(note: many many thanks to forcryinoutloud for the support and dracofiend for the beta, without either of whom this story probably never would have gotten finished, and dracofiend, I think it was the sugar rush from the pixy stix and the giant coffee mug that finally got me focused enough to get this thing done. and also to zerotwoaddict, whose wonderful feedback provided a much needed kick to get me writing again)
follows the events in The Dah-Ling Store-It-Yourself
Shawn watched as his father carefully inspected the garage, nearly bouncing on the balls of his feet. "Can I go see Gus now?" he asked.
Henry ran a finger over the shelf, inspecting it for dust, before glancing around. Henry had to admit, there was a place for everything and everything was in its place. He couldn't have done it better himself. "How did you get everything in those storage boxes?" he asked.
"You taught me well," Shawn said earnestly. "I arranged them with military-like precision."
Henry nodded, running a hand through Shawn's hair to mess it up. "You did good, kiddo," he said. "This place is spotless."
"So can I go see Gus?" Shawn asked.
"Yeah, but I want you home by seven," Henry said.
"Sure," Shawn said, throwing on his helmet and grabbing his bike. "See you then!"
Henry proudly surveyed the garage, before heading back to the house. He came to a stop in the driveway, frowning as he saw most of his tools stacked up in neat rows, his lawnmower, his tapes of America's Most Wanted.
And taped to the front was a sign written in blue crayon that said "Free Stuff."
"Shawn!" Henry shouted, but Shawn was already halfway down the street on his bike, peddling like mad.
Shawn sneezed as he got attacked by another couple of thousand dust bunnies, waving a hand in the air to try and clear them out. He walked to the bottom of the stairs, and glared up where he could see the light on in the kitchen. "This is child abuse!" he shouted.
His father appeared at the top of the stairs, arms crossed. "You brought this on yourself," he said. "Just count yourself lucky I'm not locking the door."
Shawn sighed, looking back down at the mess at his feet. He'd been here for three hours so far, and everything looked worse than it had when he got there. He hadn't realized his father was such a pack rat, and what kind of punishment was this for a grown man anyway? Gus's parents never made him clean their basement.
Then again, Gus had never locked his father in the basement so he could go solve a murder, either, so that might account for the differences in parenting.
"I don't hear you working!" Henry shouted.
"You're going to be sorry when I die of pneumoconiosis!" Shawn shouted back.
"Pneumoconiosis is caused by years of dust inhalation, Shawn," Henry said, returning to the doorway. "And my basement's not exactly a coal mine."
"Maybe not, but have you ever heard of a feather duster?" Shawn demanded, sneezing again.
Henry disappeared again and Shawn heaved another heavy sigh, before another sneezing fit hit. He was just contemplating his chances of sneaking through the kitchen to the back door without being seen when Henry came stomping down the stairs, dragging his huge Shop Vac outdoor vacuum behind him.
Shawn frowned at him. "What are you doing?" he asked, confused.
"Well, you're obviously not going to get any cleaning done while you're down here complaining like a little girl," Henry said. "So I'm helping you get started."
"You're helping me?" Shawn asked. "What's the catch?"
"No catch, Shawn," Henry snapped. "Do you want help or not?"
"Help is good," Shawn said. "Please, feel free to do it all if you want."
"Not gonna happen, kid," Henry said. "I'm just going to vacuum up some of this dust. Then I'll go to the store and pick us up a couple steaks."
"Bribery," Shawn said. "You know me so well."
Henry turned on the vacuum, sucking the excess dust from the shelves. Shawn tiptoed over the cord to head for the stairs, and Henry caught him by the collar of his shirt without even turning around. He turned the vacuum back off and pointed at him. "Don't even think about it, Shawn," he snapped. "You owe me."
"I really don't think the punishment fits the crime," Shawn protested. "When I locked you in the basement you weren't down there more than fifteen minutes before Gus, the turncoat, let you out. I've been down here three hours already inhaling near-fatal quantities of dust."
"Well, if during those three hours, you had actually been working, you'd probably already be done," Henry told him, starting up the stairs. "And if you want that steak dinner, this place better be spotless by the time I get back."
Shawn frowned. What he'd really like to be doing is spending his Saturday with Lassiter, but they had spent the last few days together and his father was already getting suspicious of how he was spending his time. Gus was reluctant to cover for him, still traumatized by his last encounter with Henry.
