This story is for the 2010 Whumpathon, sponsored by SidneyWoo and Dragonnan. Enjoy! http://www.psychfic.com/community/showthread.php?t=1826
Whump: seizure, concussion, skull fracture
Location: city sidewalk near a bar/pool hall
Whump Tool Kit: chain link fence, shoelace
*AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story takes place after my previous Psych Fan Fiction stories "Choose It Or Lose It", "It Can Happen", "This Stalker Thing Kind Of Sucks", and "Stir Crazy". Events affecting the Lassiter/Shawn and Lassiter/Juliet dynamics that take place in both of these previous stories are mentioned in this one. You might want to read them first. Doing so is not a requirement to understand what is going on in this one, but it will help alleviate any confusion that might occur when the references pop up.*
WARNING: Some good whump with fairly graphic description. There's also some cussing and an "f-bomb" in here for added "flair!"
"Why are we here again, Shawn?" Juliet asked as she pushed her sunglasses farther up her nose to shield her eyes from the afternoon sun. She crossed the parking lot to where Shawn and Gus stood casually leaning against the side of the little blue company car. Lassiter silently followed, looming behind his partner with a sour scowl plastered on his face.
"I told you, Jules! The spirits are telling me there's an important clue in there!" Shawn pointed towards the battered front door of a seedy local bar. Judging by the state of the other cars and motorcycles in the parking lot, as well as the surrounding businesses sporting an abundance of "XXX" neon signs and "Dollar Beer Night!" ads in the windows, the customers frequenting that particular establishment did not have very high income levels. Or ethical standards.
Juliet and Lassiter both shot a skeptical glance at the bar before turning their wary gazes back to Shawn. It was creepy how in-sync they'd become, as their heads moved in nearly perfect unison.
"Your clue is in there?" Lassiter asked, seeking clarification as he regarded the bar situated in the heart of Santa Barbara's most notorious adult business district.
"Yep!" Shawn smiled.
Lassiter paused and looked at the dented and scratched windowless gray metal door again. It seemed more like it belonged in a prison than in a civilian industrial area. Even the painted-over windows were covered in metal chicken wire. "It's in the 'Hog Heaven' biker bar," he stated, his tone flat.
"Yes, it is!" Shawn raised his hand to his temple with a grand flourish as his smile grew wider. "The spirits are telling me that there is an important lead we have to investigate in there!" He pointed at the monolithic door again, its marred surface a testament to the rough history of the place.
"What is the lead, Shawn?" Juliet asked, becoming curious. "What are we looking for?" She knew they needed all the information they could get before two police officers waltzed into such a rough establishment unannounced. Even in the middle of the day, this was a place where no member of law enforcement was welcome. Ever.
"I don't know, Jules," Shawn tried to explain. "But I'll know it when I see it. I need to get in there so the spirits can speak to me. I need to get in there now, they're saying it's urgent, and—"
"Okay, Shawn, I believe you," Juliet interrupted him as she held up her hand. "We'll go inside and check it out."
Lassiter rolled his eyes in annoyance at his partner's apparent willingness to fall for Spencer's ridiculous antics yet again, but he kept his mouth shut. Like it or not, Spencer got results, and the Head Detective had learned to listen to the fake psychic's instincts over the years.
"All right, here's what we're going to do," Lassiter declared firmly as he grabbed his radio off of his belt. "I'm going to let Dispatch know our location in case we have any problems. We'll go in, look around, see if Spencer can..." he paused to mockingly wave his hand in the air beside his head, "divine anything. At the first sign of trouble—and I mean if someone even scratches his ass the wrong way—we're gonna bail." He fixed Shawn and Gus with a menacing glare that demanded their obedience. "You two understand me? If it goes bad in there we leave pronto. No questions asked. You clear?"
"As crystal, Lassie," Shawn said as he tilted his head towards a now nervous looking Gus. "One question, though. What is the right way to scratch one's ass?"
"Shawn!" Gus smacked his best friend on the arm. "He said no questions!"
"Oh, Come on, Gus! There are so many variables..."
"Shawn," Juliet scolded as Lassiter keyed up his radio and spoke with the dispatcher. "We're serious. This is a very rough bar, and they especially don't like cops. So just follow our lead, we'll take care of you. And if we tell you to leave, you leave immediately. No questions, no 'visions' or jokes, you just get the hell out and don't worry about us. Okay?" She finished her sentence with a reassuring smile for Gus' benefit.
"Okay, Jules, I promise. Scout's honor." Shawn held up his right hand while holding his left one behind his back, hiding his crossed fingers.
Juliet walked over to Lassiter, conferring with him in hushed tones while leaving Shawn to suffer the annoyed glare of his best friend. "What?!?" he shrugged. "Trust me, Gus, this is going to be so cool!"
