Shawn was waiting on the corner when Gus finally rolled up in the little blue car. "Dude, I said A.S.A.P!"
Gus didn't even bother glaring at him. He just climbed out of the car with a kind of resigned sigh. "I was in the middle of a meeting, Shawn. What's so important?"
"We've got a new case," Shawn said proudly.
Gus walked over, suspicious, since nine times out of ten when Shawn decided they had a case, no one else knew they were working it, or they weren't getting paid, or someone else was getting the credit, or possibly all three. "Really? The Chief called us in?"
Shawn blinked at him innocently, which just went to prove all of Gus's suspicions correct. "Uh. Not exactly. I was listening to the police scanner again, but this is going to be something big, I can tell. This place is a customer service call center for an online clothing store, Alice Clothing or something, and it gets broken into? There's nothing there except digital information that'll be instantly traced. So either we're dealing with really stupid criminals, or something else is going on."
Gus crossed his arms. "And you're just going to walk in there and flail around a little and hope they give you the case?"
"You know me so well," Shawn said. "It's like you're the one that reads minds."
"Neither of us can read minds, Shawn," Gus snapped. "I thought we agreed we were both signing off on cases now."
"You'll sign off on this," Shawn said. "As soon as I get it for us."
"Shawn!" Gus tried to snag his shirt as he spun on his heels and went right under the crime scene tape, but he wasn't quick enough. He resignedly followed him inside, knowing it was too late to stop him now.
Shawn had his eyes pressed closed, one hand reaching out as if for balance. "Yes, yes, it's here! Gus! What I'm sensing is here!"
Gus saw Juliet and Lassiter look over. Juliet stepped forward in concern and Lassiter just rolled his eyes.
"Oh, god! Oh, it's awful! Gus!" Shawn shouted. He suddenly started shaking his leg, so violently that he ended up falling to the floor on his back, arms splayed behind him. "Something awful has happened here!" Shawn finally opened his eyes, only to see Lassiter glaring down at him. "Lassie!"
Lassiter rolled his eyes again, and reached down to grab Shawn's arms, pulling him unceremoniously to his feet. "Take a good look around, Spencer. What we have here is a prank."
Shawn narrowed his eyes as he saw the spray paint all over the walls, most of it pink. Robbers wouldn't have left such an obvious call sign, not if they were any good. He saw a woman that looked about twenty sitting in the corner, with Buzz handing her a coffee, and wondered if she saw anything or was just the one that called it in. There weren't any other employees that he could see.
Shawn focused in on the shift schedule that had been written on a large whiteboard against the back wall. Someone named Amber had her name crossed out in red on every day starting yesterday. He quickly put his hand to his head again, before falling back against the wall. "Wait, I'm sensing something else--there's someone. . . someone has recently left the company."
The girl in the corner quickly got to her feet. "That's right! It was Amber! She just up and left. I came in early to relieve her off the night shift, but she wasn't even here. She didn't even lock everything up."
Shawn grinned widely, turning to glance smugly in Lassiter's direction.
"But it isn't as though it's exactly out of character for her to leave me in a lurch, if you know what I mean," she continued.
Lassiter stepped forward. "Have you spoken to her since?"
"I called and called and she wouldn't answer, but eventually I got in touch with her husband, and I guess she ran off with some other guy." She started chewing on her hair, and Shawn stared in morbid fascination. "Personally, I say good riddance. She was horrible and she always yelled at me."
"Yeah, that's fascinating," Lassiter said.
Shawn could see that his patience was nearing its end. He took another look around the room. He could just make out the security computers on the reception desk, the screen was split into four windows and all of them were showing static.
He pressed his eyes shut again, holding out his hand. "Wait. Wait--there's something else. The security video, it's--"
"Yes, Spencer, the recordings were wiped, we know," Lassiter said, with a kind of long-suffering tone. "It was so we couldn't see the punks that did this, but what they did is perfectly obvious. Nothing was stolen, and none of the computers were hacked." He turned back to O'Hara. "We're done here."
Juliet gave Shawn a helpless shrug and started after Lassiter.
"But--wait!" Shawn said. "Who would break into a place with security cameras just to have some fun with some spray paint? They could have done their little drawings on the outside walls. This is not about that."
"You see those," Lassiter said, placing his hands on Shawn's shoulders to spin him back towards the graffiti. "Those are gang signs. This block? This block just so happens to be in gang territory."
