Disclaimer: I don't own Psych or any of its related characters. This is just for my own enjoyment and the potential enjoyment of other Psych-Os like me, and no monetary gain was expected or received.
Rating: M+, not because every chapter is, but because there's no way in hell I'm going to worry about censorship. In some chapters there is definite need of the M+ rating.
Spoilers: Through season six episode nine, "Neil Simon's Lover's Retreat"
WARNING: Shassie, meaning full-on homosexual Shawn/Lassiter angst and occasional explicitness. I'll also warn you that I honestly don't "see" any potential romantic entanglements between any of the characters on the show, not even (or perhaps even especially) Shawn/Juliet, and it takes reading the fanfic of other true "shippers" to make even the slightest potential love affair seem possible. The reason I'm writing a Shassie fic? Partly because there are some awesome ones out there, but mostly because I find myself fascinated pondering exactly how such a remarkable turn of events could ever transpire. This is one possible way I see.
Chapter One: The Pineapple of Hostility
"Carlton, no. Just because you can check yourself out of the hospital against medical advice doesn't mean you can come straight back to work. I'm going to have to have a full fitness evaluation and psychological clearance before I'll even consider putting you back on duty." The voice of Chief Karen Vick buzzed like an angry bee through the receiver in Detective Carlton Lassiter's ear.
"Come on, Karen, you don't have to make such a big deal out of this. It's not the first time I've been shot, you know."
"Carlton, you died. Twice!"
"You're acting like it was permanent."
"If you don't listen to the goddamn doctors and take it easy for awhile, it will be!"
"Karen - "
"Detective Lassiter!" the Chief thundered in her best hard-ass voice, which even Lassiter had to confess was pretty damned good. "Medical evaluation and psychological clearance. Until then, you're sidelined. End of discussion. Good day." The line went dead.
He hung up the phone with a growl of irritation and flopped down onto his couch with only the slightest wince of pain. Sweet justice, everyone had pushed and pushed O'Hara to get back to work after that deal with Yin, but it seemed they'd been champing at the bit to get rid of him. Now they were treating him as though he would crinkle up and burn the minute someone turned up the heat. Being shot was an expected if unwelcome job hazard, being dangled off the side of a clock tower had to have it beat as far as psychological trauma. He couldn't even remember much of it.
Except for the sound of the perp's gun, flat and authoritative and oddly cartoonish - POP!POP!POP! - like a Batman comic, and that probably meant it was a small-caliber weapon but at that distance it hardly made a difference. Except for the impact of three bullets, one after another, punching into his chest like blows from a jackhammer, the burn of hot lead, the sensation of drowning in his own blood. Except for the sound of O'Hara shrieking his name from some incredible distance, and further off the higher-pitched shrieks of a fake psychic and his sidekick.
He embraced the memory with a grim smile. He'd managed to get a shot off before he passed out, and despite being thrown off balance and more than half blind by pain, shock, and blood loss he'd hit his target, too. O'Hara's bullets were the ones that put the shooter down permanently, but Lassiter hadn't gone down easy and that was what mattered. O'Hara had once told him that he hated to lose, but that was only half right. What he truly hated was to go down without a fight.
He kicked his coffee table in frustration, which only succeeded in rattling the bowl of pistachios so much that the butt of the Walther PPK buried in them poked out. The pile of mail he'd picked up that morning and delayed going through slid off onto the floor. He was getting a lot of mail these days, thanks to the half dozen or so kindergartens and elementary schools that had adopted him as a class project. It would almost be touching if not for the fact that several of these classes seemed to be under the impression that he was a drug-sniffing border collie named Lassie, and he didn't need to play Twenty Questions to guess who had misinformed them.
Chief Vick had already warned him that he needed to answer these innocent well-wishers, "to instill faith in the goodwill of the department in our city's youth." Mostly he thought it was a make-work project to keep him out of her hair. Buzz McNab was a pushover for kids - and pretty much everything else. He could probably trick the younger officer into doing the job for him. Not that McNab didn't already have work to do, unlike Lassiter.
