Title: Spencer For Hire
Rating:M for M/M masturbation, references to prostitution and IV drug use.
Warning: Shassie slash. Hurt/comfort.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: Shawn goes undercover as a male escort.
Note: Thank-you to Mr. Pugh, who betas all my stuff. Acknowledgements also to Matt Adams, whose book, Hustlers, Escorts, and Porn Stars: The Insider's Guide To Male Prostitution in America, was extremely useful, and to Todd Klinck, whose Trade articles written for Fab Magazine provided an invaluable insight into escort life.
The night was uncomfortably warm, and Lassiter had all the windows on the Crown Vic lowered, hoping to catch a cross breeze. The air conditioning was acting up, just when he needed it most. His dress shirt was sticking to his back and front and he thought wistfully of a cool shower. He sipped his iced coffee. Stakeouts were always tedious, and holding them in an overheated car was an added torment.
"Do you want to look at these suspect photos again?" O'Hara asked. She sounded tired. The heat was probably knocking her out.
"No thanks. I've got it." Lassiter had spent hours studying the mugshots of violent sex offenders. If one of them showed his face tonight, he would spot him.
"There's another car," O'Hara said, jotting down the licence plate number. They watched as the driver got out and walked into the nondescript building. A few minutes later he came out again with a man in his early twenties and they drove away. It was a ritual they'd seen repeated for the last hour—different cars, different men, same behaviour.
He thought about the open robbery homicide case he had on his desk. Wealthy doctor Nelson Shapiro had come home on Wednesday night from a charity event to find his home burgled and his wife murdered. That was an important case. He'd gotten a phone call from the mayor that had told him in no uncertain terms not to screw it up. It looked bad—the kind of crime where they might never find the killer unless they could trace some of the stolen property. Thus far none of the stolen items had shown up on their radar.
The Shapiro's lawyer insisted that Dr. Shapiro was under sedation, too upset to speak to the police. He'd issued a statement, but given his social standing in Santa Barbara Lassiter had no chance of pulling him in for questioning.
It was probably pointless anyway, he reasoned. Shapiro's alibi checked out. He'd been seen at the charity fundraiser by over a hundred people. The break-in had been reported by a man walking his dog a half hour before Shapiro even left the event.
The SBPD lab crew was all over the house, looking for anything that might give them a lead. There wasn't much Lassiter could do on site. Still, he knew he'd rather be wandering the Shapiro's Spanish colonial revival mansion in Hope Ranch than sitting parked in this squalid alley.
He couldn't blame Chief Vick for insisting on the stakeout. Two words police chiefs hate to see on the cover of newspapers are "serial" and "killer," so he and O'Hara were expected to put in extra time to solve the murder of two male escorts and prevent a third from making the headlines. Lassiter wasn't even convinced the two killings were connected. Sure, both men had been found strangled in hotel rooms, but escorts did 90% of their work in hotel rooms and strangling was typical of sex murders. The credit cards used to rent the rooms were both fakes, but lots of johns probably used phoney cards for that sort of thing. Of course the victims had both worked for the same escort agency, which was why they were camped just outside its doors.
"This is pointless," Lassiter said. "That killer's probably long gone by now."
"But what if he isn't?" O'Hara said. "This way we have some information to work from. Maybe we'll see one of these prior offenders show up. Or maybe some of these licence plate numbers will give us a lead."
"We should just haul everyone in that agency in for interrogation," Lassiter offered. He felt most cases could benefit from more interrogation.
"They're not going to talk to us," O'Hara reminded him. "Sex workers don't trust the police. Menendez in vice has been working with these guys for years and they barely trust her."
"Whatever happened to the days when vice cops actually busted hookers instead of making friends with them?"
"Carlton, is this some kind of homophobia thing? Because I don't remember you being this hostile when we worked on that murder case at the massage parlour last year."
"What? No, it's not some homophobia thing. I don't have a problem with homosexuals." In fact, if his fantasy life could have been entered into evidence, O'Hara would have been surprised how unproblematic Lassiter actually found homosexuality. And she'd probably have raised an eyebrow at who was starring in those fantasies lately.
"I just think this whole business is repulsive," he said. "Men paying for sex with strangers." When it came to sex, Lassiter found himself firmly on the side of the romantic.
"People have needs, Carlton." O'Hara said. "You're a man. I'd think you could relate to that."
Sure, Lassiter thought, I have needs. But they can be met without resorting to prostitutes. In fact, for some time now satisfying his needs hadn't even involved another person. He wouldn't have said he was lonely exactly, but sometimes he did miss the little things about a relationship, like the companionship. And the incentive to eat sitting down at the table instead of over the sink, and to make something that didn't start off frozen. And the regular sex, he acknowledged. I do miss that.
"Nobody needs to buy sex from drug addicts and abuse victims." He tried to direct the subject away from his sexual life, or lack thereof, and back to the case at hand. "I still think they know something." Experience had taught him that most people involved in a murder case knew something.
"Maybe they do," O'Hara admitted. "But they're not going to share it with us."
"Which is stupid, because we're the good guys."
"They probably don't see it that way."
"Which is why it's stupid." He finished his iced coffee and put the empty cup in a plastic bag.
"You know," O'Hara said, "A study at the University of Chicago found that sixteen percent of men had purchased a sex act."