Shawn tilted his head as he recognized a distinct symbol on the wall. "Wait, I'm confused, are you telling me the Crips have come to Santa Barbara? And we're having gang wars with pink spray-paint now?"
Lassiter frowned as he recognized that one of the symbols was indeed a calling card from the Crips, and then shook his head. Gangs were often offshoots of other gangs, and he had more important things to worry about than their lineage. They had tasks forces specifically for this kind of thing.
"How do you even know what the Crips signs are?" Spencer opened his mouth, hand already going to his temple in preparation for another psychic performance, and Lassiter quickly held up a hand to forestall him. "You know what? Never mind, Spencer. This isn't a case."
Lassiter motioned O'Hara to follow him again and then started towards the door.
"Oh, like you've never said that before!" Shawn called after him.
Gus gave him a shove. "Will you stop that? I hate to admit it, but I think Lassiter might be right for once."
Shawn frowned. "Yeah, but it is weird, right? I mean, seriously weird."
"Let's go, Shawn," Gus said grabbing Shawn's arm to tug him along as he ducked back under the crime scene tape. "I've got to get back to my route. You want me to drop you off somewhere?"
Shawn shook his head. "No. I think I'm going to stick around here for awhile. See if I get anymore psychic vibes."
Gus rolled his eyes. "You do that."
Shawn noticed a blue BMW parked across the street when the sun bounced off something inside. He narrowed his eyes and stepped forward, but the BMW pulled away before he could see anything. "Did you see that?" Shawn asked.
"Lots of people stop to watch crime scenes, Shawn," Gus said. "They're called Looky-loos."
Shawn paused, slowly turning to face his friends. "Looky-loos? Really, Gus? That's the official name for people that stop to watch crime scenes?"
Gus glared at him. "Well, what do you call it?"
"Rubberneckering," Shawn said. "Rubberneckites? Rubberneckers!"
"Whatever, Shawn," Gus said. "I'm rubbernecking out of here."
"That doesn't even make any sense!" Shawn shouted after him.
Gus was just heading home when his cell phone started ringing, with the Madonna ringtone Shawn had made specific to his calls. Gus still hadn't figured out to undo it.
"I need a ride," Shawn said, without preamble. "I'm lost in Gangland."
"Whatever, Shawn. You can joke but gangs are a serious problem in Santa Barbara, and you shouldn't be out there wandering off alone." Gus was feeling slightly guilty for bailing out earlier, but watching out for Shawn was a twenty-four hour job, and he had two others. "Where are you?"
"Still by Alice Clothing," Shawn said.
"I'll be right there," Gus told him, before hanging up.
He managed to get the same parking space he'd used before, right in front, but Shawn was not waiting where he said he would be. Gus checked the clock. It was almost eight, but this late in the summer it was thankfully still bright. He got out of the car to look for his wayward friend.
He found him right across the street, window shopping at Suncoast Video and eating an ice cream. Gus was sadly not surprised. "Shawn!" he shouted. "Come on. We're leaving."
Shawn turned towards him, still frowning, and Gus changed his mind, and wondered if Shawn had noticed anything that was inside the video store at all. His mind seemed somewhere else.
"There's something more to this, Gus," Shawn said. "I'm fairly certain about that."
"The police will work it out, I'm not getting involved with gangs, Shawn," Gus said.
Shawn had a look in his eyes that worried Gus. He knew that look. It meant Shawn had no intention of letting this go anytime soon, but to Gus's relief, he at least started back towards the car.
Gus followed him, but glanced behind him when he felt that eerie 'being watched' feeling he was regrettably used to--usually, it was Shawn that was following him, but this time he saw someone he didn't recognize slip behind a street sign to try and hide the moment he glanced around. He could see about six inches of pinstriped shirt sticking out either side of the stop sign pole, but the man's head at least was effectively hidden by the red octagon.
Gus grabbed Shawn's arm. "Shawn! Shawn, we're being followed."
"Oh, yeah. Don't worry about him, that's just my stalker," he said. Shawn gave a cheerful wave to the stalker, who was peeking out shyly from the stop sign. "His name is Ingles Dupree," Shawn continued, with a slight laugh. "Ingles Dupree. Can you believe that? It sounds like the name of a dog food company."
"Your stalker?" Gus repeated, narrowing his eyes.
"It's okay, Gus, he's cool. He bought me this ice cream."
Gus quickly reached over and knocked the ice cream out of his hands. "You don't eat something some crazed stalker buys you, Shawn!"