Shawn wondered how Lassiter was coping without him. He'd mostly been hanging around at Shawn's apartment, and he was a little out of element without a case to work. Vick had forced him to take two weeks off after he'd been grazed by a gunshot when apprehending a suspect, and Shawn was learning that Lassiter did not do well without something to keep him occupied. Shawn had been doing his best to make sure he didn't have a spare moment, but he'd been unable to get out of coming here.
Shawn sighed and finally got to work. He packed everything away in the storage boxes his father had left for him. It didn't take as long as he thought it would, and he figured his father was probably right. He could have been done an hour ago if he hadn't spent so much time complaining—but what would have been the fun in that? It only seemed fair his father should suffer too.
He heard the backdoor, and headed up the steps. "I'm done, okay, and what is with the five pairs of bowling shoes? Like you even—" Shawn broke off when he saw Lassiter standing in the kitchen instead of his father. Shawn glanced around in confusion, looking for any sign of Henry. "Lassie? What are you doing here?"
Lassiter looked as startled as he did. "I didn't know you were going to be here."
"I told you," Shawn protested instantly.
"You said you were going to IKEA-nize Pennywise's basement," Lassiter said. "I asked you what the hell that meant and you were already out the door."
Shawn shook his head. "You're really going to have to learn to speak my language if this is going to work, Lassie," he said. "That means I'm going to clean my father's basement, obviously."
"Obviously," Lassiter said disbelievingly.
"The questions is, what are you doing here? At my father's house?" Shawn asked.
"He invited me," Lassiter said. "For dinner. He said he wanted to thank me, for what happened at the Dah-Ling Store-It-Yourself."
"Oh, god," Shawn said, going slightly pale. "And you fell for that?"
"What do you mean?" Lassiter asked.
"My father doesn't thank people, not voluntarily, don't you know what this means?" Shawn demanded. "He knows."
"How could he know?" Lassiter asked. "It's only been four days, and we've spent most of them indoors."
"Are you kidding? He's the one who taught me everything. He could fake psychic almost as well as me." Shawn frowned. "It's actually kind of creepy being on this end of it. Is this how it is for you all the time?"
"If you mean annoying, aggravating, and insufferable, then yes," Lassiter said. "That's exactly how it is for me."
"Insufferable?" Shawn asked, and grinned. "That's not what you said last night."
"Shawn," Lassiter started, but Shawn was already moving to the door, dragging the detective with him.
"We'll have to continue this conversation later, because we've got to get you out of here quick," he said. "I'll make up some excuse. I'll say you had to go to an NRA convention."
"That's not till next Wednesday," Lassiter protested.
"A knitting convention, then," Shawn said. "But you've got to go, now!"
He opened the door to shove Lassiter out, and his father came walking in with a grocery bag. "Oh, good, Lassiter, you're here."
"He was actually just leaving," Shawn said quickly. "There's been a knitting emergency."
"A knitting emergency?" Henry repeated.
"Hey, don't judge," Shawn said. "Everyone needs a hobby."
"Spencer," Lassiter snapped. "Henry, I do not knit."
"You don't say," Henry said. He turned to Shawn. "Is there some reason you don't want Lassiter here, Shawn?"
Shawn narrowed his eyes at him. It bothered him that he'd spent the whole afternoon with his father without any indication that he knew. Usually Henry wasn't able to keep out of Shawn's life for thirty seconds let alone an entire day, and Shawn didn't know what he was trying to accomplish. Still, he wasn't one to back down from a challenge.
"Me?" he asked. "Not at all."
"Good," Henry said. "Did you finish cleaning the basement?"
"It's very organized and dust free," Shawn said. "Next time someone gets locked in there it will be like a visit to a day spa."
"I disabled the lock, so we don't have to worry about that," Henry said. "Why don't you set the table?"
Shawn shoved Lassiter towards the table, pushing him down in a chair like he was part of the table setting—before reaching for the utensils and the plates.
"I'm gonna go put these on the grill," Henry told them. "Dinner should be ready in about thirty minutes. You'll keep Detective Lassiter entertained for me, won't you, Shawn?"
"Oh, I'll try my best," Shawn called after him.
Lassiter opened his mouth to speak after Henry had gone outside, but Shawn covered his mouth with his hand, before grabbing a napkin and scribbling something on it. He held out the napkin. It said: I think the house may be bugged!!!
Lassiter rolled his eyes and grabbed the napkin from him. "The kitchen isn't bugged," he snapped.
"You don't know my father," Shawn whispered, leaning towards the door to look out where his father was innocently starting the grill. He leaned down to look under the table, but he couldn't find any obvious recording devices.
"Maybe we should just tell him, get it over with," Lassiter said. "He was going to find out eventually."
