In the Following Order

By Thalia

Beta-ed by Ptath and Leonarbo

Tag to "Thrill Seekers and Hell Raisers"

Disclaimer: I am neither psychic nor am I a detective; therefore I can lay no claim of ownership on Psych. Sad Day.

A/N: Before I get a bunch of reviews and PMs saying that Lassiter is OOC please remember that in the series Shawn does encounter an intoxicated Lassiter who says more than he might normally in other circumstances, we know he does care for Juliet or at the very least her well-being although he tends to show it in his own socially awkward sort of way, and as much as he hates it when Shawn and Gus place themselves in the middle of his cases, he always does his best to ensure they are safe and is always committed to any rescue effort involving one or both of the two even if it is just because it's his duty as an officer.

Lassiter: I would eat the three of you in the following order: O'Hara, Guster, then Spenser.

Shawn wasn't proud to admit it, but with Abigail off in Uganda, he found himself following (he was not stalking despite what Gus had said) the one and only Carlton Lassiter . . . on a Saturday night. In truth, he'd been following Lassiter all day continually sabotaging his every move in the hopes that they would end up here. And here just happened to be the older man's favorite bar.

It wasn't that Shawn necessarily enjoyed making the SBPD head-detective miserable, although seeing the look on Lassie's face after he took a good swig of the coffee Shawn had poured salt in when he wasn't looking had been absolutely priceless. No, the psychic had plenty of other things he really needed to be doing, like rearranging all the office supplies in Gus's desk drawers back at the psych office, and he had plenty of opportunity to torment the older man when they were working cases together, but he knew if he had any chance of getting an answer to his question, then he needed Lassiter to get drunk; and seeing as Lassiter didn't usually go out drinking unless he'd just finished a hard case or had a very bad day, Shawn had masterfully, and covertly, orchestrated a bad day.

The time was fast approaching for Shawn to make his entrance. When Lassie finished this drink, he ought to be in the perfect state for Shawn to begin his interrogation. As the detective drained the dregs from his glass, the psychic entered the establishment, walked up purposefully, took the stool next to Lassiter, and without preamble asked "So, why Jules first?"

"Excuse me?" Carlton started then he turned his head and spotted his bar buddy. "Spencer, what the hell are you doing here?"

"Oh I was just in the neighborhood and as I was walking by I noticed my favorite uptight detective sitting at the bar and I thought I might join you for a drink. So, Jules?"

"Spencer, what in Sam-hill are you on about now?"

"You said that if we're all lost in the wilderness with no other choice but to eat one another in order to avoid starvation you would eat Juliet, your partner, first. Why?"

The detective looked Shawn dead in the eye with more seriousness than the fake psychic had ever seen.

"Because she's the best," he replied simply with no signs of elaborating.

Shawn sat for a moment, stunned, and once he'd processed Lassiter's answer managed a very articulate, "What?"

"She's the best of us Spencer. Out of you, me, Guster and O'Hara, she is the best of us all. She's the kindest, the purest, she has the biggest heart. Juliet O'Hara is truly one of the purest people I have ever had the privilege of knowing."

"Then why eat her first?"

Shawn was very confused. He knew that there were certain things the straight laced detective took very seriously. His work, hell police work in general, would have to be at the top of the list, but the next item would have to be partnership. Jules was Lassie's partner and that meant something to the drunk detective that sat before him, really meant something. So why destroy her in such a gruesome fashion, and why first?

Lassiter sighed, "She's my partner Spencer. She could never live with herself if she killed and ate another human being. She wouldn't do it. She would die first. Starvation is a terrible way to die. And even if I didn't start with her, I'd have to start with Guster. Only she'd never let me. And she certainly wouldn't allow me to start with you. And she would kill me to protect the two of you because that's what she's been trained to do. O'Hara has been trained to serve and protect the citizens of Santa Barbra and there are times when I think she takes that responsibility more seriously than I do. So, if I was really trying to kill the two of you, she would kill me. And that's another thing she could never live with. It would cause her so much pain to have to do that. So, I'd kill her first. I'd try and do it quick, as painless as possible. I'm not sure I could eat her, but I could never watch as she suffers. She's my partner."

"And what makes you think I'd let you kill her?"

"Hell, Spencer, you not letting me kill her is exactly what I'm counting on in that scenario. Because if I were to survive and make it back to civilization, I wouldn't be able to live with myself very long after that anyway."

"You would want me to kill you?"

"Thought you're supposed to be psychic. Shouldn't you know all this already?"

"My Gift does not show me all things Lassie, just those things to which I give serious consideration, and the ones that will lead me to perfectly blended pineapple smoothies."

Suddenly Lassiter seemed to be very angry. "You know, that's your problem Spencer. All the serious things never get any serious consideration with you. Well, I have considered it. Really, seriously considered the very situation that you jokingly proposed in the police station the other day, and if I don't start with O'Hara, then I have to start with Guster, and the reality is you would never let me kill him."