Shawn stared sadly down at the ice cream. "I was there when he purchased it and he didn't have any opportunity to tamper with it," Shawn said, sounding unfailingly reasonable. "He's actually a really nice guy for a stalker. He promised not to get within thirty feet of me and I didn't even need to get one of those restraining order things."
Gus stared at him, wondering if he should be comforted or terrified that even after all of their years of friendship, Shawn could still occasionally catch him completely by surprise with the crazy stuff that came out of his mouth. "And you just believe him?"
"We shook on it and he gave me his word of honor."
"Shawn! This is serious!"
"Gus, you're looking at this all wrong. In our case a stalker might actually be a good thing. It means we're getting noticed--it's like a status symbol, all the cool kids have one." Shawn paused for a moment, and then shook his head. "Then again, I heard even Pamela Anderson had a stalker recently. Maybe in her Baywatch days, maybe--and I stress the maybe here--even VIP, I could have understood, but she's just not that classy anymore."
Gus stopped walking and glared at him. "Shawn, that was Borat."
Shawn raised an eyebrow. "You have the name of Pamela Anderson's stalker on the tip of your tongue? Honestly, Gus, sometimes I worry about you."
"It was a movie! You know what? Never mind, I'm not letting you distract me. We're calling the police." Gus pulled his cell phone out and started pounding out the numbers, but Shawn easily pulled it from his hands.
"You're completely overreacting," Shawn said. "Even if I thought for a second he was dangerous, which obviously he's not, I mean, he bought me ice cream--but even if, I absolutely refuse to be intimidated by someone named Ingles. Purely on principle."
Gus cast another wary glance behind them and then grabbed Shawn's arm to pull him back towards the car.
Gus stood opened mouthed in the doorway of the Psych agency while Shawn fretted quietly beside him. "Don't freak out," Shawn said.
"Shawn," Gus said.
"It's probably not even as bad as it looks," Shawn said.
"At least it doesn't look like anything is missing, or how else could they have covered the floor so completely with our stuff?"
Shawn moved past Gus into the agency. Everything had been pulled off the shelves, and the drawers were all hanging open. Paper littered the floor around Gus's desk. Bouncy balls and a neon orange slinky littered the floor around Shawn's.
"I'm calling the police," Gus said. "Your crazy stalker did this, Shawn."
Shawn walked over to his desk, carefully avoiding a Pineapple that had been carelessly thrown aside. "Heathens!" Shawn muttered, reaching down to rescue it from the floor. "No, don't do that. I'm going to call Ingles and get to the bottom of this right now."
Gus pushed his hand down and disconnected the phone before Shawn could dial. "You are not calling your stalker. How do you even have his number?"
"He wanted me to have it in case of emergencies just such as this," Shawn said. Then he shook his head. "Look, you know I'm good at reading people. Ingles is harmless. I can tell. If I thought otherwise for even a second I would have reported him myself."
Gus glanced back out the window, and saw the stalker, who was now hiding around the corner of a building, only his little beady eyes and receding hairline left visible. "How did he get here so fast?" Gus asked uneasily. "He's like a super stalker."
"Apparently, I am not the first," Shawn told him. "Ingles is very experienced in his line of work. He told me that he stalked Phil Collins for like twelve years. That's dedication. He even invited me over to look at his stalker pictures sometime."
"You're not going," Gus snapped.
Shawn rolled his eyes, and leaned back in his chair to put his feet up on the ransacked desk. "Of course I'm not, Gus," he said. "I told him that we'd have to meet somewhere public. I'm not an idiot."
"You are an idiot," Gus snapped. "This is ridiculous, and it's gone too far. I'm calling your father."
Shawn laughed. "You're calling my father? You haven't used that threat since the fifth grade."
Gus wasn't laughing. He tilted his head up in the smug way he had, and held out his cell phone, before he started dialing. Shawn dropped his feet to the ground and sat up, eyes going wide. "I know you're not really calling my father," he said.
Gus ignored him, and lifted the cell phone to his ear as it started to ring. Shawn leapt over his desk and barreled into him, wrestling the phone out of his hands just as his father said, "Gus?"
"Ha!" Shawn said, neatly stepping out of Gus's reach. "Well, I certainly didn't get my psychic powers from you."
"It says Gus on the caller ID, Shawn," Henry snapped. "Don't tell me you destroyed another cell phone."
"Nope," Shawn said. "The battery just died."
