Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. I do not own any of the characters of Psych and am not affiliated with the show or USA Network. 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. I do not own nor am I associated with Neosporin, or Band-aid.
*AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story is set immediately after the ending of the Psych Season 5 finale episode “Yin 3 in 2D,” BEFORE he meets Marlowe and moves into the condo. It also takes place after my previous Psych Fan Fiction stories "Choose It Or Lose It", "It Can Happen", "This Stalker Thing Kind Of Sucks", and "Stir Crazy". Events affecting the Lassiter/Shawn and Lassiter/Juliet dynamics that take place in both of these previous stories are mentioned in this one. You might want to read them first. Doing so is not a requirement to understand what is going on in this one, but it will definitely help alleviate any confusion that might occur when the references pop up.*
Lassiter strode out to his driveway, still chomping on the last bites of his bacon and egg laden breakfast burrito. He momentarily transferred the food to his other hand, juggling briefcase, burrito, and coffee while he dug into his pocket in search of his keys. Successful in his hunt, he produced the jangling ring with a small triumphant grunt before stopping at the driver’s door of his Ford Fusion. He set his favorite travel mug of coffee on the roof to free himself of the encumbrance while opening the door, then bent down to deposit his briefcase on the front passenger seat. He was just about to retrieve his coffee when he caught sight of his neighbor’s yard over the roof of his car.
Weeds. Those damn weeds were still there. Untrimmed and overgrown, Lassiter growled at the flagrant violation of city code. How dare his neighbor disregard laws enacted to beautify the great city of Santa Barbara?! Even after he’d told his neighbor last week that he had to trim his yard or face the consequences. He saw the bathrobe clad man in question sauntering down his front sidewalk to retrieve his morning paper.
“Hey! Halbert!” he barked at the scofflaw next door.
The man shook his head and rolled his eyes in annoyance. “What the hell do you want now, officer?”
“It’s Detective,” he admonished, “and when the hell are you going to mow your lawn?”
“I’ve been busy, officer,” he spat back, refusing to acknowledge Lassiter’s proper title.
Which Lassiter found the most infuriating thing ever.
“The greenery in your front lawn is now over twelve inches high. That’s a blatant violation of section 459.008(b)(5) of the Santa Barbara City Code,” he informed his neighbor in an authoritative voice.
“Twelve inches my ass, cop. Those milkweeds are no taller than ten.”
“They’re fourteen inches high, Halbert.” He retrieved a ruler from the glove compartment of his car and brandished it triumphantly in his fist. “I know, because I measured them last week, before I warned you the first time. Now mow your lawn before 5:00 pm this evening, or you will receive a citation. You can count on it.” Lassiter turned his back on the middle finger presented by his neighbor in retaliation, and slid into the driver’s seat of his car. When he got home, he would either be greeted by the pleasant view of a freshly mowed lawn, or have the satisfaction of McNab serving the obnoxious little weed farmer with a ticket for the eyesore. Fifty dollars out of the man’s pocket for a first offense should encourage him to properly maintain the landscaping around his house.
Lassiter put the car in reverse and slowly backed out of his driveway. Satisfied justice would be served in the matter of Lassiter vs. Weedville, he began his drive to the station with a smile brightening his face. The rolling thump moving from the car’s roof to the trunk pulled his attention off the road. That’s when he realized he’d left his coffee on top of his car when confronted by the distraction of his neighbor’s unkempt lawn. Lassiter looked in the rearview mirror just in time to see his favorite travel mug get run over by a city garbage truck. He swore under his breath–that was the travel mug with the logo of his favorite gun store, damn it! Knowing there was nothing he could do at the moment, and hoping the garbage truck personnel would pick up the mashed plastic to avoid litter in the street, he decided to just continue his drive to work. He didn’t want to risk being late thanks to the delay caused by confronting his inconsiderate neighbor.
He had no idea at the time it was an omen of things to come.
Halbert waited until the tail lights on Lassiter’s car disappeared into the morning light. “Asshole,” he grumbled under his breath. He turned away from his living room window, waddled into his kitchen, and grabbed a plastic bowl from the cabinet above the sink. Then he wandered into his garage where he opened up the sealed bag of deer corn, and scooped up a generous amount of the yellow grain. Halbert went out to his front yard again, checking to make sure Lassiter hadn’t doubled back before emerging into the morning sun.
