Chapter 7: A Grim Turn of Events
Shawn was startled awake early the next morning to the ringing of Juliet's cell phone next to him on the nightstand. Juliet groggily asked him to hand over the phone. "O'Hara," she answered with a yawn, and a few moments later, "We'll be there."
"Chief or Lassie?" asked Shawn, knowing that only one of those two people would be calling Juliet at 4:00 AM.
"The Chief," she answered while reluctantly climbing out of bed. "A body's been found near Shoreline Park. She wants both of us down there in 20 minutes. You might as well call Gus too."
"I thought you were going to take the day off?" Shawn complained as he too got up and began to get dressed. "So much for sleeping-in followed by breakfast-in-bed and a Phineas and Ferb marathon."
"I was, but the Chief wants everyone on this one. It must be serious."
Shawn and Juliet were the last to arrive at the crime scene. Everyone, including Lassiter, gathered around the Chief with bags under their eyes, sucking down coffee, while she filled them in. Shawn noticed that Juliet seemed pale and distant, at least more so than her usual early morning self. He was wondering whether she was having morning sickness again and thought how much it must suck to feel like that all the time. He put his arm around her and rubbed her shoulder, which seemed to comfort her a little.
"Prepare yourselves," began Chief Vick very seriously. "I know we are all accustomed to murder scenes, but this one is different. The victim is young. Very young. I know how difficult child victims can be, but I am confident we can bring whatever scumbag did this to justice." She led the group across a field, through a forest path, and into a small clearing in the woods that was already surrounded by crime scene tape and where several officers were already processing the scene.
Shawn felt sick to his stomach when he saw the tiny body of a little girl sprawled across the dirty ground, bloody and bruised, partially covered in dirt and leaves, her pink dress torn and one of her Mary Janes missing. She couldn't have been more than 7 or 8 years old. Bruises around her neck suggested that she had been strangled. "Oh God!" he muttered.
Shawn looked around the group noticing the others' reactions. Chief Vick was solemn, while Lassiter had his usual non-descript expression and was already starting to take notes. Gus was in shock, and as usual, looked like he was about to hurl. Jules was…where was Jules? Shawn turned around and noticed she had stepped away from the scene. She was pacing back and forth further up the wooded path and looked particularly distraught.
"Jules?!" yelled Shawn and started after her. The Chief and the rest of the crowd looked on curiously while Shawn chased after her. Juliet didn't respond but stopped suddenly allowing him to catch up.
"Jules?" he said again more carefully as he got closer to her. She turned from the path and leaned into a bush to throw up. He put his hand gently on her back until she finished, noticing that she had started to sob at the same time. She got up and momentarily looked into Shawn's eyes, tears streaming down her face, before looking back to the ground and letting out a heartbreaking sob. Shawn wiped her tears and took her by both arms, rubbing them soothingly with his open hands. She looked back into his eyes
"She's…so…young!" sobbed Juliet, "…so innocent…How could anyone….? Why?!"
"I don't know," answered Shawn softly as he continued to soothe her. "I really don't know." He paused and then said with promise in voice, "…but that's why we're here. That's why you're here. It's our job to find out who did this to her…get justice for her and her family…and…so we can make sure he can never do this again to anyone else."
Juliet nodded, mildly comforted by his words. She buried her face into his shoulder and he held her close for several minutes, stroking her soft golden hair.
Shawn was concerned. This was not like Juliet at all. It wasn't that she never got emotional over difficult cases. She had worked cases with child victims before, and even though she would usually break down when the case was over, she could very easily handle it in the moment. Usually she could just flip a switch and go into detective mode, setting aside her emotions until the case was over and her work was done. But this time it was as if her switch had disappeared. She was getting all emotional already and the case had barely begun.
He knew that Juliet's hormones were most likely going crazy right now, and wondered whether it would be like this for the next nine months. In any case, if she didn't pull herself together soon, their colleagues would surely wonder what had softened their usually hard-shelled detective.
After several minutes, Juliet seemed to have gained her composure and said she was ready to return to the crime scene. They returned, the rest of the group looking up and noticing Juliet's tear-streaked face. Everyone had puzzled expressions except for Gus who was sympathetic.