"What is so cool, Shawn? You haven't even told me why we're here!" Gus chastised him. "I swear, Shawn. If you made me blow off the rest of my route today for one of your hair-brained schemes—"
"Gus, Gus, GUS!" Shawn entreated his friend. "Just...trust me, okay? This is gonna be so awesome! The Chief hasn't been calling on us very much lately, but this is bound to get us back on her good side and drum up some more business. We're gonna rock that houuuuse!" He offered his fist out to Gus, who simply walked away with an annoyed look on his face. "Aww, come on, buddy! Don't leave me hanging!" Shawn stared absently at his lonely fist, sticking out his lower lip in a childish pout before following his best friend.
Lassiter and Juliet each did a quick check of their gear before heading towards the menacing-looking gray door. Lassiter stood off to the right on the same side as the handle while Juliet moved to stand behind him, followed closely by Gus, then Shawn. The pseudo-psychic was dead last because Gus invoked his long-standing rule of refusing to be the last person when entering a 'danger room', as he called it. Gus totally ignored Shawn's comments about "X-men" training, and how he'd have to be Dr. Xavier because he's the only psychic, and he sure as hell wasn't going to be Jean Gray, even though she was pretty awesome...Lassiter and Juliet had chosen to 'stack up' to the right of the door because it had no front window on that side, and no one would see them preparing to enter. Juliet looked at the two men behind her, then placed her left hand on Lassiter's shoulder and gave a slight squeeze, their silent code meaning everyone was ready to go. Lassiter nodded, stashed his sunglasses inside his jacket pocket, then pushed the door open and rushed inside. Juliet followed immediately with Gus and Shawn close behind.
The room was dimly lit, and it took a few seconds for their eyes to adjust to the change after abruptly leaving the bright sunlit parking lot. The door closed behind them with an ominous metallic *thud* as if they were being sealed inside a large metal cage. Lassiter and Juliet quickly surveyed the room, searching the many nefarious-looking patrons for potential threats. Lassiter grabbed Shawn's shirtsleeve, forcing him to stay close while Juliet did the same with Gus.
"Watch your backs," Lassiter growled at Shawn under his breath. "And hurry up, damn it."
Shawn immediately began scanning everyone in the hazy, smoke-filled room. It was lit mostly by neon signs advertising various brands of beer, as well as an old-fashioned juke box in the far corner by a pool table with a "Budweiser" lamp suspended from the ceiling above it. As soon as he got a good look at the people in front of him, he decided that maybe it wasn't actually such a good idea to come barging into this beer joint after all.
There were roughly thirty patrons inside the bar, and every one of them looked like they were tough enough to eat nails for breakfast. Judging by the sour expressions he saw reflected back at him and the two officers flanking his sides, some of them may have actually done just that, and were probably working on passing said nails from their digestive systems at that very moment. The two large male bikers playing pool in the corner stood up straight, wringing their hands on their pool cues as they glared menacingly at the unwelcome cops that had dared to set foot on their turf. Judging by the look on the face of the taller and more heavily tattooed member of the duo, Shawn thought he was probably fantasizing about smacking Lassiter upside the head with the long stick he squeezed tightly in his hands.
Shawn continued sweeping the bar with his intensely acute gaze, searching for the man he was sure he would find here. He saw two thin yet surprisingly muscular and tan biker chicks dressed in leather vests, bandanas, and jeans sitting on stools next to the pool table. Another biker stood at the bar with a long scar running along his jaw, wearing a dusty black leather jacket with a skull on the back and dirty, well-worn leather frilled chaps that, Shawn was sure, he would insist were so totally not gay. And next to him, surrounded by five more, equally tough-looking hardcore "hog" riders, sat Jonathan Pender, the man he was looking for. He certainly looked a lot different now than the last time he'd seen him out by Mrs. Masterson's backyard pool. Back then, he was dressed in a respectable blue polo shirt bearing the pool cleaning company's logo above the pocket along with a very business-like pair of khaki slacks. But now, Pender sat on the stool at the bar, downing a shot of tequila with a beer chaser at the 'late' hour of one o'clock in the afternoon, wearing a white sleeveless undershirt and dirty, torn jeans topped off with his biker gang's signature vest...the exact same vest worn by the five men surrounding him, all of whom were now glaring at Shawn and his merry little band of cops. Pender's sleeveless attire allowed Shawn to easily spot the 'Hog Heaven' tattoo he sported on his upper left arm. It was the same tattoo Shawn had seen poking out from underneath the sleeve of his polo shirt when he'd seen him on the victim's property the day he'd visited her for a 'psychic reading' regarding a recent burglary of her home.
Lassiter had just unclenched his teeth to growl at Spencer to hurry his ass up when Shawn's hand suddenly flew to his temple, catching Lassiter by surprise.
"OOH! I'm getting something!" Shawn squeezed his eyes closed and scrunched up his face in phantom pain. "Yes, it's becoming clearer now! Cool...mule...mule? Come on, spirits, gimmie something clearer, here...Zul...there is no Dana, only...POOL!" Shawn pointed his finger accusingly at Pender, who merely looked confused.
