Things only got more chaotic from there.
Shawn couldn't move. It probably had something to do with the crying woman lying on top of him and the fact that he couldn't seem to suck in a complete breath around the coughs crowding in his throat. Heat rolled out from the trailer in tremendous waves, washing little clouds of hot embers and thick black smoke over them. The sky looked like it was raining fire.
His eyes watered, leaking onto his cheeks, and he could practically feel the ends of his hair singeing. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a hairspray can grow to twice its size and he turned away, covering Eliza's head with his own body, just before it burst. Small bits of hot metal rained down on them and he flinched as he felt one shard hit him in the back of the neck. The inferno roared and crackled, deafening him, punctuated by the loud bangs of exploding cans of hairspray.
Dazedly noting that it seemed to be getting unbearably hot, he was concluding that maybe they should move when hands wrapped around his arms and grabbed hold of Eliza. Shawn suddenly realized that the yelling he'd been distantly registering now seemed a lot louder. The hands dug into his armpits and pinched the skin of his arms, but after what felt like a mile, the heat began to fade and the yelling got clearer.
"Oh my god, Eliza!"
"Are you two all right? Will one of you answer me, dammit?"
"What happened? Is he okay? Is Eliza?"
His head was spinning, which wasn't helped by the people moving in and out around him, practically pulsing. His eyelids kept sticking to the surface of his eyes, making it hard to focus on the surrounding crowd, hard to blink. His chest burned, heat scorching his throat and coughs tearing through him, unstoppable.
"Where the hell is Josh!?"
"Tip his head back! He can't breathe coughing like that!"
Shawn couldn't match the voices to faces—couldn't see faces, not really—everything was a confusing blur, moving too fast. He could feel hands on him, moving him, supporting him and he just hoped they were helping hands.
Someone reached forward and did as the voice demanded, gently tipping his head back with a little pressure on his chin and he grimaced as he felt the skin over his throat stretch taut. Every inch of him felt as though it had been shrunken by at least a size; he no longer fit in his own skin. Having his head back did help his breathing a little, though it didn't stop the hacking coughs.
"SHAWN! Get out of my way!"
Shawn blinked. That voice, he recognized. That voice he knew.
A second later Gus dropped to the ground beside him, expression freaked out and intense all at once. "Shawn? Are you all right?"
He coughed into the sleeve of his shirt and grimaced at the phlegmy goo it produced. "I'm f—freezing," he said and realized he was shivering like he'd just been plunged into an ice water bath. No wonder Gus was looking freaked.
"It's the radical change in temperature," he muttered absently. "Throws off your body…" Shawn rolled his eyes, or at least tried to, before they stuck in his sockets again. Gus calmed down a little as he took the opportunity to give Shawn the once over, then the twice over and then—
"Dude, stop eyeballing me like a cut of meat," Shawn got out between coughs. If anything, the worry lines on Gus' face deepened at the sound of Shawn hacking up his lungs. "Where's Eliza? Is she all right?"
Gus scowled, but looked relieved nonetheless. "You're an idiot, Shawn. Are you completely insane?"
Shawn sat up, dabbing at his nose with the back of his hand, surprised when it came away unbloodied. It still felt like it was on fire, the skin inside stretched tight the way it usually was before he got a nosebleed. He grimaced. "Not completely."
Gus punched him.
"Ow! Dude! I just ran into a burning tent, could you hold off on the abuse for at least another fifteen minutes?" He dissolved into the deep chesty coughs again, still shivering fiercely. Well, this was annoying.
"Excuse me, excuse me. Out of the way, please." The two set medics appeared from the crowd, rolling a gurney stacked with equipment between them. "Who's hurt?" the dark haired one at the front said.
"Josh, finally," Samantha said and Shawn glanced over his shoulder to see her crouching near a quivering Eliza.
"Him, he is," Gus said and he turned back around, shooting his best friend a dirty look.
"I am not, I'm—" Shawn broke into coughs again.
