Title: Shawn Can't Believe It's Not …Murder - (3/3)
Summary: Shawn and Gus try to convince Chief Vick that Lassiter is covering up a murder for his friend
Shawn Can't Believe It's Not …Murder
Methos hurried away from the unexpected encounter with Shawn Spencer and his nervous sidekick. He'd promised Carl that he'd leave town immediately, but he couldn't abandon the other Immortal to Shawn's inquiries, no matter how much he wanted to.
Lassiter had cleaned up his mess and, as much as it pained him to admit it, that meant Methos at least owed the other Immortal a heads up about his unnerving encounter. He didn't understand how, but Spencer had known about the sword in his coat and his meeting with Carl. It was clear that Spencer knew Lassiter, and would be confronting his old friend with theories that were better left to mythology.
Once Methos reached the safety of his rental car, he pulled out his mobile and dialed Carl's number.
Lassiter slumped at his desk as the adrenalin rush of the past two days wound down. Covering for Methos had been a tightrope of misdirection, and he'd pulled it off quite successfully, if he said so himself.
He shuffled papers aimlessly around his desk hoping that nothing urgent required his attention. The satisfaction he usually felt when closing a case was conspicuously absent, and for once, he wished the day would be over so he could just go home. Two days of lies and deception had left a decidedly unsettled feeling in his gut. The situation with Methos had shattered the illusion of normalcy he'd built over the past years and had him wondering how he'd ever thought he could hide from the Game and its consequences.
His cell phone vibrated across the desk, drawing him out of his musing. He let loose an annoyed growl as he looked at the caller ID. Flipping it open, he dispensed with the obligatory greeting and went straight on the attack, "I hope like hell you are calling from the airport to tell me that you're boarding a plane out of the country right now."
"Shut up and listen, Carl. I don't have time for one of your tantrums."
Lassiter did not take kindly to being ordered around, and certainly not by a man who should still be groveling at his feet for the miracle he'd pulled off.
"Adam -" there was a note of warning in his tone as he sneered the other Immortal's current alias around his tongue.
"Who is Shawn Spencer to you?" Methos asked, cutting him off. "And how does he know so much about us?"
Lassiter was struck momentarily dumb. Spencer? What the hell was Methos talking about?
Before he could ask, Methos was talking again. "He confronted me at the beach. He suspects that you're covering up a murder for me."
"He told you that?" Lassiter sat up straighter rubbing one hand across his temple. If Spencer thought there was a cover up…
"Most of what he said was couched as nonsense, but he left no doubt about his suspicions. Is he a cop?"
"A consultant," Lassiter spit out. He hated calling the idiot anything that gave his position with the police department any kind of legitimacy. "Think of the most annoying person you know and double it. That's Spencer."
"That may be true, but he's a damn clever annoyance, and now he's a problem."
Lassiter ran through the events of the last two days. He'd gotten rid of the evidence, and the body had been lost in transit; none of it could be traced back to him. That meant that there wasn't much that Spencer had to go on, but then the idiot was like a four-year-old throwing a tantrum when it came to getting his way. If Spencer wanted to reopen the case, chances were that Chief Vick would let him.
"Carl, are you hearing me?" Methos snapped.
"I've got it under control," Lassiter growled into the phone, not really sure if he believed that. Spencer had a way of making him doubt his skills, and it would take all of them to put the resident psychic off the scent. "You just make yourself scarce and let me handle this."
"Come with me."
"Come with me," Methos repeated. "We can travel the world again. We had some good times.
Lassiter snorted. "With you? I don't think so." Sure, he and Methos were friends; joined together by their shared situation, but Carlton had always been a loner and a bit of a homebody. He wasn't much interested in becoming a wanderer and he definitely wasn't in the mood to start all over again. If he left with the cloud of this investigation hanging over him, he'd have to lay low for decades Most likely in some God awful backwater country without running water, he thought. Been there, done that, not doing it again. Out loud he confirmed his decision, "I'm staying. I can fix this."
"What's so great about being a small town police officer that you can't just move on?"
"I refuse to let Spencer win." And really, that was what this was all about. If he hadn't left after his divorce, he sure as hell wasn't going now. There was no way Spencer was going to drive him out of his nice comfortable life.
