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Femme Fatale

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“Detective O’Hara, I understand that two days ago, you returned to active duty.”

Juliet sat primly on the edge of the chair across from the department psychologist. In an hour this will be over, she reminded herself, and she can go to the gym to blow off steam and then for ice cream. Or maybe the ice cream first. Rocky Road.

“Yes,” she said nervously. Carlton had always told her not to give away too much during these psych evaluations. That’s how they get you, he had said grimly, sounding like the voice of experience.

Dr. Madison looked up at her and smiled. “You’ve changed your hair since the last time you were here, haven’t you?”

Juliet touched the bun at the back of her head self-consciously. “I thought it was time for something different.” What she didn’t say was that the lighter shade had felt too frivolous for her mood. Maybe people would take her more seriously as a brunette. Besides, she didn’t ever want anyone to mistake her for a Hitchcock blonde again.

“I like it. I think it suits you. So, two days ago you returned to work.”

“That’s right. I received a tip from a department consultant regarding a crime in progress and was able to apprehend the perpetrator during the commission of an assault.”

Dr. Madison leafed through her notes. “According to the report, the consultant who contacted you was Shawn Spencer, is that right?”


“Was Mr. Spencer aware that you had taken a leave of absence?”

“Yes, he was,” Juliet took a deep breath before continuing, because she knew Dr. Madison wasn’t going to like this. “He thought it was time for me to come back to work.”

Dr. Madison looked up from her notes, frowning. “Detective O’Hara, Mr. Spencer doesn’t get to decide for you when you’re ready to go back to work. No one else-- not Chief Vick, or your partner, and certainly not a consultant – gets to decide that. You’re the only who can make that call.”

“No,” Juliet said in a rush, “I know that, I do. But Shawn was right. I needed to get back in the saddle, so to speak. It felt good to make that arrest. If I really hadn’t been ready, I could have called Detective Lassiter and passed the tip on to him.”

Dr. Madison pursed her lips, not looking at all mollified. “Still, Juliet, you understand why I find this concerning, don’t you? If you’re not truly confident that you’re ready to be out in the field again, you could endanger yourself, or your partner, or a civilian.”

“I’m ready,” Juliet said firmly, looking up to meet Dr. Madison’s gaze. “I am.”

“Okay,” Dr. Madison said, in a way that made it clear that she still wasn’t pleased. “Let’s go back to the event that precipitated your leave.”

Juliet slumped back in her chair, suddenly feeling like the bad kid in the back of the class who didn’t want to participate. “Do we have to? We’ve talked about it before.”

“We’ve barely talked about it at all since your first session, when the trauma was still fresh. If you’re ready to go back to work, then you should also be ready to talk about what happened that night.”

“Fine. What do you want to know?”

“Looking back over the case file, I realized that the same consultant, Shawn Spencer, was involved with that case as well. Can you tell me what it is that Mr. Spencer does for the department?”

“Shawn is a psychic,” Juliet said, and watched Dr. Madison raise her eyebrows skeptically. “I know how it sounds. I never thought I would believe in anything like psychic powers myself. He’s really gifted though. He seems to know things that no one else does.”

“Does he work with you and your partner very often?”

“He and his business partner, Gus, work with us on a semi-regular basis.”

“And how did he come to be involved in the Yin case?”

Juliet took a deep breath. “In a way, Shawn WAS the Yin case. Yin calls out investigators that he sees as worthy rivals, and he apparently felt that Shawn fit that description. Everything that happened on that case happened because Yin wanted to defeat Shawn.”

“My goodness,” Dr. Madison said “He sounds like a comic book villain. I certainly never imagined anything so bizarre could happen here in Santa Barbara.”

Juliet smiled wanly. “I’ve found that Santa Barbara has a surprising amount of offbeat crime.”

“So tell me, Juliet, how did Yin’s fascination with Mr. Spencer lead to what happened to you?”

“Yin was trying to get to Shawn by putting people he cares about in danger.”

“And you would be someone that Mr. Spencer cares about?”

“Shawn and I are friends, yes,” Juliet said, looking down at her hands.