"Uh huh," Gus said.
There was some rustling and noise in the crowd surrounding them and a moment later Drew appeared. "The fire department and the police are on their way, Sam."
She nodded wearily in return. "Good."
The dark haired medic knelt down beside Gus, nodding at Shawn in a reassuring manner. "I'm Josh. I'm going to put an oxygen mask on you to make sure you're getting the oxygen you need, all right?"
Shawn opened his mouth to reply and at Gus' glare, merely nodded. The medic nodded back and then reached for an oxygen tank, pulling it closer and unwinding the attached mask. Shawn grimaced as he slipped it over his head and fixed it in place.
"That all right?" Josh asked.
"Fine," Shawn said and received another nod in return.
"Let's get you on a gurney," Josh said and, looking to Gus for assistance, put his arm around Shawn's back. The two men lifted him carefully to his feet—on legs were far unsteadier than Shawn thought they had any right to be—and helped him find a seat on one of the nearby stretchers. The movement got him coughing again, which was made doubly uncomfortable by the oxygen mask.
"What is wrong with you?" Gus demanded again as Josh began examining him for further injuries. "What were you thinking?"
"I was thinking, 'Oh no, that burning fiery tent is about to collapse. Eliza's still beneath it. That's bad,'" Shawn said, voice muffled by the oxygen mask.
"You're an idiot," Gus said peevishly.
"So you've said," Shawn said and winced as Josh turned his arm, revealing the scrape from his previous rescue, which was bleeding anew. "Ow," he commented.
Josh looked up. "It's just minor. We'll clean it and bandage it up and it'll be fine."
"You could have just yelled, 'Get out of there!' like a normal person, Shawn," Gus went on, clearly annoyed. "You didn't have to go running into the fire."
"She didn't exactly look like she was thinking clearly, Gus," Shawn told him and hissed softly as Josh began carefully cleaning the wound on his arm. "I just reacted, okay? I'm fine." He looked to Josh. "Tell him I'm fine."
"He'll be fine," Josh said, placing a swatch of gauze over the scrape.
Before Shawn could say anything, Gus said, "'Be fine' is not the same as 'fine', Shawn." A pang rippled through Shawn's gut at the look in Gus' eyes and he glanced away, hand curling around the thin sheet covering the gurney.
"There he is!" a voice shouted. "Mr. Spencer!"
Looking up out of reflex, Shawn was nearly blinded as a flash went off mere feet from his face. "Dude, what the—"
"Hey!" Josh exclaimed, face twisting in a frown, "What do you think you're doing? Back off!"
The throng of reporters ignored him, eagerly pushing in toward Shawn, waving microphones and setting off flashes like mini lightning bolts. "Mr. Spencer, how does it feel to be a hero, yet again?" one of them demanded.
Shawn tried to choke down a grin at the thunderous look on Gus' face and said with faux modesty, "I just did what any other good Samaritan would have done."
A pair of arms looped around his neck and he suddenly found himself cheek to cheek with Eliza herself, everything around him giving a little twirl at the abrupt movement. "I don't know what I would have done if Shawn hadn't been there to pull me out of the fire," she gushed. "I completely froze up and he dove in after me without a single thought for himself. Shawn is amazing."
Shawn shrugged, trying not to grin too broadly. "I'm just doing my part as… a…" He trailed off as Eliza tugged down the oxygen mask covering his mouth, eyes widening when she leaned forward and kissed him soundly on the mouth. The reporters went wild. She pulled back after just a second, sliding the mask back into place with a dazzling smile.
"I'm eternally grateful."
"What are you doing in here?" Samantha demanded, suddenly beside them. "I made it explicitly clear that you were not permitted to pass the boundaries of the set! You're trespassing!"
The reporters suddenly looked uncomfortable, shifting backwards. "We heard the explosion—rumors that there's a body," one of them said, trying to distract her. The paramedic who had been previously examining Eliza put a hand on her shoulder.
"Miss Carlisle. Please, I need to make sure you're not injured."