Methos huffed out a reluctant acknowledgment of Lassiter's conviction. "Suit yourself. I'll find a hotel in town until I know this is settled."
"You don't have to do that."
"True, but technically I owe you," Methos said. "I'll have your back as long as you need me."
"Thanks." Lassiter was actually touched by Methos' offer. "Now all I have to do is convince Spencer he was wrong."
The laughter on the other end confirmed what Lassiter already knew. That wasn't going to be easy.
Lassiter hung up the phone and began to formulate a plan. He thought he'd done everything he could to make sure the situation with Methos was a dead issue, but Shawn's confrontation with the Immortal had thrown all of that into doubt. The internal debate about his course of action was quickly ended when he caught sight of Shawn and Gus heading into Chief Vick's office.
"Damn it, Spencer," he muttered to himself. "Couldn't you just give this one a pass?" Shaking his head, he had to stop Spencer before he convinced the Chief to reopen the case.
As he passed O'Hara's desk, he gestured for her to follow him. Knocking on the open door frame, he didn't wait to be invited in. "What are you doing here, Spencer?"
"Lassie!" Spencer was holding a cardboard tray of smoothies which he thrust in Carlton's direction. "Pineapple smoothie?" Lassiter just glared at him. "No?" He turned to O'Hara. "Smoothie, Jules?"
Juliet shrugged and took one from the tray. "Thanks, Shawn." When Lassiter glared at her, she responded, "What? I'm thirsty."
"As are we all, Jules," Shawn said smugly. "Thirsty for the truth."
"Mr. Spencer, while we appreciate the refreshments," Chief Vick said, waving off the smoothie Shawn tried to offer her. "You mentioned that you had some insight into the death of that decapitated homeless man, John Doe #25."
"Yes, I do." Shawn set the smoothies down on the edge of Vick's desk and placed a hand to his temple.
Lassiter knew this was the preamble to one of Spencer's crazy pronouncements.
"Chief," he interjected before Shawn could begin his show, "are we really going to listen to this? The case is closed."
"Only because most of the evidence was lost or compromised," Vick said. "I'm willing to hear Spencer out."
"But it was clearly an accident," Lassiter continued. "The victim unintentionally decapitated himself while handling a dangerous weapon. It's not like it was murder."
"Au canary, Lassie."
"It's au contraire, Shawn," Gus corrected.
Shawn leaned closer to Gus. "Yeah, that's what I said."
"You said canary, which is a little yellow bird. Au contraire is the - "
"Spencer!" Vick snapped. "Do you have something to add or not?"
"I'm seeing something." Shawn spun around in a circle and grabbed the straw out of one of the smoothies. He began jabbing it wildly in the air before finally connecting with Gus.
"Shawn, you just got smoothie on my shirt!" Shawn tilted his head slightly toward the other drinks and Gus nodded before taking up his own straw.
"En garde," Shawn said as he tapped his straw against Gus'. Gus tapped back, and the two were soon engaged in a ridiculous straw battle.
"I see two men dueling," Shawn said as he thrust his straw at Gus who deftly batted it away. "Nice!"
"Thanks!" Gus said, before attacking with his own straw, sending Shawn backing into Lassiter.
Lassiter pushed him off. "Are you done?" He couldn't believe the Chief fell for these ridiculous pantomimes. "Really Chief? I don't see why - " She waved him into silence as she continued to focus on the show Shawn and Gus were putting on.
Frustrated, Lassiter crossed his arms on his chest, holding himself back from throttling Shawn. He knew where this little dance was going, and he had no patience for Shawn's theatrical interpretation.
"Die!" Shawn said dramatically as he swiped the straw across Gus' neck. Gus reacted by dropping his straw and sinking to the ground, hands clutched to his throat.
His death throes lasted until the chief spoke, "And the meaning of this little drama is - ?"
Shawn ignored her as he helped Gus to his feet. "Great death scene."
"Not too over the top?"
Shawn shook his head. Perfect, he mouthed, and with a flourish, placed the straw back into the smoothie before turning to address the chief's question.
