Generally, Shawn had always assumed that realtors would make terrible villains.
Well, he supposed, as he readjusted his position on the rafter he had been sitting on for the past five minutes, that wasn't entirely true. Everything about real estate seemed sort of very evil-in-a-Jane-Austen-Charles-Dickens-Jarndyce-versus-Jarndyce way (what? He'd read the one-paragraph summaries of books Gus had made for him during their high school English classes) to him. He just didn't normally think of realtors as killers.
He was sitting on the exposed wooden rafter in order to hide from Judith Anne Halford of Halford Realty, who had been chasing him around his father's half-renovated house with a gun, evidently pretty dead-set on seeing him...well, dead.
Judith Anne had seemed a little squirrely when Shawn had first met her three weeks ago, back when he was sure his dad had been bluffing about selling his childhood home. Not that Shawn wasn't certain that this—the renovations, the crazed gun-toting real estate agent—wasn't all an elaborate scheme to get Shawn to admit that he actually wanted his dad to stay in Santa Barbara, and not move to some stupid retirement-community-that-refuses-to-call-itself-a-retirement-community in San Diego. Like Shawn was dumb enough to fall for that.
But Shawn wasn't a bad enough son that he would allow his Dad to get murdered by a serial killer, especially one that had already killed three people because they had eventually decided not to sell their property through Halford Realty. Hence his entirely accurate psychic revelations earlier today at the police department that Judith Anne was not only definitely a very, very bad realtor, a serial killer, and a chronic gum chewer, but also ready to strike again against his dad.
This, normally, would have wrapped things up quite nicely, except that Judith Anne hadn't been at her office or at home when Lassie and Jules had gone to arrest her that afternoon. As Shawn had been rather annoyed to discover, this was because she had been waiting for Shawn to arrive at his apartment-slash-Laundromat, armed with a pistol and a crazy plan that somehow involved staging Shawn's suicide at his father's semi-renovated house in an effort to frame Shawn for the multiple murders she had committed.
What Judith Anne had not accounted for, of course, was that Shawn was wilier than Wile E. Coyote himself, and also that even without all the terrible fishing decor that usually filled his father's living room, Shawn still knew his house like the back of his hand—and had found it fairly simply to escape his captor and find his way onto the bare rafters above the living room, which was currently just filled with fluffy cotton-candy looking insulation, wood studs, and sheet wrap (seriously, what was his Dad even doing, ripping the whole house apart, aside from bothering Shawn?). His Dad had even ripped out some of the roof's insulation, as well, which meant that the cool night wind kept blowing past Shawn, surprising him with its force. But Shawn had had years of experience in maneuvering different escape plans from his father's house, so he wasn't about to let some strong gusts of wind blow, blow, blow, Shawn right down.
So while Shawn was certain he could hold his lofted position for quite a while longer, he was a bit worried about what would happen if Judith Anne happened to glance up, as he was a bit...stuck. And to add on to his list of worries, he was a bit anxious about the fact that he had exactly no way to alert any of his friends (or warn his father) about his current predicament. Judith Anne had made sure that his phone had remained at his apartment, and since his Dad was gutting the house and was staying at the Holiday Inn down the street until it was finished up next week, Shawn was sure his father's landline was down. This was, to quote Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, a situation.
"Oh, Shawn!" Judith cooed into the darkness from somewhere below him, drawing out his name long. Shawn froze, peering into the depth below him. His Dad must have shut off the electricity for the week, as well. "Come out, come out, wherever you are! I promise, I've got the deal of a lifetime for you!"
She cackled. Shawn winced. Judith Anne was well and truly losing it. Though, considering that she had already killed three people, it was probably more apt to say that she had been losing it, and was definitely fully lost by now.
If Shawn squinted, he could sort of make out a darker shape than the surrounding darkness, moving towards where his father's kitchen would usually be, but what currently just contained a bunch of plywood and uninstalled kitchen appliances.
That was good. She thought he was hiding somewhere below, still. That bought him some time to do...what, exactly?