"I don't care what you heard!" Samantha retorted peevishly. "You're overstepping the borders of the set and I want you out of here now!"
"But Miss Melin—"
The rest of the reporter's protests were drowned out by the sound of Shawn's own hacking coughs. His chest hurt again and Gabe, screaming in the background, demanding to know what the hell had happened and bemoaning the fate of his movie, wasn't helping the faint throb that had started in his temples. There was too much going on.
"Shawn?" Gus said and his anxiety was palpable.
"I'm all right," he said, but spotted Syd pushing his way through the crowd, chest and hands iridescent and sparkling and he blinked, scrubbing his dry eyes, and wondered if he was hallucinating now. "Dude, what is this, Twilight?" he rasped and waved a hand in Syd's direction. "Eliza's PA is sparkly."
Gus glanced in the direction he'd pointed and shook his head. "You didn't even read the books, Shawn."
Rubbing a hand over his eyes, he retorted, "Vampires who sparkle Gus? Why would I read that?"
"You never appreciated good writing," Gus muttered.
"Are you feeling all right, Shawn?" Josh asked and his face was too close. Shawn backed away, waving his hand.
"I'm fine." Turning back to Gus, he said, "Because to appreciate it, I'd have to actually read it and that takes too long, Gus. I would rather do fun things, like have snail races or fill my dad's yard with garden gnomes cloaked in black with little word bubbles full of cryptic messages about his perfect lawn that I spent so much time on as a kid—"
"Shut up, Shawn," Gus said, sulking.
"You never let me finish," Shawn protested, voice whiny.
"You never run out of breath," Gus shot back.
Shawn shrugged. "It's a gift."
"Or a curse where I'm concerned," Gus muttered.
Behind them, Shawn could hear Syd fretting over Eliza. "…I'm so sorry, Miss Carlisle. I should have been here. Are you all right?"
"Go get me some water, Syd," she told him shortly and Shawn almost felt bad for the guy. She just wanted him gone.
There was an uncertain pause as Syd debated whether or not this was what she really wanted.
"Are you deaf?" she snapped and that decided it.
"I—okay," he said, defeated, and Shawn caught a glimpse of his back slipping into the crowd. Then Eliza was on his gurney again, leaning into his back.
"I can't believe you saved me again, Shawn," she purred.
He slipped out of her grasp as carefully as he could. "We've gotta stop meeting like this," he said, forcing a laugh. Her mouth was curling into a flirtatious grin when he caught Josh saying a word that always got his radar up.
"…definitely take them in to the hospital. Just to get checked."
"The hospital is overkill, don't you think?" he protested.
Gus gave him a look. "Shawn, you sound like the Christian Bale version of Batman."
Shawn grimaced. "Really? It's that bad?"
"Oh my god, Shawn!"
He looked up, surprised at the sound of Juliet's voice. "Jules."
She pushed forward through the crowd, her partner following behind her looking as though he'd just swallowed a mouthful of antifreeze. "What happened? We got the call that there was an explosion and a body and—oh my god, Eliza Carlisle!" She skirted around the end of his gurney, leaving him gawking after her. "I love your work!" she exclaimed.
Eliza straightened a little, brushing back her hair. "Oh you do?" she said.
Shawn's mouth opened and closed wordlessly a few times. "Jules…wounded psychic here."
"I should have known you two would be right in the middle of this," Lassiter said as he approached. His eyes swung around toward them and his eyes widened a fraction before he threw his arms up to block his eyes. "Dear God, why are you wearing skirts?! That's not something I ever wanted to see!"
"For your information, these are tunics," Gus said with a superior expression.
"Yeah, Lassie," Shawn said, coughing. "Tunics."
"I don't care what the hell you call them. It's disturbing on all levels." Lassiter extended a hand to block out the bits that he didn't want to see and Shawn and Gus snorted with laughter.
"Seriously. Man-up, Lassie. They're not that bad."