"It's simple, Chief. The man in the alley was murdered by another man with a sword."
Shawn stared at Lassiter as he answered, "Positive. The spirits never lie. They get very whiney sometimes, like when I've had too much cheese or if The Mentalist is a rerun, but they never lie."
"There was no evidence of anyone else in the alley, Spencer. I think your spirits," Lassiter air quoted the last for emphasis, "are as loony are your theory."
"Detective Lassiter is right, Shawn," Juliet said. "The freak lightning strikes in the area compromised the crime scene and no one saw anyone else in the alley besides the victim."
"What about the sword found with the body?" Shawn asked. "I bet that didn't have the victim's blood on it because it wasn't the murder weapon."
"First, there is no murder weapon because there was no murder, and second, it went missing before it could be analyzed. The crime lab representative did note that there was blood on the blade," Lassiter said, "which is why the coroner put the cause of death at accidental: misadventure with a dangerous weapon. Now can we stop this nonsense? We have real cases to work on."
Shawn glared at Lassiter. "Really? And no one is bothered that a bunch of evidence went missing?
"Evidence gets lost, crime scenes get compromised. We don't like to admit it, but it happens."
"Kind of convenient, don't you think?"
"Spencer, unless you have a witness or the identity of the murderer, we have no choice but to drop the case." Eventually Spencer was going to point a finger at Methos, and Lassiter wanted him to get on with it so he could put it all to rest for good.
"I do!" Shawn began to shake and picked up the straw that Gus had dropped earlier. "I know who the murderer is!"
"Not again!" Lassiter moaned.
Shawn spun around and leveled the straw at Lassiter's chest. "Who is he to you, Lassie?"
Lassiter schooled his features. "Who's who?"
"The man at the beach."
Lassiter forced him self to laugh. "You'll have to be more specific. I talk to a lot of people everyday."
Shawn stepped back, his hand going to his head again. "A conversation on a bench on the beach. A man named – " he stopped and stared at Lassiter. "Pierson. Adam Pierson."
Lassiter frowned, but quickly recovered, putting on a neutral expression. Methos hadn't mentioned that he'd told Shawn who he was. Idiot. Who introduces themselves to strangers? He was going to have to do some fancy obfuscation to get them off the scent.
"Detective?" Chief Vick's voice snapped his attention to her. "Do you know who Shawn is talking about?"
Obviously he hadn't covered his distress as quickly as he'd thought. Clearing his throat he began, "He's an old friend, Chief." Then he turned to Shawn. "Are you suggesting that my good friend was somehow involved in all this? Is this some kind of joke, Spencer?"
"I'm not laughing." Shawn turned to Gus. "Are you laughing?"
"Nope. Nothing funny here."
"Care to explain, Detective?" The chief asked.
Lassiter sighed. "Adam is an old friend. He's been in town for a few days for a visit. But he has nothing to do with the death of some random homeless guy. He did call to tell me that he was being followed by Spencer."
"Is that true? Were you following Mr. Pierson?"
"No. Actually, we were following Lassie."
"And why were you following him?"
"Because, well, at first we couldn't believe Lassie actually had a friend."
"Hey! Not that it's any of your business, Spencer, but I have plenty of friends. I just don't choose to mix work with my personal life." Of course most of his friends were centuries old, couldn't die, and rarely visited. Lassiter mentally smacked himself for being drawn into one of Spencer's little games. He needed to focus if he was going to successfully extricate himself from this situation without having to abandon his life here.
"You were saying, Mr. Spencer," The Chief interjected.
Shawn hesitated slightly before blurting out, "We think Lassiter helped his friend cover up the murder of John Doe #25."
O'Hara and Vick began laughing. "You're kidding right?" Vick asked.
"Him?" Juliet pointed, still chuckling, at Carlton.
"I mean it. Pierson and Lassie were acting all stealthy and mysterious and - " Shawn looked hurt as the women continued to laugh at him.
Lassiter was relieved that that his straight arrow reputation would prevent Chief Vick from believing anything Spencer might say to implicate him in a cover-up. Of course their trust in him only made the lies harder to tell, but there was too much at stake for him ever to share the truth.
