Shawn Spencer was on his knees in the middle of a mostly silent crowd; he had his eyes closed as if he was concentrating, and the tips of his fingers were set to his forehead like he was pointing out where the psychic vibe should zap him next. He could hear whispers and the shifting of feet, but he waited, pretending to listen to the music of the universe—actually, he was holding out for one sound, one particular annoyed sigh, and when he heard it he would know his cue. It wouldn't be until he was pissed off, thinking again that their time was being wasted while the murderer stood in the room with an overly innocent expression, that Detective Lassiter would pay enough attention to Shawn to make everything worth it.
True, it would be irritated attention, and Lassie would almost certainly either insist again that Shawn wasn't psychic, or try to convince Chief Vick to kick him off the case, but after Shawn laid everything out and wrapped it up for them so nicely—he could do everything but tie the bow on it—no one, least of all the chief, would pay attention to him.
There it was—there was only one person Shawn knew that could snort so derisively. He wanted to smile and open his eyes, to gauge Lassiter's reaction when he appeared to solve everything in less than five minutes, but he needed to stay in character. This time he'd miss the way Lassie's eyes would widen and then blaze at him, furious that he'd gotten to the end first, supremely annoyed that the only answer he gave was of the mystic, and that he hardly ever even needed to offer any sort of proof anymore before everyone believed him and stood back in awe. Which was fitting, Shawn thought, as his mental powers—while not exactly what he claimed—were deserving of the awe.
If only Lassie would see that.
“I'm making soup,” Shawn announced at last, and he pantomimed adding something to a pot before stirring it, still with his eyes closed. He then ladled some into a bowl. “Chicken soup for the chronically-ill soul, but—oh no! The secret ingredient! That's not love, or even salt. She takes it to Mrs. Norbert—and then stands and watches her eat it, making sure every bite is gone! Her plan is carried out, but...ugh! Grrrak!” He clutched at his throat now and fell to the ground, gasping, hearing more murmurs, including Chief Vick muttering, “She?” either to Lassiter or Juliet.
Their initial arrest of the dead woman's husband had been a good bet—he'd been the one set to receive his wife's entire estate, and her sister had told the detectives on the case that they had been having marital problems, mostly due to his infidelity. The sudden, suspicious death of the couple's granddaughter, and the coroner's strange findings, had been the kicker—it had been what had finally stopped Shawn's compass from spinning, landing at last on the housekeeper.
He gagged a few more times for show, and then he opened his eyes and affected confusion. “I'm dead?” he said. “That chicken soup wasn't good for my soul at all—and it wasn't good for Mrs. Norbert or poor little Hannah.” He turned and pointed dramatically at the housekeeper, whose wide eyes and pale face did everything but sign her confession. “Hannah dying was an accident,” he said softly. “Wasn't it, Mrs. Prolip? She came into the kitchen, looking for a snack, and got a bowl of the soup you'd made when you were upstairs with Mrs. Norbert. She was hungry, and ate a lot faster than the old woman, and when you came back down you didn't see her bowl in the sink. You'd been poisoning Mrs. Norbert for days, but Hannah was much smaller than her grandmother, so the poison took effect much more quickly. You probably upped the last batch to a higher dose, too, since she'd found out about her husband cheating on her... with you.”
The housekeeper suddenly burst into tears, holding her hands over her face while Juliet and Lassiter moved to stand on either side of her. “I never meant to hurt that little girl,” she sobbed. “She had nothing to do with it. I'm so sorry.”
“But you had no compunctions about killing your lover's wife, a woman suffering a long illness?” Lassiter jumped in, looking disgusted. He nodded at Juliet, who pulled her cuffs out and clicked them around Kathy Prolip's wrists while reciting the Miranda to her quietly. Lassiter turned to follow her as she led the still-weeping housekeeper out of the big kitchen and toward the door, but he glanced back at Shawn and frowned. Shawn gave him a grin, pleased that he had another solve under his belt and that they'd gotten the murderer, but Lassie just rolled his eyes as he exited.
“Excellent work, Mr. Spencer,” Chief Vick said.
Shawn put his solemn expression back on. “I'm just glad we were able to secure justice for that poor woman and her granddaughter. It was the little girl that told me her soup tasted funny.”
“Right.” Vick sighed. “Come on down to the station—we'll have Detective Lassiter take your statement when he's through supervising Detective O'Hara's wrap up of the case. Your check should be ready in a couple of days.”