"Says the man wearing a skirt," Lassiter retorted. Shooting a suspicious look at Shawn he said, "What the hell happened to you anyway, Spencer?"
Shawn smiled and then grimaced as a series of coughs brought more phlegmy gook up into his throat. His abs were starting to ache from the spastic coughing, and Gus took it upon himself to start patting him on the back. The caring act of friendship quickly degenerated into a new way of delivering abuse, as each successive pat landed harder than the last until Shawn could feel his heart stalling with each blow. Shawn knocked Gus' hand away and waited for another pause between coughs to say, "I saved a woman's life—again."
"Oh great," Lassiter muttered.
Around them, the crowd finally began to thin out as Buzz and several other officers Shawn recognized but didn't quite remember the names of began to clear out the bystanders to give CSI and the coroner room to work.
Shawn smirked as one of the officers leaned over to his nearby comrade, whispering excitedly, "I can't believe we're actually on set!"
Lassiter had obviously heard the exchange as well because he whirled around snapping, "You have a job to be doing, so do it, dammit!"
While Lassiter was busy brow-beating his subordinates, Josh had reappeared from wherever he had disappeared to, trailing emergency medical workers in his wake. "These guys are going to transport you to the hospital," he said, gesturing. Shawn immediately scowled.
"Dude, that is definitely overkill. Look at me! Do I look like I need to go for a doctor's visit?"
"Depends on the kind of doctor," Lassiter muttered, his attention diverted back to Shawn and his unraveling medical drama. Shawn spared him a half-hearted glare before turning his energies back to convincing everyone around him that he was doing Just Fine, Thank You Very Much.
"Really," Shawn insisted. "I'll just go home, drink some fluids, be back to good in –" before he could finish the sentence, he broke into hacking coughs. Too tired to brace his body against the internal convulsions, Shawn's seized up completely. The latest coughing session lasted for several long minutes, ending finally with Shawn exhausted and gasping for breath.
"Yeah, you're the picture of health," Gus said, voice sarcastic, yet with worry edging into its tone.
"You should really go to the hospital," Juliet said. She was apparently taking a break from gushing over Eliza's 'amazing talent and skill' to widen her already huge blue eyes at Shawn, beseeching.
Not one to be outdone, Eliza immediately began to coo, " Yes, only the best care for my rescuer." Her voice was sugary, syrupy, sweet – enough to make Shawn gag, in other words, if he weren't already choking on air.
Shawn didn't appreciate being ganged up against. He was about to make his displeasure known, as soon as he could articulate himself with falling into yet another coughing fit, when Lassiter of all people let out an impatient growl and physically hauled him to his feet. Despite the suddenness of the movement, Lassiter's grip was gentle – too firm to wiggle out of, but not tight enough to bruise. "Where's your ambulance?" Lassiter asked the newcomer medics, and followed them as they led the way.
"Hey!" Shawn yelped. "Let go of me!" His voice came out raspy and strangled, but he didn't care. He kept up with the protests, saying, "Abduction! Abuse! Absconding with my person! Other words that start with A –" but couldn't keep up the litany before his cough returned.
Lassiter made an audible noise of annoyance. He had many such noises in his repertoire. But he changed his grip on Shawn in order to support him better as he coughed, even as he continued the steady march forward.
Gus, Juliet, and Eliza watched, blinking and dumbstruck, as Lassiter half-carried, half-shoved Shawn into the back of a waiting ambulance. "Why didn't I think of that?" Gus muttered to himself, before quickly getting out his car keys and readying himself to follow the EMT to the hospital. Someone would need to be there to hear the doctor's prognosis, after all – someone not Shawn – someone who would actually understand the importance of following doctor's orders. As usual, that someone was going to be him.
As they drove home from the hospital later that day, Gus glanced at Shawn out of the corner of his eye, watching as he coughed, slouched in the passenger's seat. "You need to listen to the doctor, Shawn. He told you to take it easy, so do it, okay?"
