Title: The Case of The Friendly Indians
Rating: NC-17 for M/M oral, anal, violence.
Pairings: Shawn/Lassiter. Established relationship. Sequel to Carlton's Worst Inhibitions.
Warning: Shassie Slash. Some fluff. Homophobic and biphobic slurs and violence.
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 and Lassiter visit a friend from Lassiter's police academy days.
Note: The Muwekma Ohlone Tribe are a real group who are fighting to regain their federal recognition after having been erroneously declared extinct. They are indeed claiming Oakland Army Base land. There is no Stephen J. Bader. Their legal battle is being underwritten by Alan Ginsburg, a real estate developer who lives happily murder-free with his family in Orlando.
And although I have Shawn joke about it, voodoo is as legitimate a religion as any other.
"We don't have to go," Lassiter said, examining the letter inviting them to visit Russell Santos and his husband, Eric Carpenter, for the weekend.
"Of course we do," Shawn said. "They're your friends, Lassie-face. Plus, they're responsible for us getting together." He wrapped his arms around Lassiter's waist and looked up at him.
"Hmmm," Lassiter mumbled noncommittally.
"I think it's the least we can do," Shawn said.
Actually, the least we could do is call and say we're too busy with work.
Lassiter had gone to the academy with Russell Santos. He had admired Russell's guts for coming out as gay in their first term, but they hadn't been friends. Competitors was more accurate. During his academy days Lassiter had been a mix of ambition and anxiety. Part of that had been due to hanging out with guys like Russell, who were always trying to challenge one another for the role of alpha male. Of course the academy had been a long time ago.
Russell was now on the burglary unit of the San Francisco Police Department. Lassiter had been sending him a card at Christmas for years, but they weren't close. Yet when he'd first found himself attracted to Shawn, it was Russell he'd turned to for assurance that he wasn't, as he put it, "turning gay." The trip to San Francisco hadn't been as reassuring as he'd hoped, but it had certainly answered his questions.
Lassiter looked at the letter again. There's no way Russell is inviting us to visit out of the goodness of his heart. This trip has to have an ulterior motive.
"It's a six hour drive," he pointed out, finally returning the hug. "There and back."
"They say we can stay for the weekend," Shawn said. "They've got a guest room."
"Sounds like fun," Lassiter said. But in the back of his mind he was thinking of those letters that criminals with outstanding warrants receive, inviting them to isolated locations claiming they'd won a trip or a boat. This invitation felt like a trap.
Eric was watching anxiously from the window while Russell was busy in the kitchen.
"I see them! They're here!" Eric called from his vantage point in the living room. "Carlton and his man. They're coming up the street."
"I give it six months—a year max," Russell said, walking out from the kitchen drying his hands on a tea towel. "This time next year he'll probably be born-again and married to an ex-lesbian."
"Oh, you're just grouchy about losing that bet," Eric said. During Lassiter's gay panic Russell had promised to give him fifty dollars if he so much as kissed a man. Lassiter had been dating Shawn for almost three months before he'd called to collect.
"Nonsense," Russell said gruffly. "Best fifty bucks I ever spent. Now I have something to tease him about for the rest of his life."
The bell rang and Eric went to answer the door.
"My bags are heavy, and my calves are dying," Shawn complained as they carried their luggage up Douglass St. toward the Victorian duplex where Eric and Russell lived. "I forgot how steep this street was."
Lassiter turned and gave Shawn a suspicious look.
"When were you ever here?" he asked.
"I forget," Shawn added quickly. "Unless you really need to know. Then you forfeit the right to get mad at me when I tell you. It's like those Void If Removed stickers."
Lassiter sighed. Shawn had trailed him on his previous trip to San Francisco; he'd probably followed him to Russell and Eric's as well. If he'd known at the time he would have been furious, but now it seemed almost reasonable. He'd tailed Shawn more than a few times. Although to be fair it was back in the days when he'd suspected him of engaging in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the SBPD.
