set Pre-Shules, season 3, a month after "Lassie did a Bad Bad Thing"
" - After you junior." A heavy Scottish accent drawled as Shawn and Gus stared transfixed at their big screen TV. It was movie night at the office and it had been Gus' idea to pick the Indiana Jones movies.
"Yes sir!" A young Harrison Ford shouted before they all rode their horses off into the sunset.
As the end credits rolled, Shawn stretched. "I've got to hand it to you buddy. You picked some good movies tonight."
"Tonight? Don't I always pick good movies?"
"What about two weeks ago when you picked 'Battlefield Earth?'" Shawn curled his lip. Usually he liked John Travolta, but the movie's odd angles tended to give him a headache.
Frowning, Gus grumbled. "Well it was better than your pick last week, mister 'It's a classic!'"
Shawn's eyes widened in affront and he readied his popcorn ammo. "Don't diss Howard the Duck, Gus. That's just something you don't do."
After a short staring contest both friends looked away to cool off and Shawn popped his former ammo into his mouth. Most of the time they agreed on movies, but when they didn't it was often a bicker match that could go on for hours. As it was, they still had one more movie to watch, even though Gus didn't quite know it, yet.
"Well, I'm done. Goodnight. See you tomorrow." Gus gathered up his blanket and tried to make a quick exit, almost as if he knew of Shawn's plans.
"But Guuuus! We aren’t done..." Shawn singsonged and blindly reached under his seat cushion, bringing out the pièces de résistance; a copy of the brand new movie, 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.' "It's a rule Gus. We have to watch them all."
"Shawn please." Gus scoffed haughtily. "The first three Indiana Jones movies are classics. They have all the old school elements that make an action movie great. Hero, sidekick, important mission... and a girl."
Shawn rolled his eyes at his friend's over annunciation and eye widening. He really needed to get a girlfriend. "Just because you hate the fourth one, doesn't mean it doesn't exist in the Indiana Jones universe." He countered. "Besides, you've only seen it once in the theaters. The director's cut could have fixed things."
"Indiana got flung by an ATOMIC BOMB in a fridge Shawn - " Gus paused and pinched the bridge of his nose. "I can't do this with you right now. Let's just watch it and get it over with."
"That's the spirit!" Shawn rushed over and plopped the DVD in the holder and sat back down as the previews started.
The first one was advertizing the other three movies, and Shawn pointedly ignored Gus' smug glances as the trailer advertized the "classic Indiana Jones" angle. However, the next trailer almost caused Gus to drop the entire bowl of popcorn as he reached over Shawn to turn up the volume.
"Hey! What gives Grabby!" Shawn dodged the grasping hand while numbly saving the buttery kernels from falling to the ground.
"DUDE! It's the new Axe McDougan movie!"
"Axe?" Shawn frowned at the name. "Never heard of it."
"The first movie was a huge hit Shawn. Arnou Coswell is great as the suave, yet dangerous Axe McDougan." To Shawn, Gus almost sounded like he was reciting the trailer voice over dialogue.
Even so, he was intrigued and watched as the tall man with short cropped black hair and green eyes battled everything from ninjas to cowboys. He seemed to be a mixture of FBI agent and vigilante. At the title screen, Shawn snorted and lost all interest when the movie title flashed on the TV "Giv'em the Axe."
Oblivious to Shawn's disinterest, Gus continued, "They're already filming the next in the series. I can't wait to see it. I'm number three on the contact list for any spoilers."
Of course, there was one last scene where Axe McDougan gunned down a man who was about to shoot him. The action hero twisted his gun and put it back in his holster. "You've just gotten the Axe."
Narrowing his eyes, Shawn could have sworn in that instant, the actor reminded him of someone. He just couldn't figure out whom. "Gus, does that guy seem familiar to you?" Looking over he saw that Gus was in his own little heroic world as the trailer ended. Shawn sighed and gave up for now, deciding to focus more on the movie. With his abilities it was surprising that the feeling of déjà vu didn't happen to him more often.
"Gus, pass the popcorn."
"Just because you ate all yours doesn't mean you get to take mine Shawn."
Somewhere, on a studio lot in Hollywood....
"Thanks Arnou! See you tomorrow!" A middle-aged red haired woman waved to a tall black haired man with bright green eyes.
Arnou waved absentmindedly as he exited towards his car. His mind was already on the large fresh salmon filet in his fridge, just waiting to be pan fried and smothered in hollandaise.
It had been a super long day, and tomorrow would be just as long. They were in the lot for another two weeks, and then it would be off to the Caribbean for some ocean backdrops. As great as it was to catch some rays once and a while, he enjoyed a night at home just as much as a night in Acapulco now days.
He was just reaching for his keys when he heard some arguing a couple rows down. One of the voices was familiar. It belonged to one of the film's producers, Sal Greason. The other two voices he'd never heard before. Sal was a good guy, and he wondered who would be pissed at him, and why. He walked up closer to hear better.
"You should have just given The Mack his money. We know you and that pretty boy are making cash hand over fist on the first two flicks."
Arnou's nose wrinkled. Pretty Boy. He hated that term. He could hold his own, just because his knuckles didn't drag on the ground, didn't mean he was a sissy. He was about to give them a piece of his mind when a large *SMACK* sounded and Sal screamed loudly. Arnou quickly ducked behind the nearest car, his back plastered to the side.
