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The Psychic Detective Decision

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The apartment belonging to Burton Guster, in which Shawn Spencer is not actually supposed to live.
4:38 PM

Shawn Spencer dropped his jacket somewhere near the closet and slumped onto Gus' couch. "That's it." he said. "I'm changing my name to Domingo and moving to Nevada, because I am officially unemployable in Northern California."

Gus probably would have looked more sympathetic had Shawn not been camped out here since he lost his own apartment. "Not quite," he said, tossing an envelope at Shawn.

The former psychic detective examined the paper, "Oh, Gus, you're giving me the free cruise you may have won to the Bahamas? You shouldn't have."

"On the back, you idiot," Gus snapped. "They called ten minutes ago, and said they want you to come over right away."

Shawn flipped it over and read the scrawl on the back. "That's strange. I've never heard of them."

His former partner shrugged. "You've applied to a lot of places, Shawn. Are you sure you just don't remember them?"

"One: photographic memory. Two: even Lassie couldn't forget signing up with the Jolly Fats Wehawkin Employment Agency." Shawn slumped further into the cushions. "Temping. Like I can type." He closed his eyes and again tried to pin down where it had all started to go wrong. It seemed like the space alien was the most likely answer, but the incredibly-hot and space-alien-killing chick-in-a-suit seemed like a close second.

That, of course, had all started with that broken penthouse window. Interim-Chief Vick had called him in when her minions had came up empty on how in the hell it had broken from the outside on a perfectly calm day in July. Santa Barbara's Finest had found this especially puzzling as they couldn't find any sign of what the CSI crowd told them was "an object of unknown composition approximately ten feet in diameter." Nor could they determine how the occupant of the suites, the chair of the California division of Fatboy Industries, had ended up face down on the concrete forty-two stories below. Lassiter had been stumped, though not admittedly, when Vick called, and Shawn had come in before the autopsy revealed the giant claw marks.

Shawn had wanted to say "pterodactyl," but he hated to repeat himself, and he'd already done "killed by a dinosaur." Gus later told him they were actually called Pterosaurs and were not technically dinosaurs, but he wasn't going to admit to knowing something like that, so it would still be an old trick. He'd pressed the space alien angle more to piss off Lassie and stall until he came up with something more realistic than out of personal conviction.

He had not expected it turn out to be true. He had definitely not expected the screaming and the terror and the implausibly calm woman with the unreasonably large gun. If he had, he would probably have planned to be elsewhere when it all went down.

The thump of his jacket hitting his face startled him out of his thoughts. He shook it off and opened his eyes to see Gus glaring down at him. "Dude, what?"

"You are going to that temp agency," his friend said in an authoritative tone that Shawn had rarely heard from him. "You're going to behave like an adult, and you're going to take whatever job you can get." Shawn opened his mouth, but shut it again at Gus' glare. "Don't even start with me, Shawn. You've been crashed here for two weeks now, and I'm getting sick of it. I know you loved Psych, but it's gone. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you can move on with your life, and out of my place."

Shawn wanted to say something witty to shield the blow, but he found he didn't have the energy. Besides, Gus was right, and maybe it was time he admitted it. The idea that Shawn Spencer, former psychic detective, would ever think such a thing would have scared him, if he really cared any more at least. "Fine," he said and levered himself off the couch.

Jolly Fats Wehawkin Employment Agency, Santa Barbara Offices.
5:15 PM

The temp agency turned out to be a small and largely bare office with furniture and signs that Shawn identified as having been installed no more than an hour before. He recognised the woman at the desk immediately, and had launched himself at her before she could finish saying, "Welcome to the Jolly Fats Wehawkin Employment Agency." By the time she asked, "How can we help you?" she had him pinned against the wall with his arm twisted behind his back.

"Give me my life back," he said, not bothering to struggle. He had recently seen her blow up an alien creature, which had made him wish he didn't remember everything in perfect detail, while ordering him and Gus around, and, apparently, talking to her mother on her watch.

"Sorry, Mr. Spencer," she said, sounding at least a little like she meant it, "No can do." She paused, then asked, "You got that out of your system?" Shawn sighed and nodded, and she let him go, saying, "Even if I wanted to get your old gig back for you, I couldn't do it. No matter how many weapons and gadgets and things I have, I can't change what people think of you."

"Is this why you did it," Shawn demanded, again forgetting the danger and getting right in her face, "To shanghai me into a some twisted recruitment policy, well screw that. I'm not doing anything for you."

The woman was shaking her head, and Shawn had to take a moment to admire the way her dark curls fell around her face before remembering that she was actually a diabolical nut job. "That is how we normally recruit, but in your case I didn't do anything." She frowned. "Well, Ida may have pushed things along a little, but we found all those reports and recommendations headed your way when we first looked you up. I didn't ruin your life, Mr Spencer: you did that all on your own."

That hurt so much that Shawn couldn't breath for a second, but then he pulled himself back together. He'd be damned, if he wasn't already, if he'd let this woman pin him down. "If I'm such a screw up," He asked, "Why do you want to hire me?"

She shrugged. "You held down a job as blatantly false psychic detective for almost five years, working for the police. That's more what I'd call a good run. Besides that, you've got all the qualifications: smart, secretive, more or less fit, anti-establishment, photographic memory, and you passed all our tests. Better yet, you don't freak out when you see an evil-executive-eating Frongalian Borst Bird, and you naturally suspect space aliens and dinosaurs of everyday crimes."

Shawn started to tell her that he thought it was pretty rich for an establishment to hire someone because he was anti-establishment, when his brain caught up with the bit in the middle. "Wait, what tests?" He really wanted the world to stop spinning for one damn minute so that he could get off. "You were testing me? I call dirty snooker!"

The woman stepped back and away from him, again, and leaned against the desk, looking a little smug. "Hey, I'm just the Middleman, not the one in charge. And yeah, we tested you. I figured you were our type when you didn't toss your cookies like your friend did, so I fired a chip into the back of your head. Ida's been monitoring you ever since." Off his look, she added, "Hey, I deactivated it when you passed and Ida called your place, and it's way easier than those ridicules tests they made me do. Like I can type!"

Suddenly quite a number of the seeming random encounters he'd had over the past month made a lot more sense. He started edging around her towards the door.

The Middleman pivoted with him and kept talking. "Okay, I know it's a little black baggy," she said, "but I really need a partner. You have no idea what it's like doing this job by yourself."

He paused, back to the exit, morbid curiosity getting the better of him. "Run through a lot of sidekicks, do you?"

The woman looked rather offended at that. "Of course I don't. The last Middleman retired to a small colony on Zalgrip VIII last year, and it's just been me and Ida ever since. I'm getting sick of having an ill-tempered robot as my sole companion in the battle against evil." Her watch made an odd blirting sound, and she looked down at it and said tartly, "Why yes, I do know you can hear me." Shawn absolutely totally did not melt even the least little bit when she looked up again and gazed at him with those large brown eyes. "Look, I know it's a lot to take in, and you don't have to decided today, but at least think about it. How often do you get a chance to fight cosmic evil? Or even comic evil? Come on, you know you want to!"

Strangely enough, he kind of did.