"Sorry about that. I'm fine," Juliet addressed her colleagues. Paying no more attention to the group's concerned stares, she pulled her notebook from her back pocket and began observing the scene and taking notes. "That's unusual," she said, pointing at the young girl's shoulder with her pen where a rectangular shaped indentation had cut into her skin. Her statement shifted everyone's attention back to the task at hand, thankfully leaving her uncharacteristic episode behind her.
A few hours later, Lassiter and Juliet were working in uncomfortable silence, trying to pull together all of the evidence they had collected at the murder scene. Lassiter had attempted to ask Juliet more than once what had happened to her back at the crime scene, but she refused to give any type of explanation.
Chief Vick approached her favorite pair of detectives carrying a fresh case-file. "It's good to have you back, O'Hara. Uh…How are you feeling?" she asked carefully.
"Much better, thanks," Juliet replied untruthfully.
"Good," said the Chief unsurely. Juliet noticed that the Chief was carrying a serious and concerning presence. "Can I see the two of you in my office, please?" Both nodded and followed.
When inside the privacy of her office, the Chief finally handed the case-file she was holding to Lassiter, who flipped through it briefly and handed it to Juliet. "This was a report filed with us two days ago," the Chief sighed. "Take a look."
Juliet opened the file to see the image of a smiling little girl. Her dark hair was braided into pigtails and her eyes showed a sense of innocence. She was the very girl that they had found dead that morning. Juliet gulped at the thought of what had happened to her. "So, we know who she is then?" she asked, starting to get a little emotional. "Come on, Keep it together!" she thought.
"Her name is Emma Green," said the Chief, who took a deep breath before describing the whole situation. "I've already notified her parents and questioned them." The Chief sighed heavily as she began to explain what she knew. "Emma disappeared yesterday morning from the park where she played regularly. She was with her father at the time. He said that she had told him something about seeing 'the man who gave her money' and wanted to take her father to him…to show him who it was. He didn't know who she was talking about, of course, and told her no and that she should stay on the jungle gym. A few minutes later, though, she was gone. He and his wife came to us yesterday to report her missing. We immediately sent out a search team, who eventually found her body early this morning."
"You said this was filed two days ago, though?" Lassiter asked confused.
"Exactly," said the Chief. That is not the missing persons report. Both detectives furrowed their brows curiously and listened intently while she explained further.
"It can't be a coincidence that just one day prior to her disappearance Emma's mother sent in a complaint about a suspicious interaction between her daughter and an unknown man. Mrs. Green said that on Monday morning she had taken Emma to the same playground from where she disappeared yesterday. She momentarily lost track of her daughter and found her buying an ice cream across the street. When she asked Emma where she had gotten the money to buy her ice cream, she said that a strange man had given it to her. The girl seemed unwilling to share any information about the man, but eventually her mother coaxed her into telling her what occurred."
Juliet flipped to the next page of the case-file and read out loud the statement made by Emma.
"I saw him trying to open his office door. He looked worried and I asked if he was ok. He said he lost his key and was trying to get into his office. I asked if I could help him look for his key and he got mad at me. He told me not to tell anyone that I saw him or he would hurt me."
Juliet's voice cracked. "What's wrong with you? Hold it together," she thought to herself and continued reading.
"I cried and then he gave me $5 and told me to go away and buy myself an ice cream."
Juliet stopped reading and Lassiter spoke, "Did the girl give a description of the man?"
Juliet read from the file again.
"He was tall and had greasy hair and dressed like Uncle Jim."
"…which her mother clarified to mean that he was probably wearing a business suit. That's all she said."
"Where exactly did this happen?" Lassiter asked.
"Shoreline Drive," the Chief answered. "The playground is the one on the beach between the 1200 and 1300 blocks, and the location that the man was trying to enter was 1204."
"That's the Psych Office," realized Juliet.
"Yeah," said the Chief. "Emma was the one who witnessed a man trying to enter Mr. Spencer's office on Monday and now she is dead. From the sounds of it, she may have witnessed too much and the perpetrator took it upon his own hands to silence her." The Chief had a grave expression. "It seems clear now that the break-ins at Henry's and the Psych office are not random and our burglar has now escalated his crimes to murder. Whatever this guy is after…whatever he thinks the Spencers have…it's worth killing for."