Lassiter, O'Hara, and Gus all followed Shawn as he confidently strode towards the man at the bar. Lassiter grabbed Shawn by the arm again and held him back when he closed to about ten feet away from Pender. "Damn it, Spencer! Be careful! Stand back!" he scolded Shawn as if telling a child not to touch the glowing hot burner on a stove.
Shawn continued staring intensely at Pender with his hand to his head in his trademark pose. "You cleaned Mrs. Masterson's pool!" he said accusingly.
Pender shrugged his shoulders with a soft burp. "Yeah? So?" he asked casually as he exhaled, rudely blowing the burp in Shawn's direction.
Gus immediately pulled his periwinkle blue shirt up to cover half of his face in an attempt to protect the 'super sniffer' from the offending odor now floating their way. "Oh, he did not just do that!" he grumbled under his breath.
"So?" Shawn continued. "So...you aren't the type of guy who usually works a nine-to-five job on a daily basis, are you Pender? Or any regular job, for that matter. You're here in a bar getting drunk off your ass on cheap tequila and beer at one o'clock in the afternoon. Yet there you were, merely one week ago during working hours, dressed like any presentable civilian worker engaged in gameable employment—"
"It's gainful employment, Shawn," Gus muttered from underneath the protection of his shirt.
"I've heard it both ways—"
"Spencer!" Lassiter yelled.
Shawn turned back to Pender and continued his 'reveal', putting on a grand show for everyone in the room. "I can tell two things about you right away, Pender. First, you've obviously been eating onions. Get a mint, man," he lamented as he wafted the noxious air away from his face. "And second, the only reason someone like you gets a job is as a front for criminal activity. You got the job cleaning pools specifically for the purposes of scoping out rich people's houses before you burglarized them, a sweet side racket that would earn a lot of money for your buddies here in your gang. But one went horribly wrong two nights ago when you failed to realize the homeowners were still there. You killed them during your getaway, then quit yesterday so you could run to Mexico and hide for a while before fencing the loot you stole. The only reason why you're not south of the border right now is because your cheap boss wrote you a hot check for your last week's wages, and you need that money to get down there. Don't you, pool killer?"
Now the man's face looked pale with shock and surprise. "But I...I didn't mean to kill them, they weren't supposed to be there!" he stammered.
"Yeah, save it for the judge bucko," Shawn shot back with a confident smirk. "Plus, I got to use 'bucko' in a sentence, and managed to sound cool while doing it. So bonus awesome points for me! Come on, Gus," he said as he held out his fist to his friend. He was left hanging for the second time that day. A sour look crossed his face as he turned towards his friend. "Gus! That's twice, man! Where's my bonus fist bump, buddy?"
"Um, Shawn?" Gus nodded in the direction of the bar as he took a step back. He definitely looked worried, perhaps with a hint of fear...
Shawn turned around to see that the five biker thugs had risen from their seats and were protectively surrounding their guilty friend. They were glaring at Shawn and his now seemingly tiny group of friends, but were paying particular attention to Lassiter and Juliet. Shawn noticed their hands were balled up into fists and their jaws were set in determined anger. They were all classic signs of aggression, and they were specifically directed at the two cops who were now standing directly in front of Gus and Shawn in defensive stances. Shawn saw their hands leaving their belts, heard a faint beeping noise, and knew they had both pressed the 'emergency' buttons on their radios. Too late to stop the massive train of pure wrong that was about to barrel over them, Shawn finally realized exactly what he had done.
Intent on an exciting reveal, he'd foolishly exposed a man as a murderer on his own turf while surrounded by several of his thug friends. If Lassiter and Juliet took the safe route and backed out now, the killer would escape out the side door of the bar and be gone forever. He would abscond to mexico where they would never find him. They were going to have to arrest him now, outnumbered, and in front of his friends, in a bar full of biker thugs that hated cops. Bikers that weren't afraid of a fight.
Lassiter's bellow broke the silence as he barked out orders in his most intimidating Head Detective voice. "SBPD! Jonathan Pender is under arrest for murder! Anyone who attempts to interfere with us will be arrested as well! Now BACK OFF!"
Shawn had to hand it to Lassiter, he was doing a damn good job of intimidating most of the bar's other patrons into submission. Or at least preventing them from immediately attacking them. Either one was a small yet extremely important victory at the moment. Unfortunately, not everyone was so cowed.
One of Pender's friends, a very large man with relations to The Hulk that bested Lassiter's height by a good four inches, stepped forward from the group surrounding their suspect. "How about you make me, assho—"
Before the giant aggressor could even finish the sentence, Lassiter's hand shot out to deliver a quick, decisive blow to the gut, landing just below the belly button and angling down sharply towards his tailbone. His opponent doubled over with a startled *whoosh* of air. "How about you have a seat?" Lassiter spat back viciously through clenched teeth, then gave him a powerful shove that sent him sprawling backwards into the arms of his four friends.
