A/N: Seriously, I have too many ideas bumping around in my head. I really should quit listening to music, cos it always gives me ideas. The length and story itself kind of got out of hand. It was only supposed to be a short 2-3 page oneshot. Now, it's over 11 pages in Word and a two-shot. This fic itself is kind of a love letter to one of my favorite songs; it just takes a while to get to that point. And by that, I mean that the second chapter is the love letter. This chapter is the build-up to that. Enjoy!
He hated places like these. Hated every single one. They were too loud, too flashy, too full of people that he'd rather not associate himself with. Ever.
But he didn't have any say in where he had to go to research cases, or who he had to go with, and that, unfortunately, was how he had ended up in Santa Barbara's most obnoxious dance club with Shawn Spencer. He'd all but begged the Chief not to allow Spencer to go with him; this was going to be painful enough without the younger man's presence. She'd overrode his complaints, though, by citing Spencer's claim of familiarity with the club, the obvious fact that he'd fit right in and his general solve rate.
He hadn't been able to fight anything Vick had said, so here he was, drinking his own beer absently and watching Shawn bump and grind with anyone who was around him on the dance floor. Lassiter wasn't currently dancing, nor would he start doing so any time soon. He didn't really dance, unless you counted those lessons Victoria had forced him to go to before their wedding.
Just being here made him uncomfortable, surrounded by sweaty, half-drunk twenty-somethings. This had never been his crowd, even when he was young. Everything about this place was overwhelming—he couldn't think, couldn't focus on the case while that noise they called music pounded around him and the strobing lights continued their mission to blind him.
He kept a sharp eye around the room, picking out potential date-rapists/murderers like he was supposed to, but his mind could never concentrate on that for more than a minute. His eyes invariably drifted back to Spencer each and every time.
Damn Spencer. Damn his ridiculous dancing (he was currently doing the Elaine, much to the amusement of several young women) and damn him for being so distracting. Carlton had a job he was supposed to be doing, and yet here he was, openly staring at his (sort of) coworker. This was the least productive thing he could've been doing, especially when he wanted to leave this place as soon as possible. To do that meant that he needed to be paying attention to the other patrons, not Spencer, and yet he just couldn't help himself.
He tried telling himself that it was because the psychic was a spectacle all his own. Anywhere he went, it was like Spencer was performing, putting on a show for everyone around. Most people ate it up because, frankly, it was kind of entertaining, but only when he wasn't doing it to make a mockery of the station and all the hard-working cops who worked there. Everyone else seemed to love it, though, and he could see why, even if he usually didn't agree. Spencer was amusing, in his own way.
At least, that's why Lassiter told himself he couldn't stop watching the younger man. It had absolutely nothing to do with the way Spencer's polo clung just tightly enough to his chest to show off how lean he was, or the way he grinned when he knew he was entertaining people. Nothing to do with that at all.
Nor did it have to do with his absolute brilliance, which was about as far from any psychic mumbo-jumbo as Carlton would ever believe. No, Shawn was unbelievably intelligent, not that Carlton would ever admit that to his face; he just hid it well under all those stupid jokes and pop culture references. Lassiter was almost (almost) jealous of the fact that, if he'd wanted to, Shawn could've been the best detective on the force, let alone in the state or even the country. However he solved all those cases (and it was not through any psychic force), it was amazing.
No, not amazing. Astounding. For some reason, that seemed to fit much better.
He tried again to draw himself out of the quagmire that was thinking about Shawn Spencer, and yet it was proving to be increasingly difficult. His eyes drifted back to the fake psychic after a few minutes of futile resistance. Once again, Shawn was dancing like an idiot, making the crowd of people around him laugh. Lassiter noticed the way several of those girls (and even a few guys) were staring at Shawn, all adoration and invitation; a hot ball of hostility rose up in his chest, but he quickly squashed in back down. He didn't want to be out there dancing, so what claim did he have over who wanted to dance (or sleep) with Spencer?
And since when did he care so much about Spencer anyway? The guy was a pain in his ass, always one-upping and teasing him, doing highly inappropriate things in front of his coworkers often enough that they had started spreading rumors. He was obnoxious, arrogant and about as mature as a kindergartener.
