(i.e. three hours or thereabouts)
Shawn fell asleep on his couch still dressed, the disposable phone that Cyril had left for him dangling from one hand. A kind of thump, thump, thump, woke him, and he bolted upright, rubbing at his eyes. He could hear the sound of voices, and squinted ahead to see the television was on.
"Well, our very own psychic private eye has done it again," Mary Merryweather was saying, with entirely unfounded pride considering her own stance on the matter only the day before. "He made his statement proclaiming Cyril Riner's innocence early this morning, before the police would even admit to having doubts. Spencer's prediction had been met with much censure and ridicule."
"Well, it looks like Spencer's the one laughing now, Mary," Mark Bender said cheerfully. "Cyril Riner was cleared of all charges just moments ago, and Ava Dah-Ling is being held pending her trial, for the murders of Avery Daily and Mark Lyle."
The pounding noise hadn't stopped, and Shawn reached out to shut off the TV. It took a second to realize someone was knocking on his door.
"Spencer! Open this door."
Shawn pushed himself to his feet, tossing the phone across the room before opening the door. Lassiter stood there still wearing his torn shirt, his arm all wrapped up in the gauze. He looked exhausted, but resolved. It didn't bode well for Shawn.
Lassiter pushed past him. "Please, come in," Shawn said.
"We need to talk," Lassiter snapped.
"Okay, let's talk," Shawn said, pushing his door shut. "I just saw the news. Cyril's been cleared?"
"Only officially," Lassiter said, and his caustic tone gave away just how he felt about that. "Vick doesn't want to risk publicly accusing him of another crime he may or may not have committed. She also wanted me to tell you, there's a case waiting, if you want it."
"Vick wants my help on a case?" Shawn asked. "I thought I was on restriction or something."
"Yes, well." Lassiter cleared his throat. "After all the press we're getting right now, we didn't really have a choice, did we?"
"You're so gracious when you're wrong, too, that's what I like about you," Shawn said.
"I wasn't wrong," Lassiter snapped. "Riner fooled even you in the end, didn't he?"
"He didn't hurt anyone," Shawn said. "That's all I've been saying all along."
"Not that you can see," Lassiter said. "But there are laws for a reason, Spencer, and when you break them, even when you bend them, there are repercussions, there's ripples for years."
"And sometimes the same thing can be said about following the law to the letter," Shawn said. "Every action we make has consequences, Lassie, that's life. But following all the rules doesn't automatically make you right, it doesn't exempt you from anything at all."
"Why am I not surprised you're taking that stance?" Lassiter snapped.
"Is this what you came here for?" Shawn asked. "To have this same argument again?"
"No," Lassiter said, and he sounded frustrated. "We've never really had a chance to finish our conversation."
"Which one?" Shawn asked.
"The one where you asked me to trust you," Lassiter said. "At least, that's where it started."
"Oh, right," Shawn said. "You mean when I asked you to trust me, and then you didn't?"
"Can you blame me?" Lassiter demanded. "You're lying to me, Spencer, so how can I trust you? You're always so convinced you're right, but I can't take your word for it when you're basing it on a lie. I can't. I can't afford to. So if you want me to trust you, then you're going to have to trust me first."
"I do trust you!" Shawn protested. "I've trusted you all along. I'm not the one with issues."
"Really?" Lassiter demanded. "Then why do you hide behind this act? If you trust me, then why don't you tell me the truth? I mean, good god, Spencer, your father must have really screwed you up."
"This has nothing to do with him," Shawn said. "Leave him out of it."
"You're right, I'm sorry," Lassiter said.
"You know what I can't figure out about you, Lassiter?" Shawn asked. Lassiter went still at the full use of his name, Shawn might as well have called him Carlton for the effect it had. "All I've ever done is try to help you. Ever since I met you. I think you're an amazing cop, I really do, I'm not trying—"
"Stop it," Lassiter snapped. "I can't believe a thing you say."
"But I'm the one with trust issues?" Shawn demanded.
"Look me in the eye, Spencer," Lassiter said quietly. "Look me in the eye and tell me you're really psychic, that the 'spirits' really talk to you, that that's how you know the things you know."
"Why are you doing this to me?" Shawn asked. "What have I ever done to you? What did I do that makes you hate me this much?"
"I don't hate you—" Lassiter started. "Spencer, I don't."
"No, you just can't stand being around me," Shawn said. "Because I'm a better detective than you are."
Lassiter froze in place, but he couldn't deny that it was true. "Yes," he said.
"Well, get over it," Shawn yelled.
"Yeah, I'll get right on that," Lassiter snapped.
"You should!" Shawn said. "I'm not your competition. We're supposed to be on the same side!"
