Detective Lassiter stared down at the object on his desk, too furious to even speak. His body was trembling in silent rage as he sputtered incoherently under his breath, on the verge of an epic explosion that would surely rival the atomic bomb.
Finally, he spotted Buzz on the other side of the precinct. The patrolman was tiptoeing around cautiously, his eyes darting around the station nervously as he obviously did everything possible to avoid the fuming detective's wrath.
But it was too late for that now…
Lassiter had him in his sights.
"McNab!" Lassiter shouted, finally finding his voice. "Get over here!"
Buzz froze, turning pale as his eyes grew wide. "Me, Sir?" he stammered.
"Yes, Sir!" Buzz jumped into action, quickly making his way to Lassiter's desk.
"What the hell is this?" Lassiter demanded, picking up the object he had been staring at so hatefully.
It was a single sheet of white paper. Magazine letters had been cut-out and pasted across it, forming a single, cryptic message.
WE HAVE YOUR MUG.
At the bottom of the page, someone had taped a Polaroid of Lassiter's World's Greatest Cop mug. In the picture, it was sitting on a desk in a dimly-lit room next to a copy of that day's Santa Barbara Times. Across the front page of the newspaper, someone had scrawled the words "HELP ME!" in red ink.
Buzz cleared his throat as he looked at the page Lassiter was thrusting under his nose, trying to appear completely innocent.
"Uh…" he stammered. "It looks like your mug, Sir."
Lassiter's eyes narrowed angrily as he threw the paper down on his desk again. "I know it's my mug, McNab!" he growled. "What the hell happened to it? Who took my damn mug?"
"Uh…" Buzz hesitated. "I…don't…know?"
Lassiter scowled, bringing his fist down on the desk. "McNab!" he bellowed. "Who the hell is holding my coffee mug hostage?"
Suddenly, his cell phone rang.
"What?" he barked into it, so furious he forgot to even say his name.
"I have your mug," a familiar voice intoned darkly with just a trace of an exaggerated British accent.
Lassiter's eyes narrowed, his fingers tightening around the phone as he immediately recognized the voice. "Spencer!" he snarled. "I should have known!"
"Spencer?" the voice repeated, the British accent only getting more ridiculously over-the-top. "I know no Spencer."
"Yeah, okay," Lassiter rolled his eyes. "Knock it off, Spencer. I know it's you. Just give me my damn coffee mug back!"
"If you want your mug back…" the voice continued, unwavering in the accent. "You'd better listen to all my demands."
Lassiter's jaw clenched as his eyes quickly scanned the precinct for the psychic. "Demands?" he snorted, moving away from his desk as Buzz quickly ran off. "You don't get any demands, Spencer! If you don't give me my mug back, I'll arrest you for petty larceny! Not to mention extortion!"
He quickly moved through the precinct, peering into every door and looking under every desk, knowing Shawn had to be around somewhere.
"Yeah, right," the voice laughed, for the briefest of moments dropping the British accent. "Because those charges would stick…besides," he added darkly. "If you don't meet my demands, they'll never find any evidence that you were ever named World's Greatest Cop."
There was a brief pause on the line as the voice seemed to consider something carefully.
"Incidentally, who gave you that title, anyway?" it asked after a moment. "How official is it? I don't remember voting for you…do you have to be a member of the Union to vote on that?"
"Spencer!" Lassiter shouted, finally giving up looking for him. He sighed and stopped in the middle of the precinct. "It's my favorite mug! Just give it back!"
"I will…" Shawn assured him. "When you release all the bouncy ball prisoners currently incarcerated in Lassie State Penitentiary."
"You're not getting your damn ball back!" Lassiter bellowed, quickly lowering his voice when several officers standing nearby stopped working and glanced over at him curiously. "I told you if you knocked my coffee over again, I was taking it!" he hissed.
"It wasn't my fault!" the voice on the other end of the phone protested, now not even bothering with the pretext of an accent now. "It was totally Gus' fault that time!"
"I don't care who threw the damn ball, Spencer! You're not getting it back!"
"Really? You don't want to be World's Greatest Cop anymore…?"
As Shawn's voice trailed off, Lassiter heard something in the background on the other end of the phone.
Something that sounded like water…
He grinned, suddenly knowing where the psychic was hiding.
He quickly started for the bathroom, still talking to the illusive kidnapper. "I'm not negotiating for the safe release of my coffee mug!"
He kicked the bathroom door open, grinning victoriously as he burst in. "A-ha!"
But the bathroom was empty.
On the other end of the phone, Shawn was laughing now.
"Dude…what if I was really in there?" he asked.
"Spencer!" Lassiter shouted, letting the bathroom door slam behind him as he reached the end of his rope.
"Wait…" Shawn murmured quietly in the familiarly obnoxious way he always murmured when he got a psychic vision. "I'm seeing something…"
"Is it me kicking your ass?" Lassiter growled.
"No," Shawn laughed. "I can't see alternate universes, Lassie. My psychic senses aren't that acute…but I am seeing…a mug…in a Good Will store…a little girl is buying it…for a quarter…no! A dime…She's taking it home and using it to wash her paint brushes….she's not a very good artist, either…"
"Okay, okay." Lassiter sighed, rolling his eyes as his finger dug into the hard, plastic casing on his phone. "You can have your damn bouncy ball back."
"And I want full immunity for all future bouncy ball related crimes," Shawn added quickly. "That's non-negotiable."
"I'm not granting you immunity!" Lassiter shouted. "If I ever see your damn bouncy ball in my precinct again, I won't stick it in my desk!"
"Then…where will you stick it?" Shawn asked.
"I'll give you three guesses."
There was a pause on the other end.
"Okay," Shawn agreed. "No immunity. An even trade. One mug, one bouncy ball."
"Fine," Lassiter snarled. "Just tell me where the hell my damn mug is!"
"Check your desk." Shawn told him.
Lassiter pushed the bathroom door open, sprinting across the precinct until he reached his desk.
Sitting in the center, right where it should have been, was his mug.
His center desk drawer was hanging open, and the bouncy ball was gone.
"Pleasure doing business with you," the voice on the other end of the phone spoke, then hung up.