"Okay, obviously you haven't been listening," Shawn said. "He already knows, he's trying to entrap us."
Shawn tapped his foot against the ground as he tried to plot his next move. He'd called Gus within an hour of his first kiss with Lassiter to tell him everything, but his father was a different matter entirely. Shawn hadn't planned to tell his father at least until one of them was on their deathbed.
It was hard enough keeping Henry out of his life as it was, and he figured this whole thing could go one of two ways. His father could go ballistic like he had on Keith Andrews, the first boy Shawn had ever kissed, a few years older and already driving, quarterback on the football team and so scared of his father he'd left on a scholarship at the end of the year and Shawn had never heard from him again.
Or Lassiter and Henry could become BFFs, and make Shawn's life a living hell. "Oh, this is not going to end well," Shawn said.
Lassiter caught Shawn's wrist when he started to pace to the other side of the kitchen, and pulled him back. "I thought you said your father knows you've dated guys? Why are you panicking?"
"Because there's knowing, and there's knowing," Shawn said. "Everytime I told him about it he'd listen about as well as when I tried to tell him I didn't want to be a cop. He thought I'd grow out of it."
"Shawn," Lassiter said softly, and Shawn stilled. "You are grown up. Relatively. Henry knows that. He knows you. He might surprise you."
Shawn dropped down into the chair beside Lassiter and slammed his head down onto the table. "Oh my god," he said. "You're so naïve."
"Henry and I have an understanding," Lassiter said. "I think you should let me talk to him. Maybe he does know, but even if he does, it would still be better if we told him."
"You want to talk to my dad about how you're sleeping with me?" Shawn asked. "I knew you were brave, Lassie, I didn't realize you were suicidal."
Lassiter set his expression and got to his feet. "I can do this," he said. "I'll be right back."
Shawn caught Lassiter's hand as he turned to leave. "I promise I'll mourn you," he told him solemnly, "but I'm not wearing black. It clashes with my skin tone."
Lassiter rolled his eyes and went outside. He came back in twenty minutes later, looking dazed. Shawn got him a glass of water, and Lassiter resisted the urge to ask for something stronger.
"That went better than I thought it would, you even still have all your limbs," Shawn said. "Then again, you didn't actually tell him anything, did you?"
"No," Lassiter said miserably. "He started talking about his gun collection. Unusually I love to talk to Henry about his guns, but there was this whole different level to it this time, and I think he might have just threatened to kill me if anything ever happens to you."
"I hope you're seeing the gravity of this situation now," Shawn told him. "You should have made your escape when you had the chance."
Henry pushed his way back inside, holding a plate with the steaks. "They're done," he said cheerfully. Shawn tried to weigh the odds whether his father would stoop to poison. Henry dropped the steaks on the table, but all Shawn could spot were the seasonings.
Henry pulled some baked potatoes out of the oven that Shawn hadn't even seen him put in, and set them on the table by the steaks. It all looked very good, which Shawn attributed to his father's recent and worrying obsession with watching Martha Stewart, but he'd kind of lost appetite.
Lassiter didn't look much better off.
"Dig in," Henry said, grabbing the largest steak for himself.
Lassiter half-heartedly put one on his plate. Shawn didn't even bother with the pretense. He leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms, narrowing his eyes in his father's direction.
"Well," Shawn said. "This is not at all awkward."
"Okay, Shawn, you have my attention," Henry said. "You want to tell me what's going on with you?"
"You obviously already know," Shawn said, and as soon as he said it he figured out how. Lassiter hadn't told anyone. Shawn had only told one person. "I'm guessing you got it out of Gus, what did you do, bribe him with a Pixy Stix?"
Henry looked like he was going to deny it for about thirty seconds, but then he met Shawn's eyes and flashed a grim smile. "Ice cream, actually," he said. "He caved as soon as I brought out the chocolate sauce and sprinkles."
"That's low, using sprinkles," Shawn said. "You know Gus can't resist them."
"Mr. Spencer," Lassiter started.
Henry pointed at him. "I'm talking to my son."
"No," Shawn said, glaring at his dad. "You arranged this little ambush so that Lassiter would be here, and if he wants to say something, then let him say it."
Henry dropped his fork and pushed his plate away. "Fine, talk," he snapped.
"The things that Shawn can do—well, I'll be honest, he astounds me, every day, with something new. I've never known anyone like him," Lassiter said carefully. "I care about him, a lot, this isn't just some fling."
Henry snorted in disbelief. "I never thought I'd see it happen," he said. "Shawn finally got you believing in his nonsense? I thought you were the one person I could count on to look past his little charades."
