And when the sun rises after the storm, and Santa Barbara rolls out of bed for another fair weathered day, Shawn stands from the wooden bench on the pier. He’s soaked and he shivers from the cold, putrid salt water absorbed into his clothes. Over the horizon, where the sky meets the sea, dawn is breaking.
Morning light offers little warmth to him, but he turns his face to it and sighs for a moment. He tries to relax his shoulders and let the tension melt away and drip through the slats of the pier, down into the ocean. His brief respite is interrupted by his father.
“Shawn,” Henry says. Shawn opens his eyes to find his Dad standing by his old yellow truck that’s older than Shawn himself. A towel is draped around his father’s neck, same as him. “You ready to go?”
Shawn sniffs his sun tickled nose before he calls, “Yeah.” He walks with clomping footsteps off the pier to his Dad.
The truck door squeaks when he opens it and when he closes it. He slides the seatbelt over himself and takes his phone out of his pocket, just as his Dad starts the engine. It rumbles and groans before smoothing out to a low purr. His Dad backs out of the marina, an arm braces around the passenger seat as he checks for obstacles behind him.
Just use the rear view mirror, Shawn thinks dryly. If it were any other day, he would’ve told his Dad as such. But it had been a long night and his wits are completely drained, along with his energy and mental capacity to think anything except that he wants to go home and sleep and forget this whole nightmare.
He closes his eyes and rests his head against the truck’s window. He’d fallen asleep so many times in this seat. Stakeouts at one in the morning with his Dad could do a number on a nine year old kid. Shawn tries to think of those times circa 1986. When he was still a kid who read scary stories under his He-Man blankets, watched a mummy movie with his Dad past bedtime and his biggest problem was Jimmy Nickles taking his lunch money.
It was easier then. In his lunchbox days with a bigger bed to crawl into. When the monsters weren’t so real and the bullies weren’t so big.
Shawn jerks awake when he hears his name being called from thousands of miles away. How long had he been asleep? It must’ve been a few minutes, but judging by the heaviness weighing down his limbs, it could’ve been days.
“Shawn,” His Dad says, putting the truck in park. “You’re home, son.”
Through the windshield, the short and squat laundromat sits stoically in the shade of evergreens. The front window displays tearing vinyl that reads Old Mimi’s Fluff n Fold. Candy cane striped curtains conceal the inside of the building: Shawn’s house. His home.
“Thanks, Dad,” Shawn says and opens the car door, stepping out into the sun. His clothes are still wet, but not as soppy. He notices streaks of water down the back of the passenger seat where he was sitting. A tinge of muted guilt hits him. He gestures to the seat. “Sorry about the mess.”
His Dad shrugs a little, a minuscule smile on his face and in his eyes. “It’s okay. Buy me a coffee tomorrow and we’ll be good.”
Shawn breathes a laugh. “Sure, Dad.”
“Okay. And if you need anything…”
He can finish the sentence fragment on his own. If you need anything, call me. “I got it, Dad. Thanks.”
His Dad offers one more small grin before Shawn closes the door. He stands in the rocky parking spaces and watches the yellow truck back out before it gets on the main road and vanishes behind the trees.
His shoes crunch against the gravel as he approaches the door. Beside it stands a jovial lawn gnome with bright red cheeks and a smile too big for its face. Shawn reaches down and unscrews the blue pointy hat. Inside lies a bronze key, patina scraped away in places. He picks it up and puts the cap back on before unlocking the door and stepping inside.
Thin, wooden floorboards creak beneath his feet as he closes the door behind him. He locks it, and the hard click of the mechanism echoes in the empty laundromat. His place is a mess, which is par for the course. Bowls, spoons and vaguely interesting piece of mail are strewn about in various places. His framed record of Journey’s Greatest Hits stares blankly at him as he kicks a beach ball to the side.
Shawn heads to his bedroom and changes his jeans, windbreaker, long sleeve shirt and socks, exchanging them for plaid pajama pants and a t-shirt.
He burrows under the covers, trying to ignore the emptiness of his house that seems suspicious and paranoia inducing. As if Yin is hiding in the closet, or the corner with his laundry basket, or behind the shower curtains one room over…
Shawn shudders and closes his eyes, full well knowing he won’t be able to sleep, but trying nonetheless.