God, he had told Gus that they should have been practicing their mind reading. It would have solved his problem fairly quickly if he could just transmit a psychic alarm to his best friend.
Shawn shifted, looking above him, to the patch of night sky above him. He supposed he could pull himself through the gap in the insulation and the wood studs, but there was no sheetrock or tile to support his weight once he had pulled himself through—and if he wanted to escape, it would be remiss if he did the killer's job for her and fall to his death below.
A loud, cheerful beep emanated from Shawn's pocket, making Shawn swear. "Stupid, hungry Tomagotchi," he hissed. No wonder he had ended up killing Gus' last Tamagotchi.
A blinding white light came on somewhere below Shawn, shining all around the exposed beams of the house, making Shawn squint and hide his face in his arms, blinking away stars. Apparently Judith Anne had remembered the flashlight on her phone.
"Shawn, there you are! Going upstairs without an invitation first, how rude!" Judith Anne exclaimed, shining her flashlight right in Shawn's face.
Shawn turned away, glancing up once more. The roof would probably hold him, right? How else did renovators put new roofs on?
"I don't need an invitation to do anything in my father's house, thank you very much," Shawn responded, untying the shoelaces on his left Nike, and working the shoe subtly off his foot. "Everything I do is to annoy my father, and invitations are such a fundamental part of polite society that they would really prevent me from fulfilling my life's purpose."
"Shawn, you're a funny one," Judith Anne said. "But I'm going to have to make you come down here, nice and slow. I need you to sign a quick suicide note before we make any death official."
"Maybe you aren't such a bad realtor after all, Judith Ann," Shawn said. "You really have got the language down, at least, and they say that's fifty percent of the job, as long as you don't murder your clients."
Judith Anne's flashlight cast strange shadows over the house, so that Shawn could only see the glow of her teeth when she grinned at him. The darkness did nothing to obscure his ability to hear, however; it was easy, even, to hear Judith release the safety on her pistol. "I'm quite serious about this offer, Shawn. I need you to come on down."
"Sure thing, Judith Ann," Shawn said, and threw his shoe at her head (or, at least, where Shawn approximated her head to be), slightly unbalancing himself.
Judith Ann squawked as Shawn's Nike hit her in the face, dropping both her phone and the gun, making the gun go off. Shawn used the distraction as an opportunity to scramble carefully to his feet, his head peeping through the hole in the roof. He leveraged his hands on the insulation on either side of him, his hands sinking deeply into the itchy squishiness, though he had to admit he was surprised at its firmness.
Without thinking too critically about his next move, Shawn pulled himself onto the exposed roof's insulation, flopping his body over it. He felt right away that the insulation couldn't support his full body weight, and he scrambled for a wood scrub to brace his feet against, sighing in relief when he found purchase. Spread-eagle over the insulation that he would sink through in moments if he wasn't braced against the wooden arches of the roof, Shawn began inching to the right, hoping to find a wider beam for him to stand fully on.
Far below him, he could hear Judith Ann cursing him out—but he felt he had some time before he had to worry about her, as there was no way she was going to follow him up onto the roof—she had been wearing high heels.
At last, Shawn's socked foot seemed to have found a flatter, wider wood scrub where two roof beams met. Shawn marched his hands carefully down towards his feet, arching his back so he came closer and closer to a standing position, though he felt several splinters sliding into his fingers as a result.
Shawn wobbled into a standing position, looking down a story below him at his father's backyard. Look, there was where he and Gus had buried treasure—and where his Dad had later made him unbury treasure—and where his Dad had gone too hard for every Easter egg hunt. Except those were actually fun, even if they were ridiculously hard, now that Shawn thought about it—
The shout from below startled Shawn from this reverie, as Judith Ann sounded much closer than before. Shawn jolted in surprise, though he should have refrained from any sort of jolting, as his sock was much more slippery than his sneaker. He wobbled, nearly toppling. Gheez, and he'd thought the wind was strong enough to knock him down when he was still in the house—if a big enough gust of wind came, Shawn would fly right off the roof.