“Here, boy,” he called while making a chattering noise with his tongue against his front teeth. “Come on, come and get it!” After a few moments, he heard the distinctive rustling of leaves in the tree far above him. Halbert smiled as he stood on the property line separating his yard from that of his justice obsessed neighbor. Fortunately the Head Detective was subject to the same problems scheduling household repairmen as every other citizen, regardless of his job title, which temporarily left his well fortified home with a critical weakness. His garage door opener, having been damaged by a power surge during a storm two nights prior, left the heavy outer door stuck partially open. Rather than pull the release cord and pull the door shut manually, Lassiter chose to leave the door where it was so the gears of the broken machine held the door firmly in place. Halbert realized the three inch gap between the bottom of the door and concrete slab was all he needed as the perfect opportunity for revenge.
“Come on, come and get it!” he called again, and tossed a small handful of dry corn into Lassiter’s driveway directly in front of the garage. Sure enough, they responded almost immediately, just as they’d learned to do every time he appeared bearing food. A flash of brown and gray fur as they eagerly scrambled out of the tree and onto cement to chase after the corn. He lobbed another handful, making sure most of it rolled through the gap underneath the door and into the garage. A wicked smirk slowly spread across his features as he watched one brave squirrel poke its head through the gap, sniff several times, then tentatively crawl underneath to disappear into the darkness.
“Bon appetit, ya furry little bastards,” he laughed.
Lassiter groaned and rubbed the back of his aching neck while he waited in the turn lane for oncoming traffic to clear. The soft glow of the dashboard clock told him it was almost 9:00 PM, a full four hours late in his return home from work. He just wanted to go home, sip a glass of scotch, and watch the new episode of “The First 48” while trying to forget this day had ever happened.
The first indication his day would not end well was when he’d tripped on the stairs in front of the SDPD building. He hadn’t even crossed the threshold before tearing a hole in his brand new slacks and scraping an impressive amount of flesh off his knee. When he’d finally limped inside, he found twelve incident reports stacked in his “in” box waiting for him to proofread and correct for final approval. That was in addition to the five new cases Chief Vick delivered to him before he’d even been able to sit down to slap a Band-aid on his injured knee. Then the station’s ancient coffee pot finally gave up the ghost and broke down, leaving him without access to his favorite caffeinated beverage until he and O’Hara finally left the station on their lunch break around noon. Which, of course, was cut short when a body was found in an abandoned storage shack down by the docks. The corpse, which had been baking inside what amounted to a large tin oven underneath the California sun for almost a month, had decomposed to the point it had begun to liquify. Lassiter hated the really rotten bodies because that powerful odor saturated everything, and clung to anything porous it came into contact with – like his brand new and formerly nice suit – until it could be thoroughly cleaned. That pungent, sickening stench of decomposition had caused a rookie in his first week of field training to regurgitate his bacon & egg breakfast burrito all over the Head Detective’s impeccably shined shoes. So not only did he have to finish his shift wearing wet, squishy footwear completely soaked after a thorough rinsing, he also had to walk around stewing in a cloud of “dead guy” stink the rest of the day. There was one, small benefit, though. The smell kept Spencer and his oversensitive, “super sniffing” friend Guster away from him the rest of his shift.
It was almost worth it. Almost.
And for the final insult of the day, a teenaged girl had hit his Crown Victoria sedan from behind because she’d been sending a text message instead of watching the road. She hadn’t even stopped typing when she’d stepped out of the car to complain he’d had the audacity to stop at a red light in front of her. Lassiter secretly took great joy in promptly reducing her to tears with an angry lecture detailing penalties ranging from losing her license, to arrest for reckless driving. His only consolation was the knowledge she’d received an extremely expensive ticket from the CHP officer working the accident.
The traffic flow finally ceased, and Lassiter turned onto the street leading into his neighborhood. As he made the long awaited turn into his driveway, the headlights of his car swept over his neighbor’s freshly trimmed lawn.