Shawn's entire head rolled instead of just his eyes, a clear indication that he was tired. "Yes, Mama Burton."
"Shawn, if you want to go back to the set tomorrow, you'll do what he said," Gus said.
"Speaking of the set," Shawn said, eyes closed. "What the hell is going on down there?"
"Obviously someone's trying to kill Eliza."
"Gee, thanks for that input, Gus, I never would have come up with that on my own," Shawn muttered.
"Hey, don't take it out on me just because you decided to act like an idiot and go running into a fire." He shook his head as he glanced into the rearview mirror. "This is getting really out of hand. I have to post in my blog again, soon."
Shawn's eyes popped open. "What? Gus! I could have died and you're thinking about your blog?" He dissolved into a fit of coughs.
Gus turned on him, his expression fierce. "Don't belittle my feelings Shawn! I thought that tent was going to fall on you!"
Shawn swallowed, shifting in his seat, his lips pursing. After a moment of silence (besides his constant throat clearing) he said, "Okay, so we have to figure this out." He glanced at his watch and shook his head, "Dad should have totally called by now. There was an explosion on the beach! What is going on with him?"
"Maybe he's been busy," Gus suggested.
"Busy with what? He only does like, three things, and two of them involve watching the news. I should have gotten a call from him ranting about, 'What are you into?' 'Explosions aren't something you should mess with, kid' or whatever. He always knows this stuff. It's creepy."
Gus just shook his head as Shawn fished his phone out of his pocket.
The phone rang twice before being picked up. "Hel—"
"Dad, I almost got blown up today."
His father heaved a sigh. "Shawn, I don't have time for this."
"But Dad, I almost died!" The coughing fit he broke into was only marginally on purpose.
"Of course you did," Henry said, but it was obvious he was distracted and totally not buying it. "You can fake sick better than that, kid."
"No, really, there was an explosion and a trailer caught fire and I saved the lead actress from certain fiery doom!"
Henry snorted out a laugh. "Are you and Gus coming from the movies or something? Shawn, you know better than to try and convince me of some cockamamie story like that. You'd never risk your ass like that."
"Dad! I'm serious! I singed my tunic and—is that a woman talking? Who's there?" he demanded, voice high and raspy, shifting higher in the seat at the faint sound of a woman calling his dad's name..
He could practically hear the roll of his eyes over the phone. "Shawn, we can talk about your delusional fantasies another time, I gotta go."
Shawn gawked at the phone, his stomach lurching. Oh god.
Gus glanced over at him, wary. "Maybe it's not what you think."
Slowly, Shawn sank back down into the seat.
When they arrived at the station, the entire SBPD was gathered in the bullpen, cheering and applauding wildly.
Shawn and Gus stopped at the back of the crowd, Shawn straining his neck in an attempt to get a look at what the cheering officers were gathered around. "Dude, what is the deal? Every couple of months we come in here and it's like they just watched their team make the winning touchdown at the super bowl."
"This is a very supportive work environment, Shawn," Gus said, watching the cheering officers with a look of approval that, frankly, just disgusted Shawn.
Trying to suppress his gag reflex, Shawn said, "Our work environment is totally supportive."
Gus snorted in response. "Sure, if by 'supportive' you mean 'subversive and demeaning'."
"Gus, I'm offended that you think so little of the environment I provide you." His eyes swept over the crowd, the back of his hand coming up to cover his mouth as soft coughs started bubbling up from his chest.
Eyes flicking away from the raucously congratulatory group, Gus said, "You provide me stress."
Shawn shook his head, but instead of dignifying that with a response, he waved a hand in the face of the nearest officer. "Dude, who're the accolades for?"
"Detective O'Hara and Detective Lassiter!" the young officer gushed. "They took down the entire drug ring!"
Shawn shook his head slightly continuing to clear his phlegm-coated throat. "Those two seriously need to share the spotlight." Gus' eyebrows rose in agreement. It didn't escape either man's notice that Juliet's name had come first.