Shawn gave a little half-grin and slid lower in his chair, while Lassiter looked up to glare at Henry. "I'm not talking about his 'psychic' abilities, I know he doesn't have any," Lassiter snapped. "I'm talking about what an amazing detective he is."
"It's true," Shawn said. "I am an amazing detective, and also, I've got great hair. So it's settled. Hey, did you guys see that Thunderbirds game last night?"
Henry ignored him, and looked at Lassiter like he'd never seen him before. "How did you figure it out?"
"I knew Shawn wasn't psychic about thirty seconds after meeting him," Lassiter said. "But if you're asking how I got him to admit it, he told me the truth himself."
Shawn's phone started blaring Mary J. Blige's Family Affair, which really, how appropriate. "It's Gus," he told them, jumping from his chair. "Got to take it. Could be important!"
"Shawn," Henry snapped, trying to grab Shawn as he went by. "Shawn!"
Shawn deftly sidestepped him and made his way into the living room. He didn't bother with any greetings when he answered the call. "You told my dad?"
"What?" Gus asked. "Shawn, where are you?"
"With my father, who knows," Shawn said. "I can't believe you told on me."
"He kept giving me ice cream, and chocolate, and sprinkles, Shawn, it was all very confusing," Gus said. "I might have said something about Lassiter. I don't remember."
"You're like a crack addict," Shawn said in disbelief.
"I'm nothing like a crack addict, Shawn," Gus snapped. "Everyone likes sprinkles."
"Well, whatever," Shawn said. "I need you to have a fake emergency now, so I can escape from the dinner from hell. My dad's acting like we're on the set of the Lifetime remake of Leave It To Beaver, and it's really starting to freak me out."
"There is an emergency, kind of," Gus said. "I'm at the office. I think we've got a case."
"Perfect." Shawn grinned. "I'll be right there." Shawn snapped the phone shut and made his way back into the kitchen. "While it pains me to cut this evening short," he said, mock-regretful, "that was Gus, and I've got a case."
Lassiter jumped up. "I'll come with you," he said quickly. "You might need my help."
"We're not finished here," Henry snapped, but Shawn and Lassiter were both already out the door.
"See," Shawn said as he hopped on his motorcycle and Lassiter wrestled with the door of his Crown Vic, "you're getting the hang of handling my father already. Run at the first available opportunity."
"I think he was trying to kill me with eyes," Lassiter said.
"You get used to it," Shawn assured him.
Shawn beat Lassiter to the Psych office. Gus was in the entryway when he came in, running salt across the window with the intense focus of a madman. Shawn frowned at him. "That's it, Gus," he said. "I'm confiscating all of your Supernatural DVDs. Enough is enough."
"Don't even joke, Shawn," Gus snapped, turning to glare at him, holding his little can of Morton Girl salt like it was the holy grail. "You know it doesn't hurt to be cautious."
"What caused this latest break from reality?" Shawn demanded. "Were you watching I Know What You Did Last Summer again? Because I've told you before, Ryan Phillippe is alive and well and living in Hollywood."
"No, Shawn," Gus snapped. "And I Know What You Did Last Summer was not about ghosts, everyone knows that salt lines only stop ghosts."
"It disturbs me that you think that," Shawn said. "Salt lines don't stop anything, Gus, except maybe ants, and they'd only go around it."
"I told our new client that I would make this a safe place for her," Gus said, in an eerily logical voice, considering his first line of defense was apparently a condiment.
Shawn leaned past him, and noticed a woman sitting on the Psych couch, a purse clutched in her hands. There was a slight bruise on her collarbone, pink turning purple. He waved at her, and she waved back uncertainly. "What's her story?" he asked.
A car door slammed, forestalling Gus's response, and he glared as he saw Lassiter getting out of his Crown Vic and heading towards the office. "Oh, great," Gus snapped. "What is he doing here?"
"Come on, Gus, you know Vick made him take a couple weeks off after he was shot, he's bored," Shawn said.
"You don't bring your boyfriend on a case," Gus hissed. "You don't see me bringing a boyfriend to work."
"No, but that probably has more to do with the fact that you're straight than any set rule," Shawn said.
"A girlfriend, whatever, you're missing the point!" Gus said.
"I think the problem is that you don't have a point. You don't even have a girlfriend, but if you did, she'd be more than welcome to come along," Shawn said.
"Okay, so it's been a bit of a dry-spell, but I have two jobs, and both of them are full time! You don't have to rub it in!" Gus snapped.
"I'm not—" Shawn protested. "Gus! You're being ridiculous!"