"The sword, Shawn." Gus nudged his friend. "Tell them about Pierson's sword."
Vick sobered immediately. "You saw this Adam Pierson with a sword?"
"Not exactly?" An arched eyebrow from Vick suggested that Spencer needed to get to the point, and quickly.
"Well, I didn't see the sword, but I sensed it in his coat."
"He did," Gus added. "Because who wears a long trench coat in July when there's no rain forecast?"
"Too true, Gus," Shawn said. "And I got a distinct impression of a long, pointy, metally -"
"Keys?" Juliet suggested.
"Keys, Jules? Can you decapitate someone with your keys?"
Lassiter laughed. "Let me get this straight, Spencer. You think my friend Adam was running around Santa Barbara with a long sword underneath his rain coat committing murders which I, in my capacity as head detective, am helping him cover-up."
"Well - ," Shawn hesitated and looked at Gus who nodded his agreement. "Yes, that's exactly what the signs are telling me."
"I don't know if I should be insulted or impressed by my own ingenuity." Lassiter leaned back against the bookcase enjoying Spencer's discomfort. Luckily, the Immortal lifestyle was pretty fantastical and did not make for a credible story; not even Shawn could make it believable.
Chief Vick stood up. "Mr. Spencer, you have spun some wild tales in the past, and I give you a lot of leeway because somehow you do end up being right much of the time – "
"All of the time!" Shawn interrupted, only to be met with one of Vick's Shut up I'm talking glares. "Most of the time," he offered timidly. She continued to glare. "Right, shutting up now."
"But you are accusing my head detective of some pretty serious crimes. So unless you have a witness that places Mr. Pierson at the scene, something concrete to tie him to the murder, and evidence that Detective Lassiter knew about all of it, we're done here."
"Can't we at least bring him in for questioning?"
"I can save you the trouble, Chief," Lassiter interjected. "Adam couldn't have committed the murder. For one thing, he doesn't own a sword. I think I might have noticed one lying around my apartment while he's staying with me. Plus, when I left that morning, he was still sleeping."
"But, Chief," Shawn insisted. "I know he did it. I'm feeling it." Shawn pointed to his head and waggled his fingers. "Adam Pierson is a violent guy!"
Lassiter scoffed. "Adam? He's a teacher and a scholar. The guy wouldn't know which end of a sword to hold, let alone be capable of killing anyone."
Vick nodded. "Without more evidence, Detective Lassiter's alibi for his friend is good enough for me." She held up a hand to stop Shawn's protests. "I suggest you focus your psychic energies elsewhere." She picked up a file that had been lying on her desk. "Why don't you see what you can glean about this series of home invasions on the East Side?"
"I'll try, but - "
"No 'buts'. Do you want the case or not?" She waved the file at Spencer.
Gus reached for the file. "We'll take it."
"We already have a case," Shawn protested.
"Not anymore," Gus hissed back, and, grabbing Shawn by the arm, dragged him out of the office.
"I'll make sure he looks at the file," Juliet said as she followed them out.
"I'll be going too," Lassiter said. "I've got other cases demanding my attention."
She stared at him as if searching for some hidden information. "I still want to know what happened to that evidence. There will be an internal investigation."
"Of course," he took on his most haughty tone. "We can't have that kind of spotty police work messing up our cases."
"I agree, and Detective, don't be angry with Spencer. You know how he can be."
"I can't wait to tell Adam that he was a murder suspect for all of five minutes. He'll get a kick out of that."
Vick nodded and waved him out of her office.
Lassiter was relieved to see that Spencer and Gus had disappeared. It had been close there for a while, but for once he'd been able to beat Spencer at his own game. As soon as he was sure those two knuckleheads weren't lurking around, he'd call Methos and tell him to get the hell out of Dodge.
Shawn and Gus sat silently in the Yaris.
Finally, Gus couldn't stand it any more. "You still think Lassiter covered up a murder?"
"So what do we do?"
"We get donuts."
"Yes, Gus. I need donuts; preferably ones with sprinkles."
Gus nodded and put the car into reverse. He knew that Shawn never let go of anything. Eventually they'd return to the mystery of Lassiter and his friend, just not today, today was for donuts.