I rolled my eyes. "I mean, about important things. When has he ever led us to a stakeout that revealed nothing?"
"Oh, I don't know... maybe three, four times. Just that I can count off my head. And where is that little twerp-duo of yours, anyway? Usually, we can't get them to leave."
"The Chief banned them from being here, Carlton. This is a dangerous situation; we are observing a drug drop. It's too dangerous for them."
"Huh," Lassiter huffed, "when has that ever stopped them before?"
I rolled my eyes and didn't say a word. Shawn said that in his vision he saw the smugglers come here, to this fairly innocent looking park by the beach. He had set up our stakeout situation perfectly; a snack cart was never out of place by the waves, and we had a full view of the parking lot. Several backup units were in the wings; this would be Shawn's best case yet. I felt a fierce pride for him, coupled with a complete sense of security. After all, Shawn was psychic. If there was going to be any danger in the bust, he would have warned me first.
His vision had left no room for doubt. "I'm having a vision," he'd cried out at the station, causing my partner to groan and the Chief to absentmindedly pull her hair. "I'm seeing pink... pink, pink? What's wrong with pink? Seems to me... ow! (here, Gus had elbowed Shawn. Shawn retaliated by flicking him back in the face, and I had had to intervene with a throat clearing and a well-placed glare).
"Not only pink," continued Shawn, "but it's sugary as well... and salty! But wait, the salt is in the air... park... shore... shore, I'd like some ocean, how about you?"
"Shoreline Park!" I had called out. "Right on the beach, where they have that cotton-candy refreshment stand."
Shawn beamed at me. "Yep, that's my gal!"
The Chief rolled her eyes. Why she hadn't spoken to us about our dating and working together yet I'd never know... maybe she just didn't believe it. At any rate, she took over the conversation with a no-nonsense tone that I envy greatly. "Okay, the park is where they are making the drop then. Mr. Spencer, can you see anything else... how many people are there?"
Shawn squinted as he looked into the future. "Two, maybe four. They won't want to take any chances with large numbers; if they are getting desperate enough to move shipments by day, they won't want to attract attention."
The Chief nodded. "Alright," she stated. "I need three teams surrounding the park and a fourth to play random tourists on the beach... McNabb, get some barricades set up. Lassiter, O'Hara, you'll be taking point on this. You'll wait for the drop and then, only then, move in. Got that?"
Shawn had jumped up then, shouting out, "Chief! If everyone is going undercover, Lassie and Jules should go too. And I have the perfect cover for them..."
Carlton growled. "Why do we even listen to this bozo? Since when has Shawn ever managed to hide in the background; he knows nothing about undercover!"
Apparently though, the Chief had loved Shawn's idea. Which had transformed Carlton and me from detectives to snack-cart attendees. However, Shawn had also been duly banned from the bust by Chief Vick, who had threatened him with a penalty fee if he even tried to step in. Shawn may not have cared about the money that much, but Gus sure did. The last I knew, Shawn and Gus were headed for the movies.
"Perps spotted," Carlton stated quietly into the walkie. "Looks like four of them."
"Spencer was right on the money," the Chief replied. "Are they headed towards the parking lot?"
Carlton frowned. "Negative. They are just standing there, looking around. Chief... this doesn't make sense. This is supposed to be a drop and go... not a convention. Unless..."
"They are waiting for someone else," I finished uneasily.
At that moment, all hell had broken loose.
The next thing I knew, my gun was drawn and I was using the snack cart as an ill-suited bullet proof shield. Carlton was cursing beside me, watching as the four gang members with their backpack of drugs were tackled by a rival group of thugs. When the bullets began to fly, all of our backup dropped in, and we found ourselves cut off from the rest of the force. There was no way we could get to the relative safety of the barricades... we were trapped in between the ocean and the gang members. I risked one look down the beach and saw that Buzz McNab and the team that was with him playing Random Tourists had taken cover behind the concrete beach bathrooms. Only Carlton and I were left in the open.
"I count twelve now," growled Carlton into the walkie," though I believe the newer members finished off the original four."
"DO NOT ENGAGE!" Chief Vick commanded. "Carlton, don't even think about being a hero!"
"Wasn't planning on it!" he screamed back, and the two of us cowered behind the snack stand trapped like rats while bullets flew around us. And then, the unthinkable happened.