He glanced back towards the hole in the roof he had crawled through. He could see, marginally, the top of Judith Ann's bleach-blond head through the gap, as she stood on the rafter Shawn had recently abandoned. Shawn almost leapt back as her face suddenly surfaced over the insulation, before disappearing again. Then, seconds later, her face returned, only to duck back below the insulation.
It took Shawn a moment to realize that she was attempting to do as he had done—to pull herself onto the roof after him. Luckily for Shawn, however, Judith Ann was a great deal shorter than he was, and couldn't quite get the leverage necessary to propel her up onto the roof—hence her popping up and down like a bleach-blond, murderous Whack-A-Mole, heavy on the Whack.
"Ha!" Shawn said. "Hate to ruin your record, Judith Ann, but looks like there'll be no more property murders!" Shawn paused. "Ooh. Note to self: Pitch HGTV a spinoff of Property Brothers where they have to solve the mysteries of a haunted house before they can sell it."
Judith Ann screeched in rage. Shawn felt fairly confident, however, that there was no way she could get a clear shot at him with her gun from this angle, though she would be able to—
Before Shawn had time to process anything, something small and white came flying at him through the hole in the roof, smacking him full in the chest and knocking him just off-balance enough to send him tumbling off the side of the roof.
Henry knew that his son was an idiot.
Well, he knew that his son was a genius who behaved recklessly. To Henry, this was the same thing as an idiot. What was worse was that Shawn thought that everything was hilarious, always, which meant he never realized a situation was dangerous until it was too late.
He was sure that was the situation just now, with Judith Halford. Henry had repeatedly told Shawn to be careful, to follow procedure, only for his son to utterly ignore him. Henry blamed Shawn for his new cardiac medication prescription almost entirely—the kid made him lose sleep, especially since the whole Yin/Yang killer debacle—Shawn had been lucky to come out of that psychologically unscathed (though, even Henry—especially Henry, perhaps—had a hard time telling when Shawn's feathers were truly ruffled).
And was this whole renovation scheme an effort to make Shawn a little more aware of the things he should be grateful for, a little more worried that the things Shawn takes for granted won't always be there? Absolutely. There was no way Henry was going to get rid of his house to move to a retirement community in San Diego that is too pretentious to even freaking call itself what it was: a retirement community in San Diego. Elderhostel, his ass.
But Shawn needed a wakeup call, if the serial killer targeting him and his mother hadn't worked to really wake him up to the very real danger he was playing with. Shawn lived his life like he was in the beginning of Top Gun, when his life was really starting to look like the middle of Top Gun (and God, he was also annoyed at how much of Shawn's pop culture trivia was seeping into his subconscious).
But Henry wanting Shawn to think twice about his idiotic decisions as a fake psychic didn't mean Henry wasn't still very, very worried about Shawn's idiotic decisions as a fake psychic.
Hence Henry harassing Santa Barbara's head detectives until they heeded Henry's instinct that something was seriously wrong about this whole Halford Realty business.
"Shawn hasn't answered my calls," Henry explained to Detective O'Hara, as he paced in front of her desk. Juliet exchanged a glance with her partner, who stood next to Henry with his arms folded over his chest, staring at Henry incredulously.
"Mr. Spencer, Shawn was here twenty minutes ago," Juliet explained patiently. "I really don't know what could have happened since we last saw him. We have an APB out on Halford, and we expect to have her in custody fairly soon. What's made you concerned?"
"Something is wrong about this," Henry insisted. "Halford's already killed three people—she's no fool. She's obviously realized that you've fingered her as a suspect, but she's a killer motivated by revenge. There's no way she blows out of town without some act of vengeance. And Shawn was the one who figured out her game."
"But according to Spencer, you were the next intended victim," Lassiter said, leaning against the pole next to O'Hara's desk. "Why wouldn't she go after you, if she wanted revenge against Shawn? It would kill two birds with one stone—not only get revenge against you for not selling with her, but also hurt Shawn for figuring out her game."