"Well, what is it?" Henry asked, as Shawn darted around the desk to get away from Gus.
"Shawn!" Gus shouted. "Give me that phone back!"
"Gus is worried about his minutes," Shawn said. "Sorry, Dad, I'll have to call you back."
Shawn hung up the phone and threw it to the other side of the room. Gus froze and then slowly turned to watch as it landed, thankfully, in one piece. "I know you didn't just throw my cell phone."
"You called my father," Shawn said. "That's against all the rules."
Gus walked stiffly to retrieve his cell phone, and then turned and pointed at Shawn. "Okay, here's the deal," he said. "You're going to clean this office."
Shawn nodded eagerly. "Of course!"
"And you're going to call your friend the stalker and tell him he's just been demoted to a distance of a hundred feet. I see this guy again and I will call the police, Shawn."
"It'll be fine, he's harmless," Shawn said again.
Gus looked back out the window at Ingles, and then his watch. "I have to be up early tomorrow, but I don't like leaving you alone here."
"Go home. I'll lock the doors," Shawn promised.
Gus seemed to falter. "Okay, but I want you to call me when you get home."
"Will do, mom," Shawn said, and then obediently locked the door behind Gus as he drove off in his little blue car, before waving to Ingles as he settled down in the parking lot with his binoculars and a sandwich.
Juliet sighed, dropping her unfinished report on her desk as she juggled with the phone. "Shawn," she said warily. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"
"I've been thinking, about that employee at Alice Clothing," Shawn said.
"I'm not working that case, Shawn," Juliet said. "We passed it off to the gang squad."
"Yes, but I'm not talking about the vandalism case," Shawn said. "I'm talking about the missing person case."
Juliet frowned. "What missing person case?"
"Amber," Shawn said, as though it was obvious. "She's missing."
"She's not missing, Shawn," Juliet said. "She ran off with another man."
"Says the husband," Shawn said. "And what husband would admit to that if it were really true? The spirits tell me he's hiding something."
Juliet sighed, as Carlton paused a few feet away and narrowed his eyes in her direction, suspecting who it was on the other end of the line. "Well, the spirits are telling me that you should drop this," Juliet said.
"By spirits I'm guessing you mean Lassiter?" Shawn asked.
Juliet paused. Sometimes, she didn't think she really believed in psychics, but at others, she couldn't think how else Shawn knew the things he knew. "Goodbye, Shawn," she said, hanging up the phone before Lassiter could reach her.
"Who was that?" he asked.
"Oh, it was just my mother," Juliet said, smiling widely.
"Well, I hope you told 'your mother' to drop this case," Lassiter said as he walked away.
And sometimes Juliet felt like she was surrounded by psychics, which could be damned annoying.
Shawn was driving home on his motorcycle, when his spidey sense kicked in and he realized he was being followed. At first, he didn't think much of it. He figured this was going to become something of a constant anyway now that he had his very own stalker, but the prickling feeling didn't go away, and he glanced behind him.
It was too dark to make out the car, but he was having flashbacks to the incident with the Spelling Bee, and things were not looking good. The car was speeding up like it planned to go right through him.
Shawn quickly turned his bike off the road, and his last thought as went tumbling off and onto the pavement was, not again.
In light of his unfortunate accident, Shawn didn't actually make it home until 4:30 in the morning. The hospital had wanted him to stay overnight, but Shawn had been through the wringer worse than this. His left wrist was itching where it had been forced into a cast and he was sporting a pretty spectacular bruise on his right temple, but at least this time he could still walk without limping.
Shawn grabbed the house phone as he walked through his apartment and collapsed on his couch. He would have called Gus hours ago claiming to be home, but everyone had that stupid caller ID nowadays.
"Shawn!" Gus shouted. "Where have you been? I hope you realize that I was five minutes from calling the police. I went back to the office to find you, and firstly, you put everything back in the wrong place. I thought you were supposed to have a photographic memory?"
"I wanted to see what it all looked like on opposite sides of the room," Shawn said defensively.
"Don't change the subject, Shawn!" Gus said.
"You changed the subject," Shawn said. "I'm just trying to keep up."
"Just tell me where you've been," Gus said. "I've been calling your cell phone for like four hours."
Shawn pulled his cell phone out of his pocket. "Huh," he said. "Would you believe my battery really is dead?"
"Sadly yes," Gus said, finally seeming to calm down. "I haven't slept at all, you know. I feel like I'm the one being stalked."
