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the robbed that smiles steals something from the thief

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It starts out simple.

Let's Play A Game.

 

They find it after weeks of small scale robberies, scrawled in sharpie across the wall of the room. The jewellery case with the diamonds is empty. There are no finger prints, no hairs or clues or traces that they can follow.

The guy is literally the most perfect thief, and probably the most infuriating man they've ever been after. Juliet watches Lassiter pace in frustration around his desk, past her down the corridor for three steps before he circles back around. He's been doing that for the past half hour already, and they're still no closer to finding this guy than they were two weeks ago.

Carlton is beginning to rant and just in time, her phone vibrates on the table. She lunges for it before it falls off the edge and answers with relief. "Hi Shawn," she's smiling already, dammit, she's meant to be playing hard to get.

Carlton stops to glare at her, "Are you taking personal calls at work?" he asks.

"I'm on my lunch break," she mouths to him, then turns her attention back to her phone where her errant lover is rambling on in a speech so filled with movie references she's already losing track. Ever since he swung into town about a month ago she'd been meeting up regularly with the guy. Their meeting was a fluke. Accident. She accidentally took his seat at the diner when he popped out to buy a newspaper. He had somehow walked away from that conversation with her number, even though she doesn't remember giving it to him, and they've been calling and meeting up ever since.

Her partner is levelling her deathly glares across her desk, and so she regretfully cuts the call short, "Look, I've got to go. I've got a big case I'm on..."

"You mean the robberies?"

She doesn't know how he does that. "Yes, the robberies. And no, you're not allowed to get involved. So try and stay out of trouble and if I get off early this evening, I'll phone and we can meet up later."

"Bye Jules."

She hangs up with that warm little feeling inside of her. She gets it every time he says her name like that, not detective, or O'Hara or Juliet, just Jules. She likes it, and she likes him, and she's still trying to work out how she managed to stumble her way into this relationship.

"Are you finished?"

She spins her chair around to face where Lassiter is standing with his arms crossed, staring at her, "Yes," she says with a sigh, grabbing the file containing photographs of the scene, "Let's get to it then."

She's about to start work when she realizes her partner is grinning at her smugly.

"What?"

"I've already spotted it."

She glances down at the photos, "I can't see anything. Apart from the giant mocking message that wasn't there before..."

"Exactly!" Lassiter snaps, "It wasn't there before! Our perp, he's gotten bored. He wants to play a game."

"But we don't know the rules," Juliet throws her hands up, "It's his game."

"What's a game without competition?" Lassiter presses, "There has to be some sort of hint here, some clue that will tell us where he's striking next." He waves the pictures around with one hand and something catches Juliet's eyes.

"Hang on..." she snatches the photos out of her partner's hand, turning it around so she can see something, "Are those drugs?"

"Prescription drugs, yeah," Lassiter can't see it yet, or maybe he hasn't realized, so Juliet digs out the file from one of the other cases, searching through until she finds it. And it's there. Clues, scattered throughout the crime scenes that she shouldn't have even spotted.

But this time there’s a clue. The words curl along the wall and there's nothing else in the picture except an empty prescription bottle. She spreads out the photos and hears Carlton's intake of breath as he sees it to. "I can't make out the doctor's name..." Juliet squints at the pictures.

"No need," Lassiter straightens, "I bagged that into evidence myself. Let's go, O'Hara."

 

It's not the doctor.

There have been five breaks ins, but the prescription bottles found on scene all were prescribed by different doctors. The drugs are different as well. Witnesses state they weren't taking the drugs, which means the perp dropped them on scene.

On purpose.

There are no finger prints but...

"They're from the same pharmaceutical company!" Juliet crosses the station in a few short steps and throws down information on Lassiter's desk. She's learned that big actions tend to get his attention more quickly and besides, this is urgent, "All are also new drugs that came on the market within the past six months."

"So we go to the company..." Carlton is grabbing his jacket but she shakes her head.

"No, Buzz was the one who spotted it. It's not the company. All the drugs were sold to the doctors by the same person."

 

"But I didn't do anything!"

"Be quiet!" Lassiter growls, and their suspect quails under his famous glare.

"I know my rights," the guy tries to stand up for himself, and Juliet just about manages to get to her partner before he tries any more intimidation techniques. The man before them in the interrogation rooms seems fairly reasonable, and she can work with that.

"Your name is Burton Guster, is that right?" she clarifies.

The pharmaceutical sales rep nods, "That's right. I don't understand why I'm here."

"You might have seen in the news that there have been a series of robberies across town. Some people's safes cleared of cash. Jewellery..."

"I don't see what that has to do with me! I... I have alibi's..."

Carlton looks like he's seconds away from lunging across the table. "We found prescription bottles at all the crime scenes with drugs recently sold to the doctors by the same guy - you."

Guster looks between her and Lassiter, then seems to decide she is a safer bet, "My car was broken into a few weeks ago," he admits, cautiously, "Some of the drugs I carry around to show the companies - they were missing. I... I made a list, but I swear, I didn't steal anything! I'm not a thief!"

"Oh yeah, well we'll see about that..."

"Carlton..." Juliet drags her partner out of there before he can lay into the man.

He rounds on her, "What? I have that guy right where I want him..."

"Look at him!" Juliet shouts in exasperation, gesturing through the interrogation glass to where their suspect sits, looking like he's about to puke. "Do you really think he has it in him to rob anything? He's got a perfect record..."

"Which is why he's the perfect suspect! Nobody would suspect him but I found copies of safe-crackers weekly in his apartment. This guy has been planning this for a long time..."

"I checked his case. He was telling the truth - the lock box in his car shows signs of recently being broken into. Guster's even organised enough to make a list of what was missing. All the drugs on his list match the bottles we found."

"So he's misdirecting us..."

"Or maybe, our thief wanted us to find him."

 

Carlton wants to go back and interrogate the guy further, but O'Hara expressly forbid him from doing that. She's vanished to find the list of patients the drugs were prescribed to.

"They're all made up," she says, arriving back after about an hour of pointless waiting, "I don't know how our thief got the prescriptions, but they're all to different aliases. The doctors I phoned up say they don't remember prescribing any of them to a..." she squints a little at the names, "Juan Priestley...Abe Froman... Dr. Howser... Levon Tostig... T-Bone Turner?"

"Okay, so what does that mean we do about Guster?" Carlton gestures at the window behind him where the black man has been stewing for the past hour.

"We let him go," Juliet says, and Carlton opens his mouth to protest, "We can't hold him! At best we can ask if he can stick around the station but..."

"Uh, excuse me?" McNab appears from somewhere, his six-whatever frame suddenly taking up half of the room. Carlton steps back, feeling crowded.

"What?"

"Don't mind him," Juliet apologizes for some reason.

"Uh, okay, well there's just been a 911 call. There's been another robbery. Downtown. This time it's a bank. Someone got into the safety deposit boxes and... well... you should..."