Lassiter came in the door and clapped his hands, eyes bright. "So what have we got?" he asked. He glanced at the salt slipping down the windowsill, but dismissed it as just another inexplicable quirk in what was a very long line of them.
Gus haughtily snapped the salt can shut. "Why don't you go find out for yourselves," he said, before heading to his desk and sitting down with a flourish.
"Fine by me," Lassiter said, making a beeline for the client.
Shawn darted after him. "Hey, wait, Lassie, let me do the talking—"
Lassiter either didn't hear him, or was so used to ignoring him he didn't register what was said. He sat across from the woman, in Shawn's favorite armchair, and met her gaze. "What seems to be the problem here?" he asked.
Shawn stared at his occupied chair forlornly, while Gus raised one eyebrow in an 'I told you so' way. Shawn stuck his tongue out at him, and then sat on the arm of the chair, leaning against Lassiter's shoulder.
"I apologize for the rudeness of my associate, whom you may call Holland Oats," Shawn told her. "First, let us make our introductions. I am Shawn Spencer. Psychic sleuth, former star of American Duos, and sometimes model. I also played Chad on Explosion Gigantesca de Romance. My résumé is quite extensive."
She brightened a little. "Oh my gosh," she said. "You are Chad, I thought you were familiar!" She reached out to shake his hand. "I'm Eveline Graves, and I'm such a fan. I keep hoping they'll bring you back."
"Something may be in the works, but there's been scheduling conflicts," Shawn told her. "I always seem to be solving a crime."
"Spencer, please," Lassiter said, leaning forward. "Mrs. Graves, what can we help you with?"
Eveline sobered at once, and Shawn glanced over her. He could see her mascara had run, and been hastily fixed, like she had been crying and didn't have time to entirely reapply it. She was holding onto her purse like it was a security blanket, and she kept glancing behind her, like she expected an attack. Shawn had a bad feeling about this one. She obviously had money, with the expensive clothes and that Gucci purse, but beneath the pretty packaging she had battered wife written all over her.
"It's my husband Harvey," she said haltingly, and Shawn winced. Occasionally he didn't like being right. "I think…I think he's trying to kill me."
"I've heard enough," Lassiter said, getting abruptly to his feet and nearly knocking Shawn off the arm of the chair. "Ma'am, what you need to do is go to the police."
"Right," Shawn said, catching his balance and sliding into the vacated chair. "Wait. What? No, that's not how—"
"The police can't help me," Eveline told them. "That's why I came here."
"I assure you, the police deal with instances just like yours all the time," Lassiter said. "I can go with you to file the report if you'd like."
"You don't understand," she said. "There really isn't anything they can do, there's no way they can stop Harvey."
"And why is that?" Lassiter asked.
"Because, Mr. Oats, my husband is dead," Eveline said.
Lassiter's expression congealed. "Of course he's dead," he said, and Shawn recognized it as the tone of voice that Lassiter had used on him, right after he'd told him he was psychic. Lassiter turned, grabbing Shawn's arm to haul him up from the chair and drag him across the room. "Spencer, a word."
"Ow," Shawn said, twisting out of Lassiter's grip. "You know, you don't actually have to drag me everywhere, I'm not your own personal Raggedy Andy."
Lassiter crossed his arms, glancing back at Eveline with narrowed eyes. "This woman needs serious help."
"I agree completely," Shawn said.
"You agree?" Lassiter asked, looking bewildered. "You're actually agreeing with me?"
"Absolutely," Shawn said. "And I think we should get started right away."
"Get started with what?" Lassiter asked.
"With helping her," Shawn clarified.
"What? No, I mean she needs psychiatric help, Spencer," Lassiter snapped. "She thinks a ghost is trying to kill her."
"Gus thinks ghosts are after him all the time, and also sometimes clowns. You don't see me having him committed," Shawn said, glancing over at where Gus was holding his salt can and looking twitchy. "Then again."
"You can't help this woman," Lassiter said. "She needs therapy. You have to know that."
Shawn looked back at Eveline, running his eyes over her again, seeing everything. "No, you're wrong," he said. "You're not looking hard enough."
"Okay, fine, then tell me what you see, or I'm going to go back in there to suggest she get some real help," Lassiter snapped.
"You go first," Shawn said, returning his attention back to Lassiter. "Tell me what you see first."
"A nutjob," Carlton said. "She needs to be in an institution. Your turn. What do you see?"