Shawn grinned. "You're feeling left out! That's so sweet," he said. "But, Gus, don't worry. I'm sure you'll get one too. We could hire someone to follow you around if you'd like."
"Not what I meant, Shawn, I don't want a stalker! It worries me that you seem to enjoy it," he said.
"It's good for publicity," Shawn said.
"If it was for publicity, we'd be calling the police," Gus snapped. "It isn't publicity if you won't tell anyone."
"That's semantics and you know it! Anyway, I don't want to get Ingles into trouble. He's a really nice guy under all that stalker tendency. Do you know that he knits? He promised to make me a pineapple cozy."
"I'm hanging up now," Gus said. "I need to get some sleep. You lock your doors, or I swear to God, Shawn--"
"Consider it done," Shawn said, and hung up the phone as he turned to look at his door. He'd left the deadbolt undone, and it really didn't seem worth it to walk all the way back over there.
Still, some things had been ingrained in him by Henry too deeply for even Shawn to erase, so he got up and locked the door, just in case.
Shawn woke up aching, and took six aspirin before dragging himself to the shower. He knew that Gus wasn't anywhere near as observant as him, but Shawn was still pretty sure he wasn't going to be able to hide the cast or the bruises from him.
Still, that didn't mean Shawn wouldn't try. He put on a heavy jacket and then pulled a beanie cap low over his eyes, covering everything but the outermost edges of the bruise. It probably would have been a better disguise if it wasn't the middle of August, but it was the best Shawn could come up with on short notice.
Shawn really wanted to go borrow his father's truck to pick his bike off the side of the road, but he knew better than to let his father see him in this condition. Gus might get fooled, maybe, but his father would know the instant he saw him what had really happened and Shawn was pretty sure that this time Henry would just take a hammer to his poor innocent motorcycle and be done with it.
None of them seemed to understand that it wasn't the motorcycle that was to blame. It was the psychos that kept trying to run him off the road.
So Shawn took a cab to the Psych office instead, and called a tow company to pick his bike up on the way, instructing them to drop it back off at his apartment.
When he entered the office, the first thing he noticed was that Gus had put everything back where it belonged. The second thing he noticed was Gus, who was standing by his desk, arms crossed, eyes narrowed. "Are you cold?" he asked.
Shawn nodded. "It's like a blizzard out there, you didn't notice?"
Gus looked out the window at the clear, sunny skies, and his eyes narrowed even further. "Shawn," he said. "Quit playing. What's with the winter-wear?"
"I have very bad blood circulation, Gus, you know that," Shawn told him.
Gus stepped forward, before reaching over to pull the hat off his head. He blinked wide horrified eyes at the bruise. "What the hell happened to you?"
"I walked into a door?" Shawn said.
"Shawn!" Gus snapped, grabbing Shawn's arm as he started to turn away.
Shawn let out an involuntary yelp and pulled his arm away, but not quite quick enough that Gus didn't see the cast. Gus went stony, the way he'd gotten only a few times in their relationship, and Shawn knew it meant he wasn't going to back down. He took a deep breath. "I ran my bike off the road again," he admitted, then after a moment, his pride in his own finesse with his bike forced him to add, "Okay, technically, I was run off the road again."
"How could you not tell me this, Shawn?" Gus shouted.
"Firstly, I just did tell you, secondly, I didn't want to tell you because you would think Ingles did it, and I don't think he did," Shawn said, tearing his jacket off since he was getting so hot he could barely breathe. "I think this has to do with Amber."
"Who?" Gus asked.
"The missing person case we're working on," Shawn explained.
"What missing person case?" Gus asked. "We're not working any cases."
"Yes we are," Shawn said. "It's just that no one seems to realize it but me."
"Shawn," Gus said.
"I can't figure this one out," Shawn said, sounding frustrated. "I think it must be all the distractions, because I'm usually quicker than this. But I'll tell you one thing, that break-in at Alice Clothing wasn't a break-in, and it wasn't gang related."
"That's nice, Shawn, but this is all completely besides the point," Gus snapped. He slammed a letter down on Shawn's desk and pointed to it. "This lovely piece of fan mail is from your buddy Ingles."
"You opened my mail?" Shawn asked, incredulous. "What happened to all that, it's a federal offense stuff?"
"It's addressed to the Agency, Shawn," Gus snapped. "I have as much right to read it as you. We should just be grateful that he doesn't seem to know your home address."
Shawn winced. "He does, actually. He moved in across the street two days ago."