“And the other victim that night…” Dr. Madison trailed off as Juliet visibly flinched. “You don’t like that I referred to you as a victim.”

“Does anyone like being called a victim? But especially…I mean, I’m a cop! I’m supposed to help victims, not be one myself.”

“You felt helpless.”

“I was dangling twenty stories off the ground, dependent on someone else to rescue me! I was helpless.” Juliet blinked back the tears of anger forming behind her eyes. She was not going to let herself cry over this again. She wasn't about to tell Dr. Madison that she still woke up at least once a week in cold sweat, convinced that she was still tied to that chair.

“Let’s go back to the facts of the case for a few minutes. The other person that Yin took that night, Abigail Lytar, was she also a friend of Mr. Spencer’s?”

“She was his girlfriend.”


“I believe they broke up.”

“Juliet, forgive me for asking this, but I’m trying to understand why Yin chose to take you as well as Ms. Lytar. Have you and Mr. Spencer ever been involved in a romantic relationship?”

“No! No. He…we flirt a little sometimes, that’s all. It’s nothing serious. We’re just friends.”

“Would you like for it to be something serious?”

“I’m not here to talk about boys,” Juliet snapped. “I thought this was about my readiness to come back to work.”

Dr. Madison held up her hands placatingly, and Juliet shrunk back in her seat, feeling a little embarrassed at her outburst.

“I’m sorry, Detective. It’s just that it seems like Mr. Spencer has a lot of influence over you.”

“Not to sound like a broken record, but again, we’re friends. Of course he has some influence over me. I like to think that I have some influence over him too.”

“Okay,” Dr. Madison said gently, “back to that night. So, Yin targeted you and Ms. Lytar. You were trapped on the clock tower, and she was tied up under the pier, is that right?”

“Yes. The idea was that Shawn would have to choose which one of us to save, I guess. Which was a stupid plan for a criminal mastermind, because of course it wasn’t just Shawn involved, it was the entire police department. So Shawn went with his dad to rescue Abigail, and my partner and Gus came for me.”

“So Mr. Spencer didn’t come for you?”

Juliet realized that she was fidgeting with the hem of her jacket and forced herself to stop. “He did the right thing. Abigail is a civilian, and besides, she was his girlfriend.”

“And your partner, Detective Lassiter, he’s the one who ultimately rescued you from the tower?”

“Yes. He and Gus both did.”

“Would you say that you and Detective Lassiter have a good partnership?”

“Yes! I wouldn’t have thought it possible, when I first came here. I don’t know if you’ve ever worked with Detective Lassiter?”

“That would be confidential.”

“Right. Well, I don’t know if you’ve worked with him, but Carlton can be…he can be a little bit of a prickly pear. It took a while for me to get used to his, uh, personality quirks. But he’s been a really good mentor to me, and he’s turned into a good friend as well. I know that I can trust him to have my back.”

Dr. Madison smiled. “That’s good, Juliet. I’m glad that you feel you can depend on your partner. Are you prepared to deal with the fact that he might be a little overprotective of you when you come back to work? That’s something I’ve seen before in cases involving male and female partners. He saw you in a very vulnerable position. He might still be dealing with the effects of seeing his partner in danger.”

“Oh, Carlton would never…” she trailed off uncertainly. “Well, he might,” she admitted grudgingly. “I’ll have to watch out for that.”

“Does something in his behavior make you think that?”

“There was an incident a few years ago. A prisoner escaped because of a mistake I made. Carlton was very supportive of me – he yelled at anyone who looked at me sideways – but he didn’t want me involved with the manhunt for the prisoner. I think it was his way of trying to protect me. So you’re right, that could be an issue.” She hesitated for a moment, then added “I worry sometimes that people might think that Carlton and I…everyone knows that he had an affair with his previous partner.”

“Has he ever made a pass at you? Or done anything to make you uncomfortable?”

“No! God, no. I think he’s terrified of ever doing anything that could be taken that way. I don’t believe that the people who actually work with us on a regular basis would ever think that we might be involved like that, but I wonder sometimes about how other officers and detectives perceive us.”

“It’s important to you that your colleagues know that you earn your badge.”

