Derek sat down on the edge of the bus stop bench, watching the very few cars on the road fly by, the sunset behind them turned the sky orange and the beach in the distance reflected the last rays. In response to her question of 'what now?' he cleared his throat. "We wait for the next bus."
She stayed silent, her gaze fixed on the setting sun and the coast line. Her eyes followed the horizon, coming to rest on a familiar looking pavilion. It was the pavilion from the wedding photos. Shawn and Juliet's wedding photos.
Anne turned away, the sadness apparent on her face.
Derek watched her carefully. "Wanna talk about it?"
Derek turned to her, confused, "Yes that's good that you don't want to talk about it or yes as in you do want to talk about it."
"The second one." She said plainly.
"I'll listen." Derek said back in the same monotone voice.
"It was my 8th birthday…"
The party was finally coming to an end. Anne Marie's friends were leaving. The house was cleared and Shawn started picking up the paper plates and party favors when the phone rang. He walked into the living room and looked at the large screen on the wall.
The caller ID on it flashed 'Santa Barbara Police Department'
Shawn flipped the switch to answer and turned on his own screen to see the face of an officer he recognized from the station.
"Mr. Spencer?" An officer asked.
"Shawn." He said, wondering what was going on.
"I'm going to connect you to the Chief's office."
The image flickered to Karen Vick's office. "I'm glad we finally reached you."
"It was Anne Marie's party, I turned off my phone." Shawn explained.
"Shawn I have some very bad news."
The bag of chips Shawn was holding slipped from his hand. Karen Vick never called him Shawn, it was always Mr. Spencer. Something must have happened. "Juliet…"
"Yes, it's about Juliet." Karen's voice was soft and somber. "She was murdered tonight. I'm sorry, there was nothing anyone could do." Telling someone their loved one died was something she learned to do throughout her career but it had never been as hard as it was right now.
"Dead?" He asked without thinking.
Karen just gave him another sympathetic look.
Shawn stumbled backwards from the screen. His breathing stopped as he stared at the screen. Thoughts ran rapid through his head. Murdered? How? What about Anne Marie? How am I going to tell her?
Anne peeked from behind the living room doorway off to the side. She overheard but stayed frozen where she was. She was scared. She heard about death before but didn't really know what it meant. When her great grandma O'Hara died her mom told her she went to a better place. But Anne didn't know what the meant.
Shawn didn't move. He stared down at the carpet and the mess of Doritos he dropped, his unsteady hands held back his hair and hid his face.
Karen stayed on the line. "I think it would be best if you came down to the station."
Anne watched her dad lift his head, his eyes were teary but he tilted his head back and opened his eyes wider to prevent the tears from actually falling. His eyes were moist and seemed…confused, disbelieving. Shawn always said the eyes are the window to the soul.
That's when he noticed his daughter."Anne." He walked over then nodded to Karen on the screen. "I'll…be right there." He flipped the switch to hang up.
"Where's mom?" Anne asked walking closer. "She said she'd be back but…" Anne didn't know how to finish. If dying was just going to a better place then maybe her mom would be back. Maybe it was just a trip and her mom would come back like she said she would.
Shawn faced Anne Marie and put aside his own thoughts. He had to focus on Anne right now. He knelt down in front of her just like Juliet had before she left. "Mom, won't be coming back. There was an accident tonight and she was hurt."
Anne Marie just didn't understand. "But she said she'd be back."
Shawn didn't know how to explain it. "Do you remember when great granny O'Hara died? She went to heaven, and that's were your mother is now. She's with her in heaven." I hurt Shawn to say that but he had to make it clear to Anne Marie.
"But won't she come back?" Anne asked, tears starting to form in her own eyes.
Shawn looked down and took another shaky breath. "She won't Ann; she's in a better place now."
That phrase again, a better place. Anne Marie shook her head side to side, "But why would she rather be there then here?"
Shawn looked back at her strongly. "You know your mom would always want to be—"
"Then she'll be back. She'll be back dad! She said she would." Anne Marie said stubbornly, shaking her head again, blonde hair waving over each shoulder with every turn.
Trying to be gentle he placed his hands on her swaying shoulders. "She can't come back, Ann. She's gone."
"I think I gave myself a headache from shaking my head so many times." Anne Marie said to Derek. She chuckled bitterly at the memory.
"I'm so sorry Anne. I didn't know that you didn't understand." Derek said giving a shiver. The normally warm night air felt exceptionally colder.
She shrugged. "Most kids don't fully comprehend death until they're nine. Plus no one ever really explained it to me."
"I think you need something to cheer you up. How about we go get something to eat…my treat?" Derek offered with a smile.
"Yeah I guess." Anne Marie said, not caring if it was a date or not.
Derek made a big show of opening the glass McDonald's door for Anne Marie. With a big flourish of his arm he bowed her inside.
"Why thank you kind sir." She curtsied and then grinned as he tipped a make believe hat.
Together they walked up to the girl behind the counter. Derek linked his arm around her's like a gentleman would escort a lady. He stuck his nose up and spoke in an exaggerated snooty manner. "Yes, we will have the caviar with a side of the roast duck."
Anne Marie burst out laughing, bending over to stifle her giggles. The girl behind the counter just looked on with annoyance.
Anne Marie straightened up, but was unable to hide her smile. "Two Big Macs please."
When they got their food they snagged a table that had already self sanitized itself (one of the newer technologies fast food places had picked up.)
Picking up a fry Derek spoke first. "So I guess we really are on a date now."