Shawn dropped down into his desk chair and picked up the letter. "If you keep shouting my name like that, you're going to wear it out." He glanced over the letter. It was admittedly pretty crazy as far as fan mail went.
I've been watching you for a while now, and you can't keep doing this, pretending like I'm not here and we're not meant to be together. If you don't start noticing me, I'm going to make you wish you had. You need to realize that we belong to each other, that you belong to me. I've had enough of these games.
Your stalker, Ingles.
P.S. Please don't make me kill you.
P.P.S. You look very nice today.
Shawn frowned at it. "Well, this is obviously a joke," he said.
"That is not a joke, Shawn, that is a death threat," Gus snapped.
"He put a little smiley face beside his name, this is hardly the work of a criminal mastermind," Shawn said.
"Are you ready to bring the police in on this or not?" Gus demanded.
"Just give me a chance to figure this out first," Shawn said. "I know there's something else going on here, with all of this, and if I can--"
"No, Shawn. Your accident--" Gus started.
"That has nothing to do with Ingles!" Shawn interrupted. "I'm like . . . 97% sure about that."
"Maybe I would have agreed, but this letter changes everything, Shawn. This is a seriously disturbed individual."
"Gus, I'll figure this out," Shawn said, he started to crumple the letter up to throw away, but Gus grabbed it out of his hand.
"This is evidence, Shawn," he snapped, before turning around and heading towards the doors. "You let me know when you want to be reasonable."
"Gus!" Shawn called after him. "Gus, come on! It's kind of funny, don't you think?"
The door was already slamming and Shawn sighed and slunk lower in his chair. He watched Gus speed away in his little blue car, and then he saw Ingles standing on the corner, hiding behind a newspaper. Shawn reached for his phone, and dialed Ingles' phone number.
"Hello?" Ingles said.
"Hey, Ingles, it's Shawn," he said.
"Shawn!" Ingles said happily. "I was just thinking about you."
"Well, you are standing right outside my office," Shawn said.
"I'm not," Ingles said.
"Ingles, I can see you through the window," Shawn said.
"That's not me," Ingles said. "That's probably just some guy that looks like me."
Shawn watched the guy that looked like Ingles adjust his cell phone as he accidentally dropped the newspaper. "Okay, Ingles," he said. "It's not you. And I suppose that little love note wasn't from you, either?"
"Love note?" Ingles said. "That's a little sudden, don't you think, Shawn? I was following Phil Collins around for seven years before I started sending him love notes."
"Of course you did, that's just good sense," Shawn said. "Okay, Ingles, thanks."
"Are we still on for lunch on Friday?" Ingles asked.
"Yeah, but it's got to be public," Shawn said. "Gus worries. He made me promise."
"I hate that Gus guy," Ingles said. "He's always giving me dirty looks when he sees me lurking around."
"Just stay away from Gus, okay?" Shawn said, a little coldly.
"Sure, sure," Ingles said. "He's not that interesting to watch, anyway."
Shawn set the phone back down and then tapped impatiently on his desk. There were way too many distractions, and Juliet still hadn't called him back about Amber. He'd been sure she would have checked up on it for him, even though she had said she wouldn't. Shawn grabbed the phone again and dialed her number at the SBPD.
"Hello?" Juliet said.
"You know, it's much harder to contact the spirits without a last name," Shawn said without preamble, bringing his uninjured hand to his head in true psychic fashion, even though there was no one there to see it. "Jules, I really thought you would have checked this out for me by now."
"Her name is Amber Delaney, she kept her maiden name, and her husband is a US Marine, Mark Anders. I did check it out," Juliet said.
"You did?" Shawn asked.
"Of course," Juliet said. "I've learned better than to ignore one of your hunches, but, Shawn, the husband was out of the country on a tour in Iraq, and he came back the day after Amber disappeared. So if it is a missing persons case, which I'm not sure it is, then he has nothing to do with it."
Shawn frowned. "Actually, I think this has everything to do with it, but you're right, yes, the spirits are much clearer now, it's not the husband, I misunderstood them."
"Shawn, what are you talking about?" Juliet said.
"It's not the husband we should be looking into," he said again. "It's the boyfriend."
"The boyfriend," Juliet repeated. "The one she ran off with?"
Shawn shook his head, even though she couldn't see it. "No, Jules. I'm really starting to worry that Amber hasn't gone anywhere."