"But..." Carlton whirls around, cutting Buzz off. Their suspect is still sitting where he left him in the interrogation room, breathing heavily, "Is that Lamaze breathing?" he blinks, then turns to McNab. Juliet is getting that look that suggests she's about to blurt something out, but he gets there before her, "Guster's a distraction," he says, "He's a foil..."

"No," Juliet shakes her head, "Whoever the real thief is, he wanted us to find Guster. He led us to him on purpose. He's too good to leave those clues for us by accident."

Buzz is still shuffling nervously, "We'll be down there," Carlton tells him.

"Good," Buzz says, and is about to leave when he pauses, "Oh, and just to warn you? There's another message. And this one isn't pretty."

 

It's written in blood.

"Whose blood is that?" Carlton demands with the pragmatism of the proper detective, even while O'Hara looks wary of it dripping down the wall like some sort of slasher movie warning.

There is no such thing as the perfect crime.

"He's mocking us," Carlton growls, and nearby a forensics guy who is analyzing blood samples jumps in alarm, "I'm going to catch this criminal and put him behind bars even if I have to..."

"There's another one!" O'Hara straightens from where she had been picking something off the ground. It’s another empty prescription bottle. "This one's prescribed to an Ichabod Fletchman." She pulls a face at the name, "There's a note in it," she steps back towards Lassiter.

"Well?" he wants to snatch it from her, but Juliet has the gloves on and if they can get anything from this guy, even a smudged fingerprint on a piece of paper, Carlton will take it. The so called 'perfect thief' has to slip up eventually, has to leave some clue, some trace...

"He has hemophobia."

"What?"

His partner looks up at him, "That's what it says - 'he has hemophobia'."

"You mean 'homophobia', right?"

"No, hemophobia. The fear of blood."

"Well that's a stupid fear to have."

"He - our thief - he's not talking about us. Or you. He's talking about..."

"Guster."

 

They haven't let Gus leave the station, but at least he's been allowed to leave interrogation. He still feels slightly sick, but he keeps trying to reassure himself that they can't arrest him if he's innocent.

He hasn't done anything!

He tries not to think about the percentage of how many innocent men get wrongfully convicted. And now he's thinking about not thinking about it, he can't stop. Gus' breathing starts to speed up and he feels sick again.

"Guster!"

Oh no, Gus thinks. The head detective is going to arrest him, and he can't even see the pretty blonde one around to protect him. Wait - he relaxes only slightly when Detective O'Hara slips into view, smiling at him.

"I didn't do it!" he blurts out before they get there.

Carlton Lassiter narrows his eyes as if he thinks Gus did, but Juliet nods, "We don't either," she says, "But we want to keep you around. Our thief - he pointed you out to us. 'Let's play a game' he told us, and this? This is his game."

"The robber left a message?" Gus frowns, because isn't it enough to rob a place, without taunting the police department searching for him?

"Two," Detective O'Hara nods, "'Let's Play A Game'," she quotes, and Gus frowns, because is he really allowed to know this sort of stuff, "And," Juliet continues, "'There's no such thing as the perfect crime.' The second one was written in blood."

Gus can't help the disgusted expression that crosses his face, "I don't even like blood," he says, "I don't know how I can help - I'd probably be puking in the toilet by now if I was there."

He doesn't know how it is possible, but the blonde detective brightens at that, "Toilet," she repeats, "He has hemophobia."

"How did you know that?" Gus is surprised at how quickly she jumped to that.

"I didn't," the detective frowns, and passes a piece of paper to Gus. "This was at the crime scene."

Gus drops it instantly.

"We checked it for prints," she continues, regardless, "There's nothing there. Our thief used gloves to write this message."

Gus reads it, and his stomach churns uncomfortably. The handwriting looks vaguely...

"Our thief led us to you," Juliet interrupts his thoughts, "He knows you. Personally. So you, are going to help us to catch him."

 

"So how was work? Caught the guy yet?"

"No. But there's no such thing as a perfect criminal," Juliet tells her sort-of boyfriend. They've never confirmed that, actually, now she thinks about it. He started out as an annoying persistent irritating menace who kept texting her at inopportune moments, and for some reason she had decided to start replying. Their text messages had turned into debates which had turned into phone calls about subjects ranging from horror movies to sports, and their phone calls had turned into dinner several times a week, and dinner was now turning into quiet kisses and...

"Have you seen the way he looks at you?" their waitress asks, when he pops to the toilet for a few minutes, "It's like he's looking at the sun."

He makes Juliet feel special in a way she hasn't felt in a long time.

 

“I’m going to be sick,” as predicted, Gus sees the message still on the wall in blood and rushes off for the toilet. Lassiter sighs and Juliet winces a little before Gus is gone, his lunch coming back to haunt him. Even a day later the smell still makes his super-sniffer twitch, and the blood might not be dripping red, but the rust brown is almost worse.

It’s when Gus is washing his face that he sees it. There’s a dirty smear on the mirror in front of him.

He’s about to wipe it off but he’s currently standing at the perfect angle to see the way the smear on the mirror twists into a pattern.

It looks like someone has been writing on it, and still unsure, Gus leans forwards, and breathes on it.

He’s right.

Gus hates it when he’s right.

“Detective!”

 

Okay, I’ll give a little hint.

How many hats?

They turn on all the hot taps and get a photographer to capture it before the steam begins to run the words into an incomprehensible blur. But in that brief period of time when it is visible, they can all see the message there.

“How did you know how to do that?” Juliet turns to Gus.

He shrugs, “It’s just something me and my friend used to do when we were kids.”

There is something in his tone that sounds almost nostalgic, and it prompts Juliet to say “I’m sorry,” before she’s even realised she’s said it.

“No, it’s okay!” Gus hurries to reassure her, “He didn’t die. He just… took off, after college. I haven’t really seen him since, but I get a postcard in the mail every few weeks.”

“Oh,” Juliet nods, trying to understand.

Carlton’s phone rings at that moment and he answers it with a gruff, “Lassiter.” Juliet watches as her partner’s face flashes through emotions - annoyance, confusion, triumph and then back to confusion, “Okay, thank you.” He hangs up, “That was the lab. They got the results of the blood work - the blood was apparently from a blood donation. It had been ‘misplaced’ by the company.”

Juliet relaxes and Gus says, “So nobody died?”

“No, Guster. Nobody died.”

“Whose blood was it? Did they know?” Juliet asks.

“Yes,” this is where her partner looks grim, “It came up because it was on our records already. The blood belongs to Henry Spencer. He’s a blood donar, retired, but when he worked, he used to work for the SBPD.”

“Spencer?” Gus asks.

“Do you have an issue with that?” Lassiter frowns.

“No,” Gus shakes his head, “I just know him, that’s all.”

