A/N: I haven't written much action before, but I've started to dabble in it here and there, so I wanted to write my first story that involves an actual case. Obviously, at its core, this is still a Shules story, because I can't imagine writing anything else, but it's definitely a change of pace from my usual work, so I hope you enjoy it!
Title comes from Phil Collins' "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" (1984), as a nod to the Chief's canonical love for Phil Collins. I don't own Psych or anything else.
Juliet poured herself a second cup of coffee and headed towards her desk. It was only mid-morning—very early for her to be on her second cup, as she usually showed much more restraint—but she had woken up feeling anxious, some strange since of foreboding hanging over her the whole time she was getting ready for work, and not dissipating as she drove to the station.
When she'd arrived at work, nothing seemed amiss. The Chief wasn't in the office yet, but that wasn't entirely out of the ordinary—she often had meetings at City Hall or other responsibilities that kept her away from the station in the morning. Of course, she didn't remember the Chief mentioning any meeting or anything, but that didn't mean there wasn't one.
And yet, Juliet was still feeling a strange sense of dread, like some sort of turmoil was building up, and any second, it would explode. She sat at her desk with her fresh cup of coffee and shook her head to clear it. Maybe she just had a headache coming on or something; there was no reason to believe that something more sinister was brewing.
Turning back to the file she'd been aimlessly flipping through while she tried to regain her focus all morning, Juliet tried to get back to work.
Suddenly, the Chief stormed into the station, eyeing Juliet at her desk. Juliet looked up, alarmed, as Chief Vick came in. She didn't look angry, exactly, but she certainly looked upset, and as Juliet looked up at her, she thought she spotted a hint of fear on the Chief's usually calm face. Worry rose in her for a moment—if the Chief is afraid, that's never a good sign.
Chief Vick heads for her office. "O'Hara, I'd like to see you in my office in about five minutes for a briefing. Lassiter, you come here first, please."
Juliet frowns. Chief Vick always briefs them together; it seems strange that she would separate them. It's not a good sign.
Across the station, her partner is clearly having the same thought. "You can't brief us together?"
"Not this time," she responses, her voice crisp and clear. No nonsense. "Lassiter, now, please."
Lassiter turns towards Juliet as he goes, offers her a quizzical look and then a shrug, following the Chief into her office.
He emerges five minutes later, looking visibly shaken. "Carlton?" she asks. "Are you okay?"
He doesn't look at her, and his voice is eerily calm—he's trying too hard, Juliet thinks. Almost robotically, he says, "she's ready for you now, O'Hara."
Before she can say anything further to him, he's gone, walking down the hallway towards the interrogation rooms. The fear is growing quickly in Juliet now, and she swallows, taking a deep breath, and then opens the door to the Chief's office, closing it behind her.
The Chief is quiet at first, but she seems calmer than she had when she first walked into the station a few minutes earlier. "O'Hara, good. Sit down, please."
Juliet does. "Is everything okay, Chief?" she asks, trying not to let her nervousness leak into her voice.
The Chief takes a deep breath. "I'm afraid not. There was an explosion this morning, down by the water."
Juliet frowns. "Down by the water?"
The Chief nods grimly. "Near Henry Spencer's house…well, his yard."
"Oh my God. Is he okay? Was he there?"
"Henry is fine. But Mr. Spencer—Shawn—has been living there, and…well, he was injured."
Juliet felt her heart drop into her stomach. Not Shawn. Not now, not when they hadn't really spoken in weeks, not when he had broken her heart and she'd spent the last several weeks watching herself continue to break his.
"Oh, God," she says softly. "He's not-," she doesn't let herself say it; no, she won't even think it. "How bad is it?"
"All things considered, not too bad, thank God. It was a crude device. He was knocked out by the force of the explosion, and his wrist is badly sprained, and he's pretty cut and bruised in places, but he's alive. He understood what was happening just before the explosion actually went off, so he managed to get away from it a little bit before it actually detonated."
Juliet nodded, relief flooding through her. Shawn was alive. "Thank God."