Henry sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose with his forefingers. "Detectives, I am telling you that every crime-stopping bone in my body is telling me that Shawn is in danger right now. What more do you need?"
"Well, proof and reasonable suspicion, first off," Lassiter answered. "Have you reached out to Guster? I think he dropped him off at home."
All three of them—the two current detectives, and the retired cop—whipped around as an out-of-breath Gus came huffing around the corner, only stopping to lean against Juliet's desk.
Juliet stood, putting a concerned hand on Gus' lower back. "Gus, what's the matter?"
"Something's the matter with Shawn," Gus panted, after taking a few seconds to catch his breath.
"What do you mean, something's the matter with Spencer?" Lassiter asked, leaning forward.
"I dropped him off, but it was weird," Gus continued. "There was a pink Volkswagen in the parking lot of the Fluff n Fold when I dropped Shawn off, which is never usually there—and I drove back to his place, like, two minutes after I left, because he stole my Tamagatchi even though I have told him that he is never to be entrusted with my son after he murdered my other Tamagotchi due to neglect last year—"
"Gus," Henry said shortly, hoping to urge his son's best friend on.
Gus looked at him, and nodded. "Right, and when I went back to get it back from him, Shawn's door was open, and his phone was on the table—" Gus paused to look between the two detectives. "And the pink Volkswagen was gone."
Juliet was already looking through an open file on her desk. "Halford drives a Volkswagen," she confirmed, reaching absently behind her for her jacket slung around the back of her desk chair. Gus reached to help her, the two moving synchronously.
Juliet looked up at her partner. "Carlton?"
Lassiter frowned, and his eyes darted reluctantly to Henry. "Where would she take him?"
Henry paused to think for only a moment. "My house makes the most sense. All her former victims were found in their unsold homes, their deaths staged to look like accidents. It makes sense that she would stick to what she knows works."
Lassiter raised an eyebrow, and exchanged a glance with Detective O'Hara. He darted to grab his jacket from his own desk chair, Juliet in his shadow.
"I'm coming," Gus and Henry spoke simultaneously, stepping into their path.
Lassiter sighed. "Fine. But I'm driving."
He really should have remembered one of the Golden Rules of both elementary school dodgeball and the Bush presidency: when one throws a sneaker, it tends to come right back and knock you off the roof. A slightly more dangerous boomerang than average, Shawn would venture to say.
Shawn didn't really remember hitting the ground—he remembered sticking out his hands in an effort to catch himself, and then he was on the ground, with his right arm throbbing like it was trying to set the tempo for a Skrillex remix. His head didn't feel great, either, and the tightness in his chest told him he had possibly cracked a rib or two. On the bright side, however, his bottom half was totally fine, as he had half-landed in one of his Dad's bushes (though, his front hip was throbbing like a mother from where he had stored Gus' Tamagotchi in the front pocket of his jeans).
After letting himself catch his breath, he carefully pulled his legs through the tangle of the bush, laying himself out horizontally before trying to stand, leaning heavily on his left arm as he clutched his still-throbbing right arm to his chest. He suspected his arm might be broken, which would really inconvenience him if he had to try to fight in hand-to-gun combat with Judith Ann. Speaking of, he was surprised that she hadn't already come around to the front yard to ensure that the fall had killed him.
Woozily, he stumbled through his yard, around to the front of his house, hoping that maybe one of his Dad's neighbors had heard Judith Ann's gun go off earlier and had come to see that everything was alright, or, even better, had called the police.
Unfortunately, the only person Shawn encountered in his stumble was Judith Ann and her gun (as well as the real estate agent's unfortunate perm, but that was sort of a given, if Judith Anne was there).
Judith Ann seemed as disappointed to see Shawn as Shawn was to see her. "Aw, I was hoping you were dead!"
Shawn raised his left arm in the air in surrender, his right arm staying close to his side. "We have different hopes, Judith Ann, but I think we can agree to let dead horses be bygones here—"
"Enough speaking," Judith Ann interrupted.