Lassiter immediately stepped forward to stand between Pender and his friends while they were distracted by having to catch their falling companion. Juliet pulled out her cuffs and followed her partner, moving in behind him in an attempt to take advantage of the moment and secure their suspect. Shawn noticed movement out of the corner of his eye and saw another thug that had been leering at the beautiful blonde Detective had taken a few steps towards her.
"Um, Jules? You might want to—"
"Not now Shawn!" she hissed as she slapped one cuff around Pender's left wrist. He tried to pull his arm away, but Juliet locked it out straight in an arm bar restraining hold just long enough to snap the other cuff closed around the sturdy metal rail running underneath the bar counter in front of him.
The man kept moving towards Juliet, who was painfully unaware of his presence as she was so focused on closing the cuffs on the rail. Shawn started to move to defend her, but with a mild sense of horror realized he'd acted too late. "But Jules, he's—"
"Got him, partner!" Juliet signaled to Lassiter to let him know their suspect was secure, which would allow them to retreat to safety without letting him escape. "Now let's get out of—yiee!" Juliet yelped in surprise as the man clutched her from behind, one hand gripping her left butt cheek and the other grabbing her right breast. Laughter erupted in the seedy room when the other patrons saw their buddy cop a feel off a much despised officer of the law. Juliet jabbed him in the gut with her right elbow and quickly spun around, slipping out of his grip and turning to face her attacker. She caught a blur of dark blue and white moving beside her, and dodged to the side just in time to get off the tracks as express train Carlton came charging through the crowd.
Lassiter's fist smashed into her attacker's face with a resounding *CRUNCH* as he put all of his momentum into the blow, viciously whipping the man's head backwards as he fell over unconscious with blood gushing from his now shattered nose. Shawn briefly caught sight of the expression darkening Lassiter's face, and thought he'd never looked more furious in his life.
The sound of wooden barstools and chairs scraping the floorboards filled the room as everyone stood up.
"Carlton! Look out!"
Lassiter turned just in time to see two of Pender's friends barreling towards him. He managed to sidestep one, sending him headfirst into the nearby wall, but the second one slammed into him hard in an attempt to tackle him around the waist. Lassiter was able to turn his body just enough to avoid the full force of the blow, then regained his balance, and sank his knee into his opponent's gut. As soon as he'd dropped that attacker, another landed on his back, causing him to lose his balance and stumble to avoid going down. Juliet immediately deployed her collapsible baton, circled behind them, and delivered a vicious upward strike to the now undefended crotch of the man clinging to her partner's back. He yelped in pain and fell off immediately, grabbing his crotch and curling into a ball on the floor.
Juliet cast a desperate glance at Shawn and Gus as she and Lassiter stood back-to-back in front of the bar. With no time to draw their guns before their attackers would be upon them, they were going to have to fight it out until backup arrived.
"Shawn! Get out of here!" she yelled at them just as more thugs decided to join in the fight. Juliet took down one attacker with a blow to his left knee from her club while Lassiter felled another with a hard blow to the throat.
Not waiting to be told twice, Gus immediately followed instructions and grabbed Shawn's arm, dragging him towards the front door to make a hasty retreat. Shawn attempted to pull away in protest—there was no way he was leaving his friends to face this mob alone—but then he noticed that three bikers were blocking the door, and one of them was sliding the metal dead bolt home. Fortunately he didn't place the nearby padlock on it.
"Shawn! We're stuck in here!" Gus yelled in a voice signaling he was perilously close to panicking. "Think of something, damn it!"
"Just don't panic, buddy!" Shawn saw the three guys that had been blocking the front door—correction, the three now seemingly impossibly huge guys—were slowly walking towards them, picking up beer bottles off of a nearby table as they advanced. "Okay, you can panic now..."
Shawn and Gus screamed like girls and ran wildly to the other side of the bar as half-full bottles of beer went flying through the air past them. They were no match for any of these hardened thugs in a stand-up fight, so Shawn figured their best chance for survival was to avoid getting cornered until help could arrive, maybe even sneak out the side door and flag down the first officers to arrive on the scene. They headed for the side door but found that it, too, was covered by mean-looking biker thugs.
"Gus, the side door is blocked, too!" He turned to find his friend was no longer beside him. "Gus?" He looked down to see Gus's trembling Pumas poking out from under a table, where he had curled up into a ball in an attempt to hide. "Aww...really?!? You're hiding under a table? Come on, Gus! Man-up, buddy!"
"No way! No way, Shawn! I am not getting my beautiful chocolate face messed up for you! This is your fault!"
Shawn looked up to see one of Pender's friends cock his arm back in preparation to throw a full bottle of whiskey at Lassiter's head.