Juliet sighs, “Phone him. Ask him to come in. This isn’t a coincidence anymore.”

 

Karen Vick can tell the exact moment Henry Spencer enters the station, because  all activity halts for a few seconds. She sees Buzz McNab leap to move out of the way, while Lassiter swells up his chest and paces forwards. She anticipates it though and steps out of her office, “Carlton! Henry! In my office!”

She looks around for O’Hara, but the detective is busy talking to someone. Her boyfriend, Karen thinks, she’s seen him around a couple of times.

“Where is Guster?” she asks, before turning and finding him standing right behind him, “Right,” she says, trying not to look shaken, “Gentlemen, take a seat and we…”

“Gus?”

“Mr Spencer?”

“I take it you two know each other,” Carlton narrows his eyes between them, “How do you two know each other?”

“Look, he’s friends with my son. Karen, what am I doing here?”

“Your blood was found at a crime scene.”

“What?”

Karen doesn’t like having to do this, but she motions for Carlton to show Henry the pictures. The first message, then the second and then…

“He’s taunting you,” Henry says. He’s always astute like that, always blunt as well.

“We know,” Lassiter snarls.

Karen breaks up the feud before it starts, “The second message is written in blood stolen from a blood donation bank. Your blood. My detectives don’t think it’s a coincidence.”

She watches the older man. He rubs at his balding head and sighs, “I don’t think I have any link to these crimes.”

“No offence, Mr Spencer,” Guster speaks up, “But neither did I.”

“It’s a game,” Carlton explains, “He gave us clues to bring Mr Guster in, and then kept him in. If it wasn’t for Guster being there, we wouldn’t have found our next hint.”

“What is it?” Henry sighs.

Karen debates for a moment over giving it to him, then decides that at this point they have nothing to lose.

She gives it to him.

He reads it once, then twice and then shakes his head, "No," he says, "This is impossible."

"Do you recognize it?" Lassiter's tone is cold.

"Henry," Karen says, when the old man looks like he's not going to say anything, "If you have anything, you need to give it to us."

The ex-policeman shakes his head, "It can't be," he says, "Shawn left Santa Barbara years ago. I get the odd post card but..."

"Shawn?" Lassiter scribbles down the name, "Do you have a surname to go with that..."

Gus gasps at the name, staring at Mr Spencer in shock, then hurt and confusion, “But Shawn…”

"It's something I used to do with him," Henry ignores them, frowning in disbelief, "He always used to notice things like that and I thought one day he'd make a great detective."

"Who?" Lassiter presses.

"Wait," Karen finally places the name, "Shawn? Your son, Shawn?"

"Yes..." Henry's voice trails off as he looks up, staring at something through her office window. Karen follows his gaze past the blinds and past where McNab is wandering with cups of coffee. Just visible is O'Hara's desk, the pretty young detective leaning forwards in her chair and chatting to a young man. He's about the same age as O'Hara, with brown hair spiked up and a smile seemingly etched into his face. Karen's seen him before, flirting with the detective, popping into the department and bypassing the reception to chat with Juliet.

"Shawn," Henry stiffens, and that's all it takes for Karen to put it together, to begin to move. Henry is faster, out of her office before her and Carlton, who has put together the clues as well, is second. She follows, and she's just in time to see the young man - and it's Shawn, it has to be - look up. How he's aware of the door opening half way across the station she isn't sure, but she watches as his face splits into a smug grin. He brings one hand up in a little wave, saying something to Juliet as he steps backwards and out of view.

Henry and Carlton are already running after him, but somehow Karen just knows they're not going to catch up.

Their thief had been under their noses the whole time and they hadn't even noticed.

She has to give him this one - he's good.

 

“Where’s your boyfriend?” Lassiter storms over to where Juliet is working on something, a small smile on her face. There’s lunch next to her - a sandwich newly wrapped with a smoothie and cupcake. “What was he doing here?”

“He was dropping me off some lunch,” Juliet jumps to the defensive, “Why?” her expression grows puzzled as Spencer, Guster and the Chief gather behind Lassiter, “What’s wrong?”

“How does he travel? Does he have a car?”

“Shawn has a bike,” Gus says.

“Wait - you know Shawn?” Juliet frowns at Gus.

“You know that friend I told you about?” the man says, “Well that’s Shawn.”

“O’Hara, my office, now.” The Chief looks like she’s on a mission of destruction, but it doesn’t quite account for how all four of them end up in her office, “I asked for just O’Hara.”

“No offense, but Shawn is my best friend,” Gus surprisingly speaks up first.

“He’s my son.”

Carlton finally manages a “It’s my case,” but by then the Chief has already relented.

“What’s going on?” Juliet demands, impatiently, “What’s all this about Shawn?”

Karen looks like she doesn’t know where to start, so Carlton takes over, “Guster is here because the drugs left at crimes scenes were sold by him to the doctors. He also used to know…?” Carlton stops, unsure.

“Shawn used to be my best friend,” Gus elaborates, “He left town after graduation, and went travelling. He sent me postcards. Still does. Did.”

“When was your last postcard from him?” The Chief asks.

“Three weeks ago. It said…” Gus closes his eyes, “It said ‘see you soon’.”

“Shawn’s my son,” Henry elaborates, “That last hint? About the hats? It’s this… game… I used to play with him. I used to ask how many hats in a room, used to make him tell me.”

“Well that doesn’t sound too hard,” Carlton spends a moment contemplating the game.

“He used to do it with his eyes closed.”

Oh, Lassiter realises, there is something more to this.

“That’s why he got you two involved,” Juliet works out, slowly, eyes wide with horror, “He wanted you on the case. He was playing us, practically giving us the answers and he…” she closes her eyes, “Shawn Spencer. Brown hair, hazel eyes, makes movie references all the time…” she pauses, then grabs for her phone and shoves it at Gus and Henry, “Is this him?”

Lassiter gets a glimpse of the picture and yep - it’s the same guy who keeps visiting his partner at work.

Gus frowns, “He’s older,” he says, “But yeah, that looks like Shawn.”

“That’s him,” Henry doesn’t even doubt, “It’s Shawn.”

Juliet lowers her phone, looking… broken. Heart broken, possibly, but Carlton doesn’t believe that she could fall in love with this guy after only three weeks. “So the guy I’ve been dating turns out to be the thief we’ve been after.” Her voice cracks slightly, “Of course he is,” she throws up one hand, blinking a lot. Lassiter wonders if she’s going to break down into tears, but instead it’s almost the opposite. Her resolve becomes determined.

“Okay, so I can give you his usual haunts. He likes smoothies, that diner down on the main street, the hot dog vendor along the pier…”

“His apartment…?”

“I haven’t been to his apartment.”

“You’ve been dating for three weeks,” Carlton blurts out, “How do you not know where his apartment is?”

