- Text Size +
Author's Chapter Notes:
This is a response to the 99 Episode Challenge by Freakshow. The challenge is to write a fic in which you use a list of real episode titles, picked out by Freakshow, as chapter titles. I can use as few or as many as I want and they can be in any order. I'm making them into a series of one-shots, and hopefully by the end, I'll have 99 of them! ^^ I'll be writing them as the urges come and go, so there isn't a set time to post or a steady flow of chapters or anything. This is more like a side project for me when I can't think of anything else to write or I'm not in the mood for a long thing. Anyway, I hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Oh, God. Jules.

"Every now and then, your luck just runs cold. You'll turn over the cards and groan - but you don't let it show on your face."

Heart twisting, Shawn stared at the gun that was pointed directly at his girlfriend. Stomach churning with nerves, he wiped his sweaty palms on his jeans and somehow managed to pull off a seemingly effortless grin as he took a tentative step closer to the crazed man on the other end of the barrel.

"I don't think you want to do that," Shawn warned. He could feel Juliet giving him a glance that probably resulted in a mixture of surprise, fear and 'what's the idiot doing?'.

"Why not?" The man's mouth twisted into a devilish frown that made Shawn's heart skip another beat.

"You'll have nothing; no cards, no luck, no friends. When that happens, your only option is to lie."

"Because I've already called in backup, and my Blue Heeler friends won't be too happy if there's any more damage." Every word felt thicker on Shawn's tongue, but the man hesitated.

"I don't believe you," he eventually growled.

"Talk. Bluff your way out. Make people think they should be scared of you. If they believe they have a reason to be afraid of you, it might make them slip."

"I don't need them to kick your butt anyway. I can do it myself," Shawn continued, taking another step forward. The man backed up a little, alarm flashing in his eyes.

"Stay where you are or the girl dies!" The gun snapped back to Juliet, who involuntarily squeaked. Shawn froze in place, but didn't stop speaking.

"I've learned a lot by working with the police," he continued with a dry chuckle. "You think I don't know how to deal with a basic situation like this? I could take you out with a rubber band and a pair of dice. Oh, and a bit of pineapple. For me, not you, obviously."

"Are you poking fun at me or just an idiot?" the man hissed.

"I'm dead serious," Shawn replied, his face stone cold. "If you hurt her, I solemnly swear that I will kill you."

The threat dropped into the air like a stone. The man's eyes darted from Juliet's terrified face to Shawn's frozen one, finger shaking on the trigger. Shawn held his breath, waiting, hoping, not daring to let it go -

"Do you know what?" the man growled. "I think that's a load of crap."

And he pulled the trigger.

It was like everything was happening in slow motion - he could see the bullet launch towards Juliet's heart, watched her face change ever so slowly as she registered what was happening. Shawn didn't hear her scream. He didn't feel himself move. He only remembered his last thought: I can't lose Juliet.

"There's always a risk involved with the game, Shawn. Either you win and keep your savings . . . or you lose everything. Every round holds the danger of losing, but sometimes you have to sacrifice what you have to earn a little more. The question is, what are you willing to sacrifice?"

Suddenly, without any thought or consent on his part, Shawn was on the floor, a blooming red flower of blood on his shirt. He didn't feel any pain, just emptiness. He heard vague noises as though he was listening through a long, far tunnel, and he felt a spark of concern for Juliet. There was a lot of buzzing - so much buzzing - and something wet - was someone crying? He tried to call out, but a metallic taste filled his mouth and destroyed the words on his tongue.

As darkness crowded into his vision like a pack of hungry wolves, Shawn saw his Uncle Jack's face smiling at him from the depths of his memory and heard his voice echo in his brain -

"Do you understand, Shawn?" Uncle Jack flipped the deck of cards from one hand to the other in a perfect arch. Shawn looked at the cards in his hand again, his face completely still. Wrapping his arms around the huge pile of chips he'd already won, he shoved them into the middle of the table and grinned.

"All in."

Enter the security code shown below: