Shawn dug out some change from the bottom of his backpack, sliding them into the slots in the pay phone and dialing home—he was pretty sure his dad was home, anyway. If he had been called to the station, he would have sent someone else to pick Shawn up. It rang several times before it connected, and Shawn was greeted with a slightly-ruffled, “This is Spencer.”
“Dad!” Shawn said, huffing loudly into the mouthpiece. “I’ve been waiting here for like, ever! Wrestling practice ended forty minutes ago.”
“I know, Shawn,” Henry replied, his voice heavy with annoyance and insufferable authority. “Which is why I was there fifty minutes ago, and waited twenty minutes while you sat around the gym, fooling around with your friends.”
“What?” Shawn said, frowning. His dad hadn’t come into the gym—Shawn would have heard it—but he had probably just glared through the window in the door, like some kind of grumpy peeping Tom. “Dad, we weren’t fooling around, I was schmoozing. It’s my first year of high school, I wanna move up in the team! Haven’t you told me that politics was part of getting anywhere in life?”
“In the workplace, Shawn. You’re not even on a varsity team. And I’ve also told you that you need to be respectful of my time. If I take time out of my day to give you a ride, you need to be ready for it,” Henry replied. “So maybe you ride your bike home today, and consider it a lesson well-taught.”
“Dad!” Shawn whined. “Come on! I got a ride with Gus to school, I don’t have my bike. And I’m going to miss the new Real World episode and I cannot be the only kid in school who can’t talk about it tomorrow!”
“Remind me why we have cable again, if all you’re going to do is watch that crap?” Henry asked, and Shawn rolled his eyes. He could picture the exact way Henry was shaking his head. “Look Shawn, I just put our dinner in the oven. It has a twenty minute cook time. Once it’s done, I’ll come to the high school and pick you up. And you can take advantage of the extra time to get some homework done while you wait.”
“Dad!” Shawn protested. “You can’t be serious. You drove all the way home instead of, I don’t know, letting me know you were there? And now I’m the one who has to wait like, an extra forty minutes from now?”
“You knew I was going to be picking you up, kid. You made the choice not to be ready. Consider this incentive to do better next time. I’ll see you in forty minutes.” Shawn squawked when he heard a click and a dial tone, and slammed the receiver back down.
“Oh my god!” Shawn shouted, slamming his fist against the side of the booth. He grabbed his backpack and stormed out, pausing for only a minute before he turned towards the street. He didn’t have his bike, but there was no way in hell he was just going to stand around waiting for his dad. He’d walk home—maybe catch a ride, playing puppy eyes on a soccer mom. The drive only took fifteen or twenty minutes, but the walk was closer to forty-five—if he cut across some short cuts. It would still get him home faster then waiting for his dad. He pulled out his Walkman—or Gus’s Walkman, anyway—glad that he had thought to shove it in his bag that morning. It got dark twenty minutes in, but he could still see well enough to make his way along. He passed some cars, but none that he was going to stick out his thumb for (druggie, business guy who wouldn’t stop anyway, that one’s drunk, that one might actually be a pervert…) but it was a relatively quiet night.
Can't light no more of your darkness
All my pictures seem to fade to black and white
I'm growing tired and time stands still before me
Frozen here on the ladder of my life
He was cutting across fourth street when a van silently pulled to a stop in front of him. Shawn squinted against the headlights, taking a step back when they didn’t turn off and he heard the release of the car door. Shawn felt a tight pooling in his stomach, the hairs on the back of his neck going up. He couldn’t see anyone—the driver didn’t say anything. But Shawn wasn’t idiot—everything his dad had ever told him about trusting his gut flashed in front of his eyes. He turned and bolted, hearing the rasp of feet pounding over damp pavement behind him.
It's much too late to save myself from falling
I took a chance and changed your way of life
But you misread my meaning when I met you
Closed the door and left me blinded by the light
Hands caught him from behind, a sweet rag pressing over his mouth. Chloroform, his brain immediately supplied. He kicked out, hands finding the rough fabric of a coat—trench coat, leather gloves, a thick watch underneath, analog, man, older—but an arm quickly clamped down around his waist, even as Shawn’s kicking slowed.
Don't let the sun go down on me
Although I search myself, it's always someone else I see
I'd just allow a fragment of your life to wander free, oh
But losing everything is like the sun going down on me
He refused to stop struggling. His dad always said to fight an abductor with everything you had. His headphones ripped off his ears, and Stiles could hear breathing, the idling van combined with the absolute stillness of the street. Cars passing by the opening of the street in front of him, but no one seemed to notice Shawn’s struggle. Gus’s Walkman slipped from his pocket, smashing on the street. He kicked again and heard it skittering away, disjointed music playing weakly from the headphones. But he couldn’t—they were moving backwards now, Shawn’s eyes growing heavy. He still tried to listen to something, anything. The man’s arm left him for a moment to open the door, and then he was being lifted, placed onto the floor. He wasn’t even restrained, and the last thing he heard was the van doors closing behind him.
