Space

Chapter 15

Juliet parked her car, the engine cutting quietly, enveloping her in the silence of the nearing dusk. She slowly got out, hoping she'd remembered the way correctly. It looked the same as it had last time.

She shut her door with a small snap and winced at the sound, feeling as if breaking the silence was somehow wrong. She knew why Shawn'd chosen this place to come to clear his head.

It really was the perfect getaway.

Juliet left her car, and walked off the road, down into the hollow forest. A few feet over, she caught the familiar No Trespassing sign. She was in the right place.

Continuing her walk through the forest, Juliet felt herself reliving the events of the other night. The apartment building's woodland, her panicked search for Shawn within the trees, her heart slamming against her chest. She shook her head, discarding the memories. She didn't even know for sure if Shawn had come here tonight, but it would make sense. His motorcycle wasn't anywhere nearby but, Juliet reasoned, broken ribs and only one arm made it a bit challenging to ride a motorcycle. Though… that could easily be a challenge Shawn would accept.

Juliet walked further through the forest, not even sure she was following the correct way. The sunlight was just about gone and the moon was making its appearance. The air was getting a bit chillier and she fought a shiver, realizing that, just like last time, she'd forgotten to bring a jacket.

What was she supposed to say to him? Juliet sighed. She remembered the moment she found that brochure in his jacket pocket, the realization that felt like ice in her heart. Like she'd fallen in love with a stranger.

Juliet hesitated in her walk, leaning against a tree, her back pressing against the rough bark and she shut her eyes, rubbing her temples. Well, she knew one thing for sure. She wasn't angry anymore. Not like she had been in the beginning. For the days that followed Lassiter's wedding, she'd been furious. She'd barely slept; she could still smell Shawn's cologne in her sheets, and she'd ended up deciding to crash on her couch instead. All of those jagged emotions, all of the hurt, all of the anger had been haunting her.

Until Shawn was taken.

Now? She didn't feel angry anymore. Everything that happened that day changed that. Yes, he lied. But he also just put his very life on the line for her.

Even so, she couldn't shake the horrible feeling that everything they were, everything she loved about him, was somehow just as fabricated as his psychic abilities. She felt like she didn't even know who he was anymore.

Juliet picked herself up and she continued through the forest, feeling even more at a loss for words. She took a deep breath. If she found him here, the words would come.

She hoped.

And suddenly the trees opened up, and that breathtaking ocean took over the view. Juliet felt a pull in her chest at the sight. It truly was something. The sun was almost beneath the horizon now, casting soft, faded rays across the water. The moon was high in the sky. A full moon. The sheen moonlight reflected off the gentle waves.

Taking another step forward, Juliet dropped her gaze. And there he was.

Shawn's back was to her. He was sitting just as he had those weeks ago, when he'd brought her here. He was wearing the sling, the navy strap almost blending into his dark t-shirt. Shawn's posture was slightly scrunched forward, as if his position was painful. Juliet felt a wash of pity. It probably was.

Taking a breath, Juliet walked up behind him. Shawn didn't notice her until she was only a few feet away. He turned quickly, whipping his head around, but seemed to forget his condition. He winced, eyes shutting and teeth clenching.

Juliet's face fell. "Oh—I'm sorry," she mumbled, realizing that after everything he'd just gone through, he'd probably become a bit paranoid. "I didn't mean to startle you." She stopped behind him, her hands clasped nervously behind her.

The pain slowly left Shawn's features. The bruises hadn't begun to fade yet, and he still looked fragile. He didn't look like the fun-loving Shawn she was used to seeing.

He looked broken.

Shawn looked at her in confusion. "Jules?"

"I…" began Juliet, hesitating. Shawn waited, his soft gaze burning into her eyes.

Hadn't she convinced herself that the words would come naturally?

"I thought I'd find you here," she said quietly, feeling the slight breeze tug at the hair around her face, and she brushed it away.

Shawn gave her a small smile, giving some life to his bruised features. Juliet hadn't seen that smile in ages.

Juliet bit her lip. "Do you… mind if I join you?"

Shawn looked at her, surprised. If Juliet wasn't mistaken, it was more than just surprise in his eyes.

It was hope.

"Y-Yeah," he said quickly, stumbling over his words. "By all means, Jules. Please."

Juliet took a few steps closer and lowered herself to the ground a few feet away from him. She let her legs hang over the edge of the small ledge. She looked around, feeling the breeze tickle her face again. Juliet suddenly felt Shawn's gaze on her, and her eyes slowly turned back to him. He was almost studying her, and his face quickly fell. "Jules—are you okay?"

The bruises on her neck. Juliet felt her hand instinctively move up to her throat and absently massage the tender skin. She cleared her throat, self-conscious under his steady gaze. "Uh, yeah. It's fine now. Doesn't hurt too much," she said, dropping her hand, lamely dismissing his concern. Looking at him, taking in his weakened state, Juliet felt like her subtle injury was the last thing he should be worried about. She gave him a skeptical look, suddenly curious. "Shawn, how did you get here?"