Shawn's mind, still running a little slowly after the fall, struggled to find a good enough distraction to stall her, but the only thing he could think of was—
"Tamagotchi?" He asked.
Judith Ann's brow wrinkled in confusion. "Wha—?"
Behind Judith Ann, Shawn saw his Dad running towards him, leaping from the passenger-side of Lassie's Crown Vic, quickly followed by Gus, Juliet, and Lassie. Shawn's relief was near-euphoric. "Dad!"
Judith Ann whipped around to see Shawn's friends approaching. She lunged towards Shawn, wrapping one arm around his neck, pulling his head down so that she could more easily press her pistol into the side of his head. Shawn stumbled, barely stopping himself from tumbling to the ground, his torso contorting in order to accommodate Judith Ann's height.
"Woah," Shawn said, his head spinning.
"Judith, hun, you don't have to do this," Shawn's Dad said, his voice calm. His hands were outstretched, placating, though Shawn had never known any creature, from human criminals to feral raccoons, to have been successfully placated by that gesture.
"Oh, there were a lot of things I didn't have to do, Henry," Judith Ann said, her voice too-loud and too-warm on Shawn's ears. "But I did them anyway, just like how I'm going to blow your son's brains out unless you and those cops and Mr. Guster give me some space."
Shawn's Dad retreated a few paces, holding out his arm as Gus and Lassie and Jules approached, weapons drawn.
"You've got plenty of space, Judith," Lassie said, his gaze razor-sharp on the woman holding Shawn in a headlock. "Now, you're going to need to lower your weapon, and let Spencer go."
Gus was panting, out of breath, though he had eyes only for Shawn—he didn't even seem to register that Judith Ann was there. "Shawn, where in the hell is my Tomagotchi?" He paused, looking Shawn over. "And where in the hell is your shoe?"
"Your Tamagotchi is fine, Gus, Gheez, you need to demonstrate some trust here, learn to let go—AH!" Shawn cut off as Judith Ann jabbed the gun sharply into Shawn's head, sending his thoughts ping-ponging around his brain.
Juliet and Lassie both took a step forward, guns leveled at Judith Ann.
"Let's talk this out, Judith," Juliet said, sweet and calm and commanding all at once.
"I have no interest in talking," Judith Ann said. "I have interests in two things: property taxes, and murder."
"God, you—OW—talk like the annoying protagonist of—OW— a BBC 1 soap opera," Shawn said, reaching his right hand towards his left pocket, trying to ignore the throbs of pain shooting through his arm as he did so. He thought he could get the timing right—
"Shawn, you're okay—" His father started.
"What are you complaining about, I'm not even doing—" Judith Ann began simultaneously.
"Tamagotchi time!" Shawn yelled, flinging the now-loudly beeping Tamagotchi towards Gus, his broken arm protesting the movement.
Judith Ann's grip on him loosened, and Shawn took the opportunity to go fully boneless, sending his tired and achy body lurching to the left in order to further shake her grip. Jules and Lassie, recognizing Shawn's desperate distraction for what it was, swarmed forward, Jules tackling Judith Ann as Lassie went to disarm her. She squawked, and they struggled, as Jules struggled to straddle Judith as Lassie fought for the weapon. Lassie had kicked away the gun, and Jules began reading Judith Ann her rights.
Shawn rolled over onto his stomach in an effort to distance himself from Judith Ann. He continued rolling until he was nearly at his father's feet.
Henry knelt next to his son, groaning as his old-man muscles protested the movement. Shawn lay on his back in the grass, looking dazedly up at Henry.
Shawn, frankly, looked a little worse for the wear—his right arm was clearly broken, from the way he was clutching it to his chest, and there was dried blood on his forehead near his hairline. Not even to mention the leaves in his bedraggled hair, or the fact that he was missing a shoe.
"Shawn—" Henry began, his voice choked with concern.
"You aren't really going to sell the house, are you?" Shawn asked, his brow furrowed.