Carlton must have seen him coming in the reflection on the silver metal of the snack cart. One gang member had held himself back, whether he was late or backup I was never to know. Suddenly, before I even knew what was going on, Carlton whirled around, shooting rounds out of his pistol like a Mission Impossible agent while simultaneously colliding into me. It all happened so fast; I couldn't really see what was going on. A few surreal seconds passed while I tried to get my bearings, and I wondered why Carlton was a dead weight on top of me. I wriggled out from under him while keeping panicked eyes on the fallen lone gunman... he would never move again. Carlton was a good shot.
"Carlton!" I cried as I realized that his body was still pinning my legs. I yanked them out savagely and practically pounced on Carlton. A fountain of blood was spurting up through his chest, and his skin was terribly pale. I removed my jacket and pressed it on his wound, all the while willing the guns to cease. I stared into my partner's face and smiled what I hoped was an encouraging smile. "Carlton, you're going to be okay," I stated, more for my benefit than for his.
Carlton gave me a weak smile. "No worries, O'Hara, it doesn't even hurt," he wheezed. Then, his eye slid shut, and life became an everlasting period waiting while the shooting died out. I believe I lived a lifetime in those five minutes. Then, everything became a blur as we were surrounded by paramedics, cops, and reporters... Shawn should have seen this coming. If he was psychic, he should have know this was going to happen. He had seen this vision so clearly! He lied to me. It was then that I jolted awake.
A doctor had stepped into the waiting room. "Finally," I thought, "Some answers!" In reality, I was too wound up to form words. I stood instead, locking eyes with the doctor and standing up straight. Henry stood as well. The doc eyed both of us for a moment, then took a deep breath.
"Your friend is one tough cookie," the doctor said. "To my dying day I'll remember this patient as a perfect example of luck. Your partner took two shots to the chest; one went right through the chest cavity and chipped a rib, and the other collapsed a lung. We had to re-inflate the lung and remove the bullet, then remove the piece of chipped rib; it had come dangerously close to imbedding into his heart. He's in intensive care now."
I took a great sigh of relief, almost afraid to believe it. "Then he will be alright?" I asked.
The doc frowned. "Well, he's not out of the woods yet. He lost a very large amount of blood; unfortunately, our hospital is rather low on O- at the moment. It is not a very common blood type. We're having some brought in; it should be here shortly. But... he has suffered a lot. If he can pull through tonight, I believe he'll make it."
I nodded and let that sink in while Henry questioned the doctor about more particulars. When he was finished, I asked the doctor if I could see Carlton.
"Perhaps later," the doctor replied. "Right now, he needs to rest."
Henry looked at me and sighed. "Juliet, you should really go home and get some rest. Come on, I'll drive you."
I was about to reply when Shawn and Gus burst into the waiting room at full speed (they narrowly missed colliding with the exiting doctor). Shawn stopped stock-still by the door, and Gus visibly paled.
I knew I looked a sight. I had Carlton's blood all over my clothes. I had had it all over my arms as well, but I had cleaned up as best as I could when Carlton was first brought in.
"Jules?" Shawn's voice sounded small, frightened. He paused for a second, then came across the room and wrapped me into a big Shawn bear hug. I was mildly surprised; but the gesture did little to comfort me. The truth that had sprung up in my mind during my restless catnap seemed to taunt me now. "He lied to you; he's not a psychic. He would have known this was going to happen if he was."
"Is that blood?" asked Gus when Shawn and I pulled apart.
"No, it's ketchup. Of course it's blood!" I snarled back. I immediately reprimanded myself silently; it wasn't Gus's fault that everything had gone down the way it did. But now my feelings had shifted. What had once been an empty dullness inside me had built into a raging inferno as I realized the truth about my relationship with Shawn. I turned to look at him; fire was burning in my eyes.
Shawn saw my expression and flinched. He had not been expecting this! "Jules," he stammered, "we didn't get your call till half an hour ago, and we were really far away. On the other side of Santa Barbara, to be precise. I hadn't realized I had turned my phone off, and..."
I waited for his apology to die out. Then, in a voice I had never heard myself use before, I asked, "Why did you lie to me?"
Shawn apparently didn't understand. "I'm not lying. We really were on the other side of Santa Barbara, in the Blueberry. Tell her Gus!"
"Not about that," I confirmed. "Tell me why you lied to me, to everyone, about being a psychic?"
Now Shawn paled. I could see the blood drain from his face as well. He looked pleadingly at Gus, then at his father. But Henry just shook his head sadly, grabbed Gus's arm, and pulled him out of the door. We were alone.
"Tell me why," I demanded.