Buzz's contribution to the tide of get-well-soons sat on Lassiter's small kitchen counter, a large bag of fresh-ground coffee beans. McNab had meant this small gift sincerely, and had even checked with Lassiter's doctor for the go-ahead before buying it, but to Lassiter the message was, Get your own damn coffee for awhile, asshole. But the coffee didn't bother him half as much as what sat beside it - six full pineapples, one for each day since he'd first checked himself out of the hospital AMA, each wrapped in a frilly pink bow with a card attached. The first one had read "A pineapple a day keeps lead poisoning at bay. From your friendly neighborhood Psych-Os, Shawn and Gus." The second read "Pineapples are yum, mangos are too. I'm sad you got shot, and Gus is sad, too." It only went downhill from there. He found them every morning perched on his porch railing when he got up, and old Mrs. Klieger next door, squirrel-loving busy-body that she was, undoubtedly had plenty to say about his "secret admirer" at her daily bridge club meetings, particularly since she'd surely seen that the fruit was being left by a man on a motorcycle.
Thinking about Spencer made him want to shoot something, and that desire presented the solution to the prickly pineapple problem. He got up and rummaged through his coat closet, where he'd stashed the eco-friendly shopping bag his sister Lauren had insisted on getting him during her last pre-shooting visit. She and his older sister Janie, who flew in all the way from New Jersey, had been too busy donating their own O- blood for his surgeries to worry about ecology while he was in the hospital, and now they were both pissed off at him for checking himself out early and refused to answer his calls. He supposed he couldn't blame either of them for that.
He loaded the six pineapples in the bag, a tight fit, and set it on the floor by the front door. Then he went into his bedroom and gingerly shrugged into his shoulder holster. It hurt like a sonofabitch to do it, and for the first time he entertained a fleeting doubt that he really ought to be out of the hospital, but he pushed the traitorous thought aside and opened his gun vault. It only took a moment's cogitation to select the perfect weapon for mass pineapple destruction, the jewel of his collection, a titanium gold-finish .50AE Desert Eagle, a gun that had taken a painful chunk of his annual income to purchase about fifteen years ago as a "gift to self" for his rookie year on the force, a gun he had never once fired. The shiny bullets in the seven-shot magazine he loaded into the gun butt looked like ordnance. He chambered the first round and checked the safety, then sighted down the barrel at a particularly ugly print of a foxhunt his mother had given him. A wet-dream of a gun. No one did weapons manufacture like the Israeli military industry.
The weight of it alone was a comfort in his hand, though he wondered, briefly, if he was in any condition to handle the recoil. He slipped the weapon into his holster. It didn't exactly fit, or even remotely, but he managed to snap the safety strap at last.
He grabbed the bag of pineapples on his way out the door and jingled his keys after locking the place up. The midnight blue Crown Victoria he loved so much had been temporarily reissued to O'Hara, a thought that set his teeth on edge. It wasn't that he didn't trust O'Hara - he did, really, mostly - but the car's absence in his little spit of a driveway solidified his position as - how had the Chief put it? Oh, yeah. Sidelined. He'd have to drive his personal vehicle, and he hoped it would start.
Except for being pulled out of the garage into the driveway for the occasional maintenance check and oil change and a weekend wash about once a month if the weather was good, Lassiter's dark blue '66 Corvette Sting Ray hadn't been driven in at least four years. The Damn Car came to him when he was sixteen years old, the first and only car he'd ever owned, and he'd restored it himself in Chief Fenich's barn on afternoons and weekends when he had the chance. He'd loved the Damn Car in those days, and credited it with ninety percent of the dates he'd managed to get in college - including the freaky two and a half months he'd spent as the somewhat bewildered boyfriend of an aspiring actress with a ring in her nose. The epithet with which he thought of it now only attained proper-noun status in the days following his lengthy and bitter separation from his now-ex wife.