And when the sun rises after the storm, and Santa Barbara rolls out of bed for another fair weathered day, Gus sits in the relative comfort of the blueberry. His cell phone is in his hands but he’s too tired to call into work. It’s as if he’s as worn as his favorite pair of Bostonian dress shoes.
Still, he wells up as much energy as he has left and calls Central Coast Pharmaceuticals, telling them he won’t be able to come into work today and using as professional a voice as he can muster. When he’s met with protest, Gus wants to shout into the receiver that he spent the night hunting a serial killer but he can’t. He doesn’t. Instead, he lies and says he’s sick. After a second, his boss consents and says he can stay home. Gus thanks him and then hangs up, putting the blueberry into drive.
He wants to call Shawn and ask if he’s doing okay. His best friend’s probably pretty shaken, no matter how many layers of 80’s references and jokes he uses to conceal it. And seeing as how Gus has the day to himself, he figures he’ll stop by Shawn’s place after he goes home. A shower and a hot meal sounds like music to his ears.
The drive from the clock tower to his apartment takes him twenty minutes. He parks and heads through the lobby, upstairs and to his front door. With a hand, he fishes his key out of his pocket and unlocks the door. Gus goes inside and closes it.
His apartment is how he left it: spotlessly clean and organized. No dirty dishes in sight and the mail neatly stacked on the table. A small bowl of wrapped candy sits on the coffee table along with his monthly SafeCracker magazine.
He showers quickly and changes into fresh clothes. When he’s done, he prepares a breakfast of cinnamon oatmeal, marmalade toast, an apple and a cup of coffee. His subconscious tells him he doesn’t need the caffeine but he wants a steaming hot drink and he can always take Tylenol PM later if he wants a nap.
Gus eats and then he calls Shawn. Better to call before coming over. His best friend doesn’t need another scare, and a surprise appearance from him would do it, no matter how many years they’ve been friends.
The phone rings three times before Shawn picks up with a groggy tone. “Gus?”
“Hey, Shawn,” Gus affirms. He presses his phone between his ear and shoulder as he carries his dishes to the sink. “Sorry, did I wake you up?”
“Nah, man, I was already awake.” A yawn in the middle of Shawn sentence betrays him.
“I wanted to call and ask how you were doing.” He turns on the faucet and waits for the cold water to run hot.
“I’ve been better. How are you doing, buddy, huh? How are you holding up?”
Gus wants to press further but Shawn doesn’t much enjoy talking about his emotional or mental state, except for very rare occasions. So he answers his friend’s questions.
“I’m alright.” He picks up the scrubber and washes his plate, bowl, spoon, mug and knife. “I’m a little tired but I’ll manage.”
“Yeah,” Shawn sighs. “But truthfully, buddy, I’m a little-a little sore and tired. And, uh, more than a little hungry.”
Gus sets his clean dishes in the right side of the sink. “I was thinking of stopping by your place in a bit. Want me to bring breakfast?”
“Depends. Can you bring IHOP?”
“Sure. Whatever you need, Shawn.”
“Thanks, man. I’ll text you my order. See you later.”
Gus hangs up and then slips on his coat, off to get breakfast for his friend.
And when the sun rises after the storm, and Santa Barbara rolls out of bed for another fair weathered day, Lassiter watches her get checked out by the paramedics and given a clean bill of health before he takes Juliet home.
They both sit in uncharacteristic silence while he drives. She’d normally make small talk about a movie or tv show she saw and he’d always have an opinion on it. But at the moment, Juliet’s lips are pressed into a frown as she stares blankly out the car window, barely blinking.
Lassiter doesn’t know what to say. He’s not good in these situations. He can never quite find the right words that fit. Maybe it’s one of the factors that ultimately drove Victoria away.
He clears his throat and tries to call some words to mind, no matter how dumb they sound in his head. That’s what partners are for, after all.
“Juliet,” he starts, and her name’s foreign on his tongue. He never calls her by her first name. “I know that it’s hard right now. You’re probably-probably seeing him in your head, right?”