Shawn closed his eyes. "I see someone that's scared," he said. "She's wearing a three hundred dollar dress but she didn't bother to button it right, and she's got fingerprint bruises around her neck. She says a ghost is after her, but you have to look past that. Just because a ghost isn't after her doesn't mean that no one is."
Lassiter frowned, and glanced back at her. "You think someone's really trying to kill her?"
"I don't know," Shawn said honestly. "But this is how I operate, and we're not at the station, Lassie."
"Fair enough," Lassiter said. "But I don't like the idea of you playing into this woman's delusions."
"It's safer than not playing into them," Shawn protested. "We could go out there and assure her there's nothing to be afraid of, and if we're wrong she could end up dead."
Lassiter frowned. Ever since the moment Shawn had admitted the truth, he had been arguing his point of view in a way that made too much sense. Before he could have written him off as a nuisance, but when he laid everything out in this way with logic, it was harder to argue against. "Fine," he snapped.
"Good," Shawn said. "Now, I need you to get me in to see the body. It should still be in the morgue."
"How do you know?" Lassiter asked.
"Harvey Graves?" Shawn said. "He was a millionaire. Drowned three days ago in his pool. You didn't read about it?"
Lassiter frowned. "We've spent most of the week in your apartment watching Hill Street Blues reruns. How did you even read about it?"
"Some guy on a park bench was reading about it. I saw it when I walked by," Shawn said with a shrug.
Lassiter closed his eyes. "Of course you did," he said. "You know, sometimes I miss it when you just said you were psychic. It made me feel less incompetent."
"You're very competent," Shawn protested instantly. "Which is why you're going to get me in to see that body, with no trouble at all!" Shawn grinned and patted Lassiter on the shoulder, before heading back to Eveline.
He sat back down in the chair and smiled across at her. "Sorry about that, Holland has fits sometimes," he explained. "We're lucky he didn't break out into song again. It isn't pretty."
Eveline nodded uncertainly. "Do you think you can help me?"
"I am very in tune with the spirit world," Shawn said, wiggling the fingers of one hand beside his temple, before shaking his head. "But in order to best connect with your husband and determine his purpose, I need to better understand how he died."
"He drowned," Eveline said, sniffing into a handkerchief. "It was really quite unlike him."
"He didn't usually go into the pool?" Shawn asked.
"Oh, of course, all the time," Eveline said. "But to do laps. He was religious about it, every single night. Only when they found him, there was a raft in the pool. They said he feel asleep and fell off it, maybe hit his head on the way down."
Shawn frowned. "And you weren't home at the time?" he asked. She leaned away from him, and as her purse tilted he caught sight of a prescription bottle beside a lipstick. He read the label and made a mental note to ask Gus later what it was.
"I was," she said. "I was asleep. We sleep in different rooms, you understand. Harvey, he snores. Did."
Gus had wandered over, half pretending like he wasn't listening, but unable to resist. "Who found him?" he asked.
"Our maid," Eveline said. "Sani. She was quite distraught. It was somewhat of an overreaction, honestly. She's only been with us two weeks."
Shawn glanced towards the back of the office, making sure Lassiter's attention was elsewhere. He was still talking into his cellphone, so Shawn turned back to Eveline. "We would like to stay at your home tonight. Evil spirits have the most power at around midnight, and that is when I will be most able to detect—"
Gus grabbed Shawn's arm and hauled him up. "Excuse us for a moment," he said, giving Eveline a wide, frozen grin, as he backed himself and Shawn away.
"Okay, seriously, what's with all the manhandling today?" Shawn demanded. "You know I bruise easy." Shawn pulled up his sleeve and examined his arm carefully. "I can feel it bruising already."
"You're not going to bruise, I barely touched you. Can we please focus on the problem at hand?" he hissed out of the corner of his mouth. "I'm not going into some haunted mansion, Shawn."
"You went into Haversham's mansion," Shawn protested. "It was totally haunted!"
"You were the one haunting it!" Gus snapped.
"But you didn't know that! And you were so brave, Gus, I was really proud of you. You didn't cry once," Shawn said.
"My job was on the line then!" Gus said. "My bravery came entirely from not wanting to end up on the streets."
"If it'll make you feel better, you can bring as much salt as you want, pepper too, maybe some oregano," Shawn said.
"I'm serious, Shawn," Gus said.
"So am I. Look at her, she's scared," Shawn whispered. "Man up!"
Gus steadied himself and turned to Eveline. She really did look desperate, and scared. He took a deep breath. "We would very much like to stay in your home tonight to protect you."