He slid into the driver's seat, shifted into neutral, and cranked the ignition, only a little surprised when it turned over immediately and the engine started its low throbbing purr. Despite the bitter associations the Damn Car brought to mind in the wake of his divorce, he'd taken good care of the vehicle. He released the parking brake, stepped on the clutch, shifted into reverse, and carefully backed out of the garage. He focused on the process of driving and forced his mind to steer clear of painful memories like the second date when he'd - totally accidentally - run out of gas and spent a very pleasant three hours making out with what he remembered as an improbably beautiful young Victoria Parker, with the gear shift digging painfully into his thigh and his personal gear shift digging even more painfully into the fly of the jeans he was wearing that night, or the three fitful nights he'd spent eight years later sleeping curled uncomfortably in this same driver's seat before he'd realized that Victoria was dead serious when she said he was unwelcome in her life. The Damn Car and its even more memory-tainted counterpart, the Damn Bike, had been a fairly heated point of contention between them while hammering out what he couldn't help but think of as "custody arrangements." Neither of them wanted either one. He still wasn't entirely certain why he hadn't listed them for sale - well, the Damn Bike at any rate. Despite the painful memories the Damn Car brought to mind, there was still the fact that it was a tangible connection to the dim interior of that stuffy barn where he first knew for certain that he wanted to be a policeman. The Damn Bike, on the other hand, brought only painful memories to mind and currently sat covered by a Damn Tarp in his garage, and he hadn't even looked at it since he'd moved in. He'd considered just leaving it behind when the Great Birthday Debacle forced him to move from his original post-separation rental property.
Stop it, he told himself severely. Stop dredging up these tired old memories. He forced himself to recite the casualty statistics for every major battle of the civil war - for the Union and Confederacy - until he finally pulled into his marked parking space in the lot of the Santa Barbara Police Department.
O'Hara stood stock-still between the building and the blue Crown Vic in her space, mouth agape. He supposed he'd caught her on the way to some call or other, but it couldn't have been very important judging by how little inclination she evinced toward getting to work. "Carlton!" she cried out when she could speak. "Where on earth did you get a '66 Sting Ray and why have I not been offered a ride?"
She was a car nut, he'd forgotten that. He toyed briefly with the idea of trading her his keys straight up for the keys to the Crown Vic, but shelved the idea mostly because the department-issued vehicle didn't technically belong to either of them. Instead he simply nodded to her before trotting briskly past her to the building.
"Detective O'Hara," he greeted, his tone perhaps a trifle cooler than he'd intended.
"Hey, wait - " she called out as he climbed the stairs to the front door - "should you really be here right now? Wh…why do you have a bag full of pineapples?"
He ignored her. The stairs, few of them as there were, presented an unexpected obstacle and he was hard-pressed to keep his brisk, no-time-to-chat pace all the way to the top. Once inside he scurried to find an out-of-the-way corner of the main lobby where he could catch his breath unseen. It took quite awhile before the room stopped spinning and he could see straight.
And hear. And what he heard was the angry click-click-click of approaching heels.
"Detective Lassiter!" Chief Vick was clearly on the warpath, hands balled into fists at her sides. Even though he had a good six inches and at least fifty pounds on the chief of police, Lassiter quailed in the face of her righteous wrath. "I believe I told you in no uncertain terms that you do not belong here right now?"
He glanced at the front desk. Allen, the officer who usually worked Reception, looked away too quickly and busied herself with a pen and paper as though the Visitor's Log was a life-and-death assignment. She snitched, he realized. Called the Chief when I came in. He made a mental note to make a quick run up to his desk and add her name to the Official Crap List in his top right-hand drawer. Not only was the woman a stool pigeon and a major psychic-groupie, she'd also tried to kill him. While he was still in the hospital she'd made a quick duty-visit with a group of other officers, and her get-well gift to him had been a wholesale-sized box of Andes mints. Mints.
"You didn't say that I couldn't be here, Karen," he said, mustering as much dignity as he could. "You said I couldn't come back to work. I'm just here for a little target practice. It's my hobby. It relaxes me. I do still have clearance to use the firing range, don't I?"
"Target practice? Lassiter, are you insane? I talked to your doctor, he said that if you insist on being out of the hospital then you need to take it easy for at least the next three weeks, and that you weren't even to consider anything but desk duty for the next month after that. This is not "taking it easy," Carlton. Your lungs collapsed, for Christ's sake, and that wasn't even the worst of it. They had to perform three separate surgeries just to save your life - if you're not careful you could very easily open up your sutures and bleed out again. Your sisters just about bled themselves dry donating blood for your transfusions, are you going to make them do it again? You're supposed to be home in bed. You're supposed to be using that wheelchair they sent home with you if you absolutely have to be up and about. Have you looked in a mirror lately? You look like an escapee from the county morgue. I'm tempted to call Woody Strode and have him come collect you."
"Karen, I was in that damned hospital bed for three fucking months," he snapped with real heat. Chief Vick blinked uncertainly, unused to hearing so much genuine profanity from her Head Detective. "If the goddamn doctors couldn't fix me up in three months another three weeks isn't going to do anything."