“He always meets me out, or comes into the station, or if we do hang out... overnight, he comes to mine.” Juliet shrugs, “I didn’t push. He told me he’d just come back after travelling and didn’t have a place set up yet. I figured he was embarrassed by his hotel room.”

“Embarrassed,” Henry scoffs, “Shawn doesn’t do embarrassed.” The man shakes his head in disgust, “A thief,” he mutters, “I can’t believe it, I thought I raised him better than that.”

“If it’s any consolation,” Gus says, “He’s a very good thief.”

It’s not a consolation and the looks Guster receives tell him that. Carlton sighs, “Do you have his number?” he asks, and Juliet fishes out her phone. She’s grim as she begins to write it down, and he plans to check she’s mentally capable of continuing on this case later.

“I’ve got details about his bike as well…” Juliet mumbles.

“He still rides that thing?” Henry sounds like he doesn’t know whether he still has the right to be concerned now it’s been outed that his son is a felon.

“Is there anything else that you two could give us on Shawn Spencer?” the Chief turns to the pair.

Guster and Henry glance at each other, and seconds later Gus looks down, guiltily. Henry bites one lip for a moment before seemingly deciding to just go for it, “He’s good,” he says, and Carlton feels like punching the man. That is not helpful. “I mean, he’s really good,” Henry insists, “He notices everything, and he’s clever, even though he pretends he’s not. Just… don’t underestimate him.”

“He’s stolen about thirty-thousand dollars’ worth of cash and belongings and he’s only been here three weeks,” Karen says slowly, “I don’t think any of us are going to underestimate your son.”

 

Juliet heads straight back to her desk after being dismissed, and reckoning that now was as good as any to catch up to her and talk, Carlton heads after her.

She’s leaning over her desk when he gets there, and he cautiously steps around to see her expression, “O’Hara?” Carlton asks, wondering why his partner has frozen, “What is it?”

Wordlessly she tugs away the outer most piece of paper the sandwich on her desk was wrapped in. In large bold letters is another message, but he gets the feeling this one was just for Juliet.

I was going to tell you.

 

For a week there is nothing. Radio silence. Shawn Spencer has vanished into thin air. Then the call comes in during the middle of the night of another bank that’s been robbed.

And this one? This one is a homicide.

“There are no messages,” Carlton stalks around the place like a lethal predator, “Where’s the message?”

There’s broken glass covering the entrance way, the alarms are ripped off the wall… the whole thing is one giant mess, and that’s not even counting the dead body of the security guard.

“He wasn’t even meant to be there,” a co-worker sobs, “But with the recent robberies, he decided to stay late after work to lock up and…”

“This has Spencer written all over it,” Carlton says. He takes in Juliet’s heart-broken expression seconds before she composes herself into steely professionalism. He’s going to catch the bastard, if only so he can punch Shawn Spencer in the face.

 

He thinks someone is stalking him.

Okay, cut that. Gus knows someone is following him. At least, if not following him, then they’re breaking into his apartment.

The worst thing is he knows exactly who it is, the third time he comes home to a pineapple sitting on his kitchen counter.

“No,” he says to thin air, “I don’t forgive you. You almost got me arrested.”

He feels a bit stupid talking to thin air, but he hasn’t seen Shawn since… Gus can’t even remember. He glances idly at his fridge where the last post card Shawn sent him is still pinned up.

He picks up the pineapple, debating whether to throw this one out as well.

But then again, he has the pizza in the fridge. It might be nice with a little pineapple on it.

With a sigh he sets the fruit on the counter and finds a knife to cut it up with.

 

There’s another pineapple on top of his car, “Dude, not the car! That’s a company car!”

He sets this one on the seat next to him as he heads towards the main town. The SBPD have called him in again to check out a robbery - again to see if there are any clues around.

“No,” Gus says, one vomiting fest and one hour later, “There’s nothing here.”

Detective Lassiter and Detective O’Hara frown, “Nothing?” Lassiter glares at him, but Gus is beginning to realise that’s his usual expression, “No invisible ink notes or patterns in the broken glass?”

“Nothing,” Henry steps forwards from where he’s been searching around the back, “This crime’s almost panicky. Maybe he’s going to run. But the guard…” he frowns, “I thought Shawn could shoot better than that,” he sighs, taking in the bullet holes in the wall and the two in the man’s shoulder and chest.

Gus doesn’t want to look, so he excuses himself and heads back to his car. He should head back to the office.

He notices the pineapple from earlier has fallen over from where he placed it on the seat. There’s a sticky post-it note he hadn’t noticed before stuck underneath it. It had to have been there earlier… unless someone had put it there recently…?

Gus tries not to think about that, instead picks it up and reads it.

This one wasn’t me.

He doesn’t know what to think anymore, so with a sigh he sticks the note back on the pineapple and starts the engine.

 

The Chief gathers the whole office together to warn them that their non-violent thief has upgraded when Juliet’s phone rings. She cancels it, she’ll take it later.

It rings again, seconds later. Juliet ignores it.

A minute later, her phone is still ringing, and Carlton is shooting her looks. She glances at the number, not expecting to see the name there. She stiffens, and then checks to see if anyone other than her partner has noticed. But even Carlton has turned back to where the Chief is lecturing everyone, so Juliet takes the chance, grabbing her phone and slipping to the conference room before she realises what a bad idea this is.

But she's already answered, "Who the hell do you think you are to call me after what you..."

"Jules, look, I need to..."

"Don't call me that! You've been using me, and you must think I'm an idiot to..."

"No, it wasn't like that! I-"

"Why do you even think you can talk to me? After what you did at the bank...?"

"That wasn't me!" he shouts down the phone, "I don't kill people!"

"Look I want to believe you but I can't trust..."

"Just ask my dad - I can shoot better than that and at least three bullets went into the wall."

"How do you know that?" Juliet asks, frowning. He always knows things, she realises. Shawn always knows stuff he isn't supposed to and she can't work out why, or how or...

And his dad had said that Shawn was a better shot that that.

"The bank wasn't me," Shawn says, taking advantage of her pause, "Did it look like me? I mean - broken alarms, smashed windows and a dead body? That’s sloppy, amateur-ish,” he scoffed in derision, “It’s messy and I don't do messy. I don't steal stuff just for the money. I do it because it's a challenge. Because it's interesting. Because I've tried 58 other jobs and after two weeks I could do it, I got it, and I got bored. I moved on. But stealing? It's different every time and..."

"Do you think that makes it right?"

"My dad's a cop," Shawn retorts down the phone, sounding oddly serious for once, "I passed the detective exam at fifteen with 100%, I think I know what the law is."

"I should report you in; get them to trace this call..."

"You mean you aren't already?" it's not sarcastic, it's genuine surprise and an odd note of hope.

And she should be walking back to the main room; she should put the call on speaker and quiz Shawn until he lets something slip. She always puts her job first, and this time should be no different.

