(note: written for the music challenge on psychflashfic)
"We've got a case!" Shawn said brightly, meeting Gus at the door of the Psych office with a pineapple smoothie held out.
Gus eyed it dubiously, sensing a bribe. "From the department?" he asked.
"This is more of a…freelance job," Shawn said.
Gus grabbed the smoothie from Shawn, and sucked a quarter of it down. "I'm not gonna like this, am I?"
Shawn pulled a flier from his back pocket and held it up with a Vanna White air. "This!" he said.
Gus frowned as he read it. "You've got to be kidding me," he said.
"What? Gus, this is important!" Shawn said. "There's a little girl out there that needs us!"
"It's a flier for a missing music box, Shawn," Gus snapped.
"Yes! But I don't think it's missing. I think it was stolen!" Shawn said. "And look, Gus, there's a reward!
"It's a $10.00 reward," Gus said with disbelief.
"Ashley Tanner is in the fifth grade, she probably doesn't have a lot of disposable income," Shawn said. "I know what that's like. Back when I lost my limited edition Koala Beanie Baby, I only had enough money to offer a $7.00 reward!"
"You weren't a kid when that happened," Gus said. "That was two weeks ago."
"So you see my point," Shawn said.
"No, I don't," Gus said.
"Well, for one, obviously I could use the $10.00," Shawn said. "But my point is that it isn't about the money! We need to find this music box for the little girl. It was a present from her grandmother! It's all she has left of her!"
Gus frowned, and glanced at the flier again. The picture was of the little girl holding the box, smiling wide. The flier had been written with marker and copied black and white. Gus felt instantly guilty.
"Come on, you know you want to take the case!" Shawn said. "She took her music box to school for show and tell, and someone stole it, can you believe it? It's injustice! Fighting against injustice! It's kinda our thing."
Gus frowned, and downed another quarter of the smoothie before nodding. "Okay, what have you got?" he asked.
"Well, she just started the fifth grade, but everyone hates the teacher, Mr. McCruddy. And Davis is in love with Jillian, but he gave a promise ring to Samantha—"
"About the case, Shawn, if you can call this one," Gus snapped.
"That a music box is missing is pretty much all I've got at this point," Shawn said.
Gus sighed. "Well, how did you find out all the rest of it?" he asked. "Have you spoken with Ashley?"
"No, I visited her MySpace page, she put it on the flier," Shawn said. "It's incredible how sophisticated eleven year-olds are these days. They used all these words I've never even heard of. Nimby. Wiifm. Afaik. It's like they're bilingual."
"That's webspeak, Shawn," Gus said. "Not in my back yard. What's in it for me? As far as I know."
"You should be ashamed of yourself for knowing that," Shawn said. "Or Ysbaoyfkt, if you prefer."
Gus looked closer at the music box. "You know, this looks valuable," he said. "I bet a music box this old is probably worth a pretty penny."
"I should hope it's worth more than that. Even pretty pennies are only worth a cent," Shawn said.
Gus ignored him, sitting at his laptop and starting a google search. One of the first results to come up was a series of eBay auctions. Gus pulled them up to glance through them and whistled. "Look at this, this music box looks like it's from the same era," he said. "No wonder that music box was stolen. This one is some kind of antique. It's selling for like $500.00."
Shawn leaned over his shoulder and frowned. "That's not just similar, Gus, that's the same one!" he said. "Look at the chip on the corner, and the little ballerina's dress is torn in just the same spot." Shawn glanced over to the auction information. The user name was mccuddybuddy and the item location was Santa Barbara, CA, United States.
"I know who it is," Shawn said. "Can you like, hack into the internet and find out where he lives?"
"Who do you think I am? Alec Hardison?" Gus snapped.
"I have no idea who that is," Shawn said. "Did that mean you can do it or you can't?"
"That meant I can't do it, Shawn," Gus said. "I can, however, look him up in the White Pages online if you give me a name."
"McCuddy," Shawn said. "Or as the kids like to call him, McCruddy. It's the teacher."
"Got it," Gus said. "There's only one McCuddy in Santa Barbara, and he's listed."