“Yes, of course. Being a detective gives me a certain amount of authority. I need for people to take me seriously. They won’t if they think I’m only in my position because I slept my way into it. And this whole thing, the Yin thing, it doesn’t help.”

“Why is that?”

“You said it yourself! Carlton had to rescue me, like I was some poor little damsel in distress. How is anyone supposed to take me seriously after that? And,” she continued, unable to stop now that she had started, “what makes all of it even worse is that it had nothing to do with me, really. I wasn’t in danger because of anything I’ve done as a detective or a police officer, I was there because some psycho decided to cast me in that damsel role on the chance that Shawn might have feelings for me! I almost died because I was being used as, as a pawn between Yin and Shawn.”

“Do you think that Shawn thinks of you as a pawn?”

Juliet blinked, struck by the question. “No! No, not at all.”

“An outside observer might think that by calling you into the case he was involved in a couple of nights ago, he manipulated you into coming back to work, possibly before you were ready.”

“He was just giving me a nudge when I needed it. I really do believe that he thought he was doing what was best for me.”

“You can see, can’t you, to continue with the pawn metaphor, how someone might construe that he moved you into the place where he wanted you in that situation.”

Juliet sighed. “Look, you would have to know Shawn for it to really make sense. He’s very perceptive about people. And he's been a good friend to me in the past. Maybe…maybe I wish that he would have listened to me when I said I wasn’t quite ready yet. He can be a little…pushy sometimes. But I don’t think he was wrong to believe that I’m ready. I very much appreciate that he has faith in me.”

Dr. Madison frowned at that, but didn’t dwell on it. “What about Detective Lassiter, or Chief Vick? Do you believe that they consider you a pawn?”

“No,” she shook her head. “I think they respect my work. I know that they trust me to do my job.”

“What about you, Juliet?” Dr. Madison asked quietly. “Do you see yourself as a pawn? Do you respect the work that you’ve done?”

Juliet found herself looking down at her hands again, unwilling to face the sympathy in Dr. Madison’s face. “I just feel so stupid,” she said sadly. “I should have known that I was walking into a trap. If I had been smarter, faster, better prepared, I could have stopped the entire thing from happening. Maybe even captured Yin.”

“You were promoted to detective at a very young age,” Dr. Madison said, and Juliet nodded, uncertain as to what she was getting at. “I’ve looked through your academy records, the files from your time on the Miami police force, and the number of cases you and Detective Lassiter have closed together since you came to Santa Barbara.”

She leaned forward and said intently, “You’re a good cop and a good detective, Juliet. You’ve just told me that you know that the people who work the closest to you believe that. I know it’s true because I have affidavits from Chief Vick and Detective Lassiter saying that you’re valuable to the force and that they believe you’re ready to be back in the field. You just need to believe it for yourself again. You have to look past Yin to see all of the criminals you helped capture in the past, and all of the citizens that you kept safe by being so good at your job.”

Juliet swallowed past the sudden lump in her throat. “Thank you, Dr. Madison. I have a job to do, and I would very much like to get back to doing it.”

“I am signing off on the release that you’re allowed to return to active duty, Detective. This is the last session that you’re mandated to have with me, but I want you to know that you’re welcome to come see me anytime.” She closed the file containing her notes on Juliet and set it aside before saying, “If I could offer you a little free advice?”

“Of course.”

“You need to set some firm boundaries, both with your protective partner and especially with your flirty consultant. No matter how well-meaning he might be, and I do believe you when you say he cares about you, make it clear to him that you need to make your own decisions and that he has to respect that. If you don’t, he’s going to always think that he can get away with anything he wants as far as you’re concerned. If your relationship ever does progress beyond friendship, that’s going to be an even bigger problem than it is now.”

Juliet nodded. “I’ll try,” she said, but didn’t add that Shawn’s specialty – aside from solving crimes – was ignoring boundaries altogether. Maybe she should pay more attention to how Lassiter managed to deflect him, but unlike Lassiter, she trusted Shawn. He only wanted the best for her, she was sure of that.

Still, trying to set boundaries couldn’t hurt. It could be part of her new campaign to be taken more seriously. She only hoped that her resolve would last.