Lassiter turned, caught sight of the guy as he heaved the bottle like a major league pitcher, and ducked just in time for the bottle to narrowly miss his head. It smashed into the mirror above the bar, shattering it into thousands of pieces with a thunderous crash. Enraged at having failed to cave in the stubborn Detective's head as planned, the man charged, running straight at Lassiter. Responding the way he was trained, Lassiter sidestepped at the last second and gave him a shove, sending his opponent crashing headfirst into the bar, knocking him out cold. Then he turned and engaged yet another attacker who was trying to hit O'Hara from behind with a beer mug while she tangled with one of the huge guys who'd been blocking the front door.
Catching sight of them from across the room, Shawn watched in admiration as Lassiter and Juliet fended off each attacker with confidence and determination. Even after working with them for years, he'd never really seen them in this kind of fight before. They moved with a well-practiced ease, fighting for themselves as well as each other when the need arose, guarding each other's backs in an impressive display of teamwork. Unfortunately for Shawn, his view of the "Lassie and Juliet Show" was suddenly interrupted when the two biker chicks stepped in front of him.
"What the fuck you lookin' at, white boy?" one of them drawled as she spat tobacco juice on the floor in front of his shoes. She was clearly challenging him. And was gross enough to chew tobacco. Shawn briefly wondered how effective a spit cup would be on a motorcycle at highway speeds.
"I think he's lookin' at you, Justine," the other shorter, more muscular of the two replied. "You dissin' my friend here, white boy?"
Shawn thought it would probably be a bad idea to point out the absurdity of their supposed insult since they were both white as well. At least he thought they were. It was kind of hard to tell underneath the layer of road dirt covering them. So he decided to try and talk his way out of the situation instead. Shawn Spencer had never met a woman he couldn't charm.
"Well ladies, I was not, in fact, looking at you, madam. Although if I were to do such a thing, I would be hypnotized by the rare beauty of such a wonderful—"
Justine spit again. This time she dropped the used wad of tobacco she'd been chewing directly on top of his right shoe. She'd forever tarnished his precious Roos, the ones with the super cool zippered pocket on the side.
Okay, that was it. He figured he could take them. It was just a couple of chicks, after all. He could hold his own against a couple of girls...
Shawn held his arms up and balled his hands into fists in a classic boxer's pose. "All right, you nasty, tobacco spitting ladies, let's go!" he yelled. "You want some of this, bitches?!?" he challenged as he bobbed and weaved in front of them, showing off his fancy footwork.
"OWWW!" Shawn cried as he held a hand to his face after Justine promptly bitch-slapped him...really hard. Then her friend punched Shawn in the gut, knocking the wind out of him, and both women set upon him in an all-out frenzy of biting, slapping, clawing, punching, and low blows. Much to his embarrassment, Shawn realized he was getting the crap kicked out of him by two girls.
"Hey! GET OFF of him!"
Shawn looked up in time to see Gus, in all his "Fearless Guster" glory, smash Justine over the head with a large glass jar of pickles he'd picked up off of the bar. The jar shattered, knocking her out and showering Shawn in slimy God-knows-how-old pickles and salty brine.
"Now that's what I'm talkin' about!" Gus trumpeted in victory as he swiped his thumb alongside his nose. Then someone who had been either pushed or thrown across the room slammed into Gus's back, knocking him off his feet and sending him sprawling to the ground with a high-pitched scream.
"Gus! Thanks buddy!" Shawn yelled after him as he started to stand up. Unfortunately he'd forgotten there were two females putting the beat down on him. That important fact made itself known to Shawn's befuddled brain after he suddenly found himself on the floor looking up at the ceiling while trying to see past the stars dancing before his eyes. Then the other evil biker woman's enraged face filled his vision as he received another vicious punch to his jaw. She straddled him, slapping and punching with furious anger as Shawn finally heard the sweet sounds of sirens approaching. He pulled his hands up to his face, gathering his arms around his head in a pathetic attempt to ward off the relentless blows.
"Aah! Urk—LASSIE! HELP!" he cried in a daze. Literally cried, as he felt tears springing to his eyes. Shawn made a solemn vow never to piss off a woman again.
A large hand suddenly came around biker chick's shoulder, grabbed hold of her face, and shoved her over backwards with a loud hollow *thud* as her head hit the floor hard. Shawn looked up to see a disheveled and mildly bloodied Lassiter glaring down at him. His lip was split, there was a bruise darkening underneath his left eye, and there was a small, shallow cut across his forehead where someone wearing a ring had struck a glancing blow with a right fist. For having been in such a massive fight, he looked relatively unscathed, given the circumstances. Unscathed but definitely pissed off.
"Lassie, dude! You made that look so easy!"
"Get off your ass, Spencer! I don't have time to baby-sit you!" he yelled as he ran back to find his partner.
The front door was kicked in hard enough to swing around and hit the wall as Buzz McNab charged into the room, followed by a swarm of patrol officers. They started forcing people to the ground, cuffing and detaining everyone until the entire mess could be sorted out. Shawn caught a glimpse of Lassiter helping Juliet over to a chair and making her sit down. He was pressing his folded handkerchief to a badly bleeding cut above her left eye, and Shawn instantly felt guilt well up within his gut. Juliet was bleeding because he screwed up and got them into that situation. Way to go, Shawn...