"Come on," Shawn said. "This vantage point is terrible." He pushed into the crowd of blue-clad bodies and Gus followed behind him, coasting through in his wake.
Clapping as he broke through the other side, Shawn was surprised to see Juliet at the center of it all, flapping her hands modestly and saying 'thank you's and 'it was for all of us's that sounded eerily similar to Lassiter's post-triumph posturing. Sometimes it gave him the creeps how much rubbed off between the two of them.
Juliet beamed at him, brushing a lock of hair behind her ear. "Shawn, Gus, hi!" Then she lowered her voice and creased her eyebrows. The cheering faded into the usual station chatter. "Shawn, how're you feeling?"
"Hey Jules, doing better," Shawn said, his voice still raspy. He coughed a little and tilted his head downward so as to better utilize the suffering-psychic bit. "So you got the drug ring. Congratulations."
"Thanks," she said, flushing with pride. "It was a team effort, but you know."
"Yeah," Shawn said and leaned to the left, peering around her. "Where's Lassie? Usually he's totally lapping this stuff up."
"I know, I'm not sure where he disappeared to," Juliet said thoughtfully, glancing around the bullpen.
"I'm right here," Lassiter said, materializing out of a dark corner. All three of them jumped.
"Dude, Lassie. Who are you, the Shadow?" Shawn asked, the surprising entrance setting him off on a mild coughing fit.
"Have you been there the entire time?" Juliet asked, staring at him.
"Yes," Lassiter muttered, sliding into his desk chair.
She frowned, concern sweeping onto her face. "Carlton, what were you—"
Lassiter's teeth grit and Shawn got the distinct impression that if he answered that particular query, there would be trouble.
"Hey, Jules!" he broke in. "Gus and I just swang by to see if the M.E. had come back with the autopsy results yet. Did we find out what killed Fern?"
"It's Vern, Shawn," Gus said peevishly.
"That's what I said," Shawn said, unruffled.
"No, it isn't. You said—"
Shawn jabbed him in the side with an elbow and Gus retaliated with a sharp smack. The two of them dissolved into a painful-looking slap fight, Shawn’s coughing growing exponentially with the action.
"Yes," Juliet said loudly and they immediately dropped arms, regarding her with their best thoughtful and dignified expressions. Shawn tried and failed to muffle several coughs.
"Oh?" he finally choked out.
Giving them both a look, Juliet said, "Yes. The M.E. says that the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the back of the head."
"Oh, he does, does he?" Shawn said, rocking back on his heels, expression haughty.
Juliet looked up at him, newly interested. "Why? Do you have something?"
Shawn paused for a moment, considering, and then shook his head. "No. But it sounded good, didn't it?"
Juliet rolled her eyes and turned back around, grabbing a large wad of papers off of her desk. Shawn leaned forward as one of the papers beneath caught his attention.
It was a tox report, and apparently the make-up in the trailer had been tampered with. His eyebrows rose and he rocked back on his heels again, cogs whirring in his brain.
Now that was interesting.
~ * ~
"Dude, that thing—is awesome," Shawn said, staring as a neon green miniature helicopter was unloaded out of a truck. The coughing was still present today, but with far less force and regularity. His lungs seemed to be mostly over their brush with the smoke.
"It's a chopper cam, Shawn," Gus said, but he was eyeing the camera with a similar look of excitement, fingers curling and uncurling. "It's for filming."
Shawn shot him an annoyed look. "Obviously Gus. I've been on a set before. I do know what some of this stuff does."
"Coulda fooled me," Gus muttered.
The chopper cam technician stood back when the little helicopter had been settled onto a plywood board on the set and began flipping switches on the enormous control pad. Shawn and Gus gawked as the blades on top began to spin. A moment later it lifted off and Shawn clapped his hands, jabbing a finger at the helicopter. "That is SO awesome!"
The assistant director breezed past them, calling, "Is this where you two are supposed to be?"
"Oh, yeah! Totally!" Shawn called back over his shoulder, eyes still focused on the helicopter now zipping around overhead. "We're here so he can—you know—test."