"Please! I'll get him the money! I have it in my bank account!"
The pitiful whine from Sal made Arnou's heart clench in his chest, and he inched away back towards his own vehicle. He was too close to them to try and call 911. It was a miracle that he'd made it this far without being seen.
"Just do him. The boss needs to make an example outta someone and he picked this guy. Don't draw it out, someone might show up."
The terrified actor expected more talk, that was how it was in the movies. People talked their way out of situations, and the bad guys got caught. The cracking rapport of a gunshot and the small thud of a body hitting the ground was all he heard. No more pleading, no more Sal.
"Let's get outta here. This place gives me the creeps."
To Arnou's horror, their footsteps started walking towards him rather than away. If they walked by they would see him for sure, and he'd be as dead as Sal. Taking the chance, he sprinted away to his car, already having it started with his key fob.
"Hey! It's the pretty boy! Get him!" Arnou heard the voice directly behind him and he used his long legs to run faster.
When the bullets started flying, he was already closing his car door and putting his Lamborghini into drive. He squealed the tires and got the hell out of there. His hands were shaking too badly to dial the phone, but his Bluetooth still worked. Through gasping breaths he choked out, "Call 911!"
As he quickly explained his predicament to the dispatch, he realized that the hit men (Or whatever they were) had recognized him. They could even have someone on their way to his house right now. Anyone brazen enough to kill a man out in the open like that wasn't someone to be messed with.
He was completely screwed.
Three Days Later:
Carlton was already not having a good day when he got the call from the chief to head back to the station for an emergency briefing. The morning started out well enough until he and Juliet stumbled upon a vandalism in progress. A convenience store egging. Not exciting by any means, but Carlton was never one to pass up teaching young troublemakers the consequences of a life of crime.
The two hooligans, once cornered by the two detectives, surprisingly decided not to go down without a fight. By fight it meant they each hadn't used their whole cartons of eggs on the store yet, and started whipping the orbs of goo at both of them. Once they were out of projectiles however, they'd had no choice to come quietly.
Juliet hadn't let him cuff the twelve year olds, but instead had him call the juvenile detention center to deal with them. It didn't help his already sour demeanor that the officers who came laughed at him and his partner's predicament. Even Juliet's mood was dark after realizing how much of it had gotten in her hair. The only thing that had worked out for them was that the grateful owner of the convenience store had given them plastic bags to sit on for their ride back in his car.
Gus and Shawn were already waiting in the bullpen when they'd arrived at the chief's request. Carlton suppressed an outward groan, knowing exactly what was coming.
"Wow," The 'psychic' exclaimed with a sidelong glance to Gus. "When the chief said you were going to be late because there was trouble, I thought she was egg-zadurating."
Gus however, tsked in annoyance and Carlton's opinion of him rose a teeny amount. "Shawn, you should be ashamed of yourself, making fun of them after such a fine egg-sample of police work."
As both friends snickered, Carton made a mental note to add the pharmaceutical rep to his 'List.'
"Shawn..." Juliet said exasperatedly, obviously not anymore in the mood for joking than he was.
The apologetic look at the scolding from his partner surprised him. Shawn's face became serious and he elbowed Gus before they both produced two damp towels. "Sorry Jules, here." He handed the towel to Juliet. She took it gratefully and started wiping off the slime, starting with her face.
Gus handed Carlton his own towel, remarking, "You know, eggs are supposed to be good for hair."
With a scowl, Carlton snatched the towel. "I'll remember that next time Guster."
"Detectives! In here!" Karen had her head hanging out a conference room door, gesturing them in.
Inside the conference room, a projector had been set up and just enough chairs for the four of them. If this was a normal emergency briefing, it would have been shared with the entire station. Carlton knew something was up, especially with the smirk the chief was currently wearing as she gestured to the chairs.
"Have a seat everyone, and shut the door." Karen confirmed Carlton's suspicions. "We have a unique situation on our hands."
More unique than a split personality murderer, dinosaur, or a treasure hunters? Carlton wondered at this point what exactly the chief could possibly consider 'unique.'
"What is it?" Shawn asked excitedly. "Please say it's Teddy Bear testing. I would so RULE at that."
Ignoring Shawn's outburst, Karen continued, but the sly smirk never left her face. "I was contacted today by the Los Angeles Police Department.
"It could still be Teddy Bear testing." Shawn whispered to Gus.
Carlton pulled at his hair, "For the love of - It's not Teddy Bear testing Spencer!"
"What happened," Karen stressed the point, trying to get her team under control, "Is that an actor was witness to what was probably a gang related hit, and he needs to be put in protective custody until the killers are caught."
"A movie star? Really?" Gus' eyes brightened. Carlton scoffed, the other man was probably visualizing a pretty starlet in need of assistance. All he could think of was a brat wanting every whim to be catered to. Just another Nigel St. Nigel. After attending that man’s disastrous dinner party a few months ago, he’d had more than enough of celebrities and their problems for one year.
Juliet leaned forward on the table, "Why don't they just keep him in Hollywood? Why here? And Hollywood is way out of our jurisdiction."
"Let me fill you in on the details and they should answer your question." She turned on the slide show, and a body appeared. It was beaten bloody with a bullet wound square in the temple. Gus swallowed hard and pretended to look at the screen, but Carlton could see he was focusing on the back of Karen's head. "This, was Sal Greason. A producer for a lot of independent films, until he hit it big with an action trilogy."