In his periphery, Juliet gives a small nod and whispers, “Yeah.”
“That’s normal,” he says. “You might-you
might see him for a while and I want to let you know that eventually, he’ll go away. You are”- he takes a deep breath -“one of the most resilient people on the force. Next to me.”
Juliet elicits a small laugh. He continues.
“And if anyone in the Department can get through what just happened, it’s you.”
Lassiter glances over and sees that her eye are watering. “Thank you, Carlton,” she murmurs.
“You’re welcome,” he replies, just as he pulls up to the curb by her house.
Juliet gets out of the car and thanks him for the ride. Just as she turns around, he asks, “Do you...want me to sit out here? Keep watch, do some surveillance, that type of thing?”
“It’s okay, Carlton. I can...I can manage.”
Lassiter knows what she would’ve said. I can handle myself. But she didn’t say it. And he supposes it's because she's not sure of it anymore.
“Okay. You know where to find me if you need me.”
She nods before she turns and walks inside her house.
He doesn’t leave until he sees the door close and then he drives away to the police station, thoughts filling the quiet. Thoughts of how much he wants to rip Yin limb from limb because he turned Lassiter’s partner into a hollow shell of herself. Thoughts of how he might have to work alone while O’Hara walks through her own personal hell brought on by being kidnapped by Yin. Thoughts that deprecate himself for not being able to empathize better with other people.
O’Hara always tells him to be sensitive. To show empathy and compassion when a victim has been through a traumatic event. He tries, but she’s normally the caring one. And now she needs kindness and he doesn’t know how to appropriately give it.
He arrives at the Department ten minutes after leaving O’Hara’s house. It’s awfully busy for the aftermath of playing games with a serial killer. Two people get kidnapped and the world spins on, he supposes.
As he strides down the hallways, the Chief leaves her office with confusion written over her face. “Carlton? What are you doing here?”
“There’s work to be done, Chief,” he states as he heads over to his desk and settles in. “I have statements to write, reports to fill out and more than enough cases to work today.”
He notices dark bags under her eyes when she tiredly says, “Lassiter, go home. Enough’s happened today and I can have Detective Dobson take a few of your cases if it makes you feel any better.”
“It doesn’t,” he replies flatly.
“Go. Home. That’s an order, Detective.” She walks away before he has a chance to say anything.
He works his lips for a good comeback but nothing good comes to mind or mouth. Eventually, he puts his coat back on and leaves, deciding that the shooting range before going home is a good idea.
And when the sun rises after the storm, and Santa Barbara rolls out of bed for another fair weathered day, Juliet can’t stop wringing her wrists, trying to get rid of the phantom ropes around them.
When she was getting checked out by the paramedics, her wrists were red and bleeding from rope burn. They cleaned them with antibiotics and then wrapped them in gauze to prevent infection. Her legs and middle had also been bound to a chair with rope but her wrists and legs sustained the most damage. The paramedics cleaned her legs and decided that antibiotics would do for the time being. She was at no risk of infection in her legs.
But as she stands under the hot water of her shower, she can’t shake the ghosts of ropes binding her tightly to a chair suspended fifteen stories above the ground. Her stomach flutters with fear. Yin’s behind her, his breath warm and sickly on the skin of her neck, gloved touch venom and poisonous on her shoulder…
She turns around, heart pounding. When her white, subway tiled shower wall and bottles of shampoo meet her, she forces herself to take a deep breath. He’s not here, he’s not here, he’s not here, she repeats.
Juliet finishes rinsing and then wraps herself in a peach towel. She sits in the corner of her bathroom in a ball, completely void of desire to do anything. She doesn’t want to dress herself or sleep or eat, all of which she knows she should do. But she can’t. She doesn’t want to.
Anxiety clenches her gut and crawls up her throat with blazing claws. She swallows hard to try and make it go away but it only settles hard inside her. Her insides twist and she wants to throw up into her porcelain sink.
Juliet buries her head in her arms as she curls into a ball, trying to make herself as small as possible. She considers going for the .380 in her medicine cabinet but that meant standing and she doesn’t have it in her to do stand.