"And they say university students are cheap." Lassiter sighed. He certainly hadn't spent his hard-earned university money on hookers. He'd barely even bought beer. He'd spent most of his evenings studying, and eating instant noodles out of a crockpot.
"That's sixteen percent of men, not of university students," O'Hara said.
"Well that's a segment of the population I'm proud not to belong to," Lassiter said. "Paying some hustler for sex is not my idea of a good time." Lassiter's idea of a good time was usually the classic dinner and a show. Although he'd discovered that what women considered a show was narrower than his own definition. His attempt to take a date to the gun show had not been a success.
"Actually," O'Hara said, "we're not supposed to say hustler. It's an offensive term."
"How offensive can it be?" Lassiter asked. "There's a magazine named Hustler."
"It's just as easy to say sex worker."
"It sounds like a ridiculous euphemism. Besides, it'd not like what's going on here is really work."
"I think the sex workers would disagree with you."
"Oh, I suppose none of this bothers you?" He gestured toward the small dark building they were watching.
"Actually," O'Hara said, "I'm in favour of decriminalization. I don't think this should be against the law."
"I'm sorry, where in the police handbook did it say you could just decide which crimes are real crimes and which crimes aren't?"
"We do that all the time." O'Hara looked at him with her brows knit above her big grey-blue eyes. "Do you arrest every jaywalker or litterbug you see?"
"I'd like to," Lassiter admitted. "But I got a lecture from Vick about that once. Personally, I think if people maliciously impede traffic they should be ready to pay the price."
"I just don't see why what two consenting adults decide to do together should be illegal." O'Hara yawned and slouched down in her seat.
"And I suppose you'd want your kid to work here?" Lassiter asked.
"If I had a kid," O'Hara said, her voice tinged with hesitancy, "no I wouldn't want him working here."
"Of course you wouldn't." He tried not to sound smug.
"But I wouldn't want him working in a mine either," she added quickly, "and it doesn't mean I think mining should be illegal."
"But selling sex is illegal and it's going to stay illegal," Lassiter said. "These guys are all criminals. We shouldn't be guarding them, we should be running them in."
"If we did that we'd never catch the killer." Bright lights turned into the alleyway. "Hey, here's another car."
The blue Echo pulled to a stop and the passenger got out. He stopped to argue with the driver for a few moments and then walked toward the entrance as the car pulled away. Lassiter recognized Shawn Spencer just as O'Hara recognized the licence plate number she was jotting down.
"Oh my god!" O'Hara gasped. "It's Shawn."
"What the hell is he doing here?" Lassiter demanded as he watched Shawn enter the agency.
"He must be working," O'Hara said. "I mean, for Psych. He can't be… I mean I'm sure he's not…"
"I wouldn't be surprised," Lassiter said weakly. "Nothing about Spencer surprises me anymore."
"What, you think he's…" she lowered her voice to a whisper, despite the fact that they were alone, "…gay for pay?"
"I always kind of wondered about Spencer," he said. "Although the way he acts around the station I'm surprised there's any pay involved."
"It's got to be a Psych job," O'Hara said. "He wouldn't do sex work." She sounded as if she were trying to convince herself, rather than Lassiter. "Oh! You don't think he's here to pick up, do you?"
Lassiter's mind was swimming. Somehow, given Spencer's looks and exuberance, he couldn't picture him paying for sex. Unless of course what he wanted to do was too twisted to suggest to a casual pickup…something only a professional would consent to doing…. No. He couldn't picture Spencer wanting anything really sick.
It was less difficult to picture Spencer working as an escort. He'd read the guy's file. He hadn't held a steady job for more than six months at a time. It was a minor miracle that Psych had been running as long as it had. Some of his previous jobs weren't what Lassiter considered normal. And he didn't see Spencer as the type to have moral qualms about accepting money for sex.
Maybe Psych hasn't been paying the bills, Lassiter thought. And maybe he needs some fast cash.
It was alarmingly easy to imagine Spencer with those men, meeting in dingy hotel rooms, doing whatever they demanded for a few hundred dollars. He didn't know whether to be repulsed or aroused, and if he was honest with himself, he was a little bit of both.
The idea is ridiculous, he told himself, as if to short-circuit a fantasy he was only half aware had been forming in the back of his mind. Spencer has to be on a case. He has to be.
"If Spencer's here, then something is definitely going on," he said finally. "I'm going in there."
"You can't just blow his cover," O'Hara said. "What about professional courtesy?"
"People like Spencer don't get professional courtesy."
"Well you can't very well go in there flashing your badge and expect to not give our position away."
"Well what do you suggest I do?"
"Get him alone and talk to him. Explain that we're on a murder case and he needs to lend a hand or step aside."
"He can't lend a hand. He hasn't been hired." Lassiter disliked the idea of having Spencer joking his way through their double homicide.
"But he could find out things we can't," O'Hara pointed out. "He clearly has an in with those people. We could use that. Provided of course you don't go in there with guns blazing and blow whatever angle he's working."
"Fine," Lassiter capitulated. "I'll try not to blow his cover."
"How?" O'Hara was giving him a suspicious look. Lassiter didn't know if she thought he was incapable of being subtle or just lying to her about not outing Spencer.
"I'll think of something." Lassiter put his badge in his pocket, threw on his suit jacket to hide his service weapon and stepped out of the car.