"Ooooo, action!" Shawn exclaimed.
"The actor was just coming off the set of his new movie, 'An Axe to Grind' when he overheard two men arguing with Mr. Greason. He was able to escape, but he was unable to identify the assailants despite the fact that they apparently knew who he was through his association with the deceased."
Shawn seemed to have gone still, and Gus was giving him a worried glance while carefully avoiding looking at the screen. Carlton ignored the scene and huffed out a frustrated breath and gestured at the screen, "Oh come on! Can't the LAPD figure this one out on their own? We have enough problems up here without having to clean up the scum in the entire state."
Karen held up a hand, patiently dealing with Carlton's outburst. "Let me finish detective." She turned back to the screen, "The problem with the murderers knowing who he is, complicates things and leaves him an open target for them to pick off at any moment. What the LAPD is proposing, is a switch up."
"I'm getting something!" Shawn stood up, his hand to his temple. Please not now... Carlton clenched his teeth to stop the retort sitting on the tip of his tongue. "I'm seeing a well."
"A well?" Juliet frowned, "You think he's going to be killed by being pushed into a well?"
"No, but it's not just one well... it's two wells. Identical wells, but the well isn't a thing, it's a person who's in trouble and needs a double!" Shawn ducked behind Carlton's chair.
Standing up and out of the way, Carlton glared at Shawn. "What the hell are you talking about?"
"Actually detective, I believe he was picking up on this..." Karen clicked the projector to the next photo. It was a tall, thin, man with slicked back black hair. His suave smirk and his green eyes would have made any woman swoon. That wasn't the most prominent thing about him though. The most prominent thing, was that if you took away the green eyes, and made his nose a bit bigger, he would be the spitting image of one Head Detective Carlton Lassiter. "Meet Arnou Coswell."
"Wha?" Carlton's mouth hung open as Karen continued.
"The LAPD searched their databases for an officer who would be able to go undercover as Arnou to hopefully lure out the killers so we can catch them and Arnou can finish making his movie without fear of death."
"This is so like that Sandra Bullock movie! The one where she's in the pageant."
Gus nodded excitedly, "Yeah, the one where she adopts a football player."
As Shawn stared open mouthed at the movie sin that Gus had just committed, Juliet shouted, "Mrs. Congeniality!"
"Exactly! And it looks like Lassie here is going to be the prettiest girl at the show." The psychic wrapped his arm around Carlton's shoulders as the latter continued to stare straight forward in absolute shock.
“What - me? How? But - him - ”
“Conjunction junction, what’s your function.” Shawn sang.
Juliet groaned. Shawn wasn’t helping. She’d known Carlton long enough to know that he tended to freeze or overreact in certain unexpected situations. Not in his police work, not at all. However, when it came to personally shocking events, they could put him down for the count in a heartbeat.
Karen turned off the projector, “I’ve had to think long and hard about this after I got the call. Lord knows undercover work isn’t your strong suit detective, but it’s going to have to work. There’s no one else that they could find with your experience and training in time.”
Juliet agreed, but she also knew there was the fact that Karen was a very new chief, trying to build her reputation. This was a great opportunity to build a lot of trust and respect with a fellow precinct and Karen needed it.
“There is a catch. We have a time limit.” Carlton gulped. “Due to Mr. Coswell’s schedule for shooting, we have less than two weeks to draw out the killers and ensure his safety. Once he is out of the country, there is nothing we can do.”
Juliet bit her lip in worry. Less than two weeks didn't give them a long time to plan. They had to get her partner into character, make and schedule public appearances to bring the killers out of hiding, plus make sure Carlton wasn’t hurt in the crossfire.
"So why do you need us Chief?" Gus asked as Shawn was too distracted by waving his hand and snapping his fingers in front of Carlton's face, trying to bring him out of his shocked stupor.
"I need you and Mr. Spencer to keep a look out and your senses open for any danger while doing some research on the victim and who his associates might be." Karen tried to reassure her detectives, "We're not just going to leave him out there as a sitting duck. We have to be proactive about this."
Carlton, finally coming around, roughly slapped Shawn's hand away. The psychic made a pained noise and stepped back. "Chief, isn't there someone better suited to keep me safe? What about O'Hara?
She grinned and sat up straighter, happy Carlton would want her protecting him. She was about to agree when Karen shook her head. "The other part of the deal was that Arnou would be coming here for safety as well as anonymity. If anyone saw him it would ruin everything. We need as few people in on this as possible."
"Where is he going to stay?" Juliet asked. "There aren't many safe houses around here and it would bring more people into the secret."
Karen nodded in agreement and a contemplative silence fell over the group. Suddenly, she saw Shawn brighten and stand up. "I think I have an idea! I'll be right back." With that he rushed for the door, Gus already at his heels.
Karen stopped him at the door, "Make it fast Mr. Spencer. Arnou will be coming here within the hour."
"You got it!"
'Dude, Arnou Coswell is coming here! How cool is that?"
Juliet hid a smile at Gus' comment and scooted her chair closer to Carlton. "You can do this partner. Shawn and Gus may be immature, but they'll have your back."
"Oh please. One hot dog truck and they'll be running down the street after it, leaving me wide open for assassination." Carlton stared at the table bitterly.