It’s incredible. How much of an affect Yin has on her. She thought she could get over it and be okay and that she’d be fine and she’d told Lassiter she could manage but now that she doesn’t really want to exist but she also doesn’t want to die either, she’s in a predicament and she’s stuck between a rock and a very, very hard place and she just can’t get out.
Her phone rings in her bedroom. And although she just wants to hide away from the universe, she doesn’t want to keep whoever’s on the other line waiting. She stands and walks across the tiles then the carpet of her bedroom floor. She grabs her phone and sees the caller ID: Shawn. And suddenly, she wants to hang up on him.
She’s always been friends with Shawn and sometimes, they’ve both given off the impression that they’re more than friends, whether they wanted to be read that way or not. And when she was strapped to the clock tower and reading Yin’s clue, she’d told Shawn he could still save Abigail. And from what she heard after the rescue, he did manage to save her.
But when her life was hanging in the balance, she selfishly wanted Shawn to come save her. She wanted him to tell her that it was okay, that he had her, that she was safe now and it was okay. And when he hadn’t been the one to show up, and it was Gus in place of where he should’ve been…
She couldn’t say she was disappointed. At the time, there was an orchestra of emotions demanding her attention. But she does remember a quiet note of disappointment. Because he hadn’t come. And she’d wanted him to.
After a second, Juliet swallows everything down and answers. “Hi,” she says.
He exhales heavily. “Hi, Jules. Um, are you...how-how are you doing, exactly?”
“I’m okay, Shawn,” she replies. She’d said she was fine already. To Lassiter. Multiple times before she broke down sobbing because the truth was she might be okay but she wasn’t fine at all.
“Okay. I was wondering if, uh, if-if you might want to join Gus and I for breakfast.”
“Breakfast?” she repeats.
“Yeah, Gus is stopping by IHOP before coming to my place and I just figured you might wanna join us. Instead of being by yourself.”
Shawn’s wrong about a lot of things. But he’s also right about a lot of things too. And at that instant, he's right that she doesn’t want to be by herself. Drowning in her paranoia. Being strangled by anxiety.
“Um. Yeah, sounds great, Shawn, but I don’t have a ride.” She does have a car, but she honestly doesn’t trust herself to drive in an emotional state.
“Call Lassie,” Shawn suggests. “You can invite him over too. Text Gus all your orders and then you guys can all head over to the Old Mimi’s Fluff n Fold. It’s where I’m at.”
“Okay, Shawn,” she says. “I’ll invite Lassiter.”
“Okay. And, Jules, are you sure you’re alright?” His words brim with sincerity, and her heart aches because of it.
She takes a shaky breath before replying. “I’m fine, Shawn.”
He inhales, like he’s about to say more, but then only a limp “okay” escapes him. He hangs up and Juliet flips her phone closed setting it on the bed.
She opens her dresser drawer to pull out jeans and a shirt when her phone buzzes. Half annoyed, she checks it to find a text and the annoyance dissolves when she sees it’s from Shawn and only two words long: Wear pj’s.
And she smiles a little.
And after the storm, Gus brings pancakes to Shawn’s laundromat of a house. And Lassiter brings Juliet.
And after the storm, they eat in silence at first. But gradually, they begin to laugh together. They smile. They smile despite the pain.
And after the storm, Shawn jokes. Gus banters. Juliet grins. Lassiter chuckles. They learn to be okay together.
And after the storm, they look up.
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.
Author's Chapter Notes:
This is a short story that takes place literally at the same time Mr. Yin Presents ends. It takes place right at the episodes ending as such, this short story will contain spoilers for Psych 4.16 “Mr. Yin Presents.” This story’s title and a few lines at the end are based off a song called “After the Storm” by Mumford and Sons, which is a song about hope for the future. I thought it fit beautifully with the chapter. I don’t own Mumford and Sons or their song “After the Storm” but I HIGHLY recommend listening while, before or after reading. Enjoy!!
Chapter End Notes:
This is my first story on here so PLEASE let me know what you think. I worked really hard on this and it’s honestly one of my favorite things I’ve ever written. I hope you enjoyed it!!