Sweet—in a couple of days, Gus would be back from his boring work thing in Phoenix, and Shawn could surprise him with a receipt for the Psych office's paid rent for that month. Or a carnival-rated cotton candy machine and the entire box set of Monty Python's Flying Circus, that would likely be equally as surprising. Shawn decided he'd figure that out in the moment, to see which way the wind led his heart. He was wonderfully whimsical like that.
Shawn rode to the PD on his bike and hung out with Buzz for an hour while Lassie and Jules were finishing up with Mrs. Prolip. He listened to updates on the little boy cat, heard about how Buzz was still studying for the D.E.T. (Shawn took a minute to have a vision about a trick question he recalled from the time he'd taken it), told him about the time he and Gus had successfully convinced a substitute teacher that they didn't have to take a math test because their parents agreed that long division was the work of the devil (“Remainders are just plain unholy, Buzz—the good lord Jesus provides for those that are left out only if they take Him into their hearts”), and made origami animals for Juliet's desk. (He would have made something for Lassie, but he didn't know how to make a paper anti-liberal.)
By the time Lassie was ready for him, he was in an even more terrible mood than the last time Shawn had seen him. He almost slammed the door of the interview room behind them, and then he nearly flung a yellow pad and a pen at him. “Write,” he ordered. “And make it fast, I have actual work to do to get this buttoned up and done.”
“Sure thing, Lass,” Shawn said lightly, reaching for the pen. “I only did everything else, for which you are externally welcome.”
Lassiter rolled his eyes. “I think you mean eternally. Which isn't true either way, because I didn't thank you.”
“Well, that wasn't very mannerly of you.”
Lassiter simply folded his arms and stared him down; Shawn might have been able to win a staring contest, but Lassie actually looked pissed—not just at the case, but at Shawn—so he sighed softly and started to write. He laid out everything just the way he'd told it during his breakdown, adding a few dramatic touches to round out the story, and signed with a flourish. When he looked back up to hand it off, he was slightly surprised to find Lassiter directly next to him and staring down at him. He raised his eyebrows innocently, and Lassie leaned close, using his best intimidating glare while he reached over to snatch up the legal pad. Shawn couldn't help but to glance at his lips when he started speaking, and when he made himself look back up to his eyes, he had to remind himself to focus on what he was saying and not the clear, bright, piercing blue of them.
“I don't know how you really do it,” he said, “but rest assured that someday I am going to find you out, Spencer. And the next time you use a dead child to lend credibility to your bullshit, I swear I'll hound you every minute until I find something to arrest you for.”
“Sounds stalkery,” Shawn said. “Let me know in advance if you're going to be spying on me in my undies so that I'm not wearing my Granny panties if it's laundry day. Look, Lassie, I am very sure that that kid wanted her killer to be caught. Are you going to tell me that you don't believe she would have? And now you have the murderer behind bars, with a confession in front of witnesses and everything. I know you don't believe in me, in my abilities, but that's cool—you don't have to. Just trust me once in awhile when I gift-wrap a killer for you. Justice is served either way, so what does it matter which way it was cooked up?”
“Trust you,” Lassiter sneered. “I'd rather wear a jock strap made of lettuce.” He stood up straight again, although he was still glaring, and jabbed his thumb toward the door. “Get out of here.”
Shawn sighed and got up. He stopped in the restroom on the way out and stared in the mirror for a long moment after washing his hands, definitely not thinking about Lassie and what he actually might have done if Shawn had kissed him when he'd gotten in his face and threatened him. It had been an idea he'd had before—a number of times, really, just about every time Lassie got that close to him. He often leaned down over him, so close that Shawn would only have to crane his neck up in order to reach him. He could claim he'd done it just to fluster the other man, much like Bugs Bunny did when he was on the business end of a shotgun, but Lassiter had quick reflexes, and Shawn wasn't sure enough that he wouldn't end up with a broken nose to actually try it. He rather liked his nose the way it was. He ran a finger lightly down the straight line of it to his lips, and then he checked his teeth in his reflection and gave himself a toothpaste commercial grin. He nodded and started to look away—
—but out of the corner of his eye, he thought he saw his reflection wink.
Shawn frowned and stared into the mirror, gazing hard into his own eyes for several seconds. He hadn't felt a wink coming on, which was weird, because when he checked his memory, he could have sworn...