"Come on. Let's go meet Arnou and we can start getting you in character. It may actually be fun!" Juliet smiled, and he finally nodded in agreement before standing up and heading for the door. She'd do her best to be supportive, even though she was still worried for her partner. The last two times she'd gone undercover, she almost died. However, it was worse for Carlton because if he ever broke character, someone else would die.
Shawn darted out of the Blueberry almost before it was stopped. They'd just pulled up in front of his dad's house, and none too soon. Gus had been blabbing his ear off since leaving the station, telling him everything about Arnou. As interested as he was in the case and going to Hollywood, he could do without the fan boy commentary.
"Shawn, did you know Arnou has slept with two out of the ten most beautiful women in the world according to Vogue magazine?"
Turning to his friend and replying sharply, Shawn hissed, "Yes Gus! I heard you the first three times you said it! Now shush! I've got some groveling to do."
He knocked on the door, hoping his dad was home and not out on an early morning fishing trip. Henry really hated it when he came home to a house full of uninvited guests, and since the last incident Shawn had actually done his best to ask permission. More or less.
It seemed too long of a time before his dad finally came to the door. So long Shawn started to become suspicious. He was about to get the Hide-A-Key when Henry cracked the door just enough to stand in it.
"What do you want Shawn?"
"Good to see you too Pop. I'm - " Shawn paused and looked at his dad's stance. Guarded, obviously hiding something... or someone. His father would only be hiding someone if it was a date, or he was being held hostage. Shawn figured it wasn't the latter. With how early in the morning it still was, the only way a woman would be over was if she'd spent the night.
For the sake of his sanity, he hoped he was wrong. Just the thought of his dad with someone else was just, EW.
"Gus, super sniffer."
Gus started sniffing and Henry glared. "What are you doing?"
"I smell perfume." Gus grimaced at the powerful odor.
"Aha! I knew it! You have a lady friend over!"
"So, what of it Shawn?"
"Does she know about your horrible morning breath!?" Shawn said a bit too loudly, "or that you sometimes bite your toenails and then drink out of the milk carton!?"
Panicking, Henry pushed Shawn out of the way and closed the door before the woman inside could hear any more dark secrets. "Damn it Shawn, stop!"
Shawn grinned. "Well, now that we're alone. We have some top secret, favor like stuff to discuss with you."
"You could have just told me you wanted to speak to me alone, Shawn." Henry growled.
"But it wouldn't have been as fun, or enlightening for your new girlfriend." His father took a deep breath, about to unleash hell. "Besides, she's still in the shower. She wouldn't have heard any of that."
Henry didn't even have to ask how Shawn knew that. He'd already realize that the time it took to get to the door, and the water still clinging to him would be enough evidence. "Okay, fine. What big secret stuff do you have to tell me?"
Shawn looked over at Gus, giving him the chance to gush all he wanted about how great Arnou was and how awesome it would be to have an action star in the house. "We need to house an actor for witness protection while Lassiter goes undercover."
Shawn's jaw dropped. That was it? No 'he's the best actor in the world' speech? "Well, thank you Gus for nut shelling that." He hoped his friend didn't miss the sarcasm and the promise of an Indian Burn when this was over. "Yes, a poor, safe houseless actor needs your help."
"Come on! We can't have too many people knowing about this and the chief hadn't found a place yet. I figured you'd jump at the chance to voluntarily help out the force."
Henry crossed his arms. It wasn't looking good, he only did that when he really meant business. "You want me to house another pompous, overpaid, prick? I still can't get the smell of that other man's cologne out of my robe Shawn."
"It won't be like that this time!" Shawn said, frustrated. "He's an action star. That's cool right?" It still didn't look like he was budging. "Alright, I'll dust off your fishing trophies and bring them down from the attic."
"I asked you to do that two years ago Shawn."
"Well it still needs to be done right?"
With an overly dramatic sigh, very akin to Shawn's own, Henry reluctantly agreed. "Okay, let me get my company home and I'll get the guest room ready."
Arnou arrived at the station through the back to avoid notice. His last few days had been absolute hell and he was so frazzled he could barely think. He never knew how stressful it really was to have your life in danger.
When he was told about the plan to have someone pretend to be him to draw out the killer or killers, he didn't like it. Someone trying to be him? That was too weird, not to mention invasive. Then he remembered that his life couldn't get any worse. His apartment was unlisted, so that didn't get touched but his car had been looked through and if they could kill someone right out in the open, they could certainly figure out where he lived and break in there too. It was after that dreary thought that he finally agreed to the plan.
As they walked through the near abandoned lower level, he and his LAPD guards came to a very solid looking door. Inside was a middle aged woman with hard features and an attractive younger woman, both with blond hair. Next to them was... himself.
Not exactly himself, but it was extremely close. The differences, besides the eyes were subtle but it made Arnou so much more confident that this plan may actually work and his life could get back to normal.
Putting on his most charming demeanor, he came in and took the middle aged woman's hand and kissed it. "A pleasure to meet you ma'am."
"Chief Karen Vick if you please." She gestured to the young woman beside her. "This is my Junior Detective, Juliet O'Hara." He turned towards the very attractive, and now blushing young detective and kissed her hand as well, "And this, is our Head Detective Carlton Lassiter. Your doppelganger for the case."
Carlton studied Arnou with a leveled gaze, probably picking out the same differences that he had earlier. The handshake they shared was probably the most awkward the actor ever experienced. "Pleasure to meet you Mr. Coswell." The detective said hesitantly.