"I know that," Lassiter said, raising his voice to match Shawn's. "But you don't even have to try, you don't have to work for anything. It isn't fair."
Shawn laughed, and stepped further away from him. "No, it isn't fair," he said, "but don't be so sure I got the better deal—you don't want to see what I see."
"You're not psychic!" Lassiter yelled, grabbing Shawn and pushing him against the wall. "You don't see anything!" f
"What is it that you want from me?" Shawn asked him, sounding vulnerable for maybe the first time since Lassiter's known him. Even when he first walked into that interrogation room and into Lassiter's life he'd never really faltered, just sat there making jokes and spinning stories out of thin air. "What do you want me to say?"
"I want you to tell me the truth, Spencer," Lassiter said.
"You say that like there can only be one truthful answer," Shawn told him. "And it's not that simple at all."
"You're not making any sense," Lassiter snapped.
"I told you the truth the day I met you," Shawn said, and slipped out of Lassiter's grip. He pushed off the wall and backed away. "You didn't believe it. So I changed it up a little and you still didn't believe it, but everyone else did."
Lassiter gave a disbelieving laugh. "So what, you really can just read guilt off TV interviews?"
"Since before I was six," Shawn said.
Lassiter paused, looking into Shawn's eyes. Lassiter had been trained to read guilt too, and it occurred to him for the first time that he was never reading Shawn quite right. Lassiter had been convinced that he had some inside source for years, but it had just been him, all along, maybe sneaking a few real live clues once and awhile, but drawing the conclusions all on his own.
Shawn paced to the other side of the room. "You spoke to your ex-wife today. When I had your phone earlier I noticed you had six missed calls, and she's the only person besides me you'll let go to voicemail without answering, but you never let her get to seven, you would have picked up that last time. You went to the diner on fourth street for lunch. You left the receipt on your dashboard and I saw it when I stopped by the station. You had a roast beef sandwich and two diet cokes."
Lassiter just stared at him. "Shawn--"
"I'll never admit it," Shawn said. "And anyway, there's no way to be certain what's true. Maybe I do have a gift. You don't know. I can tell you everywhere you've been today just by looking at you. Who else do you know that can do that?"
"No one," Lassiter said.
"In a way this is all your fault," Shawn told him. "If you'd just believed me that first day, I would have left with the reward money and you never would have seen me again."
Lassiter nodded, looking away. "Then maybe it's for the best that I didn't," he said.
Shawn sucked in a shaky breath, and exhaled with a faint laugh. "Don't say that if you're not sure it's true," he said.
"I never really thought you were psychic, Spencer," Lassiter said. "I just couldn't figure out how you were doing it. That's the part that's been driving me nuts."
"I'm not lying, exactly," Shawn said. "I see things, more than most. That's the truth. I know you never bought my reasoning, but if I hadn't presented it like I have been you wouldn't have listened at all."
Lassiter grabbed Shawn by the front of this shirt, but this time he pulled him close instead of pushing him away. "I'm listening now," he said quietly. "So how did you do it? How did you know what really happened?"
"You thought Cyril was lying to you," Shawn said. "That's why you thought he was guilty."
"I know, I was wrong," Lassiter said.
"You weren't wrong," Shawn said. "He was lying to you. Just not about what you thought he was. That's your only problem, Lassie, and you do the same thing with me. If someone lies about one thing you don't believe anything else they say."
"Why should I?" Lassiter said.
"Because it's not as black and white as you think it is," Shawn said. "All good liars know the best place to start is the truth. Cyril was trying to tell you the truth, he was just using lies to do it."
"And that makes sense to you?" Lassiter demanded.
"Yes, because I do the same thing," Shawn said.
"Then stop," Lassiter whispered. "Just this once, stop it and tell me the truth. How did you know?"
"Cyril had the safety on his gun and no bullets," Shawn said. "See? I've already told you the truth, you're just not seeing it quite the same way I do. If Cyril was able to get his hands on a gun he could have gotten bullets, and if he was just a killer he would have used them. It's the same way I knew that bank robber wasn't a bank robber."
"And Ava Dah-Ling?" Lassiter asked. "It was the bracelet, right?"
"That, and the fact that she lied about what she really saw," Shawn said. "Plus I just really wanted it to be her."
Lassiter looked strange and serious, kind of coiled and breathless, and Shawn half expected Lassiter was planning to hit him when he leaned down and kissed him instead. Shawn felt some of the fear that had started building the moment Lassiter had walked through his door dissipate as he wrapped his arms around his neck to kiss him back.
"If I'd known that was the response I would get for telling you the truth, I would have tried it ages ago," Shawn said breathlessly.
Lassiter pulled back. "You're amazing, I don't even know what to make of you," he said, "but to hear you say it, it seems so simple, I don't know why I never saw it myself."