It must have been the lights, he decided, glancing up at a long fluorescent bar that was flickering slightly. What else could it have been? He looked back into the mirror and saw only his own face, a small amount of suspicion, and great hair. He shook his head, ready to give it up and go get some lunch, and then he paused again. Did his reflection shake its head one more time than Shawn himself had? No. It couldn't have. Having another confrontation with Lassiter must have put his spirits off more than he thought. He looked at his reflection warily for another moment, and then he left, deciding he'd more than earned a pint of that kind of ice cream that had little bits of waffle cone in it for dinner. Gus said that kind of ice cream in an ice cream cone was redundant, but that was coming from a man who put sugar on his Frosted Flakes, so who was counting?
Fucking Spencer—holding his fingers to his forehead and exploiting the death of a child in order to scoop up more unfounded reverence when it came to his ludicrous tales of magic and spirits and whatever else. And no, it barely made any difference that he somehow guessed right so much of the time, enough so that the chief continued to call on his Frauds-R-Us line. It had to be just lucky guesswork, there was no way he could have just known the housekeeper was sleeping with the husband. Lassiter himself surely would have arrived at that conclusion himself if Spencer hadn't interrupted his and O'Hara's runthrough of the evidence with claims that the little girl who had died was telling him that her killer wasn't the husband after all.
Justice is served either way, so what does it matter which way it was cooked up?
It mattered. True police work mattered, and chains of evidence mattered, and not being a cocky smart ass who flounced around and made the occasional good guess and grinned like he knew all of the secrets of the universe mattered. Not obstructing justice by giving false statements and then making stupid comments about spying on him in his underwear mattered. Like Lassiter gave a good goddamn about his underwear.
He growled at the papers strewn across his desk, and then he got up in a hurry, heading for the restroom where he could hold his hands under the ice cold water in the sink and then rub his eyes, a method he often used for an oncoming headache. He had been awake for almost twenty-four hours at this point—he had hardly slept the entire week, in fact, ever since Celina Norbert had been found dead and then her granddaughter had suddenly passed—and now he was feeling the effects all at once. His eyes were tired and scratchy, his head pounded, and his face felt hot and flushed to the tips of his ears.
He brushed all of it aside and focused on the cold water running over his hands, and then he bent down to hold the heels of his palms against his eyes, cooling his skin and making his thoughts slow down. He chilled his hands before holding them on his face several more times, rubbing his eyes and his forehead until he felt completely calm again. He didn't really know—or care to know—what it was he'd even been thinking of that had made his thoughts feel like they were about to short out a few minutes ago; he felt better now, and that was what mattered. He could get back to work, and might as well, because his house was empty and there wasn't much of anything to do except flip channels and think about working anyway.
He reached for the paper towel dispenser, yanking out a few and blotting any remaining water droplets on his face and neck, and then he tossed the ball into the wastebasket and checked his tie. It had been around his neck so long that the knot was loosened, so he tightened it. He stood up straighter and gave himself a professional nod.
Then his expression suddenly grew uneasy, his eyes flicking over his face carefully, warily—something wasn't right. He wasn't sure what it was, wasn't sure that he even knew what he was seeing, but he knew his own face, all right, and something just seemed... off. The face looking back at him was definitely his, and there wasn't any silly nonsense like sleep-deprived hallucinations making him appear to have an extra eye or antennae or anything, so what—
Did he really have that much stubble on his cheeks after just one day? He brought his hand up and ran it over his face, feeling the slight sandpaper of a five o'clock shadow, but it had looked like—for just a second he thought he'd seen—
No. He took his hand away and leaned closer to the mirror again, seeing the start of what he called You Could Shave, So You Should. He didn't like stubble, it was unprofessional, but after almost a week on the death of the old woman and the kid, the last triple-shift all rolled into one, he could give himself a pass on the skipped shave that morning. What he'd thought he'd seen in the mirror for a second must have been his brain showing him what he'd look like tomorrow morning if he didn't get a good night's rest and then get back to his good, presentable, professional image.
Lassiter sighed and headed back to his desk, intending to sweep everything together and leave it until tomorrow, but then something on the autopsy report for a man who had supposedly committed suicide jumped out at him, and he grabbed for a witness statement to re-read it, sitting back down into his chair and leaning over with his chin in his hand and his notepad turned to a fresh page. Working was better than sitting at home alone any day, any night.