"Shawn, I have to go, the Chief--" Shawn listened closely as he heard the phone muffled to keep him from listening, and could just make out, "yes, it's Shawn--but--he what?" Shawn heard Juliet un-muffle the phone and then take a deep breath. "Shawn," she said, far too sweetly, "the Chief would like you to come down to the station."
Shawn's eyes lit up. "She's making this my case?"
"You'll really have to take it up with her," Juliet said.
"I'll be right there," Shawn said, and he was already halfway out the door.
Shawn entered the police station with his usual stagger, but his step faltered slightly as he caught sight of Juliet watching him anxiously from her desk. As he slowly turned to look at Vick's office, he saw Gus sitting in one of the chairs, resolutely looking straight ahead, and Shawn neatly turned on his heel to head straight back out again.
Someone caught him by the arm and pulled him back around. "Going somewhere, Spencer?" Lassiter asked.
Shawn gave him his best grin. "Yes, actually, I was--"
"Just going to see the Chief?" Lassiter asked. "Good. Because they're waiting for you."
Lassiter shoved Shawn neatly into the Chief's office, and then closed the door behind him. Shawn dropped down into the other empty chair and glared at Gus.
"You told on me?" He caught sight of the glaring presence of his father, standing with his arms crossed in the corner. "You called my dad? Gus--"
"I called Henry," Vick interrupted.
"Are you even allowed to do that?" Shawn asked. Vick gave him a glare, and he quickly backtracked. "I mean, of course you are. You're the Chief."
Vick shook her head in exasperation. "Mr. Guster has told us that your offices were broken into, someone tried to run you off the road, and that you have recently acquired a stalker that's sending you threatening notes," she said. "Naturally I had a hard time believing this, since I had thought you would certainly have come forward if that were the case."
Shawn rubbed at his cast, which was suddenly itching like crazy. "I think Gus may have given you the wrong impression."
"Shawn!" Gus snapped. "I did not--"
"How so?" Vick demanded.
"Well, you make it sound like this is all related! But really, I believe it's more a series of unfortunate events," Shawn explained. "Everything's totally under control."
"Mr. Spencer," Vick said, giving him that smile that meant she was nearing the end of her rope. "Let me make myself clear. You either stay with your father until this matter is resolved or I will have you put into protective custody."
"What, like on TV? Would I get to stay in a fancy hotel and order room service and--"
Vick narrowed her eyes.
Shawn smoothly switched tracks without missing a beat. "I'll go with my Dad. Maybe we can even have one of those screaming matches like we always used to. It'll be just like old times."
Vick nodded in approval. "I'm glad to hear it. Please wait outside with Detective O'Hara for a moment. I'd like to have a word with Mr. Guster and your father."
"That'll be all, Mr. Spencer," Vick said coolly.
Shawn pushed out of the chair with his good arm, and his father's eyes narrowed in on the cast. He opened his mouth to say something, but Vick held up a hand and Henry shut his mouth again.
Sometimes Shawn worried that maybe Chief Vick was a Jedi.
Juliet was waiting for him at the door, with Lassiter not far behind, like they were afraid he was going to make a run for it or something. Shawn just sighed, because that totally thwarted his plans to make a run for it.
Juliet ushered him to her desk and pushed him down into her chair, before perching on the edge and pushing a bunch of pamphlets at him. "I mean, you study this kind of thing, you know that it happens," she was saying. "You just don't ever expect it to happen to you, or someone you know."
Shawn flipped through a few of the pamphlets. They had titles like Why the Rape Whistle Is Your Friend and Always Leave A Light On. "Jules, you guys are all getting worked up over nothing," he said. "Ingles is harmless. He's like the Disney Channel of stalkers."
"This is no laughing matter, Spencer," Lassiter said roughly.
"But you say that about everything!" Shawn protested.
Lassiter just crossed his arms and tried to look imposing. Shawn was actually a little impressed, because he seemed almost good at it, and if Shawn didn't know Lassiter as well as he did, he might have even been slightly intimidated. "Stalkers often start out innocent enough, but then they escalate, and before you know it you're dead."
"I can always count on you to find a silver lining, Lassie," Shawn said.
"No, Shawn, he's right," Juliet told him, taking his right hand and forcing his attention back on her. "I just want you to be careful."
Shawn looked up as Gus came quickly out of the office, making a beeline for the door and not meeting Shawn's eyes. Shawn got up to follow him. "Hey, Gus! What, you're running away from me now? Gus?"