"Fine, you don't remember." Lassiter shifted his heavy suitcase to the other arm and reminded himself for the third time to get one with wheels.
"I can't believe you have gay friends," Shawn said.
"I can't believe you talked me into letting you meet them. Speaking of which," Lassiter lowered his suitcase to the sidewalk, looked around the deserted residential street, then stepped in close, placed his palm against the small of Shawn's back and pressed him forward.
"What?" Shawn looked curiously up to where Lassiter's eyes were obscured by sunglasses.
"I think we should get all the kissing out of our system now, before we go in," he said. "I refuse to act like a lovesick emo kid in front of Russell and Eric."
"Aw, Lassie." Shawn said, "that's…almost sweet." He dropped his bags to the sidewalk, grabbed Lassiter by the tie and surged forward. Lassiter's kiss was needy, a combination of aggressive tongue and eager lips. The intimacy blocked out everything around them. After several minutes, Lassiter was the first to pull back. He looked around again, wondering if there was a secluded spot nearby where they could get more out of their system than kissing.
"More?" Shawn asked breathlessly.
Lassiter licked his lips, tasting the salt of Shawn's skin. "They're expecting us," he said, not sure if he was trying to convince himself or Shawn.
"You're right," Shawn sighed and ran his fingers artfully through his hair. "Do I look like someone who's just been ravaged?"
"Only from the waist down," Lassiter replied. He adjusted his own pants, now slightly tighter in the crotch area, then picked up his suitcase and mounted the steps to the Santos/Carpenter residence. He set his bag down on the landing, rang the bell and straightened his tie.
Shawn remained where he was standing for a moment, focusing his mind on naming all the cast members of Glee, while his heartbeat and blood flow returned to normal. Then he muttered "Walk it off," to himself and followed Lassiter up the stairs.
The door was opened by a man in his late thirties with short grey hair and glasses.
"Carlton! We're so glad you came. And you must be Shawn. We've been looking forward to meeting you. I'm Eric." He took their bags and led them inside.
The Santos/Carpenter residence had the small proportions of a Victorian house, and was furnished mission style. To the left a narrow set of stairs led up to the bedrooms. Straight ahead was the kitchen, and to the right was the diningroom and livingroom. Shawn spotted a picture of Lassiter's Police Academy graduating class on the diningroom wall. He had excellent eyesight, and with everyone's fresh police haircuts Lassiter's ears were hard to miss.
"Carlton. Good to see you again." Russell tucked the tea towel under his arm and the two men shook hands.
Shawn smiled and gave him a quick once-over. He looked to be in his early forties. He was tall and tanned and built like a baseball player, with dark wavy hair that was greying at the sides. Shawn was glad that Lassiter hadn't explored his gay side during his academy years. He'd hate to have to compete with Russell Santos.
Russell looked appraisingly at Shawn. "This is your…fellow." Like many things Russell Santos said, Lassiter was never sure whether he meant them as a statement or a question.
"Yes, this is my boyfriend, Shawn." All the way to San Francisco Shawn and Lassiter had discussed what term he would use to introduce him. They'd been going with boyfriend mostly, but on this occasion Shawn had pushed hard for lover, fuck-buddy or studmuffin. Lassiter had no intention of using any of those terms, ever, but it had certainly helped pass the time on the drive.
"You guys must be tired," Eric said. "Let me show you up to your room. Food will be ready in an hour." He led the way upstairs and left Shawn and Lassiter to unpack.
Twenty minutes later the four men sat in the livingroom, drinking coffee.
"So," Shawn said, looking from Lassiter to Russell, "you guys went to the academy together. What was Lassie like during his formative years? He strikes me as more of a Tackleberry than a Mahoney. Am I right?"
"He was serious," Russell said. "Always studying. And competitive."
"I was competitive?" Lassiter said incredulously. "You blew a gasket when I outscored you on the final exam in our Criminal Justice course."
"I was robbed," Russell grumbled. He turned to Shawn. "Professor McNeill docked me points because I used the word scumbag."