So why is she hesitating?

She can't risk her job, she realizes, and she's turning to head back into the main room when Shawn speaks.

"It wasn't me," he tells her, "And I'll prove it to you. I'm not a killer." And before she can take a step outside the call ends.

The conference room door swings shut behind her. "Who was that?"

She looks up to see Carlton standing right in front of her, "Nobody," she lies. Next time, she promises herself, next time he phones... "Wrong number."

She doesn’t want a next time though, and just to be certain, she blocks the number.

 

“Gus, I need your help.”

It’s a bad start when Gus wakes up in the middle of the night to Shawn, sitting in his apartment after no contact for years, asking for his help.

“I am going to go back to bed and pretend I never saw you. If you are still here in the morning I am going to call the police.”

“Dude, I need your help. That bank robbery? It wasn’t me! I need to find out who did it…”

“Why?”

“So I can clear my name, of course!”

“You mean you didn’t steal anything?”

“I…” Shawn stops, closes his mouth and shakes his head, “I have stolen things,” Gus’ best friend says, cautiously, “But this crime I didn’t commit. I don’t want to be Shawshank!”

“Shawshank was the name of the prison. You’re thinking of Andy Dufresne.”

“See! This is why I need you! You can be my Morgan Freeman!”

“I don’t want to go to prison, Shawn!”

“Neither do I!” Shawn snaps, “And they have nothing on me! Nothing! No evidence, no proof, nothing! If it’s just theft, even if they do catch me the sentence will be nothing. A few years, maybe less if they can swing it. But if they pin this homicide on me…”

Gus closes his eyes, because in reality Shawn had persuaded him the moment he saw the note on the bottom of the pineapple.  He’s going to regret this, he knows it.

“Okay, just let me get changed.”

“What? No, you can totally keep the fireman pyjamas. They’re totally cool.”

“Really?”

“You know that’s right.”

 

There’s a present on her desk.

It’s not wrapped, so she can see it’s nothing more than a clear folder with paper inside. But there is a gaudy ribbon around it and a pineapple post-it note that simply reads five words.

I love you. I’m sorry.

She tears it into bits and tosses it in the bin. After a second she throws the ribbon away as well. She considers throwing away the file, but she doesn’t even want to think about it right now.

She heads away to go and see what the coroner has to say. When she comes back the file is gone and hopefully she doesn’t have to worry about it anymore.

That’s when Lassiter wanders over, “Where did you find this?” he’s frowning, “This is good stuff, O’Hara. I’m impressed - you must have been up all night to get this much work done.”

“What?” she frowns, “I don’t know what you mean.”

“Oh, I saw that file you had on your desk,” Carlton says brightly, as if it’s perfectly normal to borrow files from each other’s desks, “I wasn’t going to look, I’m sorry, but I saw a name  I recognised and I was right.”

He puts the folder down and begins piling out the paper inside. It’s information, she realises. It’s not a letter or explanation like she had presumed, it’s raw data, some of it hand written, most of it printed onto neat white A4 paper. There are even some photographs.

“I missed that on the tapes,” Lassiter comments as Juliet picks one up. It’s from the security feed from the bank, seconds before it had been cut. There’s nothing there. Except…

There is a circle in red ink around a reflection in a window. A face can be clearly seen there, and looking at the papers in front of her, Juliet matches it up to a guy. He’s already wanted, already has accounts of robbery, theft…

There’s a list of addresses or residences printed neatly underneath.

“Shawn didn’t do it.”

“What was that?” Lassiter looks like Christmas has come early, still looking through everything.

“Shawn… didn’t do it,” she says again, “It didn’t look like one of his but… he was telling the truth. This wasn’t one of Shawn’s crimes.”

“It’s a shame,” Lassiter sighs, “I would have liked to pin this on him but, oh well. Can’t be helped.” He mutters something that sounds suspiciously like “I’ll get him next time.”

“We better check out these residences,” Juliet says, still trying to process everything.

“Let’s go.”

 

They find their guy. He runs. They arrest him. He confesses, freaked out by how much they know about him.

“Good job, O’Hara,” Lassiter praises her, and she feels hollow. Like she doesn’t deserve them. “How you spotted that on the camera feeds I’ll never know.”

“It was just luck,” she shrugs, trying to downplay it, gaze drifting to the crumpled up post-it in her bin. “Just luck.”

 

A week later there’s another folder, but this time it’s been slipped out of view beneath her computer keyboard. The note is under the keyboard itself. It’s a date and a time and Can we talk? scrawled there.

She goes. She knows she’s going to regret it but she goes anyway. That’s how it starts.

There haven’t been any more robberies in over three weeks.

 

“No.”

“But Gus…”

“I said ‘no’, Shawn. I helped you once. It was a one-time deal…”

“Fine.”

Gus watches as Shawn walks away. His best friend is older, his hair is perfectly styled so that even the helmet doesn’t really make much difference to its look and its owner is the same. Despite all the stuff piled on top - the stealing, the cons, and the lies - it’s still Shawn underneath.

Gus knows he’s going to regret this, but he follows after Shawn anyway. Just one more, he tells himself.

He refuses to admit he actual enjoyed their secret investigating.

 

Juliet meets him for dinner. They talk, she tries to arrest him, he slips his cuffs and there’s nothing for a week, then there’s a pineapple smoothie on her desk with a pile of papers that if she reads through, will provide the answer to some of the cases she’s been working on.

They come with little notes.

The husband is a lying liar who lies. Why aren’t his pants on fire yet? H & K

The dinosaur did it. Check the farm again. X marks the spot. Enjoy your treasure hunt.

Bring in the kid again for questioning - he has a tell - he taps his fingers against his palm. Love you.

You look really nice in red. Try this address. The bullet’s in the tree. Stay beautiful.

“I don’t know how you do it, O’Hara,” Lassiter frowns at her in suspicion, but she doesn’t tell him. She can’t. He’s worked it out anyway, “You have an informant, don’t you?”

“Yes.”

“Who?”

“You know I can’t tell you that,” she scoffs, “Otherwise that would ruin your glee at finding out for yourself.”

He gets that look like he knows she’s right and hates it, but he doesn’t ask again.

Shawn texts her occasionally. She doesn't know how he remembered her number, but he's got a new phone since the last one. Mostly he just leaves notes she finds later on her desk. She has yet to work out how he manages to get in and out of the precinct on what seems like a weekly basis unseen by everyone, including Lassiter who spent one memorable afternoon guarding her desk when he was convinced she had a secret admirer. The flowers turned up in her locker instead that day.

She meets up with him as well, but that’s almost worse. She feels obliged to arrest him, even though she doesn’t want to. He doesn’t make it easy, either, talking her around in circles until before she knows it; they’ve spent the evening just talking. There are times she doesn’t try, she just relaxes and spends time with him, forgetting Shawn is a criminal she needs to arrest. Other times she goes straight for the handcuffs.