Juliet looked back at the smiling little girl in the picture and the image of her mangled body lying dead in the leaves flashed into her mind. She felt her face flushing and her breakfast rising up her throat.
"Um…please excuse me," she said quickly while closing the file and throwing it onto the Chief's desk. She swiftly turned out of the office and walked at a quick pace to the restroom. Chief Vick and Lassiter shared a bewildered glance. Lassiter shrugged to indicate that he had no idea why his partner had rushed off so quickly, and the Chief shook her head, thinking to herself that she had an idea and decided to follow.
By the time Vick made it to the women's restroom, Juliet was already inside one of the stalls, heaving. The Chief waited patiently until Juliet was finished and exited the stall, teary eyed and somehow looking both pale and red-faced at the same time.
"Chief!" said Juliet, startled to find her boss just standing in the restroom. She looked away and started washing her hands at one of the sinks. So far Vick hadn't said a word, allowing her subordinate to begin. "How long have you been standing there?" Juliet asked without looking away from the sink.
"Long enough," said Chief Vick. "Would you mind telling me what is going on with you?" she asked.
"I…uh…it's nothing. Just emotional over the case, I guess," Juliet half-lied, continuing to focus on washing her hands for much longer than was needed.
"I know it's difficult when dealing with young victims…this one in particular hits a little close to home for me," the Chief pointed out. "Iris is seven."
Juliet froze and looked shamefully at her soapy hands. She hadn't thought about that.
"But we are officers of the law," Vick continued. "We don't let our emotions get in the way of doing our jobs."
"I know that, Chief…" Juliet paused, not knowing what else she could say to explain her behavior.
"Come on, O'Hara! You and I both know that this is not about the case."
"I…I don't know what you are talking about," she lied again.
"Don't insult my intelligence," said Chief Vick impatiently. "Don't forget. I am a woman and a mother. I can recognize the signs when I see them."
Juliet finally looked up at the Chief knowing she had been caught.
"How far along?" Chief Vick asked.
Juliet sighed, surprisingly relieved that the Chief had figured it out and spared her having to share the news herself. "I don't know yet. We only just found out yesterday. I'm seeing the doctor on Friday." She dampened a paper towel and wiped down her teary face.
"How is Spencer taking this?" the Chief asked cautiously, not wanting to pry but wanting to be as supportive as possible.
"He's scared…we both are, but I think he's taking it much better than I would have expected."
"I'm terrified, and I'm worried about Shawn…but mostly…I'm really excited," Juliet surprised herself. She hadn't expected to answer that way, but this was the first that she had been asked and when she thought about it…that she was going to be mother…a mother to Shawn's child…she was genuinely excited and allowed herself to smile fully for the first time in two days. The Chief returned a smile and rubbed Juliet's arm soothingly. "I guess the pregnancy symptoms are kicking my butt, though," Juliet added.
"Don't worry. They usually lessen significantly after the first trimester," said the Chief.
Juliet wasn't comforted, realizing that she was probably two months away from that point. "Um…does this change things…I mean, whether or not I can still work cases?"
"I still think it would be ok for you to continue working cases until you start showing, although we may have to keep you away from danger as best we can. We wouldn't want anything to happen to your little one."
"Of course not!" said Juliet
"You'll have to tell Detective Lassiter when you are ready. But don't wait too long." Juliet nodded in understanding. "Well, congrats to you and Spencer! You take as much time as you need in here and come back to the case when you are ready."
"Thanks, Chief. Sure thing!"
"No problem," said Vick, starting out the door. "Oh, and O'Hara…my door is always open…if you need anything. Remember that I've been through this myself and I know it can be good to have someone to talk to."
"Thanks for the talk!" said Juliet with a smile.
Vick nodded and finally left Juliet to herself in the restroom.
After a long day of researching and questioning everyone in little Emma Green's life, the investigation had hit a brick wall. Even though it seemed obvious that Emma's death was one of those 'wrong time, wrong place' scenarios, that she had simply been the unfortunate one to witness a dangerous man's crime, it was still protocol to investigate the possibility that someone close to her had been involved.