"So, let's get down to business." The chief said, getting everyone's attention. "We're giving you just two days to become acquainted with each other and for Carlton to do some studying for the job. After then he'll be escorted by these two gentlemen," She pointed to the LAPD officers, "to Hollywood where we will plan some very public appearances. With any luck, these appearances will draw out the murderers."
Arnou nodded, having heard the plan for the most part on the drive there.
"Also, Detective Lassiter will be accompanied by two of our consultants."
Scrunching his nose, Arnou asked, "I didn't hear about them. Who are they?" He was mostly wondering if they could be trusted. God, when did I get so paranoid?
"They run their own private detective agency." Juliet pitched in. "They're really good."
"Oh, well where are they then?"
"Procuring your safe house, and if I'm right in guessing where it is, you'll be just fine." The chief smiled, even though her detectives gave her puzzled looks. "So, as I was saying..."
They spent the next twenty minutes while they waited for word about his safe house, talking about what types of public appearances they'd have to schedule to best bring out the murderers. As they discussed, the door to the room swung open with a crash and Arnou saw what he could only guess were the consultants the chief mentioned.
The black man froze and stared at him, while the other seemed to roll his eyes and stepped forward presenting his hand. "Hello! Shawn Spencer, Head Psychic for the SBPD. This is my partner Burton 'Annie Wilkes' Guster."
The introduction seemed to spur the other man into movement and he vigorously shook Arnou's hand. "I'm your biggest fan."
"Right..." Arnou looked at the officers to see if he should be worried. The Misery reference didn't put him at ease, but besides the disapproving look on Carlton's face, he didn't see any negative reaction from the group. "So, you're the one procuring me somewhere safe to stay?"
"Yes. My father's an alumni of this great station and he's agreed to let you stay at his house." I didn't sound very safe to Arnou, some random house of a former employee. Shawn must have seen his trepidation. "Listen, it might not be the Ritz or anything, but it's safe."
Tired out of his mind and just wanting to get this over with, Arnou sighed heavily and gave his consent. "Alright. Show me the way."
Two Days Later:
Carlton rubbed his eyes wearily, taking a moment to block out the voices of the other people in the room. He'd spent the last two days watching interviews and movies, everything he could to get in character as Arnou Coswell. He even spent part of the afternoon the day before at Henry's house getting to know the actor better. He wasn't a bad guy, and seemed... okay, actually. Kind of a rags to riches story, which he could respect. It made it a lot easier to relate to him, and important part to going undercover, as Juliet was currently drilling into his head while the group sat at the Psych office.
"Don't rub your eyes Carlton! The contacts will come out!" Juliet admonished.
He lowered his hand. The green contacts were itchy, but he had to get used to them. "They itch O'Hara!"
"Focus! Remember, you're a confident action star with two hit movies under your belt." She stood up and walked with her shoulders back and her head held high, "Make the cameras love you. Smile, wave, and strut into buildings as if you own the place." As she walked she completed the actions and Carlton had to agree that she did look more confident when she did that.
"You'd make a great movie star Jules." Shawn said from his leaned back position in his desk chair.
Juliet and gave the psychic a shy grin. When she turned back, Carlton was glaring at her through squinted eyes. "Um, where were we?" She stuttered.
"I dunno O'Hara, maybe we were making bedroom eyes at Spencer when we should be figuring out things to help me so I won't get found out or killed!" Carlton started out sarcastic, but his temper ended up getting the best of him and he ended up shouting the rest.
As Juliet gave him an apologetic glance, Gus spoke up. "Personally I think he's doing fine. He already has the drama queen persona down pat."
The comment caused the stressed out Carlton to shoot up and lunge toward Gus. It took both Juliet and Shawn to hold him back. "Carlton stop!" His partner tugged him the opposite way getting him out of the room. "I understand you're under a lot of pressure. Believe me I know, but they're just trying to help."
Carlton tensed up, but took a deep breath in through his nose. He could deal. He had to deal if he'd be working with them for the next week or so. The head detective reminded himself that he was already used to the chaos of working with the consultants and was overreacting. I can do this. I'm Head Detective of the Santa Barbara Police Department. I'm already practically an action hero. It shouldn't be that hard to play a fake one.
After the internal boost of encouragement, his shoulders relaxed and he looked at Juliet. "Alright O'Hara. I'll try." She gave him a wide grin that was strangely comforting. "So, you were saying something about strutting?"
One Day Later:
Henry instinctively perked up at the familiar moniker. He’d been wanting to talk to Shawn since they’d dropped the actor off at his house two days before. Not only because of the fish trophies, which still were not clean, but he wanted to be able to talk to him before he left for the case. He called from the living room, “In here Shawn!”
“Hey, how’s everything going with Arnou?” He flopped down on the chair next to him. It reminded Henry of when he was a teenager, and it almost made him smile.
“He’s in the shower right now. He’s been quiet, thank God. He mostly sits around and watches TV.” It was honestly nothing like having any of the other home invaders there, but having someone who looked like Carlton walking around his house was disturbing in and of itself, and caused flashbacks of Cops reruns. There was also the fact that the woman he'd recently started dating was getting suspicious because he had to keep her away from the house. He couldn't tell Shawn any of that of course.
Shawn snorted, “Well, how would you feel if you knew someone was out to kill you? I don’t think he’s going to be running up and down the stairs singing the national anthem any time soon.”