Henry caught Shawn's arm to stop him from following Gus out the door. "Hold on there," he said.
Shawn looked down at where his father was gripping him. "You know, for all this talk about my dangerous stalker, it seems to be all the 'good guys' that like to manhandle me. You and Lassiter should join a support group or something."
"I'm not in the mood, Shawn," Henry snapped. "Come on. We're leaving."
Shawn took a deep breath, and then forced himself to do as his father said.
"Shawn, wait, you forgot your pamphlets!" Juliet ran up to him, and pushed the dreaded pamphlets back at him. Shawn took them reluctantly.
"Thanks, Jules," he said.
"It's never weakness to ask for help," Juliet told him. "We're all here for you, whatever you need." Her eyes were wide and solemn and focused on the bruise at Shawn's temple, like he was something fragile that was about to break.
He nodded gravely, playing along, taking on the role. "That means a lot to me," he said.
"Now, Shawn!" Henry shouted from the doors.
"I'm coming!" Shawn said petulantly, spinning around to wave goodbye to Juliet as he started backwards towards the doors. "See you around, Jules."
His father didn't say anything as they walked across the packing lot, and he didn't say anything as they both climbed into the truck. He just sat there for a moment, staring at the keys in his hands, and then he let out a snort that Shawn guessed to be about 40% amusement, 60% disgust. "Only you, kid," he said.
"You know that Gus is a total drama queen," Shawn said. "It's not nearly as serious as I'm sure he made it sound."
"He showed us the letter," Henry said. "And you got into another accident with that damn bike. I'll buy you a car, Shawn, okay? Just get rid of that bike."
"I love that bike," Shawn said. "And if you bought me a car you'd be over every other day to check on it, the mileage, the upholstery, the finish. It would drive us both crazy and you know it."
Henry started the car and pulled out of the lot. "What if I promised I wouldn't?" Henry asked.
"You'd do it anyway," Shawn said. "You wouldn't be able to help yourself."
"If I still had hair, you'd be turning it grey," Henry said. "And put your damn seatbelt on."
Shawn grabbed his seatbelt, and put it on with unnecessary flourish. "So you're not really going along with this, right? Because I'll be fine if you just drop me off at my place."
"Not gonna happen," Henry said.
"It's the middle of the day!" Shawn protested. "I have things to do, places to be."
"Sorry, kid, you're grounded," Henry said.
"You can't ground me anymore," Shawn said. "I'm almost positive about that."
"I can when I have the police Chief on my side," he said. "If you'd prefer, I can drive you right back there and you can go into protective custody. And I'll tell you right now, it's not going to be one of those fancy hotels you were talking about seeing on TV. You'd be lucky to wind up in a Motel Six."
"Okay, fine," Shawn said. "But I want to go on record as being entirely opposed to this whole thing."
Henry went quiet again, and Shawn moved uneasily in his seat. It was never a good sign when Henry Spencer was trying to hold his tongue, because he never managed it for it long. "Okay, Shawn, what the hell?" he shouted suddenly.
Shawn straightened in his seat. "What?" he asked.
"Why wouldn't you come to me with this?" Henry demanded.
"Because you would have overreacted, kind of like you're doing now," Shawn said lamely.
"No I wouldn't have," Henry said. "I would have handled him like that deviant stalker you had in high school."
"Dad, Anna Breece was fourteen-years-old. She followed me home once and tried to look through our windows with her Barbie binoculars. You yelled at her until her crying was so high-pitched she started to attract the neighborhood dogs."
"That's how criminal behavior starts, Shawn. I did that as much for her as for you. I bet she's grown up fine."
"I saw her last month," he said. "She's still in therapy."
"You're making that up," Henry said.
"No, she actually is," Shawn said. "But I'm sure it's not entirely your fault."
"God damn it, Shawn," Henry said. "Can we please just have a serious discussion for once? How could you not tell me about this?"
"I didn't tell you about the accident because you hate my bike enough already," Shawn said. "I didn't tell you about Ingles because I honestly don't believe he's a threat."
"And the break-in?" Henry demanded.
"Nothing was taken," Shawn said. "I'm not even sure if there's a law about going into someone's office and rearranging their stuff, but it didn't seem like that big of a deal."
"Nothing ever does to you," Henry said, as he pulled to a stop in front of the house.
"After everything you've taught me," Shawn said, "you don't trust me to know whether or not I'm in danger?"
"Kid," Henry said tiredly, "that's the one thing I don't trust you to know."
onto part two