Shawn felt hands on his arm pulling him to his feet, and he looked up to see Gus standing beside him. He had no bruises, just a few small superficial cuts on his hands from the pickle jar breaking when he'd smashed it over that evil bitch's head. Shawn tasted blood in his mouth and felt some cuts on the inside of his lips where they had hit his teeth as he was being punched. Gus's face wrinkled with concern as he looked at Shawn's face.
"Oh, man...she really did a number on you, Shawn. You look like hell."
"Gee, thanks, buddy." He weakly offered up his fist, and Gus finally bumped it back. They walked over to Juliet and Lassiter so see how they were doing.
"Jules? You okay?" Shawn asked with obvious concern.
She smiled up at him, and Gus had to turn away from her due to the somewhat impressive stream of blood drying on the left side of her face. "I'm fine, Shawn. It's just a pretty good cut on my eyebrow. They just bleed a lot, it's not bad, really." She smiled up at him to prove she was okay as Lassiter handed her a damp paper towel to wipe away the drying blood.
Lassiter...who looked like he wanted to totally murder Shawn at that very second. His face darkened into the distinctive 'Muppet Frown', as Shawn called it, that meant he was absolutely furious. Glancing at the blood his partner was wiping away from her face, he turned on Shawn and growled in vicious tone. "Spencer, I swear to God, I will—" He stopped mid-sentence as motion at the back of the room caught his eye. He turned just in time to see the first thug who'd molested his partner slip out the side door. He must have woken up, crawled along the floor behind the bar, and made his way to the side door for a quick escape.
"Son of a BITCH!" Lassiter took off after him, barreling through the door, determined to apprehend the creep that had assaulted his female partner in a very personal way.
"Hey! Lassie, Wait up!" Shawn called as he followed after the extremely determined and personally offended Head Detective.
It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the blinding glare of the midday sun after exiting the darkened room, but after a few seconds, Lassiter saw the suspect just as he turned a corner and ran around the back of the adjoining building. He already had a good head start, but Lassiter had speed, physical fitness, and adrenaline-fueled determination on his side. He took off after the pudgy man at a dead sprint, catching sight of him as he fled down an alley and through the gate of an old wooden fence. Lassiter ran hard, pushing himself to the limit, his feet pounding the pavement as hard as his pulse in his ears. He barreled through the gate, rounded a corner, and saw his infamous boob-grabbing perp running down a long, straight sidewalk towards a short three-and-a-half foot chain link fence that ran across the narrow cement walkway, which opened up into a large parking lot. Lassiter had him on a straightaway. The foot pursuit had just been reduced to a contest of speed.
Lassiter sprinted down the sidewalk, willing his legs to carry him even faster as he quickly closed the gap between him and his quarry. He carefully controlled his breathing—in through the nose out through the mouth—an efficient running machine that was rapidly drawing closer to his goal, ready to pounce. There was no way in hell he was going to let this monster get away after what he'd done to his O'Hara. The suspect reached the fence, and Lassiter was now close enough to smell the lingering aroma of stale cigarettes and beer, the scent of his prey. The suspect stopped, did a somewhat awkward but successful side-vault over the fence, and continued running into the parking lot. He was wheezing through his broken nose, winded, and pathetically out of shape. No buildings for the rat bastard to hide behind, not even a dumpster nearby, just pure, beautiful, open space for several hundred feet in all directions. Lassiter had him.
Feeling the thrill of the hunt, Lassiter pushed himself even harder. As he approached the fence he decided to hurdle it at a dead sprint, something he had done easily on numerous occasions during dozens of foot pursuits just like this one. He heard someone—was that Shawn?—shouting his name in the distance but ignored it as he concentrated on the panting, stumbling blob of a man on the other side of the fence. He was so close Lassiter could almost feel the heat radiating off of his round balding head...
Lassiter timed his jump perfectly, leading with his right foot and sailing over the fence. He had him! But this time, something went terribly wrong. His shoelace—the loops just a tad longer than usual because he'd accidentally bought laces that were one size too long—caught on one of the sharp tines sticking up from the uneven top of the fence. His right foot was viciously jerked out from under him as his shoe stayed in place but the rest of his body continued on its forward path. He instinctively flung his hands out in a futile attempt to catch himself as he fell. Pulled off balance by his momentum, he rotated in mid-air and came crashing down partially on the back of his shoulder, smashing the right side of his unprotected head against the cement with tremendous force.
Following close behind, Shawn saw Lassiter hit the ground hard, and heard the sickening hollow *crack* of his head hitting the concrete. "Oh, shit! Lassie!" Shawn ran to the fence, side-vaulted over it, and rushed to the fallen Detective's side. Amazingly enough, Lassiter opened his eyes and quickly stood up.