Not that it works. He slips out every time, and she’s gone through about twenty pairs already. She’s heard rumours flying around the precinct that she’s into some kinky stuff, and that might explain the handcuffs.

In comparison the truth is harder to believe.

So she keeps quiet. She does her job. She follows Shawn’s damn tips, works on persuasion techniques as she tries to convince Lassiter that yes, this sea lion was murdered - how do you know - I just do, can’t you trust me on this? - and they find the right solution every single damn time.

There are no more robberies. She’s noticed that as well. Shawn’s new hobby obviously keeps him entertained enough to stop stealing. Now instead he solves their near impossible cases for her, single-handedly.

She still hasn’t worked out how he does it.

 

On one of their cases Gus finally asks the question. Shawn’s been expecting it for a while, but it still surprises him, distracts him for a few seconds.

“Get down!” Gus shoves him back into the closet, slamming the door. Shawn shakes himself off, hearing Gus issue a cheery and totally innocent greeting to Buzz McNab.

“Gus? What are you doing here? You do realise this is a crime scene, don’t you?”

Still, it gives Shawn time to think. Gus vanishes out of the front door, Shawn waits thirty seconds for McNab to vanish, then steps out. He gives himself another thirty seconds to survey the crime scene, sans body, but with the blood still visible. There are patterns in it, and he commits it and several other details for later in case they turn out to be important. A few seconds later he has the window up and is out of the house, completely ignoring the fact he’s on the second floor.

He actually gets to the car before Gus does.

“I didn’t mean to,” he says.

Gus blinks, surprised that he’s there so quickly. “Didn’t mean to what?”

“I didn’t mean to get into stealing,” Shawn says, and it’s the truth. He’s surprisingly truthful most of the time.

The trouble is people just don’t believe him anymore.

But Shawn hadn’t planned this for himself. His dad had been a cop and if there was one thing Henry had managed to do it was to clearly lay down the rules and borders of the law in Shawn’s mind.

Rules, though? Rules were made to be broken.

It was an accident at first.

“I don’t believe you.”

Shawn makes frustrated gestures, “It’s the truth!” he emphasises, “I got into some trouble with the wrong guys…”

“Now that, I can believe,” Gus says and Shawn glares at him, “Why didn’t you go to the police, though?”

“They were a lot of them,” Shawn says, “With guns. Lots of guns. Big ones. Tony Montana grenade launcher lethal.” he watches Gus quail at the thought, “My life was on the line. So when they asked me to help them steal some important weapons plans, I had no other choice but to agree.”

“You agreed to help a mafia gang to steal weapon designs?”

“Don’t worry,” Shawn says, “I know what you’re thinking. It wasn’t a mafia gang, more of some rich foreign businessman with grunts working for him and…”

“You’re missing the point.”

“You’re interrupting my story, dude! Just let me get this all out, okay?” Shawn waits, but Gus has obviously decided to choose now as the moment to stop talking, “Great. So anyway, I helped these guys bust into some Very Important Building - note the capitals - and we got the plans. But on the way out, one of the grunts didn’t listen to me when I said ‘don’t step on that pressure sensor tile’ and he set off an alarm.”

“He what?”

“I thought you agreed not to interrupt.”

“I did no such thing.”

“Well you’ve ruined it now. I got away, obviously. All the grunts were distracted, the big boss got arrested and…”

“And you did it again, didn’t you?”

“What can I say? It was fun!”

It was easy too. Screw what his dad said, Shawn was good at stealing. It was fun, it was different every time and nothing quite compared to the adrenalin rush from breaking the rules, nor the thrill he got at seeing the police scratch their heads to wonder how he did it.

He didn’t do it for the money. Shawn didn’t need the money, he’d managed fine without. Most of it he spent on elaborate and unnecessary ventures. Some of it got given to the odd stray person he’d come across far more in need of it than him, and a little bit got channelled into the odd safe house in case one of his gigs went bad quickly and he needed somewhere to lie low.

He’d finally found a job that kept him busy for not just a few weeks, but a few years. He’s travelled the world, seen some priceless paintings close at hand, and pawned most of them off to underground art dealers. And sure, there’d been a few missteps, but he was good. Shawn knew he was good, and that just made the whole shebang more appealing.

It was years before he was in California again, let alone America and that was when he figured it was about time he paid a visit to his home town. Just to see how good the local law enforcement had gotten since his dad had retired of course.

Shawn casually forgets to mention to Gus how the stolen files had been anonymously sent in to the FBI along with information on all the perpetrators.

 

Her phone rings and Juliet answers it without looking at the caller ID, “O’Hara.”

“Jules?”

She snaps to attention at the sound of his voice. Because he never calls her nowadays. It’s always secret messages, texts, random visits that usually end either with them both tumbling into bed or with handcuffs. A couple of times it ended in both. It’s been a struggle all the time to balance her work and social life, but with Shawn the line is painfully clear.

She hasn’t stopped trying to arrest him.

“What is it?” Carlton notices her distress as she turns away with the phone. She motions for him to wait, but he follows her, listening in to her side of the conversation.

“Yes?” she asks.

“I need you to come. Bring the cops,” he rattles off an address so fast she struggles to write it all down in time.

“What is it?” she asks, “What’s wrong…”

Over the phone there is the very clear sound of gunshots.

“Shawn? Shawn!” she shouts into the phone.

“I’m okay,” he says, but she can hear the weakness in his voice, “expect heavy fire. Seven guys, drugs, they have an escape exit planned out… past the broken window there’s a back way…” his voice fades out again.

“Shawn?” she asks again, and glances up, suddenly aware that Lassiter is staring at her the same time she realises the line is dead.

“We have to go,” she says, grabbing her gun and her badge, “Carlton, come on, we need…”

“You’ve been in contact with Spencer? This whole time?” He laughs, “No, don’t tell me, all those tips…”

“Carlton!” she shouts, “Shawn is in trouble! He has been shot, and if he doesn’t slip his damn handcuffs this time, or snap them, or pick the lock or even frigging melt them, then I will bring him in this time. Okay? But after we go and arrest the drug dealers he says are there.”

“Okay,” Carlton surprisingly agrees with her, “I’ll send the team.”

“Send an extra squad car,” Juliet says, “They have an escape route planned.” At Carlton’s look she shrugs, “What? His tips are always right.”

 

“What is he doing here?” Lassiter snaps when he spots the blue car pull up behind them. “What are you doing here, Guster?”

Juliet stops as Gus approaches them. The man splutters for a moment, and seems to be trying to think of a decent lie, “Shawn called you,” she realizes, “Did he call you before or after me?”

“I threatened to call the cops if he didn’t,” Gus says, anxiously, “Is he okay? He said they had guns.”

“Do you mean to tell me that Spencer has been in contact with both of you and neither of you called him in?”