And yet there was still something about him Lassiter couldn't ignore. No one, annoying or otherwise, had ever lavished so much attention on him, not even his ex-wife when their relationship was at its best. Carlton realized he wasn't the easiest person to get along with, but Shawn seemed to genuinely like him anyway. Even the most animosity-filled comments they exchanged didn't feel mean-spirited to him, not like they had when he and Victoria had fought; this was a more innocent harassment, used to disguise the fact that they really didn't mind one another.
Before he could realize that he'd been staring for an exceptionally long time, Shawn had spotted him and left his crowd of worshipful hangers-on, trotting over to where Carlton sat. He was sweating, just a little bit, and his breath was slightly uneven, but he grinned broadly at the detective.
"C'mon, Lassie, you stick out like a bull in a barber shop," Shawn jibed, looking over Carlton from head to toe. The younger man's steady gaze made his skin prickle. He didn't know how to feel about that. "You couldn't have even dressed down for the occasion? You look like a cop, dude, or someone's very angry, very protective father." Carlton glanced down to his outfit-grey suit, white shirt and blue tie—and, still very much aware of Shawn's eyes on him, shrugged.
"These're my civvies," he replied, though he knew Shawn already knew this. The psychic raised an eyebrow.
"Then we need to go find you some seriously casual clothing, Lassiekins. Do you even own a pair of jeans?" There it was, that teasing tone that he knew didn't mean any real harm.
"Yes," he answered simply, eyes anywhere in the club but on Shawn. The idea that he was so interested in how Carlton dressed made the older man squirm. The image of Shawn dressing him in those ridiculous trendy jeans and brightly-colored buttons downs quickly flashed through his mind, followed by an image of him tearing the younger man's clothing off; he fiddled with his sleeve to distract himself from those traitorous thoughts. "A couple pairs. I wear them when I'm working outside."
"Oh, Lassie, we're going to have to work on that later," Shawn responded with a sigh. A smile quickly covered his face yet again as one of his hands shot out toward Lassiter, palm open in invitation. "In the mean time, you really need to relax. Come dance with me." Despite his strong will to avoid looking at Shawn, Carlton's gaze snapped right to the shorter man's hazel eyes.
"I don't dance," was his automatic response, and as the words were leaving his mouth, a thousand questions were firing off in his mind all at once. The loudest of all the questions, though, was if Spencer asking him to dance, actually dance, not just that writhing to electronic noise that passed as dancing now. Was he asking as friends, or as something more? Was it all a joke? The unreadable expression on Spencer's face didn't answer a single one of these plaguing questions.
"Oh, come on, Lassie-doodle," Shawn cajoled, only a few steps above pure whining and pleading. "I won't step on your feet. I'm a great dancer."
"So I've seen," Carlton snorted, quickly regretting his snippy tone. It didn't sound nearly as playful when it came out of his mouth. Shawn, though, just rolled with the punches as he always did.
"See? You've seen my sweet moves. Come out and dance with me. I promise you'll have a good time." Maybe he was imagining it, but there was something in Shawn's words that promised more than just fun dancing. Not that he particularly wanted to follow that train of thought because it lead to some very interesting places that Carlton didn't like to think about in public. Or ever.
"In case you've forgotten, we're here to work a case," he said, choosing not to dignify whatever Spencer was implying. That would mean that he'd given it some consideration, which he definitely never had. Or would. "There's a good chance that someone in this club is the date-rapist murderer that we're looking for."
"Oh, him?" Shawn said flippantly, glancing around the room. His eyes roamed around the room for a moment before falling on a laughing young couple in near the door. "That's him. He slipped the roofie in her drink a couple minutes ago. She has another..." He paused to mentally do the math, eyes drifting to the ceiling and one finger moving imaginary numbers around in front of him. "Two more minutes before he thinks it's okay to take her home without it looking like she was drugged." Lassiter's eyebrows shot up.
"And why didn't you tell me this earlier?" He was surprised how well he was managing his anger, considering that Spencer had been withholding information he'd apparently figured out a while ago. If he still felt it, the anger could come later; he really needed to be focusing on the potential rapist/murderer right now. If Shawn was right, which Carlton had little doubt about, then they had a little less than two minutes to call for backup and apprehend this guy before he left with his next target. Perfect.