“What, like you used to?”
“I can’t believe you remembered that.”
“It was last year Shawn.”
His son shrugged, “We all have our coping mechanisms.”
It was already starting to be an argument, and he didn’t want to drive Shawn off before he’d had a chance to say anything, so he let the subject drop. "How long is Karen having you stay in Hollywood?"
"At least a week, or until someone tries to kill Lassie." The nonchalant façade wasn't fooling him. The impatient bounce in Shawn's leg, the quick retorts told him all he needed to know. His son was nervous.
"What exactly is she having you two do?" Besides his role as babysitter, he hadn't heard much else on the case.
Shawn's leg started bouncing faster. "She's having us look into the victim, Sal Greason, and his contacts. Find out who may have wanted to kill him and why."
It seemed to be a pretty important job. If they could narrow the suspect pool and apprehend someone, they could save Carlton the trouble of being a sitting duck, waiting to be assaulted. "Just make sure to keep focused on that Shawn. They're showing you a lot of confidence letting you do this. Don't screw it up."
Shawn's face went blank with sarcasm and his leg stopped bouncing. Most likely getting ready to move him towards the door. "Gee, thanks for that little pep talk."
Henry pinched the bridge of his nose. The kid isn't getting it, again. "Shawn, I'm not trying to discourage you from the case, I'm just trying to get you to realize what's at stake. There needs to be no antics, no attention getting whatsoever. If you do, the killer's target could switch from Lassiter to you in a heartbeat, and you aren't the one with the round the clock security detail kid."
His son finally nodded, realizing what he'd meant. "Alright, low profile. I promise." He headed to the door, with a smirk, "But if I'm approached by a Hollywood director wanting to make a story of my life, I'm going to have a hard time saying no."
"If a Hollywood director comes up to you and asks you to do a movie based on your life, make sure you get George Clooney to play me." Henry replied sarcastically to the ridiculous statement.
"I make no guarantees pop. If it's a small budget I may have to get Michael Chiklis out of desperation."
Before Henry could retort, Shawn was out the door and rushing to the Blueberry. He watched him out the window and saw both men wave at the house before driving off. "Good luck kid." Shaking his head, he pushed the curtain back into place and walked away towards the living room. He had his own "job" to worry about now, and he hoped he could keep the actor out of trouble for a week or so. After raising Shawn, he figured his end of the mission would be a piece of cake.
Three Days Later:
It was they day they had been waiting for. Carlton's big show as Arnou specifically designed to draw out the killers. If they didn't take the bait tonight. Shawn didn't think they ever would.
He stood waiting and craned his neck to get a good view of the red carpet about ten feet in front of him. Even though he'd been one of the first ones there, he'd been crowded out by the photographers lining the way to the awards. He knew it was going to be some kind of artsy-fartsy thing but of course Gus had to tell him (over and over) that they were going to be watching people at the Independent Spirit Awards.
As he watched a lot of actors and actresses he didn't really know walk down the red carpet, he bitterly thought about Juliet back in Santa Barbara guarding a handsome, virile, action star while he was here; a hundred miles away... guarding Carlton. He hadn't seen Arnou put the moves on her yet, but it didn't mean she wouldn't put the moves on him. The thought made him want to throw up.
Shawn pushed the thought as far away as he could manage, and got down to business, continuing to scan the crowd for anything suspicious. He raised his police issued walkie talkie to his mouth and pushed the button. “Jackal, this is the Shadow. Can you see anything. Over.”
“Shawn, if you’re going to have a secret code name, pick one that isn’t already associated with a fictional character.”
Shawn pursed his lips in indignation, “Are you kidding me right now? Do you have any idea how many people have been named ‘Jackal?’ in movies?”
“Thirteen Ghosts.” The tsk he heard from the other end signaled his victory, but they’d gotten off the subject. “Is everything clear?”
“I haven’t seen anything. Just a lot of reporters.”
Reporters. Reporters with cameras. “Gus - ”
“Whatever! Listen, keep tabs on the photographers that follow Lassie, not just pointing and clicking. Remember the horse races?”
Shawn really hoped it wasn’t the case. There were a lot of photographers here, and it would be near impossible to get to Carlton in time if that were the case. Keep your head in the game. Oooo! Mini hot dogs! Someone in the crowd was bringing food around, so he figured it wouldn’t hurt to grab one since Carlton was still on his way.
He had barely grabbed two when a large black limo pulled up and people cheered. Shawn quickly popped the last one in his mouth and radioed Gus. “The prey is on the move. Watch for anything suspicious. Anything at all!”
The nervousness seemed to be pouring off of the head detective as he stepped out of the vehicle. All his research seemed to be forgotten as he shrunk under the camera flashes. Damn it Lassie! Man up! You’re an action hero!
“Arnou! How long before your next movie comes out?”
“Do you have a girlfriend?”
“Did you get a nose job?”
That last comment made Shawn snicker and seemed to make Carlton indignant enough to warrant a response. “There’s nothing wrong with my nose!”
Feeling he needed a leg up, Shawn squeezed through the throng and got right next to the velvet rope. “Hey Arnou! Smile for the cameras! Say lines from your movies!”
Luckily Carlton heard his shouts and turned to the nearest reporter and said a little awkwardly, “Uh, you’ve just gotten the axe?”