"His abilities came in handy," the Chief commented, and Juliet felt a surge of guilt. At the same time, the Chief raised an interesting question—how could Shawn have known what was about to happen to him? She knew he wasn't psychic, and yet, there were times like this in which she still couldn't wrap her head around how he did what he did. It helped, a little—she felt less stupid for having believed in him all these years—but it also stung, remembering how it had felt to find out that all of it had been a lie.
Realizing she hadn't responded, Juliet merely nodded, hoping that would do. "Was Henry there when it happened?" she asked again.
"Yes, luckily. He's the one who called it in. I can only imagine the distress it must have caused him, given that he's still recovering from his chest wound."
Juliet nodded grimly. "I'm so glad he wasn't injured as well."
"So am I. The difficulty now will be keeping him off this case. You know as well as I do that he's impossible to dismiss where his son is concerned."
Juliet smiled. That was certainly true, no matter what Shawn tried to say about their relationship.
"Is Shawn in the hospital?" she asked, hoping the Chief would answer the question she'd left unsaid as well. When can I see him?
"No, true to form, he refused transport. The ambulance cleaned him up as best they could and wrapped his wrist. He should be here momentarily to give his full statement."
Juliet nodded. "Well, if he's well enough to insist on not going to the hospital, that's a good sign."
The Chief nodded but grimaced. "It is, although I usually prefer that my team takes their injuries seriously, and with Mr. Spencer, you just never know…"
Juliet smiled. "Understood." She stood up from her chair to leave.
"Ah…wait just a moment, O'Hara. There's something else."
Juliet turned, heading back to her chair. "Yes, Chief? Did you want me to take his statement, or…?" Now that she knew Shawn was actually going to be okay, she felt herself reverting to her old choice not to see him. It was just too hard. Every time she looked at him, it hurt, although these days, she was no longer entirely sure whether that pain came from the memory of his lies or from the fact that he was no longer hers.
"No, it's not that. I've put Lassiter on that."
Juliet snorted. "I'm sure he's thrilled."
The Chief smiled for just a moment, and then her face immediately returned to seriousness. "I'm afraid this is a little bit more serious than taking a statement, O'Hara. You see, when Mr. Spencer got out of the way of the explosion, he realized that the device wasn't the only thing our suspect apparently left for him. There was also a note attached to the front door of Henry Spencer's house, perhaps left as a warning should the device malfunction. And the note that he found mentioned you, too."
"Yes, O'Hara. Apparently, whoever's after Mr. Spencer is also after you."
Juliet frowned, trying to process that. "What's the…what's the connection between Shawn and me? What I mean is—why would someone be targeting the two of us? Did the note mention anyone else?"
"No one else was mentioned. We're not sure what the connection could be. Obviously, you and Mr. Spencer have…a history, but we have no reason to believe that that fact specifically has anything to do with this. Mr. Spencer is convinced it has to do with a case the two of you worked on."
"Huh. I guess that would make sense," Juliet said. "But that doesn't narrow it down much. Did Shawn have any idea which one?"
"Unfortunately, no, not when I last spoke with him. He was as stumped by this as you are."
"Was there anything specific in the note? Anything at all that might help us figure this out?"
The Chief shook her head. "Nothing. The note was basically just a list, with two bullet points. Shawn's name had been crossed out, probably because the perp assumed he would have taken care of Shawn by the time it was found, and yours was the only other one listed. There was nothing else written on the note. We're having the handwriting analyzed, of course, but we're never sure that anything will come of that."
"Huh. Well, that won't make it easy," Juliet said. "Maybe I can start going through some files, and when Shawn's done with his statement, I can see if there's anything else. He may—he may have come up with something by then." She stood up, ready to start working on the case. The sooner she started, the sooner she could stop worrying about Shawn, and about her and Shawn.
"I thought you might want to know—when Mr. Spencer came to, Henry said that his first question was whether or not you were okay."
Juliet nodded slowly, not sure how to respond. Guilt pooled at the bottom of her stomach. Shawn had been hurt—knocked out-and his first thought was…her? She felt the tug she'd been feeling with increasing frequency over the past few weeks, the urge to just put everything with Shawn behind them and move forward…together.
