CHAPTER ONE: Solo act
Gus looked up from his laptop when Shawn ambled in the door with a grin, a pile of envelopes and magazines in his hands.
“Mail’s here!” Shawn announced and began flipping through them, pulling out the ones addressed to Gus and flicking them towards him.
“Hey!” Gus complained when a magazine smacked him in the face. He began piling up his mail while glaring at Shawn, who was glancing through his own items and tossing them either onto his own desk or the trashcan.
Gus blinked. Had Shawn just hesitated for a second there?
Shawn, oblivious to his best friend’s observing gaze paused to open an envelope. Something strange flashed across his face then his grin was back as he glanced over the single page. He stuffed the letter back in its envelope and made his way over to the fridge to find something to eat.
Gus narrowed his eyes as he watched him. He was pretty sure he just saw Shawn immediately open a letter and then stick it under his arm to carry around, two things that Shawn Spencer never ever did. Mail was either tossed into a pile to open later or tossed into the trash and that was even if he was waiting for it to arrive.
Gus eyed his best friend suspiciously, trying to catch another glimpse of whatever expression that letter had prompted Shawn to make. But Shawn simply went about what he was doing, making no notice of the seemingly innocuous piece of paper tucked into his armpit. Undeterred, Gus focused on watching him, knowing that it would only take a matter of time as long as he didn’t get distracted...
He hadn’t meant to do it but when his computer dinged, letting him know he had a new email, Gus automatically went to check it. When he looked up ten minutes later, Shawn was ensconced at his desk, tearing through his pile of letters and using them to make paper basketballs after he had finished reading them.
Damn, Gus thought, kicking himself mentally.
The unusual letter was nowhere in sight.
“Shawn, I’m going to work. Don’t do anything stupid while I’m gone!” Gus called, throwing on his jacket and grabbing his keys. He gave Shawn a suspicious look when he just grinned in return.
“Oh don’t be a stale whole wheat muffin, Gus! I wouldn’t do anything like that, you know me,” Shawn admonished his best friend with a wide grin as he spun lazily in his desk chair.
“That’s the problem, Shawn. I do know you.”
“So you know that I’d never do such a thing! Cross my heart and hope to pie,” Shawn crossed his heart with a dramatic flourish.
“It’s hope to die, Shawn,” Gus automatically corrected.
“Why would I want to do that?” The confusion on Shawn’s face seemed genuine.
“It’s a saying. ‘Cross my heart and hope to die.’”
“I’ve heard it both ways,” Shawn shrugged. He grabbed a few items off the desk and began juggling them.
“Whatever, Shawn.” Gus said with a roll of his eyes. “Are we still blowing off dinner at your dad’s tonight?”
“And miss all-you-can-eat jerk chicken?! Blasphemy!” Shawn exclaimed, letting the knickknacks crash to the floor.
“You know that’s right!” Gus called as he disappeared out the door.
Shawn waited, listening closely for the tell tale sound of the Blueberry starting up and driving away. As soon as he was sure Gus was gone, Shawn jumped out of his chair and made a beeline for the fridge. Opening the fridge door, he crouched slightly and pulled away an extra bit of rubber stripping from the bottom of the door and slipped his hand into a hollow inside the door. Shawn pulled out a file folder inside of a heavy duty plastic bag, replaced the stripping, and shut the door.
He had learned the fine art of do it yourself “slicks” and other spy tricks from a CIA spook he had met while in Thailand. Shawn grinned. Mike had been a real stand up guy after Shawn had tipped him off to the wetwork team that was there to kill him.
For the most part, Shawn just used his ‘slicks’ to feel badass or to really drive Gus nuts when he hid something from him, but sometimes, there were things Shawn really just wanted his nosy best friend to not know about. Like the file that was on his desk. He really didn’t need Gus getting a look at that.
Humming the theme to A-Team (the original, obviously), Shawn wandered over and grabbed the fingerprinting kit from inside a hollowed out copy of ‘Twilight’. He didn’t really need to hide the kit, except for the fact that he had ‘borrowed’ it from the SBPD.
Yeah, Juliet wouldn’t be a fan of that.
Shawn frowned at the thought, then shrugged, returning from his desk to remove an evidence bag from the file. In it was the latest letter, just waiting to be dusted. Shawn hadn’t had any luck with the previous dozen or so, but maybe the fourteenth time would be the charm...
He stared dejectedly at the sheet of paper. No prints. Damn.
Shawn hesitated while putting the powder and brush away, before setting them down to look at the envelope a little closer. Grabbing a pair of scissors, he carefully cut along the seams of the envelope to lay it on the desk flat, with the inside up.
“Yahtzee!” Shawn cheered when he managed to get one slightly smudged print from the inside of the envelope.
The idiot who sent the letters had only worn a glove on one hand... or something. Shawn didn’t really care how it was left (other than that it wasn’t planted). He quickly lifted the print with the evidence tape, smoothing the tape over the plastic with a grin. The print may be smudged, but he was 75... no 88% sure that he could get a match on AFIS.