"I was keeping an eye on him," Shawn shrugged in response, like it was no big deal. "So do you want to dance?"
"Later, Shawn," Lassiter mumbled, focus now entirely on the young man and his victim. Shawn didn't seem too flustered to be brushed off like this; he was quickly on the phone, texting Juliet and Gus about the situation. Good. At least he could be semi-serious when the situation called for it.
Absently making sure his gun was in its holster, just in case, Lassiter stood, Shawn arriving by his side in an instant. Strangely, he wasn't too annoyed right now that Spencer was his backup. Juliet would be here soon, hopefully, and he got the feeling that Shawn was actually pretty good with a gun. Something about having a dad like Henry Spencer just screamed childhood trips to the gun range. There was much worse backup to be had, that was for sure.
"Just don't make any stupid moves, Spencer. This guy could be dangerous," Lassiter ordered as they made their way across the dance floor, skipping Shawn's assumption that he was allowed to help here. There wasn't enough time to go over what had already been silently accepted.
Shawn just snorted.
"Seriously, Lassie?" he asked rhetorically, ducking past a few barely clad young women without so much as a glance. He was apparently just as focused on this as Lassiter was. "I've been shot, kidnapped, poisoned and in more than enough car crashes. Dangerous sends me postcards when it goes on vacation. We're buddies."
"Spencer..." As much as he appreciated the younger man's help, he really needed Shawn to take this seriously. This wasn't a time for joking.
"I'm just saying, a possible date-rapist and murderer is about average for my week. Don't worry about me." Shawn's tone was dismissive, and he had a good point, but Lassiter was going to worry anyway. Any citizen in harm's way, even one with police knowledge who was here by choice, was enough to concern him. So he'd worry, but only in the back of his mind; they were almost to the suspect now.
"Let's get him," Shawn said, almost sounding like a real, if not cliched, cop. Lassiter nodded with a slight grin.
"You've got it."
Several hours and one very satisfying arrest later, Shawn was still bouncing around the station, happily chatting with all of the late-duty officers in his ridiculously personable way. Lassiter really had no idea why he was still around, except to retell the story of their bust to anyone and everyone who would listen. He was a good enough storyteller that quite a few bored officers listened in more than once.
With a tired sigh—it was almost three AM, and so far past his usual bedtime that it was closer to his alarm going off—Lassiter filed away his last booking report and finally stood up from his desk. He snatched up his suit jacket and headed for the door, ready to be home and in bed. Even though the arrest had gone well, with another killer off the streets thanks to honest police work (and so-called psychic tomfoolery), he was ready to just go home and relax, maybe even sleep.
Spencer, though, seemed to have other ideas. He jumped up from his casual spot on a desk, promising the cops gathered around him that he'd finish the story later, and easily caught up with Carlton.
"Hey there, Lassific Ocean. Finished all your paperwork and going home, I see," the shorter man said conversationally. "Aren't you forgetting something?" Instantly, Carlton ran through a mental list of everything he was supposed to do before he left; nothing came to mind. He glanced to Shawn with unveiled curiosity, too tired to mask his emotions right now. Shawn just gave him a small smile and raised his eyebrows. "Dancing?"
"...what?" Lassiter asked dumbly. He knew they'd been at a dance club, but he was done with his report. What else did Spencer need to know about what happened? He'd been there. The cogs in his brain slowly turned, but not quick enough for Shawn.
"You told me we'd dance later when we were in the club earlier," the psychic supplied. "Now's later." Carlton's brow furrowed at this odd turn of phrase, but his mind was picking up steam again.
"You want to go dancing with me now? At three in the morning?" His incredulity had just as much to with the very idea that they would go out so late (or early, depending on your point of view) as the idea that someone would actually want to go out dancing with him. He realized too late that this showed on his face, and Shawn had definitely seen it before he'd recovered his weary expression.
"Of course! Why wouldn't I?" he replied enthusiastically. A face-splitting grin overtook his features. "Don't go back on your promises, Lassie. I bet there's some club out there that's still open. We could dance all night."