"Cab."

Juliet's jaw dropped. "A cab? Shawn, are you serious?"

"It's not like I called the same cab station."

Juliet and Shawn were quiet for a moment, her incredulous gaze meeting his indifference. After a few seconds, Shawn's lips titled upward and Juliet felt her own mirror him.

Only Shawn.

They lingered eye contact for a moment more, then broke away, both turning back to the ocean, smiles fading. Juliet's eyes traced the rhythmic movement of the water, and she felt anxiety flitting in her veins. She missed him. She missed his humor, his quirks, his eyes, his scent, his everything. And here he was, sitting two feet away from her. So close she could touch him.

Juliet's fingers twisted the grass underneath her palm. Her eyes slowly crept back to him, eyeing the sling and bandages. She caught notice of his good arm resting protectively around his side, the muscles in his arm flexed and tense. His hand was twisted in his shirt, as if he were trying to alleviate the pain.

"How are you feeling?" asked Juliet, her own concern etching into her features. He didn't look like someone who should be out of a hospital yet. He looked tired. Not just tired, thought Juliet, exhausted.

Shawn didn't answer right away, and Juliet saw his arm relax slightly, as if he realized he'd just been caught and was trying to hide it. "I'm fine," he said simply, though his arm quickly tensed again and he couldn't hide a cringe.

"You don't look fine," said Juliet in a quiet voice.

Shawn turned his head, casting his gaze away from her. "It doesn't matter. I… deserve it."

Juliet's jaw nearly dropped at his words. "Shawn—" she said, shaking her head, speechless. "No one deserves what you went through," she whispered.

Shawn didn't reply. He just kept staring at the water, his expression as empty as the night sky.

"Why did you leave?" asked Juliet quietly, not exactly sure what to say.

Shawn shrugged, and Juliet watched pain flash through his eyes at the movement. She and Shawn were quiet for another moment, the air only filled by the sound of the gentle waves rhythmically hitting the shore below them and the breeze shifting the leaves on the trees behind them, as if the very nature was uncomfortable with the quiet. Juliet took a tentative breath, and broke the silence.

"Shawn," she said softly, "what you did—"

"I know." Shawn's eyes were shut. His muscles tensed again, but this time, it wasn't out of physical pain. "I know, Jules, I messed up. Bad. I lied to you and I—"

"No, Shawn," said Juliet quickly, stopping him. He opened his eyes and tilted his head toward her, puzzlement clearing his self-loathing. "That's not what I meant." clarified Juliet. "I meant… you saved my life that night."

Shawn's expression relaxed slightly, and if she wasn't mistaken, he seemed… uncomfortable. "It's fine, Jules. You don't need to—"

"Thank you."

Shawn only looked at her, but he didn't say anything.

Juliet shut her eyes and took another breath. "I've… I've given everything a lot of thought." Shawn's face fell the smallest bit. So small that she almost missed it. Juliet sighed, deciding to just dive right in. "It was a shock, Shawn. A huge, huge shock. And… it hurt." Juliet hesitated, trying to choose her words. "It's not something that I can just… bounce back from." Juliet watched the hope disintegrate from Shawn's eyes. They looked at each other for a long time, and even in the pale moonlight, Juliet could read the pain in his eyes. Not from the gunshot wound, not from the broken bones. A much deeper kind of hurt. She'd never seen Shawn so… raw. Ever since Juliet had met him, he was the carefree, borderline childish spirit who lived with no regrets. But what she saw in his eyes now, what seemed to darken his very gaze, was just that: pure, unadulterated regret.

"Shawn, it's just…" Juliet hesitated again, clawing through her thoughts, searching for the words. "I feel like I don't really… know you."

"I'm still the same person, Jules," whispered Shawn, looking at her with a brokenness that hit her straight in the chest. "I'm the same person you met in that diner. I'm the same person whose seat you stole five years ago. That hasn't changed." He shifted his position, then cringed, hugging his arm tighter around himself. It took Shawn a moment to continue. "I know I lied. I know it was wrong." He shut his eyes. "But I'm still the same person." He opened his eyes and shook his head to himself, and Juliet watched pain flash through his eyes again, and he halted his movement, wincing. "I'm still me, Jules." Shawn sighed. "I'm just not… psychic."

"Then how do you do it?" asked Juliet quietly.

Shawn looked at her, puzzled. "Do… what?"

"If you're not psychic," she said, looking at him. "How do you do it?" The question had been floating around in her thoughts for days. So many memories cascaded through Juliet's mind in an instant. All the times Shawn had just seemed to know everything about everything, how he could know things about her as if by… magic.

Shawn's eyebrows shot up, obviously not expecting that question. He straightened, wincing as he did, lines of pain creasing his face. He turned his gaze toward the water, the moonlight shining silver light over his face. "Well," he said, seeming to be trying to collect his thoughts. "Full disclosure." His lips twitched and he took a breath before saying, "I have an… eidetic memory."