Anne smiled widely. "Don't kid yourself Derek."
In response Derek shot his paper straw wrapper at Anne, hitting her right in the forehead.
She laughed. "Oh this means war!" She said tearing off the tip of her own straw wrapper to prepare a paper missile.
Back when Shawn and Juliet were dating for awhile…
"Juliet! Juliet! There's something in your hair!" Shawn shouted in a high pitched voice, fanning himself dramatically. "Get it out! Get it out!"
A few officers looked at him curiously as they passed on by but a few stopped to see what the psychic was up to now.
One younger officer standing near Juliet glanced over to look at her hair. "I don't see anything."
Juliet continued trying to work, pretending she couldn't hear them. She even dug her head farther behind a case file to hide her amused smile. Shawn never failed to make her smile.
"Please Jules! It's there, take it out! It's clouding my inner eye." He clapped a hand to his forehead, apparently where his "inner eye" was.
"Fine. I'll play." She dropped the file and reached back to run her fingers over her blonde, messy bun. They brushed against something small and metallic. She untangled her hair tie and pulled out a modest but gorgeous silver engagement ring. Juliet went noticeably pink.
Shawn glanced around; sure that even Lassiter just saw what happened. "Jules, will you marry me?"
"Shawn." She said breathlessly, getting up from her desk. "We've only been dating for four months."
"But we've been flirting for twelve." He said playfully.
"I…I can't." She gathered up her things and walked over to Shawn. She took his hand, put it palm up and set the ring there. "I can't." She turned and left the station quickly.
Shawn stayed still in place, shocked.
He could feel the pairs of eyes on him, waiting to see how he would react. He held up the ring and studied it. "Maybe she didn't like it. Well it looked pretty when it was in the gumball machine."
Later that night, around 2 A.M, Juliet went to her bedroom window, she thought she heard singing outside her house. She was right.
"Every night, in my dreams, I see yooooou, I feeeeeeel you. That is how I know you go ooooooooon—"
"Shawn!" Juliet cut him off, leaning out her window. "What are you doing?"
Here Shawn was, singing the lyrics to My Heart Will Go On from Titanic. And he was sitting in the tree outside her house.
"Jules!" He shouted happily, teetering dangerously on a single branch.
"What do you think you're doing? How did you get up that tree?"
His eyes were out of focus. "I flew!" He burst out laughing hysterically, somehow finding that very funny. "Did ya hear that Jul? I flew!"
He took his arms off the branch to flap them at his side but put them back when he saw how bad his balance was. That's when it hit Juliet. "You're drunk!"
Now his speech was really slurred, as if the thought of how much alcohol he had made it worse. "Maybe a little…but I never had so much fun with karaoke! Oh and Jules? Do you know where my shoe is?" He kicked up his leg onto the branch and wiggled his toes, nearly causing himself to swing out of the tree.
"Sit still or you're going to kill yourself. Why are you here?" She hissed, pushing her window open more.
"You said you wouldn't marry me? Why not?"
"Shawn! It's just too soon. You're not thinking clearly, go home."
Shawn ignored her and went back to singing, leaning back for full use of his lungs to make it really loud. "Far across the distance! And spaces…betweeeeeeen us!"
A voice from a few houses away broke through the darkness. "Hey! Shut up or I'll call the police."
At this point you could tell by Shawn's voice alone he was drunk. "I am the police!"
Now Juliet was getting worried. "Get down! I'm serious."
"Why did you walk away?" Shawn's demeanor changed. Now he seemed hurt and disheartened.
Juliet sighed and leaned against the window frame. "Choosing who you're going to spend the rest of your life with isn't like choosing a candy bar at the store! It's a life decision. We can't rush into this. I can't rush into this."
Two Months Later…
"Keep that blindfold on." Shawn said looking over at Juliet in the passenger seat.
"It's not like I'm going to take it off now after keeping it on for a twenty minute car ride."
Shawn smiled at her even though she couldn't see through the cloth tied over her eyes. He pulled over the car into the wide field. The sky was perfect and sunny. He gave Juliet a hand out of the car and walked her across the field.
At the end he positioned her right in front of a single hot air balloon. He untied her blindfold.
Juliet gasped. "We're riding in that?"
"I know a person. Who knows a person, who knows a guy's brother." Shawn said smiling. He was relived that she looked delighted.
After a few minutes they were up in the air.
She gazed over the edge in awe. "Don't you need experience in this before they actually allow you to fly hot air balloons?"
Shawn shrugged his shoulders. "You're right; I don't know what I'm doing. The guys down there just let me take off. I have no experience what so ever. Hey what does this thingy do here?" He pulled the chain that released hot air into the balloon's canvas and they went rushing up.
"Shawn." She said breathlessly, crouching down protectively, grasping the sides.
He laughed. "I'm just kidding with you Jules. I do know what I'm doing. I worked with the Eldridge hot air balloon services when I was 20. I worked with the guys who set this up."
She composed herself, and brushed back a string of hair. "So why did you choose this for a date? Seems pretty elaborate"
"Well this isn't just any date." Shawn reached into his pocket and took out the same exact silver engagement ring he held two months ago.
"Why did you pick a hot air balloon to propose to me in?" She said, avoiding looking at the ring.
"You couldn't walk away this time."
Chapter End Notes:
Okay, well...this was a weird chapter to write becuase of the phone call flashback. I just didn't know if did so well or if it came off cheesy and OOC. Thanks for reading. Emily