He's got his mother's eyes. Most people will probably see his father in him, especially here, but Karen looks at him and sees a younger, dumber, more naive version of Madeleine. Maybe that's why she's let him come this far.
"Mr Spencer, allow me to be frank."
"Can I be Ollie then? I've always wanted to pursue a career in animation. Cartoons, loved them ever since I was a kid and my dad took me to see The Little Mermaid. Or was it Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I always get those two movies mixed up."
She hasn't come where she is today by letting people distract her. "If this is about your father - "
"What, Dad?" Spencer scoffs. "Please. Old news. So you fired his ass for not being able to run at the speed of light or fly or dodge bullets by wearing cool sunglasses and making weird dance moves, so what? Bygones."
'It was mostly the bullets,' she doesn't say. Henry Spencer is one name on a long list, and it all boils down to the simple fact that a human cop isn't in the same class as a powered one. Human cops, according to the official policy, simply can't be expected to go up against powered criminals. And powered cops are so much better at catching human criminals, too, really. Best for everyone to just 'fire their asses'.
"You called our tip line claiming to be a psychic." The tip was good. Pranksters are nothing new; fakes are a dime a dozen. They arrest about two of them every week, because the law is very clear on humans pretending to have powers when they don't.
"Anonymously," Spencer says. "I called your tip line anonymously. I do believe that word is in the dictionary."
"I do believe I don't give a damn," Karen says. She's got a tight budget and an overworked staff, and Spencer can help. Wants to help, if she reads him right, which she is fairly sure she does. "I've got a case to solve, and you're going to help us solve it. With your psychic powers. Do you know the penalty of pretending to possess psychic powers when you don't?"
He does. He's not quite dumb enough not to.
Officer O'Hara is a fine detective, a credit to the SBPD, and a nicely rounded trainee of Quantico's Academy for Powered Individuals. On most days, Karen is happy to have her along - another woman around the office to show the men how it's done.
"Come on, Shawn, just show him your license."
"But I didn't drive here."
Karen isn't sure if it's really as simple as 'girl likes boy, girls gets stupid about boy'. For O'Hara's sake, she hopes not.
"Officer O'Hara is referring to your other license, Mr Spencer. The one that says it's okay if we take you along to look at a crime scene because even though you're a civilian, you're also a highly trained A-level psychic?" Substitute 'someone who might be able to solve this thing' for the last part, and it's the absolute truth.
It's not the SBPD's job to register people's powers and check on their licenses. It's the SBPD's job to solve crimes. (And Karen is quite sure it isn't really as simple as that, thank you, but here and now? She'll take what she can get.)
"Oh, that license!" Spencer is a terrible actor. "Of course. Um. Bit of a problem."
She doesn't believe for a moment he's about to give up on the game already. Not Madeleine's son.
"Left it in my other pants," Spencer says. "I mean, I was going to wear my skinny jeans today, but then I got your call, and, well, you know, skinny jeans. Personally, I think these make my ass look more well-rounded. Not fat, not skinny, but just right. What do you think, Chief?"
'You're a psychic; shouldn't you know what I'm thinking without needing to ask?'
"I think that next time, you'd better remember to bring your license." Or a good story. A better story. "Now, enough talk; we've got a crime to solve here."
The gorilla in a suit at the yellow tape doesn't like that. "Regulations are very clear. I need to see a license."
Karen holds up her own. She rarely needs to, these days. "How's this?"
(It's good enough, in the end, but barely.)
"Your son has got a remarkable power."
Two women having a nice dinner together - their waiter probably thinks they're lesbians. Madeleine could tell her for sure, but Karen doesn't want to know badly enough to ask.
"Shawn? Oh please. Don't tell me you've fallen for that cute little act of his."
"Not talking about the psychic stuff." Which she is never going to say out loud she knows to be bogus, not even in the company of an old friend. "People listen to him. They like him. He makes them believe he knows what he's doing, even when what he's doing is absolutely crazy. Strange voices, dancing, banging his head against a wall - you name it, he's done it. And still everybody believes that when he says something is true, it must be so."
Madeleine sips her wine. "Do they laugh at his jokes?"
"Yes." Even when they're terrible. Even when they're in the middle of a case involving a gruesome murder (although all murders are, naturally, gruesome. There are no sweet, pleasant murders.)
"I hope you know he didn't get his sense of humor from me."
"That's what Henry told me, too. Word for word."
Madeleine smiles faintly. "I'm sure he did. Does it make him happy, do you think? Helping you out a bit?"
"Last thing I heard, he set up a psychic detective agency." Playing with fire. Pushing his luck.
Another thing that runs in the family. "That sounds like Shawn all right," Madeleine says.
Spencer doesn't get a better story. O'Hara lets him get away with it five, six times, before she finally snaps.
It's only a partial snap; O'Hara is still a believer. She just believes that Shawn is someone who can solve crimes brilliantly but who is also eternally forgetting what pants to put on in the morning.
Or else, possibly, she is as good an actress as Karen herself.
"I planned to go biking, so I put out my leather pants last night."
"You know what, this is ridiculous." Carlton 'Lassie' Lassiter, one of SBPD's staunchest and finest, and O'Hara's new partner after Spencer mentioned Lassiter's affair with his (now former) partner. Probably holds a grudge, possibly rightly so. "Chief, we don't need him to solve this. We can do it on our own just fine."
Lassiter's secondary power is that he can turn into a dog. A border collie. Hence, Lassie.
"You own a bike?"
Karin strongly suspects the bike Spencer owns requires pedaling rather than gas in order to move forwards. She doesn't know him well enough to judge if he'd still ride it with leather pants on, but that's besides the point, anyway.
"Mr Spencer, why don't you go home to collect your license. I expect we'll be here for a few hours at least; I'll tell the guards to let you in once you get back."
He won't, of course.
Luckily, crime scene pictures seem to do the trick just fine when it comes to psychic impressions.
"Consulting psychic detective," Madeleine says. "Sounds impressive." She's picked the place this time, and it shouldn't bother Karen nearly as much as it does that it's a place she's never even heard of.
"Next thing you know, he'll start writing mystery novels."
Madeleine smiles. "At his age? Too young. I might give it a go though, after my retirement."
"In what, twenty years? And then move to some small town with an improbably high crime rate?"
"There's worse things to do in one's old age."