"And because of your penmanship," Lassiter added.
"Do you keep in touch with that guy who could make all the sounds?" Shawn asked.
"Police academy wasn't anything like the movie," Lassiter assured him.
"Parts of my academy years were spent in a bar that was kind of like The Blue Oyster," Russell admitted. "But nobody tangoed."
Just before dinner the doorbell rang.
"That'll be Mary Mejias," Russell said, as Eric went to the door. "She'll be joining us for dinner." Lassiter was suddenly overcome by the idea that Russell had invited some seductive temptress to dinner to bait him into confirming his heterosexuality. He reached out and grabbed Shawn's hand for support. Shawn looked at him inquisitively, but didn't pull away.
Lassiter's suspicion that Russell was laying a honey trap dissipated once he got a look at Mary Mejias. She was a tall attractive woman with dark skin and flashing black eyes, but she was also clearly a lesbian. She wore a slightly mannish suit and her dark hair was pulled back into a marine-style bun. The ring finger on her left hand sported what looked like a wedding band set with rainbow stones. She and Eric hugged briefly.
"This is Detective Mary Mejias," Russell said. "She's with Homicide. Mary, this is Carlton Lassiter and his boyfriend, Shawn Spencer, up from Santa Barbara for the weekend."
Lassiter thought he saw a look pass between Russell and Meijas, but he couldn't be sure what it meant. Shawn and Lassiter shook hands with the newcomer and the three of them went to the table while Eric and Russell brought out the food.
"So," Detective Mejias asked, "How long have the two of you been together?"
This is it, Lassiter thought. The grilling has begun. Although I didn't think Russell was the sort to pass an interrogation off to someone else. Maybe they're going to take turns. He smiled grimly. He had taken a one-day refresher workshop on interrogation at a policing conference in Los Angeles last year. He was as ready as he could be.
"We started dating the last time we were here in San Francisco." Lassiter he told her. "It'd been about half a year, I think."
"It's been 176 days," Shawn said. Them, noticing the curious looks he was receiving from everyone, he added, "Give or take a day."
"We're coming up on six months," Lassiter argued. Was Shawn really counting the days? It makes our relationship sound like a prison sentence. The image of Shawn in a cell, scratching lines into the wall was hard to shake.
"I'm pretty sure Lassie's just seeing me for the money," Shawn said. "He expects Russell to gives him a fifty every time we kiss."
"That was one time," Lassiter told Mejias. "It was a bet."
"And you're satisfied?" Russell asked pointedly, carrying in a large heaping dish of paella. "Not missing women or anything?"
This is more like it, Lassiter thought. Russell's never been afraid to get his hands dirty.
"We have a threesome with a hooker twice a week," Shawn said, smiling. "That takes care of our latent hetero tendencies."
"He's kidding," Lassiter said quickly, dishing rice and shrimp onto his plate and wishing he could somehow jump through time and miss this conversation.
"Women are great," Shawn said, taking the bowl from Lassiter. "But we haven't had much time to miss them. I'm seven years younger than Lassie, but he is a maniac, maniac on the floor. And on the couch, in the bed, against the kitchen island. You get the idea."
"Have you considered marriage?" Eric asked Lassiter, setting a bowlful of empanadas down in front of him. Lassiter inhaled some of his coffee, choked, and swallowed painfully.
"Marriage?" He shifted uncomfortably in his chair. Eric's question had hit a little too close to home. Approaching the six-month marker had caused him to reflect on where his relationship with Shawn was going. With Victoria, things had been easier. There was a clear path for dating between men and women, and it led to the altar at Saint Raphael Catholic Church on Hollister Street. Somehow, he didn't think Father Rojas would be as supportive of his current relationship.
But since some states had legalized same-sex marriage, it had been something he'd wondered about. He accepted that he was in love with Shawn, and had been for months. As it stood now, they were practically living together. Given more time, he didn't think marriage was an unreasonable expectation. But he wasn't sure if Shawn was the marrying type, and he sure as hell didn't want to scare him off.
