Detective Carlton Lassiter stared at the paper target hanging at the other end of the firing range and smiled. Two more shots and he would break his personal record.
He balanced the Glock in both hands as he adjusted his stance, and fired off the next shot. The bullet ripped through the head of the target. Carlton hefted the gun once more and was just about to squeeze the trigger -
"Lassie! There you are!"
Lassiter jerked as his finger closed on the trigger, startled by the unwelcome greeting. His record-breaking bullet missed completely.
He let loose a string of curses as he dropped his head and placed his hands on his hips. He debated for an instant swinging around and shooting Spencer. I mean, who would blame him the man had interrupted his target practice; had startled him.
There was a tap on his shoulder. "You missed on that last one," Spencer said in that aggravating know-it–all tone that was like fingernails on a black board to the Detective.
Just turn and shoot he thought. Surely IA would see it as a justifiable homicide. "What are you doing here?" he growled at the bane of his existence, also known as Shawn Spencer, resident psychic for the Santa Barbara Police Department.
"Looking for you," he said brightly.
Unwilling to trust himself not to follow through on his murderous thoughts, Lassiter slowly set his gun down on the counter, removed his protective glasses and his earmuffs; setting both objects gently next to his gun.
He turned slowly to glare at the man. "You're not allowed on the firing range," he said. "Who let you in here? And why are you wearing those." He indicated the earmuffs and protective goggles that Shawn had commandeered.
"What? I can't hear you." He pointed to the earmuffs. Lassiter really hated Spencer's theatrics. He'd heard him just fine before.
Lassiter reached up and yanked the hearing protection off of Shawn's head. "Why are you here?"
"Hey! I need those." Shawn reached for the earmuffs and instinctively Lassiter held them over his head, well out of reach from the smaller man. Shawn jumped once to grab at them and Lassiter realized he wasn't going to stop until he had them back.
"Fine," he barked and thrust them back into Shawn's hands.
McNab must have let the psychic down here. Lassiter sighed. Spencer had most of the department wrapped around his finger. Half the time they were doing his bidding, and they didn't even know it. Well, not him. Carlton knew better than to play Shawn's stupid games.
Spencer positioned the earmuffs back on his head and rubbed his hands together. "Let's do this!" Shawn yelled.
Great, Carlton thought, as if Spencer's regular voice wasn't annoying enough. "What do you want, Spencer?" he asked again pitching his voice so that Shawn couldn't feign deafness.
"I thought I'd come hang out with my best friend? You promised to teach me how to shoot." Spencer was bouncing on his heels and grinning up at him like an idiot. The guy couldn't stay still for two minutes.
"We are not friends! And I have no intention of teaching you how to shoot a gun – ever." Lassiter could feel the pressure building behind his eyes signaling a massive headache. He rubbed the bridge of his nose hoping that when he removed his hand the psychic would be gone. No such luck. Spencer was still there grinning at him.
Shawn stepped past him, completely ignoring Carlton's protests. The idea of that idiot with a gun was too terrifying an image to even contemplate.
Spencer depressed the target return button as he prepared to swap out the papers. "So, what are we shooting at, buddy? Aliens, monsters, people who take the last seat on the bus."
"You," Lassiter said emphatically," are not shooting at anything. Now go away."
Lassiter turned to ask Guster to control his friend and came up short. Guster wasn't there. He looked back at Shawn who was now holding the offensive target paper, the reminder of how this whole morning had gone so completely wrong, and then back to the empty hallway. Lassiter couldn't remember the last time he'd seen Shawn without Gus.
Gus' absence had to be why Spencer was down here bothering him. Unbelievable, the idiot had obviously elected Carlton to entertain him until Guster showed up.
He looked back to see Spencer sending a new paper target to the far wall of the range.
"What do you think you're doing?"
Once again his questions were ignored and Lassiter was beginning to wonder why he even tried to communicate with this hyperactive overgrown child.
"Here." Shawn thrust the used paper at him. "Not bad, Lassie, but that last shot completely missed the target."
"And whose fault was that?" he growled as he angrily crumbled the paper into a small ball, wishing it was Spencer's head, and tossed it aside.
Shawn snorted. "I thought you said a good cop doesn't allow things to distract him."
"A good – why you little - " he sputtered unable to finish the thought. He really couldn't take much more of this and then Spencer did the unthinkable; he picked up Lassiter's Glock.
"So just point and shoot, right?" Shawn was facing away from him and using the gun to gesture at the target.
"Put the gun down!" Lassie took a step toward the source of his anger. He'd put up with a lot; the practical jokes, the ridiculous antics, the stupid psychic pronouncements. But this was the last straw. Nobody, nobody touched his gun. This was justifiable homicide in anyone's book.
"Now, now, Lassie, friends share their toys."
Lassiter felt his teeth grinding as he hissed out, "It's not a toy, Spencer!"