The whole day was spent questioning friends, family, neighbors, and teachers, and just as expected no one had shown any sign of guilt. In fact, their interviews had only confirmed that Emma was the type to frequently run off and get herself into dangerous spots. She was curious, generous, and over-trusting. She probably thought she was helping the man who killed her. Juliet thought they would have been better off spending the first day of the investigation from the break-in angle. The only problem was that they really had no leads on that end either.
Finally home for the evening, she came through the front door, kicked off her shoes, and removed her gun and holster. She flopped herself onto the couch with a groan. She wasn't used to being tired out so easily. Her stomach growled loudly. She wasn't used to being hungry all of the time either. In fact, she was so hungry that she could have sworn she could smell a scent of tomato, basil, and garlic wafting from the kitchen. She sat up straight and sniffed the air. Now she was sure she could smell it! And there was something else too…pineapple.
Juliet got up and as she walked towards the kitchen, she also noted that the house was oddly tidy, freshly vacuumed and dusted to a lemony freshness.
"Hey, beautiful!" Shawn greeted as Juliet entered the kitchen, her jaw dropping at the sight of the table set neatly with candles and a flower centerpiece, pots and pans boiling on the stove, and Shawn dressed in her flowery apron. She giggled at the sight of him.
"What?" said Shawn checking his reflection in a steel pot, "Did I get sauce on my face?"
"No," laughed Juliet. "I just…Did you do all of this yourself?"
"Well, I would have gotten Gus to help me but unfortunately he had plans today…something about an Indian princess flying in on a steel bird…or some nonsense," Shawn joked. He was actually glad that Gus had something else to keep him busy for the day. "So, anyhow, yeah I did this myself. Chicken parmesan with pineapple upside-down cake for dessert…let's hope it's baked through this time. I know it's been a long and probably a rough day, and I thought you'd be hungry. I made extra…you know, since you're eating for two now."
Juliet didn't even know how to respond. She'd never seen Shawn so…domestic, before. Instead of saying anything, she walked over to him, wrapped her arms around him, not caring that she was getting sauce on her shirt and pulled him into a searing kiss.
"Wow!" said Shawn after a good thirty seconds, feeling lightheaded. "I should make you dinner more often."
"Yes you should," agreed Juliet.
"And I'm going to!" Shawn exclaimed. "I want you to know that I'm turning over a new leaf. I am trading in all of my selfish, irresponsible maple leaves for some grown ass-oak leaves…because oak trees are old…and wise…like owls. I am going to be like a wise, old owl except that I can't turn my head all the way around backwards."
"I am also going to be helping out a lot more around here. I really want you to see that I can do this. I mean, that you can trust me…that I can and I want to be a good father to our baby."
"Shawn, I'm really glad to hear you say that. And if everything you've done tonight is any indication of what I can expect from you from now on, I'll have no problem trusting you."
"Look, Jules. I've been doing some thinking…" Shawn began suddenly but less seriously. Juliet pulled away slightly and looked at him strangely. "Yeah…don't be so surprised. I DO think every now and then."
"You do?" she said playfully.
"Yeah…and, well I've realized three things today. First, Jimmy Fallon's Late Night Snack Ice Cream is the best snack food on the planet, by far. Second, Shia Lebeauf should never ever try to grow facial hair…"
"I totally agree!"
"…And third, we need to celebrate!"
"Yes. Yes, we do!" agreed Juliet.
"I'm glad you agree, because I want to take you out on Friday. Dinner, dancing, drinks… Wait! No drinks! But, pretty much anything else that starts with D…or any other letter of the alphabet. Whatever you want…"
"Oh, Shawn! That sounds amazing!" Juliet said, practically jumping on him and pulling him into a tight embrace.
"…and after that, we are going to come home and celebrate some more…all night long if you want." Shawn winked and placed several soft kisses to her pulse point. "And the best part is…we don't even have to try to be careful anymore."
"Oh…" Juliet moaned pleasantly. "Why do we have to wait until Friday?"
"I never said we had to," Shawn said, picking Juliet off the floor and onto the counter where he could have better access to her neck.
"Then what are we waiting for?" asked Juliet, wrapping herself fully around Shawn, who fumbled with the knobs on the stove to turn them off before carrying her to the bedroom. Dinner could wait just a little bit.