"It's already almost the morning," Lassiter muttered as he pushed open the front doors of the station. Fresh, cool air hit his face, helping him to wake up a little. He looked over to Shawn, who was still by his side and now giving the older detective a questioning look.
"So, you up for it?" Spencer asked, eyebrows arched. When he got no immediate answer, his smile fell a little. "Don't leave me hanging, Lassie. I want to see your mad skills. I want to dance, and you said we could." At this, something in Lassiter broke; he was too tired to fight whatever Spencer wanted to happen anymore, but if he was going to give in, then he was going to be the one in charge. He stopped dead in his tracks and swiveled to face Shawn. The shorter man almost looked surprised at this sudden change, and Carlton inwardly smiled at his small victory. Outwardly, he just looked tired and a little bit frustrated with Shawn's persistence.
"You want to dance?" he repeated, almost a growl. Quietly, like Carlton had very rarely seen him, Shawn nodded. The look on his face made him look like he was trying to figure something out. Lassiter wasn't quite sure if that was another little victory, but he counted it as one anyway. Before his brain could protest, he was saying, "Get in my car."
The command had enough weight to it that even Shawn obeyed, nearly tripping over himself to get into the Crown Vic. Success yet again. Something about having Shawn do what he said gave him little shivers, a feeling that he didn't quite want to address, but definitely wanted to feel again.
Lassiter crossed to the other side of the car and slid in, the whole time feeling Shawn's querying gaze on him. He staunchly ignored it and started his car; there was a certain sense of accomplishment in making Spencer really focus and think like he was now.
The drive through town seemed to draw some of Shawn's attention away from Carlton, if only to glance at the scenery flying by them. Several times, he glanced between the world outside and Lassiter, brow furrowed in thought. His silence and contemplative expression made him seem more adult; the older detective wasn't sure how he felt about that. Sure, he appreciated that Shawn could actually be serious and not constantly bouncing around like a sugar-high six-year-old, but it made him seem like another person.
After several minutes of observation, Shawn finally broke the relative peace that had descended over the cabin.
"We're not going to a club," he stated, voice piqued with curiosity. It wasn't remotely close to being a question, though; Shawn was stating this as a fact.
"What makes you say that?" Carlton responded, eyes never leaving the road. It was true, and he usually didn't play games like this, but he was interested to see how exactly Shawn knew this. There was no psychic fit going on in his passenger seat, so he could probably discount that. He wanted to know how Shawn figured things out in his passably psychic way.
"We passed every street that could possibly lead us to a club, let alone one that would still be open," Shawn replied, as if it was common knowledge. Lassiter's mind boggled at the idea that Spencer knew which streets they'd passed, never mind which ones had clubs and how late those clubs were open. He was sure it wasn't some preternatural power, but it was absolutely astonishing nonetheless. "In fact, we're in a residential district now." Shawn raised an eyebrow. "Are you taking us to some super secret party?"
"No," was all Lassiter said, attempting to reign in Spencer's joking tone before it got back out of hand. Strangely enough, Shawn actually stayed quiet and moved his attention back to his window. They drove along for several more minutes until Lassiter turned into a driveway and parked the car. Only then did Shawn speak up again, pieces falling into place for him.
"Your house, Lassie?" he inquired in way that assured he already knew he was right.
"Yes," Carlton replied, climbing out the vehicle. Shawn was close behind him, smoothly exiting the Crown Vic and sidling up next to Lassiter.
"You know, this wasn't the kind of dancing I was talking about, Lassie," he said, smiling vaguely as he took in the home. "But I won't turn it down." Lassiter just unlocked the front door and motioned for Shawn to enter. He followed behind the younger man, hanging his keys on a hook and kicking his shoes off. Carlton still wasn't quite sure what he was doing, inviting Spencer over at this hour, but he knew it had nothing to do with whatever 'dancing' the psychic was alluding to.
Turning to face Shawn, he said, "Stay here. I'm going to go get something from upstairs." They shared eye contact until Carlton knew that Shawn was going to stay, and then the older man turned on a heel to ascend his stairs, suit jacket already off. Carlton only had the barest idea of where this night was going, or why it had already gotten as far as it had, but he didn't have enough time to sort through all of that baggage.
Right now, he was mostly worried that Spencer would break something while he was gone.