“I wasn’t aware that he was a wanted fugitive,” Gus says, and for a moment Juliet wonders if he’s being intentionally stupid, “I checked the most wanted list,” he says, “Shawn didn’t make it. Unlike his cousin who is wanted in five countries, and three of them have high priced bounties on his head.”

“Whose head? Shawn’s?” Juliet is horrified.

“No, his cousin.”

“What.” Lassiter is not impressed, even less so when the gunfire sounds from the warehouse in front of them. Juliet motions Gus to stand by the cars, and begins to head forwards, following her partner.

They’re a bit late to the scene - by the time they’re there the drug dealers all have their hands up, with guns pointed at them. Lassiter grins smugly at a job well done and stalks forwards to read them their rights while Juliet looks for Shawn.

“Shawn!” Gus obviously didn’t stay by the car. He darts to one side, and Juliet follows, finally setting her eyes on the thief. He’s curled up on the ground and she can see his phone is broken nearby. That’s probably why the call cut off. He looks a bit bruised up, but when Gus calls his name, he opens his eyes.

“Gus!?” Shawn tries to appear cheery, even though he’s struggling to stand upright, and keep one hand pressed to the bullet wound, “Long time no see.”

“What have you gotten yourself into, Shawn?” Gus sighs, reaching out to help his friend sit upright.

“Shawn!” Juliet finally tears herself away from checking the bad guys are all handcuffed and taken care of and turns to him.

He smiles at her weakly, “I’m okay.”

“You better be…” she stops, realising what she has to do now.

“Go on,” Shawn knows what she’s thinking, offering up his hands with a wince, “I’d rather it was you.”

Juliet doesn’t hesitate as she helps Shawn to his feet, pulling his arms behind him and cuffing them. She feels awful, and she hates Shawn for putting her through this, but at least he’s making it easy for her now, “Shawn Spencer,” she recites, “You are under arrest. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney, if you cannot afford one, one will be appointed for you.” She looks up just in time to see Lassiter rescue his jaw from its slack-jaw position.

Shawn just looks resigned, “Sorry Lassie,” he says with a grin, “Jules beat you there.”

“My name is Lassiter.”

“Whatever you say, Lass Lass.”

Gus just looks worried. “You’re not going to arrest me as well, are you?”

 

“You caught not only the drug dealers, but the Psychic Thief?”

Psychic Thief?” Lassiter pauses, and Shawn stumbles only slightly in front of him, “Who thought up that name?”

“It’s in the newspapers,” Buzz tells them, “It’s what they all called him, because the crimes were all so perfect, it’s like he knew all about them in advance.”

Shawn scoffs, “Of course I did. It’s called precognition.”

“I think you mean pre-planning,” Gus tells his friend, while looking like he’s trying to ignore the fact Shawn is in hand-cuffs.

“No,” Shawn shakes his head, “I think I mean precognition.”

“I think he does as well,” Juliet stalks past them to her desk, “Move,” she snaps at some cops in her way, determinedly trying not to look at Shawn.

Lassiter scoffs, “Precognition is seeing into the future. Spencer might be a con-artist and a stupidly talented thief, but he’s not psychic.”

“Did you just call me a talented thief?”

No.”

“But I am totally psychic,” Shawn protests, “I can be psychic. How else would I know that Jules is going to look in her desk and then either slap me, or she’s going to kiss me?”

Juliet freezes as all attention suddenly turns to her. She’s already gotten to her desk Carlton realises and she’s holding something in her hand. He stares at the back of Spencer’s head, wondering what the hell he means.

“At least,” Shawn says, “I hope it’s the latter.”

 

She finds it before he points it out to the whole department. He’s given her at least a minute to process everything, to take in the small black box, the ring, the note.

I didn’t steal this, I promise.

And then Shawn points it out, and although she knows he has to do it so they don’t drag him away before he hears her response, it’s still awkward. Then the whole station who have turned up to watch them book not only the drug dealers, but the thief who had them running around for weeks only to vanish into thin air. Now they all turn to stare at Juliet, but she ignores them, focusing beyond them to the thief.

The thief who has been giving Juliet tips to cases for over a year now. The thief who keeps paying her visits, who she somehow hasn’t yet arrested even though she should have. And there were times when she was going to. She’d even had him handcuffed to her radiator once, but when she’d gotten back with the phone he’d slipped the cuffs.

“I hope it’s the latter,” Shawn says, and she hasn’t even heard what he’s been saying, she’s trying to think about this. About her job, her life, her reputation and she knows what she should say.

“Yes.”

“Ye-what?” Shawn blinks at her twice as if he can’t believe it. As if he expected her to break everything off between them once and for all.

But she can’t do that, not even with a con-artist and thief. Because at least he’s honest.

An honest con-artist, she’s not sure if there is such a thing.

Besides, she’s been keeping track. He hasn’t stolen anything for at least nine months.

She doesn’t think her heart counts in that running total.

“Yes,” she repeats it, watching as his face lights up in joy, and then she crosses the station, crosses the gap between them and wraps her arms around his neck to kiss him.

She’s aware of Carlton having stepped back, probably expecting her to punch Shawn or something, and she’s aware that her boyfriend - fiancé - is making little pained noises as she leans on his wounded shoulder, but it’s intermittent with breathlessness and awe as he kisses her back as well as he can with his hands cuffed behind him.

“Really?” he asks. She stays clinging to him as they separate, their lips inches apart and foreheads touching, “I didn’t even ask…” She can feel his smile against her lips.

 “Then ask, dummy,” she teases.

“Juliet O’Hara, will you marry me?”

“Yes,” she laughs, “Yes, I will marry the crap out of you, Shawn Spencer.”

He kisses her again and she pulls back.

“But we’re having the wedding after you get out of jail.”

 

“What do you mean he won’t talk?” the Chief frowns at him.

Lassiter throws the files on her desk in frustration and then remembers that she’s his boss and picks them all up again, “I mean; Spencer won’t talk. He sits there with that smug little grin on his face that I just want to punch right off of him and…

“Detective…”

“And he says that we have no proof,” Carlton sighs, “And he’s right. There’s nothing tying him to the scene of the crimes. Apart from the links to Guster and his father, the evidence against him is flimsy and in court… it won’t hold up.”

“Are you telling me that we don’t actually have enough evidence to hold him?” the Chief is good at hiding her emotions, Carlton thinks, he’d be in a rage by now. He still is in a rage about this whole thing, “So we’ve been after this criminal for just over a year and now we’ve caught him we can’t even keep him locked up?”

She working something out and Carlton doesn’t know what, “We can charge him with robbery if we just get a confession out of him. But then there’s the matter of O’Hara taking in tips from him all year and…” he stops when the Chief holds up her hand.

“I’m going to pretend you didn’t just say that,” she says, and Carlton swallows. His throat is dry.