The cheers went up from the crowd of fans and the camera flashes came faster. It seemed to give Carlton a much needed boost of confidence to get into character. “You’ve been Axed!” More cheers came and Shawn smiled.
Suddenly, a glint caught his eye and he turned in the direction it came from. It had been waist high, and even though there were a lot of cameras, no photographer would be able to shoot from the waist in this crowd. Then, he saw it, the source of the glint. It was a silver 9mm pistol being held close to someone’s chest as they waded through the crowd and readied themselves for the shot.
The person started to raise the weapon and Shawn only had a moment to react. He was too far away from the gunman to stop him, but he was close enough to Carlton to save him. He charged over the velvet rope separating them and bowled the detective over just as a shot rang out. A photographer’s camera on the opposite side of the carpet shattered as the bullet hit it.
Realizing something was up, the undercover LAPD officers that were posing as Carlton’s body guards rushed over and started to pick Shawn up. “NOT ME! HIM! Get him out of here!” He shouted and the trained officers did as he asked, whisking Carlton away before another shot could be taken. Shawn whipped his head around, searching for the gunman. With all the camera flashes, he couldn’t see anything except the back of a man, retreating through the crowd.
"SHAWN!" Gus called pushing through and helping him to his feet.
Groaning, realizing his knee was going to be very bruised, Shawn leaned on Gus for support. "I saw him buddy." More officers came up to assist and Shawn pointed in the direction the gunman went. "That way, go get him! Grey jacket!" The three patrol officers sped off and Gus led him inside the building, ignoring the shouts from the reporters, asking his name.
Gus sat him down on the first bench they came to and looked at his knee. “Isn't that your bad knee? That's gotta hurt.”
“Ya think?” Shawn said with a breathy chuckle, the high of his adrenaline hadn’t faded enough for the real pain to start. They both started as Shawn’s phone rang loudly. He immediately grabbed it, already knowing who it was. “Lassie! You okay?”
“I’m fine Spencer. Did you get him?”
Shawn bit his lip, “That’s a negatory. He slipped through the crowd after I saved you.”
“You didn’t save me, I had a vest on! You almost blew my cover! Now what’ll we do to lure them out?”
Trying not to take the brush off of his grand lifesaving gesture personally, Shawn scratched his head. What were they going to do? “I vote for keeping up the cover for now. If they came after you once, they’ll come after you again.”
“That isn’t comforting Spencer.” Carlton deadpanned before the phone clicked off,
Shawn sighed. Looking to Gus, he explained, “Lassie isn’t happy that we lost him. Let’s head to the hotel for now. We’ll meet up with him tomorrow and figure out what to do next. We can pick up some pizza on the way.”
“I’ll eat me some pizza.” Shawn smiled and tried to stand up by himself, but Gus again helped him balance.
The next morning in Arnou’s apartment, Carlton poured himself some much needed coffee. The disaster that was his first public appearance as Arnou Coswell wasn’t sitting well with him. Once he’d seen the crowds of reporters and photographers he practically froze. He didn’t want to admit, even to himself, that the prodding from Shawn snapped him out of it, but it did. Tons of information came flooding back and he’d just started to have a little fun, when someone tried to kill him.
With Shawn lying on his back he hadn’t been able to get any sort of glimpse of the shooter, let alone chase him down and beat him senseless to the full extent of the law. With the consultant not getting a look at him either, they were back at square one. Well, not square one. At least we know that someone really wants to kill Coswell, badly.
He took a sip of his coffee and heard a knock at his door before a muffled, “Lassie!” came through it.
“God, what now?” He slammed his coffee down and opened the door for the duo. “What do you - ” He started before being quickly pushed out of the way as they rushed in and slammed the door behind them. Both seemed out of breath and were carrying some kind of magazine.
“Lassie, this totally wasn’t my fault.” Shawn gasped out and lifted the magazine in his direction.
Taking it carefully, he looked at the front page.
His throat tightened and he felt the blood drain from his head. It was the National Inquirer. On the cover was a picture of him on the carpet surrounded by cameras. It must have been taken right before the shooting. The headline read, “ARNOU COSWELL ATTACKED WHILE PROMOTING NEWEST FILM.” Layered into his picture was a pretty unflattering picture of Shawn who they were claiming was either his bodyguard or… “BOYFRIEND?!”
Shawn pointed to the caption, “I believe it says ‘night time lover.’”
“I don’t care what it says Spencer!” It was the second time in two months people had tried to pair them up. First Drimmer, now this. “I need to sit.”
Gus leaned against the wall as Shawn fanned him with the magazine. “At least he didn’t see the bit about the nose job.”
Carlton grabbed the magazine again, and sure enough there was a picture of Arnou next to a picture of him questioning whether or not he’d had a nose job. “Who would want to make their nose longer!?” He grumbled as he tossed the magazine across the room.
“C’mon, it isn’t that bad. How many people can say they have their picture on a magazine? It takes a whole song about it for some people to get that famous.”
“That was the cover of the Rolling Stone Shawn. I don’t think I’d be all that happy being in the National Inquirer either.” Sometimes, Carlton was glad Gus was around to talk some sense into Shawn.
“National Inquirer, Rolling Stone Magazine…I’ve heard it both ways.” The psychic shrugged before taking a seat on the couch. Carlton could now see he was favoring a leg, but decided not to comment. Lord knows he got enough attention for one day.