In his more curious moments, Lassiter had looked up section 9.135 of the Municipal Code, dealing with registering domestic partnerships, but he had found sub-section a (5) slightly daunting: "The two parties are each other's sole domestic partner and intend to remain so indefinitely and are responsible for their common welfare." He'd seen Shawn's resume. Commitment wasn't his strong suit. Asking him to sign on to their relationship indefinitely might not go over well. And if Shawn was indeed counting the days, maybe it's because their days were numbered.
"It's a little early for that," Lassiter said finally. He glanced at Russell and Eric, who had settled themselves at the table and begun to eat. Is this their plan? Is this whole weekend about talking me into having a big gay wedding?
"Totally early," Shawn agreed. "I haven't met his family yet. What if there's insanity in it? I wouldn't want our kids to come out all crazy."
"Besides, I've been married," Lassiter said grimly. "You may remember that it didn't work out so well." Before the divorce, Lassiter had been a believer in One True Love and Happily Ever After. Now he knew better. His marriage had failed for the same reason his career hadn't; he'd gotten out what he had put in. But he wasn't sure where that left him when it came to Shawn. Were they doomed to be perpetually dating? Would he wake up every morning and wonder if today was the day Shawn finally got bored and left?
"What about you Shawn? Been married before?" Russell asked.
"No. I rarely make it to a second date," he said. "Although I do have a drunken memory of a woman in a white dress on a beach in Louisiana. A marriage isn't legally binding if the officiant is a voodoo priest, right?"
"Stop teasing them, Shawn," Lassiter warned. "They won't know you're not serious." Lassiter was 85% sure that Shawn was joking. He assumed that this sense of playing the odds when it came to Shawn was how Burton Guster had been feeling most of his life.
"Who's not serious?" Shawn asked. "I'd get a divorce but I think I need her hair and nail clippings to make the spell work properly." He looked at Russell and Eric. "I take it that you guys are married."
"Hell yes," Russell said. "We did it as soon as it was legal here. It was the right move, politically. The only way to keep our rights is to exercise them, and do so in large numbers."
"It was more romantic than Russ makes it sound," Eric said. "We rented tuxedos and got married at City Hall, right after two men in wedding gown drag. I've got pictures here somewhere. I think I like the pictures I took of their wedding more than I like the ones of ours. They had the most gorgeous tiaras!"
"How about you?" Shawn asked Mejias. "Married?"
"Oh yeah." She raised her left hand and wiggled the rainbow ring. "My wife and I tied the knot up in Canada back in '05." She glanced at Lassiter, then back to Shawn. "Do you think you'll ever want to get married?"
Lassiter held his breath. The interrogation wasn't so bad now that Russell and Meijas had turned their sights on Shawn. If he was lucky, they might ask the questions that he didn't dare ask Shawn himself.
"My buddy, Gus, would love it." Shawn laughed. "He'd take over the whole thing. Forget Bridezilla, he'd be Best Manzilla." He paused and moved his food around with his fork. "But for me, I'm not so sure. Trying to be exactly like everyone else takes a lot of the fun out of being queer."
Lassiter exhaled heavily and hoped the whole table hadn't heard the sigh. That could have been a lot worse, he thought. Shawn could have said "What? Marry him? God no!" Or said that his patience for monogamy tapped out at the six month mark.
"Why do you use that word?" Russell asked sharply his forkful of rice frozen midway to his mouth.
"What word? Queer?" Shawn smiled innocently back at Russell.
Shawn has no idea what he's in for, Lassiter thought. He briefly wondered if he should swap shop talk with Detective Mejias, but he was hesitant to leave Shawn to his own devices against Russell.
"Yeah," Russell said. "It's demeaning. There's nothing queer about me."