Juliet looked at him. "What… Like a photographic memory?"

"Yeah."

That was one of the last things she'd expected to hear him say. Though… what had she expected him to say? "So… You remember, like, everything?" asked Juliet incredulously.

"In a nutshell." he said. Shawn hesitated, letting the foliage behind them fill the temporary silence again. After a moment, he said, "I can remember every single case file I've ever read, from my first case with the SBPD to the first case I'd swiped from my Dad's stuff when I was seven. I can remember them in perfect detail. Down to the number of commas on each page. Every case. Every client. Every conversation I've ever had." Shawn kept his gaze fixed on the ocean. "I never studied. Didn't have to. I memorized textbooks at first glance."

Lassiter is just being childish about his detective exam score.

Wait, the D.E.T.? I took that when I was fifteen. Got a hundred.

Juliet blinked. Shawn had mentioned that he'd gotten a perfect score on the detective's exam. At the time, she never questioned it. She just assumed it was a… psychic thing.

Shawn's intense gaze was suddenly back on her, and he said, "I can remember the day we met. You were wearing that sweater—the coral-colored one with the little white buttons—that you like to wear on dates."

"Shawn…" breathed Juliet. She couldn't remember a single detail about her clothes from that day. Or his. Or anyone else's, for that matter. "That's…" She shook her head, unable to find a word.

"You had long hair then," he said quietly. "You were sitting four stools in. There were seven people seated at that diner. Two waitresses. You accused me of being one of those 'weirdos who go to the same restaurants, sit in the same seats and order the same things.' You had that leather-band watch that you wear only on stakeouts or stings, so I always assumed you wore it for good luck." He faintly smiled to himself. "You wore it on our first real date."

Juliet shook her head, incredulous. Nearly speechless. She had no idea he'd ever paid that much attention to her. "And you remember it all?" she whispered. "Every single moment?"

"Can't forget it." said Shawn simply, lifting his good hand to lightly massage his shoulder. "Sometimes I'll just start recalling memories for no reason, and I can't control re-watching them. It's like those stupid ads on YouTube that don't let you skip them after five seconds." He sighed. "Half the time it's more than one at a time and it's just… overwhelming."

"I come here to clear my head. I get all of these visions, sometimes more than one at a time, and it's just enough to give me a headache."

Juliet shook her head, thinking back to the day he'd brought her here. He hadn't been talking about his visions, he'd been talking about his memory.

"Shawn… That sounds… exhausting," whispered Juliet.

Shawn shrugged again, and Juliet watched him cringe and lower his hand back to his side. A wave of annoyance flitted through his eyes as if he was tired of forgetting that it hurt to move. "That's why I started coming here." he said, his gaze tracing the darkened horizon. "There isn't much to… memorize." said Shawn quietly. "No people to catalogue. No hats to count."

"But… why did you bring me here, then?" asked Juliet.

He gave her a soft look. "I don't mind memorizing you."

Juliet felt her cheeks heat up. She met Shawn's gaze, and he looked at her with pure sincerity in his eyes. "Jules… I miss you." He started to instinctively reach for her hand with his good arm, but stopped halfway, seeming to second-guess his decision. He pulled it back to his side. "I'll… understand if you…" he hesitated, seeming to not want to say the words. "If you want us to… end." He whispered the last word so quietly that Juliet barely heard him. He looked at her again. "But… I can't lose you, Juliet. Please, at least let us stay… friends." He swallowed hard, and Juliet saw the moisture in his eyes. "I… I don't know what I'd do without you."

Juliet looked at him for a long moment. "I still love you, Shawn."

Shawn couldn't hide his surprise. "You do?" he whispered.

"I do," she said. "It's just… I just need—"

"Space," said Shawn quietly, his gaze falling back to the water.

"No, Shawn," she said, shaking her head as he met her eyes. "Not… anymore." She shifted uncomfortably, feeling the slightest remnant of guilt hit her. "I'm just going to need some time." She turned her gaze back to the water. "I guess things between us just don't come… easily."

"Maybe," said Shawn softly, "the best things in life, the richest things... aren't supposed to come easily."

Her words. The exact words she'd said to him that day at the drive-in, after the fiasco with Yang, when she first told Shawn how she felt about him. Juliet turned to Shawn, looking at him in wonder as he continued, "And the moments that make the most sense—"

"—happen when everything else doesn't," whispered Juliet, shaking her head, feeling that warmth in her chest—the warmth she felt only when it came to Shawn—for the first time in days.

Juliet shifted soundlessly across the grass, closing the inches between them, resting her head gently on his good shoulder. She fell into Shawn's warmth, feeling him tense the slightest bit, surprised by her touch. He slowly wrapped his arm around her, pulling her close, and they watched the moonlit waves gently strike the shore. Juliet listened to the sound of his breathing, the familiar thrum of his heart beating through their touch, feeling his thumb caress the back of her hand the way he always did. She intertwined her fingers with his and shut her eyes, melting back into him, erasing every last breath of lingering space between them.

Continue Reading

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.