“About damn time,” he grumbled. He stopped in front of his garage door, noting with pleasant surprise that it was now completely closed. There was also a paper invoice taped to the outside of the door at eye level where he could see it easily. “Oh, sweet! The repairman must have come by and fixed it!” he exclaimed, and pressed the button on the remote clipped underneath the passenger side visor. The door began opening smoothly as soon as he activated it.
“Great. About time something good happened to me today,” he mumbled as he slowly drove into his garage. He parked, turned off the car, and leaned over to retrieve his briefcase form the front passenger side floorboard. Not realizing it had shifted position slightly during the journey between station and his home, he grabbed the handle and pulled without looking, only to have his favorite monogramed leather case snag underneath the edge of the seat.
Lassiter stared at the now detached handle in his right hand. “Crap on a cracker!” he swore loudly. He angrily shoved the broken handle into his glove compartment with intentions of exploring the possibility of reattachment in the near future, fished the satchel off the floorboard, then stormed out of his car, stalking through his garage as the outer door closed behind him.
“Thank Judge Judy this day is over,” he muttered as he walked inside and dropped his briefcase on the coffee table. Skipping dinner, he bypassed the refrigerator and went straight for the bottle of Jameson sitting on the counter next to the microwave. He poured himself a double shot, then ambled over to the couch, toed off his still soggy shoes, and dropped to the couch in a tired heap. He took a long, slow, relaxing breath, accompanied by a sip of his whiskey. He’d just managed to get comfortable when he thought he heard a faint noise coming from the hallway. He sat up, listening intently, staring at the doorway with rapt attention. After several moments, he decided it was probably just the house settling, so he relaxed again, taking another long pull from his glass. A few seconds later he heard it again – a distinctive scratching sound.
Lassiter was off the couch and on his feet in an instant, gun in one hand and tactical flashlight in the other. He quickly moved across the living room and paused beside the doorway leading into the darkened hall. “SBPD! Come out with your hands up!” he yelled into the darkness. He heard the noise again, pinpointing the guest bathroom as the source.
“Come out with your hands up or I will shoot you! Do it NOW!”
Now that he was closer to the bathroom, he could hear the sounds coming from the bathroom more clearly. There was scratching on wood, followed by the hollow ring of a metal toiletry can hitting something solid, and the furious scrambling of hard nails on tile. It didn’t sound...human. Now confidant he wasn’t dealing with a burglar, Lassiter turned on the lights and crept to the bathroom door. He looked underneath the door, noting the light was off, so whatever was in there was scurrying around in the dark. He raised his gun, opened the door, and flipped the light switch.
The bathroom was in shambles. Everything had been knocked off the counter and was strewn about the floor. The shower curtain rod was dislodged from its mounting on one side, and the ripped curtain sagged limply in the tub. The trashcan had been knocked over onto its side, and the contents were scattered all over the room – the floor, counter, in the tub, the trash was literally everywhere. There were also puddles of water all over the floor.
“What the hell?”
Motion drew his attention to the far corner of the room, away from the bulk of the mess. Crouched in the corner, staring back at him with wide, black eyes, was a large, gray squirrel. Its body was coiled with tension and fear, ready to bolt at any moment. It was also soaking wet because it had apparently fallen into the open toilet. The animal had obviously torn up the bathroom during its attempts to escape confinement in the enclosed space.
“Oh, bloody hell, no...”
That’s when he saw his toothbrush lying in the bottom of the toilet bowl.
“You evil little bastard!” he screamed at the bushy tailed rodent. He pointed his finger accusingly at the furry intruder cowering in a pile of soiled tissues. “You did that on purpose, didn’t you?! I’ll bet this is revenge for the pellet gun incident last week, isn’t it? Was it one of your relatives I shot in the ass?” Realizing he was arguing with lowly vermin that couldn’t understand English, he stopped talking and began thinking about the best way to capture the wet creature. He closed the door to keep it contained, and started looking around his house for a vessel suitable for squirrel confinement. He finally settled on his rattan clothes hamper. Not only was it sturdy, but the gaps in the loose basket weave would allow him to view his captured prey. He dumped the dirty clothes onto his bedroom floor and carried the improvised trap into the bathroom. The squirrel was still sitting exactly where he’d left it, breathing hard and ready to flee at any second.