Henry paused, and glanced over at Gus, who was frantically hitting buttons on the little computer-game that Shawn had thrown to him as a distraction. He was simultaneously talking to an emergency dispatcher about their location and Shawn's injuries. Henry glanced back at his son, and reached to pat his son's leg reassuredly.
"No, I'm not really selling the house," he said.
Shawn grinned. "I knew it! It was all some twisted mind game to teach me a lesson, wasn't it?"
Henry sighed. "Shawn, I wanted to show you that nothing is permanent. And that the way you've been living, it's dangerous, I mean—look at you," he said, gesturing to Shawn's arm.
Shawn sputtered indignantly as he struggled to sit up with only one hand, and Henry reached to help pull him up. "This was hardly my fault, Dad. All I did was go into my apartment—you're the one who hired a serial killer to prove a point to your son. And it's not like I haven't fallen off our roof before."
"You fell off the roof?" Gus asked sharply, hanging up the phone. He sat on the ground next to Shawn, setting his computer toy aside in order to start picking the leaves out of Shawn's hair. Shawn tried to swat him away, which only made Gus swat back at him in retaliation, which, naturally, dissolved into an all-out swatfest. Gus won, of course, as Shawn only had one arm to work with, and Shawn conceded the point, letting Gus brush the dirt off his head. Henry's mouth twitched into a smile, unable to suppress his amusement at the antics of his son and his best friend, just this once.
Henry disguised it quickly, however, by heaving a dramatic sigh and rubbing a hand over his face in put-on exasperation. "And why am I not surprised that you were up on the roof?"
"Well, to be fair, there weren't too many places to hide in there, Dad," Shawn said. "You didn't have nearly so many taxidermied woodland creatures for me to duck behind as you normally do."
"I still don't know why you had to lose your shoe, Shawn," Gus snapped, as he poked at Shawn's head wound, making Shawn hiss. Gus winced in sympathy, and retracted his hand. "I bought you those Nikes for Christmas. They're Lebron Witnesses, Shawn. Collector items. You shouldn't even be wearing them outdoors. Speaking of things you shouldn't be taking outdoors, what were you thinking about taking my Tamagotchi, son? You know you lost your computer pet privileges."
"Well, I had to throw something at the crazy realtor lady to distract her, and I thought you would kill me if I threw your Tamagotchi at a serial killer," Shawn explained. "And anyways, it's in the bush over there, probably, since she threw it at me when I fell off the roof." Shawn frowned. "When I was pushed off the roof? Does it count as getting pushed if it was a sneaker that pushed you?"
"Shawn, are you alright?" Detective O'Hara asked, leaving Judith Ann in Lassiter's custody. Juliet knelt on Shawn's other side, resting a hand on Shawn's shoulder.
"Just dandy, Detective," Shawn drawled. "That was some mighty fine tackling you did."
Juliet's brows wrinkled in concern, and she looked at Henry. "Is there a reason he's speaking in a Southern accent?"
"He's concussed," Gus answered automatically. "He always does an accent when he's concussed. The ambulance will be here in a few minutes."
Juliet smirked sympathetically, her hand still on Shawn's shoulder. Her eyes narrowed in confusion as they focused on something over Henry's shoulder. "Why is there a Lebron Witness in your orange tree?"
Gus raised an eyebrow at Shawn. "Even Jules respects the sacred shoes, son."
Shawn stuck out his tongue at his friend. Squeezing Shawn's shoulder in passing, Juliet stood to go check on Lassiter, and Gus shifted into the space she vacated, leaning into Shawn's shoulder to give Shawn some support. Henry could just hear Lassiter quietly asking his partner about Shawn's condition over the distant wail of the ambulance sirens.
"I'll ride with you in the back, when it comes," Henry told Shawn.
"You can only come if you promise to never trust a woman with a perm ever again," Shawn told his Dad. But he sounded more relieved than annoyed. Henry smirked.
"It's a deal," Henry replied. And hell, maybe he sounded a little less annoyed than usual, too.