"Because you probably had a happy childhood," Shawn said. "Discounting your one weird snow globe phobia."
Lassiter gave a slight laugh and pulled Shawn closer, slipping his hands under his shirt as he leaned into his ear. "When we first met, how did you know I was sleeping with my partner?"
Shawn leaned his head back as Lassiter kissed his way up his neck, closing his eyes. "You touched her hair when you walked by," he said.
"And that first case?" Lassiter asked. "How did you know what happened with the McCallums?"
"It just made sense," he said, as Lassiter maneuvered them to the couch. "I knew what it was to be the bad kid, but he was too smart to have it end like that. He'd planned it too well, they didn't even have the money yet, and anyway they were friends. Plus, Gus and I found the duffle bag that held the ransom money that was never found, and Gus found the dog-bite cream in the bathroom when he was throwing up."
"The dinosaur?" Lassiter demanded, pushing Shawn back onto the couch. "How the hell did you know it was a dinosaur?"
"You mean you don't know what a dinosaur bite looks like?" Shawn asked.
"Spencer!" Lassiter said, dropping down to straddle him.
"Almost got eaten by a dinosaur once, when I was working at a museum. Had the bruises for a year. They were the same shape and space apart as the ones your victim had on him," Shawn let out a gasp as Lassiter's hand slipped lower. "I was as surprised as you were that I was right."
Lassiter pulled back for a moment. "You would have made an extraordinary cop."
Shawn laughed. "When did you decide you wanted to be a cop?" he asked.
"What?" Lassiter asked.
"When?" Shawn said.
"When I was kid," Lassiter said after a moment. "I don't know, ten, eleven."
"By that age?" Shawn said. "I already was. My dad might as well have dressed me up in a uniform before sending me off to school. I could recite the California police codes by heart. I could have read someone their rights."
"I served my time," Shawn said. "I retired when I turned eighteen."
"It's not just to disappoint my dad, I didn't give up his dreams to ruin his life," Shawn told him. "I did it to save mine. I couldn't do what you do. I couldn't. This is the only way I know how to live."
Lassiter rested his forehead against Shawn's. "Shawn—"
"Are you going to tell on me?" he asked.
"What? That you're not psychic?" Lassiter said. "That's what I've been saying since I met you."
"Yes," Shawn said, "but I've just given you my confession."
"Nothing has changed," Lassiter whispered, and kissed him again. "I've known it all along."
. . .
Henry was wandering back from the bathroom when he saw the light was still on in Shawn's room. He frowned and opened the door. Shawn was balanced on a footstool, wide-eyed and intent, putting a little Lego flag on the top of a Lego castle spire.
"Shawn, what are you doing?"
Shawn tumbled from the stool in surprise, before blinking up at his father in confusion. "I'm building a Lego palace," he explained, after a moment.
"It's three in the morning," Henry snapped.
"I know! Do you even realize how much you can do if you don't go to sleep?" Shawn asked. "It's like having a whole extra day. I don't know why no one's thought of this before."
Henry's eyes were narrowed. "Are you on drugs?"
"Dad, I'm nine," Shawn said, in a kind of 'duh' way. "My drug of choice is a Pixy Stix."
"Just checking," Henry said, fighting back a grin. He grabbed Shawn up in one arm and carried him back to his bed, before standing him on top of it and meeting his eyes. "You need to sleep."
"I don't have time to sleep!" Shawn protested. "I have to build the Lego palace!"
"It'll still be there in the morning," Henry said.
"It'll still be half-finished in the morning," Shawn said. "If I finish it now it'll be done. You're the one that always tells me not to procrastinate."
"With homework, Shawn," Henry said.
"That's a double-standard!" Shawn protested.
"How long have you been doing this?" Henry asked, narrowing his eyes as he looked his son over. It unnerved him that this had been going on and he hadn't even noticed. "When was the last time you slept?"
"I don't know, Sunday, maybe? And for like an hour in class yesterday," Shawn said. "But I'm wide-awake."
Henry sighed, pulling back the covers of Shawn's A-Team sheets. "Get in," he said.
Shawn reluctantly slid into the bed. "Okay, but I'm telling you, sleep is superfluous," he said.
"Gus teach you that word?" Henry asked.
"No, I was reading the dictionary last night when I couldn't sleep," Shawn explained.
Henry considered for a moment letting Shawn play this little experiment out, but he was exhausted, and he knew that Shawn had to be too. Bribery couldn't hurt, just this once.
"If you go to sleep, I'll give you a Pixy Stix," Henry told him.
"You've got yourself a deal," Shawn said, and reached out to shake his hand.
Note: So…this thing is done! This is by far the longest story I've ever written. Thanks to everyone that stuck around until the end!