Eveline scribbled her address on a piece of paper and leaned over to hand it to Shawn. "I'll make arrangements with the concierge for your arrival. Please, come as soon as you can." She got to her feet, pulling her slipping dress back up over one shoulder. "I can't thank you enough for helping me. I didn't know where else to turn."
"We've got everything under control, I know exactly what I'm doing," Shawn said. She nodded and left the office, and Shawn turned to Gus with a frown. "The concierge? That's what, a kind of lounge chair?"
"Oh, yeah, you know exactly what you're doing," Gus said wryly. "It's a doorman, Shawn."
"That was going to be my second guess," Shawn told him.
Lassiter walked over to join them, snapping his cellphone shut. "I got us in to see the body," he said.
"Aren't you on leave?" Gus asked. "How did you manage that?"
Lassiter looked smug. "I pulled some strings with my connections in the department," he said.
"And how is Juliet doing?" Shawn asked.
Lassiter glared at him, but relented. "She says hi," he said reluctantly.
Shawn grinned. "When can we go?" he asked.
"Now," Lassiter said. "What happened to Mrs. Graves?"
Gus opened his mouth to answer, and Shawn quickly elbowed him to cut him off. "We sent her home. We told her we'd call her with any updates."
Lassiter nodded and started towards the door. "Good, then let's go."
Gus grabbed the sleeve of Shawn's shirt to hold him back. "Lying to the boyfriend already?" he asked.
"What Lassie doesn't know doesn't hurt him, and we need access to that house," Shawn said. "I don't think he'd approve of us staying overnight at La Casa de Graves."
"I wonder why," Gus said wryly. "Probably because it's a monumentally stupid idea, and one we're not prepared for at all? You don't know anything about fighting ghosts."
"I've seen the Ghostbusters like a million times," Shawn said, and then frowned. "Now you've got me doing it. Ghosts aren't real, we're looking for a flesh and blood murderer."
"Is that supposed to make me feel better?" Gus demanded.
Shawn seemed uncertain. "Yes?"
"Sometime today would be good!" Lassiter yelled at them.
"We'll finish this discussion later," Gus said, starting for the door.
Shawn picked up the Morton Girl can. "You forgot your salt!" he called after him.
"Yep," Shawn said. "He's definitely dead."
Harvey Graves was not a pretty corpse. Not that corpses were generally pretty, but Harvey hadn't started out all that attractive to begin with, and a three night stay at the morgue hadn't helped him any. Gus looked physically ill, and Shawn had to grab his wrist to keep him from fleeing the room.
"What killed him?" Lassiter demanded.
Juliet looked anxious, probably because technically she wasn't supposed to let semi-official consultants and off-duty detectives in to view high-profile corpses, even ugly ones. "He drowned," she said.
The coroner was new, younger than the last, and he looked bored. He was eating peanut butter out of the jar and reading a Sports Illustrated. Shawn cleared his throat to try and get everyone's attention on him, but apparently he couldn't compete with the swimsuit edition. "I'm sensing some bad juju here," he said.
Juliet looked interested, and her curiosity was winning out over her anxiousness. "What is it, Shawn?"
Shawn brought his hands to his head and squinted, running his eyes over the body. The body was translucent white, the lips tinted blue. He saw a bruise around the upper arm, and it looked like how he imagined his arm was going to look at the end of the day, from all of Lassiter and Gus's dragging him around. Shawn focused in on an open manila folder that was laid out beside the coroner. He ran his eyes over it quickly and latched onto one word.
Shawn spun so his back was to them, and pulled Gus with him. "What is Zolpiden?" he whispered.
"It's Ambien," Gus said.
Shawn nodded, then leaned close again. "What's Ambien?" he asked.
"It's to help people sleep, Shawn," Gus whispered in irritation.
Shawn stepped back up to the body, framing his hands around the man's head without touching him. "I'm sensing something, he had Ambien in his system," Shawn said, pulling away with a gasp. "But he didn't have a prescription for it. His wife did."
Juliet frowned, grabbing the report to glance through it. "Why weren't we informed of this?" she asked.
"It was going to be in my report," the coroner said uninterestedly.
Shawn read his nametag. His name was Dave, but he was not Super at all.
"The dose was negligible, it wouldn't have killed him," Dave finished. "Thus, cause of death: drowning."
"It wouldn't have killed him alone, no," Shawn said, backing away from the body. "But it may have been just enough to keep him from waking up when he went under water." Shawn pressed his eyes shut. "I can see it. Someone was dragging him outside, then helped him down on the raft, he was drowsy, they pushed him out into the middle of the pool, waited for him to slip off and under, maybe even held him down, it isn't clear, it's like I'm seeing it through his eyes, everything's blurred, like I'm under water, Lassie!" Shawn grabbed onto Lassiter, clutching the sides of his suit jacket and hiding his face in his neck. "Harvey Graves was murdered!"