"I'll call Lassie," Shawn said, pressing his Lassie speed-dial. "Hallo, detective? This here's a concerned cit-zen, and there's something mighty suspicious going on—oh fine, yes, it's me. Caller ID has ruined everything. Meet us at 201 Bensen Street. We've got a bust for you."
Shawn and Gus were leaning against the Echo when Lassiter pulled up and walked over to join them.
"Did you get a warrant?" Shawn asked.
"For the elementary school teacher?" Lassiter said. "I had this guy checked before I came here. He's squeaky clean. So no, I didn't get a warrant."
"What about backup?" Shawn asked. "Where's Jules? Where's SWAT? Where's the helicopter?"
"Why don't you just tell me what this is about?" Lassiter demanded. "What's this guy even done?"
"He stole a little girl's music box," Gus told him.
"And he's trying to sell it on eBay!" Shawn said quickly. "I know you're probably—"
Lassiter was glaring, and Shawn broke off, expecting him to go into a rant about wasting his time. Instead he turned his glare towards the house. "What kind of scumbag steals a music box from a little girl?" Lassiter snapped, stomping off towards the door.
"That's it! You go get 'em, Lassie!" Shawn encouraged. "Are you going to pull out your gun? Do you want us to back you up? We don't have guns but we've been taking kickboxing, so you don't have to worry about a thing. We've got you covered."
"You took one class, Shawn," Gus said. "And you left fifteen minutes in when you heard the ice cream truck go by."
"I only needed fifteen minutes," Shawn protested. "How hard is it to kick? I can kick in my sleep."
"That's true," Gus said. "You nearly broke one of my ribs when we had that sleepover in third grade."
"You're just never going to let that go, are you?" Shawn asked.
"You know I have a low bone density, Shawn!" Gus snapped.
"Boys!" Lassiter snapped. "Shut up."
Lassiter knocked on the door. A middle-aged man pulled open the door with a glare on his face to match Lassiter's. He looked more like he was old man Gorton than an elementary school teacher. "What do you want?" he demanded.
"We're here about a missing music box," Lassiter said, flashing his badge. "I don't suppose you would know anything about that?"
"Of course not," he snapped.
"I hear Schubert!" Gus said. "Serenade! That's what plays in Ashley's music box!"
Lassiter glared at McCuddy. "I'm going to ask you again," he said.
"You're going to want to tell the truth this time," Shawn added. "Because we saw your auction on eBay! And for the record, mccuddybuddy is an awful username."
McCuddy sighed. "Oh, fine, so I took the damn music box. It's worth a good bit, and that kid was going to ruin it anyway. She won't miss it."
Shawn held out the flier. "That's where you're wrong, McCuddybuddy. Book 'em, Lassie."
Lassiter rolled his eyes but pulled out his cuffs. "You're under arrest," he said.
Shawn was sitting at Lassiter's desk, head resting on his arms, while Gus examined the music box. Lassiter was across the room, fingerprinting a surly McCuddy.
"He's probably just going to get community service and probation," Gus said. "I doubt the district attorney is going to make too much of something like this."
"Stop talking like you're auditioning for Law and Order," Shawn told him.
"My music box!" Ashley Tanner ran towards them, breaking away from her parents. "You found it!"
Gus handed it over with a smile. "Here you go," he said.
"I always suspected Mr. McCruddy was up to no good," Ashley confided, "but no one would listen." She held the music box close and grinned at them. "How did you find it?"
"We saw your flier," Gus started.
Shawn stood, and moved around the desk, smoothly interrupting. "Actually, I'm a psychic," he said. "I was drawn, psychically, to the music box, by the sound of music. It was almost as though the hills were alive with it."
Ashley reached into her pocket, and pulled out two crumpled five-dollar bills. "This is for you," she said, handing one to Gus, "and this is for you," she said, handing the other to Shawn. She reached out and hugged them tight. "T-Y-V-M!"
Ashley pulled away and ran back to her parents, opening the box to play the music as she skipped off. Shawn turned to Gus. "Tyvm?"
"Thank you very much," Gus translated.
"Y-W!" he called after Ashley, before holding out his five-dollar bill with a grin. "Just enough for an ice cream," he said. "What do you say?"
"Y-K-T-R," Gus said.