Before the call came in, it had been a quiet night. Sure, Carlton was smarting because Lucinda’s suggested “long-distance” relationship after she accepted a transfer had failed miserably. He understood she wanted to be a head detective. But surely Karen wasn’t going to be interim chief too much longer, and if he got a good case, he’d be a shoe-in for the permanent role. A few more months, he’d said, and it’d all be sorted. But she said something about him getting a bit too obvious with his flirting with her, and needing space to grow.
Space, sure. Everyone seemed to want space from him these days. When Victoria left, she took all of their friends with her. It wasn’t like he was going to spend time visiting his family, that was for damned sure. Pouring himself into work was easy, familiar. His new partner was perhaps a bit too green, too sweet, but she did good work. Carlton was sure he could mentor her, even if it had taken her a few months to get over the rumors swirling around just why Lucinda had left.
The one bit of good news was that Santa Barbara was as weird a place as ever. Murders, kidnappings, scams—they never seemed to stop. Their most recent case had them pouring over phone records and security cameras, trying to figure out just who had kidnapped a City Councilman’s niece. Hannah Golightly’s face smiled out at them from on top of the crime board, nineteen years old with a bright future. She’d disappeared after her volunteer shift at the library downtown in the afternoon, in broad daylight. No activity on her accounts, no ransom note, no bodies found. No reports of disturbances, nothing in her own history. It was literally as if she had vanished off the face of the earth. If it truly was random—and the fact the current boyfriend and the ex-boyfriend both had airtight alibis—Carlton had the suspicion they were really looking for a body.
Or he did, until Buzz ran up to Carlton’s desk, eyes wide as saucers. “Detective Lassiter,” he stammered. “We—a 911 call came in. From Hannah Golightly.”
“What?” Juliet’s head snapped up from her desk, but Carlton was already reaching for his jacket. His gun was already holstered, of course. “What are you waiting for, McNab? Get me the address!”
He let Juliet communicate with dispatch as they practically flew to the shithole beach she said she was located at. He knew Karen wouldn’t be too far behind them, and he needed to get his lay of the crime scene first, before he could be distracted. It wasn’t that Vick did a bad job … he just knew he could do it better.
Carlton barely bothered to stop the car before he was leaping out of it, Juliet close behind, both of their guns drawn. The moon was high over the beach, letting them see the dark figures in the distance. He could hear three voices as they ran closer—one high and panicked, near a fence, speaking into a phone. It had to be Hannah, dirty and leaning against a fence post, a chain half-buried in the sand beside her. There were two more: a sharp, rasp of a woman’s voice, ranting and disjointed, and a man’s voice, low and unnervingly calm. A body stretched between them, a dark mass lying face down in the sand, dark stains beginning to soak out around it.
“Hands in the air!” Carlton roared the second he saw the knives in the second woman’s hands, both covered in blood. Curly black hair framed a sharp, pale face, and the woman seemed to bare her teeth at them. “I said put your hands in the air!”
The man beside her had his arms wrapped around her, and he seemed to give her a shake. “Hands up,” the man repeated, his voice still calm, and soft. “Yang—hands up, please.”
Carlton froze for a moment, the name springing up with a hundred red flags. “Yang?” he repeated. It didn’t look like a given name—something Juliet would kill him for suggesting aloud. He gave both of them a closer look, though they were thrown in blue moon light. She was probably in her forties, and there was a chaotic, feral look in her eyes. She was also shaking, a fine tremor, and she shrunk back against the man even as she seemed coiled to leap forward. The man was younger, in his early thirties, if that. He seemed pale, and perhaps too thin, his hair sculpted and combed back. When the man glanced at Carlton he seemed resigned, in an exhausted, awful way that made Carlton feel like he should pull his trigger, just to be safe.
“It’s over, it’s over. Hands up,” the man said softly, and finally the woman complied, bloody weapons falling from her hands. Uniformed officers surged from behind Carlton, finally catching up to them, quickly getting the two in handcuffs. Carlton lowered his weapon and turned, watching as Juliet crouched beside a sobbing Hannah, slowly helping her upright. Hannah shied away from the body, scrambling back. “What the hell is this?” Carlton muttered lowly, but Hannah seemed to have heard him anyway.
“It was him,” she managed, pointing to the body. “He called himself Mr. Yin.”
A Yin and a Yang. There was no coincidence that big, not in Santa Barbara. He turned to an officer, finally holstering his gun. “Get Chief Vick on the phone, and keep those two under armed guard. I think we’ve finally caught Mr. Yang.”