Shawn kept half an ear open, expecting the AD to order them back to extras holding, but instead, he heard the man call, "Gabe, the chopper guy is ready. He's just doing a few final tests and then he'll be ready for filming. That means we've got five minutes to get everybody together."
"You're sure everything is in place?"
"Gabe—" Shawn’s curiosity was piqued when the AD’s reply seemed to indicate that Gabe wasn’t speaking to him.
"No, I've got a way to get rid of her, don't worry."
Shawn's eyebrows rose at that and he turned to see Gabe scowling at the assistant director, as he said into the phone, "Yes. All right. I've got it. Thank you."
"I heard you the first time Ryan. Why aren't you telling everybody else?" Gabe snapped, flipping his phone shut with a snap.
The AD's mouth tightened but he nodded and he hurried off, jamming down the button on his radio. Shawn turned casually back toward the helicopter above them, nudging Gus with his elbow.
"What?" Gus said, eyes still reverently tracking the progress of the copter across the sky.
"Dude, I think I may have just figured out who could be behind all of the sabotage on set," he said quietly.
Gus tore his eyes away from the helicopter to raise his eyebrows at Shawn. "Seriously?"
"Seriously. And I think we need to have a little get-together with the primary players, see if I can get a psychic reading."
Gus gave him a look. "You mean you want to get back up and confront the bad guy in front of everybody, just in case you turn out to be right and they try to take you out for ruining their nefarious plans."
Shawn pursed his lips. "Dude, it doesn't sound nearly as awesome when you put it like that."
"Most things don't when they're not in Shawnglish."
"Are you saying I make everything cooler?" Shawn said, perking up.
Giving him a deadpan look, Gus said, "No, Shawn, I'm saying you embellish so as to make stupid and/or boring things sound exciting when they're really not. I'm saying you're a big, fat liar."
Shawn put a hand over his heart, gasping softly. "Gus. That hurts me."
"You actually need feelings for them to be hurt, Shawn," Gus said and turned back toward basecamp. "Come on, we need to get to the food tent before all the good coffee is gone."
"You know that's right," Shawn said. They bumped fists and the little neon green helicopter zoomed low overhead, its dark shadow tracking their progress.
~ * ~
"I want to thank you all for coming," Shawn said, arms held out graciously as he turned in a neat little half-circle to survey the group he'd gathered together. They all stood at the edge of the lighted portion of the beach, looking equal parts exasperated and curious. Juliet had finally managed to calm down after her initial encounter with Eliza, but every so often her eyes slipped to her left, a smile creeping onto her face as she looked at the movie's star. Lassiter looked more annoyed than ever, the darkness from the beach seeming to creep up around him to hover at his shoulders. Gabe was flipping through his script, feet shuffling constantly, obviously impatient. It wasn't rapt attention, but it was a start.
"What are you wearing, Shawn?" Juliet asked, eyes raking critically over his figure.
Shawn glanced down, giving the glittery roman gladiator costume he was wearing a once over before looking up at her, clueless. "Not sure I see what you're asking, Jules."
"I think he looks marvelous," Eliza purred. She licked her lips and Shawn shifted uncomfortably, pulling the glittering red cape around to block her view of his body. The come-ons were starting to seriously creep him out.
"How the hell did you get that costume? You're not supposed to be wearing that," Gabe demanded, small eyebrows furrowing into his forehead. "Irene and I are going to have to have a talk about the security of the costumes…" he muttered, glowering at Shawn. His eyes flicked over to Gus and his expression melted into a softer, more thoughtful expression. "If anybody should be wearing that costume, it should be him. Those calves are perfect…"
All of Shawn's pretenses dropped. He threw up his hands. "Seriously! What is it with you people and his calves?! They're not that amazing. Mine are quite nicely sculpted, I'll have you know! Look at these babies!" Thrusting out a leg, he swiveled it back and forth, trying to display his calf at the best possible angle.