"You underestimate me Lassie," Shawn cut in quickly, suddenly uncomfortable with the direction the conversation had taken. "Or rather, I guess it would be an over estimation of my general goodness because Gus is at the top of my menu if we're ever stranded anywhere," he finished flippantly.

Carlton stared him down. "You really expect me to believe that you would kill the man that you are practically inseparable from. The man that you grew up with, got yourself taken hostage for. You really expect to me to believe that you are capable of killing Gus, your best friend Gus, cooking and stripping the flesh from his bones and then devouring it."

Shawn's stomach turned at the very vivid account of things he would have to do to Gus in order to survive, and suddenly he didn't want to think about it anymore. Didn't want to joke about it, didn't want to talk about it, didn't want to be here anymore. This had been a bad idea. He should have just let what Carlton said go, but he couldn't. And suddenly, he thought that might have been exactly what the occasionally sneaky and underhanded detective had wanted. He had manipulated Shawn into tracking him down and asking these very questions to force him into a reality check.

That's why the team worked so well together. Lassie was his reality check. Sure, Gus was great at keeping him in line over the small things, but Carlton, he was Shawn's true reality check. His wacky machinations were perfectly balanced by Lassiter's down-to-earth, no-nonsense practicalities. When you added Jules's sensitivity and Gus's plethora of academic knowledge, they were the perfect team.

Lassiter watched the shock, disgust, and terror work their way across the psychic's face, and when he didn't respond continued, "Yeah, that's what I thought. You would never let me kill O'Hara, and you would never let me kill Guster. So, my next logical step is to start with you, but I can't do that either, because neither of them would let that happen. That only leaves one option: you would have to kill me. Then you could eat me and get the other two to safety."

"Wait, you trust me to get Juliet and Gus to safety? You actually believe I could do that in that sort of situation?"

"Spencer, I want you to listen very carefully because I don't want to hear you misconstruing this later on to sound like I said that I actually believe you to be competent because I don't. So, are you listening?"

"Misconstrue, nice word Lassie."

The surly, somewhat drunk, but none-the-less surprisingly alert, detective figured this was the best affirmative response he was going to get, so he decided to take the plunge. "Spencer, I have seen you luck, weasel, and squeak your way out of some of the most bizarre, most dangerous situations with hardly a scratch on you, and on the rare occasions you are injured, those injuries hardly approach life threatening. You've been tangled up with bounty hunters, pirate treasure, bombers, bank robbers, serial killers, arsonists, a world renowned thief, drug lords, and your general run of the mill scum. I've seen you survive a kidnapping, a fiery explosion while being in the burning building, and nearly getting killed by very angry, very desperate professional football players in back to back cases. Just recently you've managed to nearly ruin an undercover sting operation, shot and held hostage which ended in you jumping from one speeding vehicle to another, and get involved in some military situation that I can only describe as G.I. Joe meets The Bourne Identity without all the memory loss. So, if there would be anybody out there I would believe is capable of getting my partner and their best friend to safety in a worst case scenario, it would be you."

"And you would just let me do that, have me kill you, so I could save the others? Why?"

"How many times do I have to tell you that O'Hara is my partner Spencer? Besides, she's become a fine detective in the past four years. The chief will pair her up with someone new and she'll carry on. She might even end up training a rookie detective. She'd be good at that. Guster is generally a good person, although his taste is in question what with you being his best friend, but O'Hara is going to need the help in dealing with you. And while I will never believe you are psychic, I can't deny that whatever it is that you do, you're damn good at it, and you're dedicated to catching criminals and seeing justice done. With you three to carry on, I won't have to worry about leaving anything undone because I'll know you all have it covered."

"So, now I need you to promise. Promise me Spencer, that if it ever comes to it, that you'll kill me, eat me, and get the others back to Santa Barbra alive."

At first, Shawn didn't know what to say. He didn't want that kind of responsibility, spent most of his life avoiding that level of responsibility, but he couldn't deny Lassiter's logic. It was the only way.

"Ok, but only if you promise not to come back and haunt me," he finally relented.

Lassie grinned evilly, "Of course I'm going to haunt you Spencer; I've got to get something out of this deal."

Shawn shook his head while ruefully admitting to himself that it was only fair that Lassiter be able to haunt him. "Come on Lassie, let's get you home."

"Oh no you don't. I don't want you anywhere near my apartment. I'll take a cab."

"Don't be ridiculous Lassie. I've been to your apartment before plenty of times," the young man started glibly while leading the detective out of the bar determined to see him safely home after causing him so many problems that day. "Sure you're only aware of a few, but that doesn't change the facts. And you've really got to tell me sometime where you get your pineapple; it's always so fresh and delicious." The young psychic continued to ramble while he escorted Lassiter home, and Lassiter let him because even he was able to realize when he was beat.