Juliet frowned. "Are you sure?"
Shawn swayed against Lassiter in exhaustion, and nodded tiredly. "Harvey Graves swam laps every night, it was the only reason he ever got in the pool. Who would take a sleeping pill before going out to swim laps?"
Lassiter nodded, turning to Dave, who was licking peanut butter off his spoon. "I need you to run a full toxicology—"
"Carlton," Juliet interrupted. "You're not here officially." She turned to he coroner. "I need you to run a full toxicology report. I want to know exactly how much Zolpiden he had in his system, not this cursory overview you've done."
Dave sighed, and screwed the top back on his peanut butter. "Yeah, fine," he said.
Gus was the first to leave, disappearing from the room like a Jackal. Juliet followed him out, and Lassiter went after her, with Shawn still hanging onto him. Juliet watched them with a frown.
"You two have been acting very strangely," she said. "Is there something I should know?"
"Yes, actually," Shawn said, straightening up. "Lassiter and I are a couple now. We're shackin' up. Making the beast with two backs. Doin' that crazy little thing called love. We're going to send our Christmas cards together and everything."
"Right," Juliet said disbelievingly, before turning on her heel and walking away.
Shawn turned to Lassiter. "Why is it that before we were dating everyone thought we were sleeping together, and now that we're sleeping together no one will believe we're dating?"
"Who believes anything you say either way?" Lassiter asked.
"Most people, actually," Shawn said. "You'd be surprised at the crazy things I can get people to believe."
Lassiter sighed. "Sadly that's probably true," he said. "But are you sure about Graves? I thought he was our suspect, and now you're saying he's the victim?"
"Don't be Gus. He's dead, he was never a suspect," Shawn said. "But yes. Harvey Graves is one of those Fortune Five Hundred types, he wouldn't take Ambien, wouldn't want to be out of control. Those pills belonged to Eveline. I saw the bottle in her purse."
"You think she killed him?" Lassiter asked. "And the guilt's getting to her?"
Shawn shook his head. "No," he said. "She's the one that helped me realize something was off about Graves' death. She wouldn't have provided evidence to incriminate herself, even if she was going crazy with guilt, she would have kept that part out of it."
"Okay, but we still need to talk with her," Lassiter said. "If it wasn't her, it was probably someone that had access to her pills. We need to see if she noticed any missing."
"Woah, there, Lassie, slow down," Shawn said. "You work for me right now. I've got this. What I need you to do is to go find out everything you can about Harvey Graves, and then report back."
Lassiter frowned. "Wait, is this what you've been doing all this time? Sending Guster off to research and then having a miraculous 'psychic' vision?" he demanded.
"Yes," Shawn said. "I know it's an honor to be a part of my process. Try not to be so awed that your work ethic suffers."
Lassiter sighed. "And what are you going to be doing?" he asked.
"I'm going to question Eveline some more," Shawn said. "Maybe sneak around her house a little. Check the underwear drawers. The bathroom cabinets. Under the sink. The usual."
Lassiter rolled his eyes, and caught Shawn's wrist as he stepped away to tug him back, discreetly brushing his lips across his forehead in a chaste kiss. "Be careful," he said gruffly.
"I'm always careful," Shawn said.
"You're never careful," Lassiter said. "Last time I took my eyes off you for two seconds you went to meet a murderer with Buzz for backup."
"Buzz is awesome back up," Shawn said defensively. "Did you know he's the five-time runner up at Qsar?"
"What the heck is that?" Lassiter asked.
"Laser tag!" Shawn said excitedly. "Seriously, you've never played? Gus will never play paint ball with me because he doesn't like getting dirty, so we compromised on laser tag, and it is awesome."
"You're talking about a game? How exactly does that qualify anyone for anything?" Lassiter demanded.
"Laser tag, gun fights, it's all the same," Shawn said.
"It's nothing like the same," Lassiter snapped.
Shawn frowned. "How did we get on the subject of laser tag?"
"You were using that to try and convince me that Buzz was good back up," Lassiter said. "But you said he was runner-up, he didn't even win the damn thing. Who is the champion? Some twelve-year-old nerd?"
"Actually, it's me," Shawn said, and grinned. "So you should really worry less! I can take care of myself."
"Spencer," Lassiter said, caught a little by surprise, but Shawn was already out the door, chasing after Gus and Juliet.
on to part two