Even with the risk of getting shot, he seriously considered taking the weapon back by force, but was distracted by another familiar voice.
"Shawn!" Gus shouted. "What are you doing?"
Lassiter dropped his hands, slightly ashamed at what he'd been contemplating. "Guster," Thank God, he added silently, "get your friend out of here."
"I have no friend named Guster," Shawn said evenly. Spencer hadn't turned around, but he had removed the earmuffs and placed the gun back on the counter. Without hesitating Lassiter snatched the weapon up and lovingly placed it back in his holster. He ran a hand along the handle, a silent promise that all traces of Shawn's touch would be cleaned away when they got home.
Gus sighed and rolled his eyes at Shawn's cold tone. "This is ridiculous."
Turning to face them, Spencer scoffed, "Ridiculous, I think not. It doesn't matter anyway. Lassie's my new best friend and he's going to teach me how to shoot. Aren't you Lassie?"
Carlton scowled at the psychic. "First, we are not friends. Second, I am not going to teach you how to shoot and third – "
Shawn waved a hand at Lassie as he cut him off. "Don't listen to him, Gus. Lassie's just overwhelmed at the thought of becoming my new BFF."
"Shawn, you hate guns. Will you stop this and let's go home."
Shawn leaned toward Lassiter. "So jealous; Gus just can't accept the truth. Our friendship isn't what it once was."
Lassiter threw his hands up in exasperation. He wanted both of them gone and had no idea how to make that happen. If he left, Carlton was positive Shawn would follow and then this crazy nightmare would continue upstairs with the added bonus of an audience in the squad room. No, it was better to finish this here. "What the hell is going on between you two?" he demanded.
"I'll tell you what's going on," Gus said, his voice rising in frustration, finger jabbing in Shawn's direction. "He is behaving like a child."
Lassiter snorted. "Really? Tell me something I don't know."
"I was betrayed by a man who claimed to be my best friend." Shawn glared at Gus.
"Betrayed!" Gus squeaked out. "It was a donut, Shawn."
"It was a very special donut." Shawn pouted "It was jelly filled and the lady at the bakery put the sprinkles on just for me."
Lassiter was stunned. He'd endured this craziness because of a donut!
"Let me get this straight," Lassiter began, as he shifted his gaze between the two idiots in front of him. "You've spent the past hour disrupting my morning because Gus here ate your jelly donut."
"I told you," Shawn whined. "It was a special donut. The sprinkles were telling me a very interesting story, but before they could finish Gus ate them." Shawn's voice filled with sadness. "Have you ever heard the death song of the rainbow sprinkles? It's indescribable." Shawn wiped an imaginary tear from his eye; at least Lassiter thought it was imaginary.
"That's because it didn't happen," Lassiter hissed through clenched teeth.
"The sprinkles sang for you?" Gus asked, incredulous.
"Really it was more of a dirge."
"A dirge is a song, Shawn."
"Get out!" Lassiter stepped to the edge of the cubicle and pointed down the hall. "Just leave now!"
"But Lassie, you were going to teach me how to shoot."
"I'd actually like to see that," Gus added.
"I think I'd be very good," Shawn replied. "I felt that Lassie's gun and I had a real connection."
"Lassiter let you hold his gun?" Gus sounded almost impressed.
"It's a very nice gun; beautiful eyes."
They both looked up at Lassiter and he realized that he was actually growling – out loud. He did not like to be reminded of Spencer's careless handling of his gun. He really needed to make sure his weapon was unharmed, but if he pulled it out now he was sure there would be bloodshed.
"Was that your stomach, Lassie?" Shawn asked, a cheeky grin on his face. "Are you hungry? I had a donut, but alas, it was stolen by a horrible no good donut thief."
Carleton dropped his head into his hands, fingers massaging his temples. "If you promise to go, I'll buy you a new donut."
"See, Gus." Shawn smiled. "That's what real friends do. They buy you donuts."
"I already told you I'd buy you a new donut!" Gus protested.
"Not the same," Shawn said dismissively and stepped toward Lassiter. "You'd do that for me. You'd replace my very special one of a kind donut with the singing sprinkles."
Lassiter didn't trust himself to speak. Instead he reached in to the pocket of his suit jacket, pulled out his wallet and held out a five dollar bill. "Knock yourself out."
"Actually," Shawn said pointing toward the still open wallet. "Can you make it ten?"
"Only if you promise to go away and never come back."
Shawn laughed. "You don't mean that."
Carlton just stared at him.
"Five it is," Shawn said brightly as he grabbed the bill from Lassiter's fingers. "Come on Gus, the bakery awaits."
Lassiter watched as the two walked down the hall. He could have sworn he saw Gus hand Shawn some money. As they turned the corner, Shawn's voice drifted back to him.
"Told you he'd pay me to go away."
"I should never have doubted you," Gus replied
Sometimes, Detective Carlton Lassiter was convinced the world hated him.