Her mind flashed to a different moment, months ago now, a moment of relief and happiness on a bench with Shawn, in what had been one of the scariest cases they had ever worked on. "Jules, my single greatest fear used to be that something would happen to me. Second greatest fear was that something would happen to Gus. Clearly all of that has changed, so do me a favor and stop finding yourself in grave danger."
"I will do my best," she'd responded, then.
Well, a lot of good that promise had done both of them. Now she was in danger, Shawn had almost been killed, and what was worse…they didn't have each other to rely on anymore. And yet, this was just another one of those moments in which she realized that Shawn had been telling the truth, when it came to how he felt about her. Clearly, he had, given that his first thought upon waking up had been her safety.
The pain in her heart grew deeper. God, she missed him. And she didn't want to, not with everything that had happened, but she kept remembering all the good, all the wonderful moments when she'd been sure she could never love anyone else more than she loved him, and it became impossible not to feel the weight of his absence, the unbearable pain of learning to live without.
Juliet snapped back to attention, blushing as she realized that she had no idea how long the Chief had been calling her name. "Sorry, zoned out for a second there."
The Chief gave her a knowing glance, as if to say, we both know you were thinking about him, and Juliet felt her blush deepen. "I know this is a lot to take in," the Chief said gently, "but you know we will put every person we have on this, and we will keep you two safe. We will do everything it takes."
Juliet nodded. "I know. I'm…strangely, I'm not that worried about the threat. I think we're going to be okay. But I am going to start going through some old files, see if I can figure out who might be behind this."
"Start recent," the Chief advised. "Mr. Spencer seemed to suspect that this is someone who thought you two may have seen something you shouldn't, not someone who's now out of jail and holding a grudge."
Juliet frowned. "But the people from recent cases are in jail now."
The Chief shook her head grimly. "He seems to suspect that it's not someone that went to jail, it's someone who's involved with something but hasn't quite been caught. And they want to make sure it stays that way."
Juliet frowned again. That didn't seem to make much sense. "How would Shawn know…?"
The Chief shrugged. "I didn't have a chance to talk to him for very long, but you know as well as I do that when Mr. Spencer says something that seems crazy and far-fetched, too often he ends up being spot-on."
Juliet nodded, considering. That was perhaps the best summation of Shawn—who was really quite impossible to put into words-that she'd heard in a while. "Well, I'll go take a look at those files, see if I can find anything," she said.
"Thank you, O'Hara. And try not to worry. We'll figure out who's behind this."
"I know we will."
"I've got some ideas about next steps, but I'm not sure exactly what route to take yet, and I'd like to let you and Mr. Spencer know at the same time when I do."
Juliet nodded. That made sense.
"But in the meantime, don't leave the station, please. In fact, don't even go outside at all. If someone targeted Shawn at home, I don't want you going anywhere near your place. We don't know what this bastard is capable of, and until we have a firm plan, I want to keep a close eye on both of you."
Juliet nodded again, turning to leave. "Roger that."
Finally, she left the Chief's office, sinking in her desk chair. It was a lot to take in, from her concern about Shawn to her curiosity about the case, to what next steps the Chief possibly had in mind, to her anxiety about having to work closely with Shawn again on whatever this was…in all of it, she had nearly forgotten that she, too, had been threatened.
Just when it was starting to hit her that she was in danger, too, Buzz burst into the bullpen, running into the Chief's office. The Chief ran out after him, looking frantic and terrified, with a glance at Juliet out of the corner of her eye as she did so, as if to check if she was still there.
Juliet's first instinct was to stand to follow the Chief, but then she remembered that she was not to step outside the station. She stood at her desk lamely for a few seconds, unsure what else to do, and then slowly sunk back into her chair, shaking her head to clear it. The Chief would tell her what was going on when she came back inside; there was nothing she could do about whatever it was right now.
And then she heard the explosion, the windows of the station rattling in their frames, the whole building seeming to shudder with the force of it.
Oh, God, she thought, The Chief!
A/N: Definitely different from my usual stuff, but I do hope you enjoyed this! Please feel free to leave any thoughts in the comments, it truly makes my day to read them! Next chapter will be up next week. :)