Shawn switched to humming the Mission Impossible theme as he plugged in the office scanner to Gus’ laptop, which he had made sure Gus ‘forgot’ earlier. Normally he would have just let Juliet and Lassiter have the letter checked out by the crime lab techs who’d then run it through AFIS. But normally, he wasn’t trying to hide what he was doing from the police.
Well... Not so much hiding it from them, just doing a bit of investigation himself while prolonging the time before he took the case to them. Which he would.
In the meantime, not telling Juliet and Lassiter meant that Shawn didn’t have access to the crime labs resources, like AFIS. Or it would have, if Shawn hadn’t been snowed in at that airport in Minneapolis with a bunch of hackers who decided that the best way to entertain themselves was to hack into the TSA database and mess around with the no-fly list. By the time flights resumed, Shawn had a free pass through security, a first class seat, and had picked up more than his fair share of hacking techniques.
Usually, hacking was one of the things Shawn designated as being ‘in case of emergency’ only and while this wasn’t quite an emergency, it wasn’t a normal situation either. He couldn’t (wouldn’t) take it to the police so he’d just have to improvise.
It ended up only taking a few minutes to hack into the SBPD network, most of which involved bouncing his IP address around so he wouldn’t be caught. Shawn scanned the print and filled out a dummy report under his father’s name, adding a few notations to make sure the search wasn’t flagged or noticed. It probably seemed stupid, putting it under his dad’s name, but Shawn had his reasons and was confident that it wouldn’t be noticed.
“Come on... come on... come on...” Shawn muttered as the print started running through the system. He was in the process of grabbing a juicebox when the computer finally chimed that he had a result.
“Derek Bisset, you are the 76th caller!” Shawn cried in a announcer voice. “And you’ve just won a visit by Santa Barbara’s own psychic detective, Shawn Spencer!” He made fake cheering noises as print match and profile of Bisset printed. Grabbing the profile out of the printer, Shawn skimmed the page.
“Aggravated assault... Armed robbery... My, my, Derek you’ve been such a naughty boy,” Shawn murmured as he read. “Last known address: 8329 Wellington.”
He glanced at his wristwatch.
“I think it’s time to stop by and check on that case Lassie doesn’t want me working on,” Shawn declared. Bisset and his letters could wait.
Lunchtime was a godsend if you’re trying to sneak around a police station undetected. It was a technique Shawn had perfected by the time he was twelve and needed lunch money after the bullies stole his. Towards the middle of the day, like clockwork, the whole station becomes antsy and distracted, their low blood sugar getting the better of them.
Shawn grinned when he realized the only real obstacle wasn’t there: Lassie.
He had figured Juliet and her partner would be out at that B&E with aggravated assault scene that had been called in a half an hour ago, and he was right. Lassiter’s desk remained blissfully unoccupied.
Going back to humming the Mission Impossible theme under his breath, Shawn slipped through the hustle and bustle of the station unnoticed. He casually walked by Lassie’s desk and covertly picked up the file before moving to the area by the old fire escape that wasn’t covered by the security cameras to read it.
“I’ll be damned...” Shawn muttered.
The case Lassie had been hellbent on keeping Shawn away from was a string of armed robberies and B&Es... not unlike the one that Juliet and Lassie were at the scene of that very moment. A slow smile spread across Shawn’s face as he read through the particulars of the case, noting the dates and times and locations.
Apparently, his date with Bisset couldn’t wait after all.
Slipping the report back onto Lassie’s desk, Shawn made his way over to a quiet hallway and stood directly in the line of sight of one of the security cameras. Looking up, he grinned for a moment before signing a few things using the sign language his father had taught him and Gus when they were nine.
With one last wave to the camera, he headed out of the station, making sure to bump into Buzz on his way out.
“Oh, hi Shawn, what’re you doing here?” Buzz asked with a smile. Shawn shrugged.
“I was just looking for Jules and Lassie to see if they had a case.”
“They’re at a scene right now... did you want me to tell them you stopped by?”
“No, no... that’s alright, it’s not important,” Shawn replied with an easy smile.
The tall officer nodded and got back to work while Shawn left the building, grinning. He glanced at his watch as he ambled down the steps and frowned, he didn’t have a whole lot of time to get this done. Hopping onto his Norton, Shawn sped through the streets of Santa Barbara, pushing the speed limit a bit more than usual in his haste.
It ended up taking more time than he had hoped to get to Bisset’s. Taking a deep breath, Shawn parked in a secluded spot nearly a quarter mile from the house. Well, it wasn’t really a house so much as a dilapidated shack, Shawn noted as he approached. He snuck carefully around to the back of the seemingly empty house and silently edged towards a window to peek inside.
“Bingo!” he murmured, grinning. “There’s the--”
Shawn was cut off by something hitting the back of his head.
Then there was only dark.