“That’s probably a good idea.”

“Yes,” the Chief nods, “Is Spencer still in interrogation?” she asks.

He nods.

“Has someone seen to his bullet wound?”

Another nod.

“Good,” she says, “Leave him there. I’ll go down and see him myself in an hour. I have an idea.”

Carlton just hopes she finds something incriminating so they can lock Spencer away for good.

 

“Mr Spencer,” she enters the room.

“Ah, good,” he leans forwards, “Is the pineapple pizza I ordered here?”

“Pizza?” she blinks, thrown off a little.

“My one phone call,” he says, “I ordered pizza.” He blinks so innocently at her, and that’s before she’s even noticed that the handcuffs are sitting in a pile by the table and his hands are clasped in front of him casually.

She sighs, “You’re in a very dangerous situation, Mr Spencer,” she says.

“Am I?” he looks around, “I actually feel very safe in this place. Very--“

“Mr Spencer,” she interrupts what she just knows is going to be a movie reference, “We may not have any evidence to keep you locked up in jail for long, but we have plenty of evidence that would get Juliet O’Hara fired from her job here.”

She might be imagining it, but Shawn’s smile grows just a little bit strained.

“Now,” she continues when he doesn’t make to interrupt. She’s got his attention, “I’d hate to lose a good detective like O’Hara. And I’d hate for you to go to jail, if only for a short time. But I have a proposition.”

“That’s never going to be good,” Shawn comments, idly.

“You’ve been phoning in tips for almost a year,” she says, “Accurate tips. Accurate and extremely well-informed tips.” He opens his mouth and she almost shouts out her next words, “I don’t want to know how you do it!” she snaps, “All I want to know is if you can continue doing it?”

He blinks, “You mean… phone in tips?”

“Solve crimes,” Karen says.

Shawn laughs, “I don’t think I can become a police officer anymore…”

“Not in an official capacity,” she says, “But casually? We can hire you as a… a consultant if you will.”

His lips have curled up into a slight grin, “So let me get this straight: you want me to work for you? And in return I walk free and Jules keeps her job?”

“And we don’t bring Burton Guster in for questioning.”

“I… uh… that wouldn’t work… I need him… y’know, to do my thing…”

“Does this mean you are accepting?”

“Yes.”

She hadn’t expected the offer to get snapped up that fast, but she can see that Spencer knows what he’s doing. He knows this kind of offer isn’t going to come around again and he knows that most people wouldn’t even dream of offering it to a thief who has probably committed hundreds of crimes across the states, across countries, but they can’t tie them together because he’s just that damn good.

She smiles, satisfied, when Spencer leans forwards, “Just… one question. Will I get paid?” Shawn presses, “A consultation… consultant… consulting fee?”

Karen’s smile is a wonderful thing, “Mr Spencer, we’re already keeping you out of jail,” she leans in to whisper; “Don’t push it.”

 

“What are you doing?” Juliet stares at her boyfriend - fiancé - who is strolling around the precinct like he owns the place. The cops keep glaring at him but he ignores them, sauntering over to her desk, “They let you go?” she asks, because that’s the only possible explanation but…

“They let me go,” he grins, “Not enough evidence… well…” he glances at the Chief’s office, “She’s a scary woman,” he says, rubbing at his chin with his fist, “She may have just conned me.” He laughs weakly, “I didn’t think they could do that.”

“Conned you into what?” Juliet is still trying to process that fact her fiancé isn’t going to jail.

“She got me to work for her,” Shawn blinks, still dazed about that himself, “I’m a consultant for your department. A criminal consultant, if you will. I don’t know how that happened,” he frowns, “It’s all a bit of a blur to be honest--“

“Stop! Hands up!”

Shawn and Juliet barely blink at Lassiter brandishing his gun. “Carlton!” Juliet hisses.

“Excuse me; are you pointing that at me?” Shawn asks, “I’m offended. This isn’t how I thought I would meet Juliet’s partner.”

“Hands up! How did you get out of the holding cells? I’ll have you back there so fast I’ll have your head spinning…”

“The Chief let me out,” Shawn proudly announces. Juliet feels a headache coming on.

What.” His tone is flat, monotone and absolutely shocked and disgusted.

“Yeah!” Shawn grins, “So I think it’s time I introduced myself properly, I mean, I know your name of course - Head Detective Carlton Lassiter! I’ve heard so much about you, Jules can literally not stop talking about you. I’m honoured to meet you; I am Shawn Spencer, head consultant for the SBPD.” Only consultant, Juliet thinks, unless he somehow roped Gus into this as well.

Carlton lowers his gun, batting away the hand offered to him, “I know who you are,” he scoffs, seconds before the words register, “Wait - consultant?”

“Yup! Chief Vick hired me. Thought you guys might need some help with crimes. I guess this is going to be the start of a long and fruitful working relationship, huh Lassie?”

No.”

Juliet almost wants to laugh. Carlton looks like his worst nightmare has just come true.

“No,” Lassiter shakes his head again, “No, this can’t be happening… Chief!” he takes off like a bull towards Chief Vick’s office.

Shawn smiles after him, “Nice guy,” he says, idly, turning back to Juliet, “So it looks like I’m not going to prison,” he says, nervously, “Does this mean the wedding is still on?”

Juliet laughs, “Yes,” she says, holding out her hand admiring the ring on her finger, “I think we could manage something, provided you don’t invite any drug dealers.”

“Knowing my luck someone will steal the ring,” Shawn shrugs, “I already had to sneak into my dad’s house to get it…”

“Shawn, you said you didn’t steal it!”

“It was my grandmother’s! I was going to get it anyway, dad had this whole speech planned for when he gave it to me, I just picked it up when I swung by one day. It practically slipped into my pocket and my dad hasn’t even noticed.”

Shawn!”

“I was going to tell him!”

 

“I’ve got us the gig of a lifetime!”

“Shawn! You can’t be here! Someone will see! Someone will arrest you! Wait… how did you get out of jail?”

“Believe it or not, they let me walk out. I even got us a job!”

“I already have a job.”

“So you say. But you still find time to help me solve cases. Which is basically what we’re still doing. But this time you don’t have to stuff me in the trunk of your car every time Buzz stops to ask why you keep visiting crime scenes. I am no longer a wanted fugue state.”

“The word is fugitive, Shawn.”

“I’ve heard it both ways.”

“Fine,” Gus says, resigning himself to the fact that he’s not going to be able to get out of this. Not that he really wants to - he’s been following Shawn into all sorts of stupid things for the past year and most of them have been in the middle of the night. Not to mention he’s been hiding a wanted thief, helped him avoid the police and then helped him sneak into even more places that they shouldn’t be allowed into. Still, they got the job done, solved the case.

Maybe this time they’d actually get some credit for their work. Maybe they’d even get paid.

 

“Wait - what do you mean we’re not even going to get paid?!”