He glanced to Lassiter and Juliet for confirmation and merely received two 'Ehhh, no.' looks in response.
"This is a conspiracy," Shawn grumbled unhappily.
"Shawn," Juliet said. "Focus. What are we doing here?"
Sighing heavily, Shawn pushed back the cape and waved an arm at them all with less than his usual enthusiasm. "I brought you all together here tonight because I have reason to believe that something really, really bad is going on here."
"Gee," Lassiter drawled, "you figured that out all by yourself?"
He was ignored, Shawn pausing to look at each of them in turn—for drama, of course. "I am eighty-five to ninety-six percent sure someone is trying to kill Eliza."
A long moment of silence passed, Shawn carefully watching the diminutive, balding director for a reaction. He just proceeded to look more annoyed and impatient, round face turning red.
Finally, Lassiter's eyes rolled, his arms crossing over his chest. "Spencer, you'd have to be a complete moron not to suspect that by now. She's been nearly killed, what, three, four times now?"
Shawn lifted a finger, "Ah, but before we just thought it was an accident." He paused, head tipping to the side and amended, "Well, I didn't. But still."
"Please tell me you have more than 'someone is trying to kill Eliza'," Juliet said. "I was on my way home to feed my cats."
Gabe scowled at Shawn. "This is a waste of time. I have a movie I'm already almost a week behind on, so if you don't mind, I'd like to get back to it."
Juliet leveled a stern look at Shawn. "Do you have any concrete evidence? Any suspects?"
Shawn floundered, his mouth working silently for a moment. "I—well—not exactly."
"Perfect," Lassiter muttered.
"Ryan," Gabe barked into his radio, "Get everyone set up, scene sixty-three in five minutes." He strode off, flip-flops kicking up sand as he walked. "And get that costume back to Irene!" he shouted over his shoulder.
Juliet sighed and said, "Call us when you have something more, Shawn."
"Better yet, don't call us at all," Lassiter said nastily and the two detectives headed off across the set, Juliet picking her way carefully through the sand in her high heels.
"Well that was a big success," Gus said mildly. "I take it you didn't get anything."
Shawn made a face, crossing his arms across his chest. "Gabe didn't react, no. I still think he has something to do with it."
"Well, you'll have to figure it out later unless you want to get fired. You need to get that thing you're wearing back to the costume trailer and get changed before the scene starts—we're in sixty-two. And you have—" He glanced at his watch. "Four minutes and eleven seconds to do it."
Shawn fluttered his hand dismissively. "They never start when they say they're going to. I've got time."
Gus snorted and shook his head, obviously thinking, It's your funeral.
"Get that thing up in the air! I want it ready the second everyone is on set!" Gabe shouted. Shawn pursed his lips, glancing at Gus out of the corner of his eye.
"Maybe I should hurry."
Gus nodded. "Yeah, I think so."
"Man," Shawn whined, but he broke into a jog, cutting directly across the set in an effort to cut his travel time in half. Gabe continued shouting orders and demands at anyone within a few feet, obviously peeved about the delays and hell-bent on getting something done. Actors were already seeping onto the set, finding their places and skimming scripts for last minute line-memorization. The miniature helicopter started to whirr as its blades got going and it lifted slowly off of the plywood board, it's controller off to the side grumbling and shooting poisonous looks in Gabe's direction.
"What the hell are you wearing, Spencer?" Drew demanded incredulously. The group of extras he'd been herding toward the set continued on without him, chattering amongst one another. "You have to be on set in two minutes! Are you insane!?"
"Dude, I'm on my way," Shawn said, "Don't worry, I'll be here in…"
He trailed off, head tilting to the side as the yelling from the forming scene behind him changed tenors. "Sorry, sorry!" someone yelped frantically.
"Crap!" another, deeper voice yelled and then: "Get off, get off—crap! LOOK OUT!"
Someone screamed and Shawn turned just in time to see the chopper cam take a sharp nosedive, plummeting straight for him.