Lassiter closed the door behind him and slowly inched toward the twitching creature. “Come here, you furry little bastard.” He reached out to grab it and instantly the squirrel bolted away from his hand. It was on the other side of the bathroom in a flash, leaping into the shower curtain and bringing the rod crashing to the floor. Lassiter gave chase only to have the animal scurry away. It bounced around the enclosed space, frantically trying to elude the “predator” chasing it and find an escape route. Lassiter managed to grab its tail but the animal pulled out of his grasp. It jumped, slipped off the edge of the sink, and fell into the toilet again. Seizing the opportunity, Lassiter tried grabbing the rodent again. The squirrel leapt out of the bowl, latched onto the fabric of his coat sleeve, and began scrambling up his arm.
“GAAH! GET OFF!” Lassiter screamed as the sopping wet creature clamored up onto the top of his head. He frantically batted at the horrid little monster, arms flailing wildly as its soaking wet tail slopped toilet water all over his face. Its sharp claws scrambled for purchase in his hair and Lassiter felt the sting as its undoubtedly filthy toenails dug into his scalp. After a few hellish moments, he finally managed to grab hold of the animal. Lassiter yanked it free of his hair, stuffed the dripping thing into the hamper, and closed the lid, trapping it inside.
“Son of a BITCH!” he yelled before spitting out a bit of toilet water that made it into his mouth. The trapped squirrel pushed against the top of the hamper’s lid in an attempt to escape, popping it open briefly before Lassiter slammed his hand down to keep it closed. The basket wiggled from the frantic movements of the animal trapped within. He looked around the bathroom for something heavy while keeping a firm grip on the lid, surprised at just how strong the furry little bugger was. He finally spied the humidifier in the open cabinet beneath the sink. Silently thanking his post-workout stretching routine, he somehow managed to hold the hamper shut with his hands while stretching one of his long legs out far enough to snag the device with his toe. He curled his foot and dragged it to within arm’s reach, whereupon he promptly wrapped long fingers around the tank, scooped it up, and deposited it on the hamper’s lid. It was just heavy enough to hold the hamper closed despite the furry prisoner’s best efforts to break free. He ran and retrieved several books from the living room, stacking them on the lid beside the humidifier for added security.
As soon as the bin was secure, he hurried into his master bathroom, shucking his wet jacket as he walked. He gazed at his reflection in the bathroom mirror and saw trickles of pink water dribbling through his hairline.
“Son of a bitch!” He pulled his hair aside and found the scratches inflicted by the squirrel’s claws were bleeding. “Great. Now I’m going to need rabies shots,” he growled. Deciding he needed to cleanse himself thoroughly after being doused in toilet water and squirrel cooties, Lassiter shed the rest of his clothes and made a beeline for the shower. He took his time, trying to wash away his stress under a cascade of warm water and shampooing his hair until he finally felt clean. He donned his pajamas, swaddled himself in his plush, blue, terrycloth bathrobe, and stuffed his feet into a pair of slippers before shuffling back toward the guest bath. He still had to take care of the furry problem that had just trashed his bathroom before turning in for the night. Lassiter opened the door and retrieved his snub nose Ruger SP101 .357 magnum revolver from it’s hiding spot behind the toilet tank and deposited it in the pocket of his robe. He knew it was probably overkill to use a .357 on a squirrel, but he planned on dispatching that nut loving rodent with extreme prejudice after it dared invade the sanctity of his home. He removed the books and humidifier from the lid, and picked up the hamper, intent on taking it out to the backyard where he could exterminate the pest. But he knew there was a problem as soon as he raised it off the floor – the basket was way too light. He opened the lid and peeked inside. The hamper was empty. There was also a large hole in one of the bottom corners where the panicked animal had chewed its way through the wicker and escaped its prison.
“What the hell? Where did it go?” He glanced around the small room, trying to find where the animal could be hiding. He heard a noise behind him, and turned around just in time to see a bushy gray tail dart out of the doorway.
“Great Caesar’s ghost, NO!” Lassiter hurried out of the bathroom, gun raised and ready for the kill, but he saw no sign of the squirrel in the hallway. He looked both ways, frantically searching for any sign of the animals presence, but saw nothing. The animal was nowhere to be found. His heart sank as he came to a terrible realization.
The squirrel was now loose in his house.