"Lassie?" Shawn's brow furrowed with concern as the taller man got up off the ground. "You okay?" But Lassiter didn't answer. He stared off into space with a vacant look in his eyes as he staggered, reaching out blindly as he groped for something to hold himself upright. Shawn caught his right arm and tried to keep him from falling over as Lassiter lurched unsteadily on his feet, mumbling something incoherently. "Hey, sit down, man. You hit your head pretty hard, and...Lassie?"
Lassiter's dead, unseeing gaze swept over Shawn as he turned his head, a picture of confusion as he swayed again. Then his eyes rolled back in his head and Shawn flung his arms around him just in time to catch him as he collapsed. As Shawn eased him to the cement, Lassiter rolled over on his right side and his body began to curl up and twitch. His right arm and leg locked out straight, his left arm drew up against his chest with hand formed in a half-fist bent at the wrist, and his left leg kicked repeatedly in an odd motion almost like pedaling a bike. His left arm kept jerking back, hitting himself in the chest repeatedly as the convulsions became stronger, taking over his entire body.
"Wha—Lassie?!? LASSIE!!!" Shawn held Lassiter's head in an attempt to keep him from hitting it on the concrete again. "LASSIE STOP!!! Oh, God PLEASE STOP!!!" Shawn's panicked cry went unanswered as Lassiter's violent convulsions continued unabated. Not knowing what else to do, he automatically called out to the one person who was always there for him in an emergency, the one who knew what to do.
"Shawn! Where are you?" Just as Shawn had hoped, his best friend had followed him out of the bar as he chased after Lassiter. Shawn saw him turn the corner at the other end of the sidewalk and start heading his way.
"Gus, hurry! Lassie's hurt bad! Call an ambulance!"
Gus immediately pulled out his cell phone and broke into a run, followed, surprisingly enough, by Juliet.
"Shawn! What the hell happened? Where's Lassiter?" she yelled out, unable to see Shawn or her partner due to Gus's sprinting form blocking her view. But when Gus climbed over the fence and stood beside Shawn as he spoke with the 911 operator, she finally saw her partner on the ground.
"CARLTON!" Juliet kicked off her heels and vaulted the fence in one fluid movement and rushed to her partner's side. He was still in the grip of the convulsions, his body jerking violently in repeated uncontrolled motions. "What happened, Shawn? What the hell happened to my partner?" Juliet knelt down and helped Shawn cradle Lassiter's head as the convulsions continued.
"He was—he was running, after that guy. Lassie jumped the fence but he tripped, he hit his head on the ground really hard, then...well, this."
"He hit his head on the cement?" Juliet asked, sounding extremely worried. Shawn nodded. "How long has this been going on, Shawn? How long has he been convulsing like this?"
Shawn looked at his watch. He hadn't looked at it since right before they'd entered the bar, so he wasn't exactly sure how long Lassiter had been down. "Um, I don't know...maybe thirty seconds?"
"Ambulance is on the way, Juliet," Gus informed her as he snapped his phone shut. "They'll be here in about three minutes."
Gus, Juliet, and Shawn looked on helplessly while Lassiter's brutal spasms continued. Finally, after having to sit by watching him suffer for a full minute, his body gradually stilled. Juliet immediately moved to kneel in front of his face, pulled out the handkerchief he'd gotten her into the habit of carrying, and wiped away the white frothy spit that had collected in and around his mouth. The she removed his tie and unbuttoned his collar, loosening it as she slipped her fingers past the fabric to press her fingers against his neck. She found his pulse was strong, but he wasn't breathing.
"Carlton, can you hear me?" she said as she rubbed firm circles on his back in an attempt to kick-start his breathing again. "Come on, partner. You've got to breathe. Wake up, Carlton." He remained unresponsive, so she began striking his back squarely between his shoulder blades with the heel of her palm. "Come on, breathe, Carlton!" After a few more seconds and several more back blows with no results, she decided to take more decisive action. "Shawn, hold his head while I roll him over."
Shawn protected Lassiter's head while Juliet and Gus carefully rolled him over onto his back. Juliet repositioned herself so she was kneeling by the right side of his head, tilting it back to open his airway. "Hold his head like that, Shawn. Keep it still," she instructed. She balled up her right hand into a fist and raked her knuckles straight down the middle of his chest in a quick, harsh motion. "Come on, Carlton! Breathe!" Receiving no reaction, she did it again, but he remained completely unresponsive, and he still wasn't breathing.
Shawn looked down at Lassiter's slack features, and felt his stomach drop in horror when he noticed the other man was starting to turn blue.
Abandoning all other efforts, Juliet pinched his nose shut, took a deep breath, leaned over to cover his open mouth with hers, and forced two quick breaths into her partner's lungs, watching his chest for the distinctive rise and fall. Still nothing. She continued, breathing into him again after five seconds. Another breath, and finally his chest started to hitch, followed by the truly wonderful sound of him sucking in a deep lung full of air as he finally started breathing on his own again.
