The trilling of his cellphone beckoned to Carlton Lassiter, drawing him from a dream in which he'd gotten the drop on a known criminal mastermind and was in the process of accepting his award. He grumbled, gritting his teeth as he reached for a pillow on the other side of the bed, jamming it down over his head. The goal was to drown out the sound, pretend it didn't exist, but homicide refused to be ignored. Not for the first time, he wondered why people couldn't die at a more appropriate time of the day.
Blindly, Lassiter reached for the phone, his fingers groping at the nightstand. Normally he loved his job. He got a thrill out of catching bad guys and chucking them in the jail where they belonged. It was just the kind of work he was made for, and thrived on.
Even that little pipsqueak Shawn Spencer hadn't managed to ruin it for him.
Despite the fact he could be annoying at times.
And occasionally made him look like a fool.
Lassiter may have growled.
Just as his fingers found the persistent device it shut up, further souring his mood. He was about to let it go and see if he could work his way back to the celebration of his phenomenal win, when the phone vibrated in his hand. Whoever wanted to speak with him was not going to take silence as an answer.
"This had better be good," he grumbled. At this point the only two people he wouldn't completely chew out for waking him at this hour would be the chief and O'Hara.
It turned out to be neither.
Of all the people it could have been why did it have to be him?
There was two missed calls from him and now a text message, all of which Lassiter considered ignoring. What could he possibly want at this hour? What shenanigan did he feel inclined to share? Last time it was nonsensical rambling accompanied by a picture. Definitely not the sort of thing he was interested in or even cared about. He had more important things to do.
Lassiter considered returning the phone to its place on the nightstand when it vibrated again.
What could Shawn possibly want?
Rubbing a hand quickly over his eyes, Lassiter touched the screen and brought up the messages. He read the first e, scowling at the typed words.
Had Shawn suffered from a nightmare or something and saw being awake at the late hour—it was creeping on midnight—a good reason to pester him? Scared of what? And why should he care? Why hadn't Shawn just contacted Gus, his as equally grating, yet slightly smarter friend? The two were thick as thieves.
The second text answered both questions and caused Lassiter to sit up in bed, his blanket falling away.
Scared of himself? "What exactly does he mean by that?"
As if able to hear the mumbled question another text came through.
Of hurting myself.
Lassiter merely stared at the words, confused, and even a bit shaken. The Shawn Spencer he knew was a jovially, joking man just this side of crazy. Sure, he was a nuisance and rubbed Lassiter the wrong way, but he very rarely displayed any questionably depressing emotions. In fact, Lassiter could count on one hand the times he'd seen a vulnerable, quiet, sad Shawn.
And he never once suspected the man capable of hurting himself. It didn't seem to be Shawn's way, not in character with his personality. It never crossed Lassiter's mind.
"And why me?" were the next words out of his mouth. Of all the people Shawn could have contacted, from his father to Gus, even O'Hara, why had he been the chosen one? What made him special?
Without fully realizing it, Lassiter typed in a reply. Where are you?
The seconds seemed to tick by while he waited for a reply. Each agonizing beat of his heart, the quiet of his house, eternity stretching before him. Lassiter's rolled, twisting in knots, a weight settling in his guts. His mind dig deep, pulling up news stories and cases of old, all in which someone had died at their own hands. Was Shawn capable of the deed?
The phone vibrated.
Lassiter clenched his jaw, rolling his eyes. Which one?
A single word, what context did he take it in? Did Shawn mean he was at the stand located closest to his office or was he admitting the messages were little more than a joke, a ploy to disturb his night? For a moment he entertained the thought of falling back in bed and dragging the covers up over him. But a nagging disquiet refused to be ignored. It needles its way under his skin until he was prompted to climb out of bed and shuffle across the floor.
Discarded carelessly earlier, Lassiter grabbed up his slacks and slipped into them. He threw on a shirt, then a sweater to help keep away the autumn chill. On his way out of the bedroom he shot off another reply to Shawn, any trace of sleep now long gone.
On my way.
He made it down the stairs.
He jammed his feet into a pair of sneakers, something people might be surprised to find he owned.
He snatched up his keys.
Who knows how much time had passed before Lassiter stepped out into the cool night, mindful to lock his door. A quick check of his phone revealed a message-less screen. No reply from Shawn. He sucked in his bottom lip, making haste toward his car.
Many would have thought him crazy, completely out of his mind, running off in the middle of the night because the man who had become a thorn in his side beckoned. But buried deep inside where no one could ever possibly find it, Lassiter held tightly to a kernel of fondness for the young psychic, even though he didn't believe the psychic spiel for a second.
As he turned the key, the engine purring, Lassiter sent up a silent pray that he wouldn't arrive too late. Just the mere thought sprung an ache in his chest the likes of which he'd never known.
"He'll be ok," Lassiter said with conviction. Then he quietly added, "he has to be."