Lassiter looked at his boyfriend. By the traditional meaning of queer-odd, eccentric or unusual, Shawn was definitely queer. Queer could also be a verb, in terms of thwart or prevent, as when Shawn sometimes queered his morning routine by refusing to allow him to leave the bed in a timely fashion. Lassiter even sometimes thought Shawn was queer in the more negative sense of being 'not quite right.' Like when he insisted that pineapple was an appropriate pizza topping.
"I like queer," Shawn said. "It covers a lot of ground, and it confuses the straight people." He popped an empanada in his mouth and chewed happily.
After dinner had finished Russell and Mejias exchanged meaningful glances again.
"Listen, Shawn," Russell began, "I have a confession to make. We had an ulterior motive in inviting you here."
"Please say this is the prelude to an all-cop orgy," Shawn said.
"I've got a case," Mejias said. "It's politically tricky. And Russell mentioned you were visiting and we'd read about your work with the SBPD."
"We were hoping you could listen to the problem" Russell said, "and psychically read it or something."
"He's not a party trick," Lassiter said, his voice edged with annoyance.
"I don't mind, Lassie. Really." Shawn looked at Mejias. "Put your twenty-five cents on the gasoline can and I'll do my best."
"I've got a suspicious death," Mejias began, "and I absolutely cannot be wrong about whether or not it's murder."
"Isn't that something the M.E. could help you out with?" Lassiter asked.
"The M.E. can only say he died of heart failure," Mejias explained. "I need to know if someone helped that to happen."
"Why is it politically tricky?" Shawn asked.
"How much do you know about Indians?" she asked.
"I know they'll refuse an Oscar for you and they hate littering," Shawn said.
"He knows nothing," Lassiter said to Mejias. Then, glancing at Shawn he added, "Maybe less than that."
"Okay. The Muwekma Ohlone is an Indian tribe in the San Francisco area," Mejias began. "They're seeking a land grant on the former Oakland Army Base."
"The Presidio?" Lassiter asked, surprised.
"The Presidio," Shawn chimed in. "Great film. Mark Harmon is yummy, even if his hair is a little Three's Company. I prefer his coiff on NCIS."
"The Presidio's been closed as a military base since 1989," Mejias said. "Now it belongs to the National Parks Service."
"Is the Parks Service having trouble with cartoon bears stealing their pic-i-nic baskets?" Shawn asked. "I think I saw something on television about that. Were the perps wearing neckties?"
"Why do they want the Presidio?" Lassiter asked.
"Money." Russell said.
"Exactly," Mejias said. "If they could open a casino there it could be a great source of revenue." She took a sip of her coffee and glanced quickly at Russell. "But there's a hitch. Only federally recognized tribes can get land grants. And officially, we don't exist. In 1925 an anthropologist named Alfred Kroeber wrote that our tribe was extinct, and the government dropped us from the federal list.
"We?" Lassiter asked, picking up on the shift in language.
"Yeah," Mejias said. "I'm Muwekma myself. It's one of the reasons they gave me the case. This way, if I say it was natural causes, they won't have a tribe of angry Indians on their doorstep accusing them of a cover-up."
"They've been fighting to regain recognition," Eric said, "but the whole process has been a pain in the ass. It's already cost them over two million dollars."
"Excuse my asking a stupid question," Lassiter said, looking at Mejias, "but if you have two million dollars why not just buy land? You could put a casino anywhere. People go to Vegas and there's nothing there but sand and gambling."
"If you build it, they will come," Shawn agreed.
"It's not our two million." Mejias sighed. "The legal bills are being paid by a land developer named Stephen J. Bader. He specializes in commercial developments, especially casinos. Unfortunately, he's dead."
"And he's your suspicious death," Lassiter said.
"Exactly," Mejias said. "He was visiting the tribal leader when it happened. She says he had a kind of seizure and fainted. She called an ambulance but he died within minutes."
"What can I do to help?" Shawn asked.
"If you're willing to take the case," Mejias said, "we can go to the site, and you can talk to the spirits. See if it was natural causes or not."
"I'll do it," Shawn said. "Take me to your leader."