Juliet let out a huge sigh of relief as Lassiter's breathing evened out and became normal after a few rapid, deep breaths. He was still unconscious, but at least he appeared to be stable for the moment. She finally heard the blessed wail of ambulance sirens approaching in the distance. Juliet took her partner's limp hand in hers and gave it a tight squeeze while speaking to him, trying unsuccessfully to get some sort of a response.
"Uh, Jules?" Shawn said quietly in a shaky voice.
"What is it, Shawn?"
"He's got blood in his right ear."
"Of course he does, he probably just scraped it on the concrete when he fell—"
"No, you don't understand, Jules," he stressed urgently. "It's coming out of his ear. Look."
Juliet looked down and saw a thin line of blood flowing out of Lassiter's ear canal and running down the side of his head. There was also a small puddle of blood on the pavement about the size of a quarter in the spot that would have been directly underneath his ear while Lassiter was lying on his right side.
She checked the position of Shawn's hands again and saw his right hand was perilously close to the large lump rapidly forming on the right side Lassiter's scalp. She placed her hands on either side of Lassiter's neck, stabilizing his head by holding the base of his skull. "Let go, Shawn," she ordered. He immediately obeyed, jerking his hands away as if he'd been touching something hot.
"I'm sorry! What did I do wrong?" he implored.
"Nothing," Juliet shook her head. "It's just that it's a bad idea for someone to be holding his head in that spot right now." What Juliet didn't say is she knew what that particular symptom possibly meant after a hard blow to the head—her partner had probably suffered a skull fracture.
"I'll go flag down the paramedics so they know where we are," Gus said as the approaching sirens grew louder. He ran towards the parking lot and the street beyond it, frantically waving his arms to attract the driver's attention.
Juliet peered down at her partner's relaxed face, wishing he would open his eyes. But he remained unresponsive, still and unmoving beneath her hands. "Hey, Carlton, the ambulance is here. You'll be in the hospital and on some sweet pain meds in no time, partner," she assured him while trying to sound upbeat. Juliet realized she was attempting to reassure herself as much as she was her injured partner. The paramedics finally arrived, and Juliet updated them on his condition while they broke out their gear and prepared a backboard.
"It's okay, Detective. You can let go now," one of the EMTs said after he placed his own hands alongside Lassiter's head. She reluctantly removed her hands, not wanting to lose all contact with him, but she allowed herself to be moved back from her partner because, deep down, she knew it was best for him. Someone took her by the arm and led her about ten feet away, far enough to allow paramedics to work but close enough that she could still see Carlton. She forced herself to look away as they slipped the neck brace underneath his head, and was surprised to find herself staring directly into Shawn's worried eyes. He was holding a thick gauze pad to the cut above her left eyebrow. During her adrenaline-fueled efforts to help her partner that she'd engaged in during the last few minutes, it had started bleeding again, and she hadn't even noticed.
Juliet took the bandage from him and held it herself. "I've got it, thanks," she said, then began pacing back and forth while the paramedics worked.
"Hey, he'll be okay, Jules," Shawn tried to reassure her.
She simply nodded, knowing that if she spoke, her resolve would crack, and the mild burning she felt at her eyes would turn into full-fledged tears. After strapping him onto a backboard and placing him on the gurney, the EMTs lifted him into the ambulance where they continued to work behind closed doors. After a few minutes, one of the paramedics emerged carrying Lassiter's shoulder holster, back-up weapon, badge, and handcuffs. She peeked through the open doors and saw they had already established an IV in his left arm.
"We're taking him to Santa Barbara General if you'd like to follow us," he said as he handed her his weapons and gear. "Don't worry, Juliet. We'll take good care of Detective Lassiter."
She stared at him dumbly for a few more seconds before she realized she knew him. She'd been so focused on Carlton at first, then was wandering around in such a shocked daze that she hadn't even recognized him until now. Ben, his name was Ben. After working alongside the fire department and emergency medical services for so long, it was hard to find a fireman or paramedic she and Lassiter didn't know. Juliet quickly collected her thoughts and nodded a reply. "Thanks, Ben," she said as he turned and headed back to the waiting ambulance.
Juliet knew she needed to snap herself out of the trauma-induced fog surrounding her brain. She placed her hands on her hips, took a few deep breaths, and concentrated on what her next course of action should be. Get to the hospital. Call McNab on his PD issued phone on the way, have him lock down the scene at the bar, then call Chief Vick and update her immediately. Request additional detectives on scene to relieve her of duty. Bring Shawn and Gus with her to the ER because it looked like Shawn needed to be evaluated by medical personnel, and possibly receive a few stitches for all the scratches and cuts he was sporting on his face. Yes, that was a plan.
"Shawn, Gus. Let's go," she said with authority as the ambulance pulled away with lights and sirens blaring. Juliet wanted—no, needed—to get to the hospital as fast as possible. She knew she couldn't rest until she saw her partner's eyes looking up at her again.