"Look at me, Carlton," Chief Vick said, and her light brown eyes bored into him with burning seriousness. "Do you want to die? Is that it? Is this some sort of suicide move?"
He let out a gusty sigh of exasperation, though the irritation intended in the sound was probably lost in the rattling wheeze of it. "No, Karen, I do not want to die. I am not going to die. Not now or of this, at any rate. All I want is for you and O'Hara and everybody else to stop treating me like a…a…a frigging porcelain figurine."
The Chief closed her eyes tight shut against what she clearly saw as his utter stupidity, and he was slightly alarmed to see a single mascara-darkened tear escape from under her cosmetically-emphasized lashes. "Fine, Carlton. Fine. Go down to the range, fire your little…" her eyes fluttered open and she caught sight of the titanium gold butt of the special-edition in his holster "…your…big gun. Is that - is that a Desert Eagle? Is that gun even legal in Califor - you know what? I don't want to know. Just go do…whatever it is you came here to do. Have fun. And if you collapse we'll drag your stupid ass back to the hospital and I swear before God, Carlton, you're staying in this time if I have to put a fucking armed officer outside your door."
She turned on her heel and stormed back up the stairs. People were staring at him - officers, visitors, and suspects handcuffed to benches waiting for Receiving to process them. He stood as straight as possible and thrust his chin out. He favored Officer Allen with his best Stink-Eye as he passed the reception desk. Nobody gave the Stink-Eye like Carlton Lassiter, except perhaps his mother, and Officer Allen fairly quaked beneath it.
Nobody was lined up in the grey, sound-and-bulletproofed firing range, which was good. He had no problem working out his aggressions in front of an audience, but it was better to be alone and not have to answer annoying questions. He also didn't have to wait for the "Cease Fire" alarm to sound in order to set up his "special targets." He ignored the continued wheeze in his breath and the too-hard beat of his heart as he carefully positioned three of the six pineapples on the low bench at the far end of the target range. He returned behind the safety line, put on his eye and ear protection, and unholstered the high-caliber handgun. It felt a lot heavier than he remembered and he nearly dropped it. He closed his eyes and focused on evening out his ragged breathing. When a slower, steadier rhythm reestablished itself in his heart and lungs he opened his eyes and raised the gun. His brain entered "ultra slo-mo bullet time" about a fraction of a second before he squeezed the gold-plated trigger of the Desert Eagle for the first time.
He let out an involuntary whoop as the first pineapple disintegrated in a spray of juice. There was nothing left of it but its spiky green top, not even chunks as far as he could see, though in truth he couldn't see much thanks to the blinding muzzle flash. Even with the heavy-duty ear protection the sound of the blast left his head ringing and he could feel the intensity of the recoil all up both arms and into his chest. If his stance had been slightly off-balance, or if he'd been just a little bit weaker, he probably would've been blown onto his ass, or at least gotten a concussion from a solid blow to the head. He'd never experienced anything like it with a handgun before. He realized abruptly that he was starting up a hard-on and was rather grateful to be middle-aged - if he'd ever had the chance to fire a pistol like this when he first started on the force he probably would've had an orgasm.
He took out the next two pineapples in relatively quick succession, his aim true despite the fact that he couldn't stop giggling. But the giggle turned into a wracking cough and he staggered. He probably would've fallen if a strong arm hadn't wrapped around his waist as soon as he reeled.
A big hand closed over the Desert Eagle and wrenched it out of his failing grip. Buzz McNab clicked the safety on and tucked the gun away in the waistband of his uniform pants, then gently pushed his superior officer down onto the hard bench against the back wall of the room. "Here, sir," he said, and held a plastic Dixie cup to Lassiter's lips. "Drink this."
He gulped down two weak sips of the cool water before he realized that McNab had been ready for this, had been waiting for it, posted like a guard at the door by Vick, and anger reached up to throttle him. He knocked the cup out of McNab's hand. The young man's too-open face registered hurt feelings and Lassiter felt guilty, and then all the more irritable for feeling guilty.
He stood up - too quickly, but he managed to stay upright without assistance. He grabbed the handle of the green eco-friendly shopping bag and shoved it, and the three pineapples remaining inside it, into McNab's arms.
"Here, have some fucking pineapple," he said, and stormed out.