“Now,” Shawn began, “we’ve got to come up with a game plan. I got to thinking about it and the bad guys might not come after you in public anymore, because of that.” He nodded in the direction of the magazine and put a finger to his temple, “But I have a strange feeling that they might come after you here.”
“Oh, a feeling. Really?” Carlton raised his eyebrows in mock awe.
Shawn nodded and quickly stood up as if in the throes of a vision, but the effect was off when he winced in pain at the sudden action. “It would be too suspicious to not have extra security when out in public now. The spirits say that they know the only chance to get you is in private. At home.”
Carlton felt his heart speed up. ‘The spirit’s’ logic was sound, but he had a detail on him twenty four hours a day, just in case this happened. “I have one more public appearance tonight. I can’t get out of it.”
“Go to it, you should be fine.” Shawn waved him off. “We’ll do some digging like the chief said and get back to you if we find anything on the victim’s associations.”
With all the hubbub of what Carlton had been going through, he’d forgotten that the consultants had their own job to do. They’d so far been too engrossed in helping him succeed in his undercover work. He felt a bit guilty that it was him this time that was holding up the investigation. “Don’t worry about me Spencer. You do what you have to do.”
Apparently taking that as permission, both men started to head for the door. “Alright, we’ll keep you posted.”
As soon as the door shut, Carlton collapsed further into the chair and closed his eyes. He envied Juliet for her ability to handle this type of thing on a regular basis. He’d have to give her more credit for it next time. Speaking of his partner, he should probably give her an update.
Carlton took out his phone and dialed Juliet. It only rang once before her excited voice burst over the line, “Carlton what happened last night? We’ve all seen the papers.”
With a groan of mortification, he began to regale her with the events of the previous night. “It was all Spencer’s fault…”
Arnou woke up sore and grumpy. The same way he'd woke up every day for the past week. The bed he slept on was too small, and every day he found out they were no closer to catching the murderers who were after him. He also had to spend every day with a grumpy, surly, retired officer who basically wanted nothing to do with him. If he wanted the kind of treatment he was currently getting, he would have stayed in the LAPD store room.
Groaning, he got out of the bed, placing his feet on the floor. God forbid he sleep in once while he was here. It was the closest thing to a vacation he'd had since his first movie had become a surprise hit. "Alright! I'm coming!"
Once he'd trudged down the stairwell, he saw Henry hard at work in the kitchen. The guy knew how to cook at least. "Set the table would ya?"
"Fine." Arnou sighed and walked in the room. He was immediately overwhelmed by the smell of cooking fish. Delicious cooking fish. It reminded him of the last meal he'd been looking forward to the night of the murder. "What kind of fish is that?"
"Kelp Bass. Caught it myself." Henry explained as he put the filets on the plates next to the eggs and toast. It looked divine.
"Man, I haven't been fishing in years. My dad used to take me out on his boat when I was a kid. I used to love it." I haven't talked to my dad in ages. I might have to call him when this is over. He'd been so busy lately that he hadn't talked to very many people in general.
Henry nodded in understanding, "I used to take Shawn out all the time, but he never really got into it."
The conversation came to a halt as each man dug in and enjoyed their meal. Half way through Arnou got lost in thought. He was wondering if when all this was over and he had to go do location shoots, if they'd let him fish. Just once.
In the quiet kitchen, they could hear the television from the living room. It had just been background noise until he overheard the news anchor say his name.
"...Arnou Coswell was almost gunned down at the Independent Spirit Awards last night while promoting his new movie "Giv'em the Axe," and supporting the director of the first in his popular trilogy, "Razor Sharp Axe."
The actor's appetite instantly vanished and he stood automatically, walking to the living room to see the news feed.
"The actor was apparently taking a break from shooting the last in the series, reportedly called, 'Axe to Grind.' His assailant his still at large, and more updates will be provided as they are received."
Arnou didn't hear Henry come up behind him and jumped when a hand got put on his shoulder. "You okay?"
"Why haven't they called me!? I should have been the first to know." He started pacing the living room, suddenly feeling very out of the loop and cramped in the house. He was given specific direction to keep an extremely low profile but with the new information, he was feeling more claustrophobic than ever.
While he paced, the reporters continued, "It's also being reported that the fortunate actor was saved by a yet unnamed fan who tackled him to the ground at the last moment." They then flashed a picture on the screen of the incident.
"Damn it Shawn!" The elder Spencer was seemingly having his own breakdown at the news. Henry stood there for a few moments looking at the picture of Shawn laying on top of Carlton, protecting him, and seemed to come to some decision. "Alright, let's finish our breakfast, then we're going fishing."
"Fishing? You're serious? Now?"
"Yes. Now." He looked at the TV again with a scowl. "If I don't do something distracting now, I'll be in Hollywood within an hour."
Arnou looked at him puzzled, "But it takes over two hours to get there from here - " He paused when the Henry turned his gaze from the TV to him. "Oh, okay."
"I have an extra pole and tackle box." Henry headed toward the kitchen to clean up. "I hope you brought a T-shirt and jeans with you."
Shawn and Gus headed for the Sal Greason's office right after talking to Carlton. They had a lot of catching up to do on investigating, and not much time to do it. The desperate act of trying to kill Lassiter in public revealed that the killer or killers were just that. Desperate.
After some convincing, and claiming to be 'tax auditors for the recently diseased' they were shown to Sal's rather small office. "What exactly are we looking for here Shawn?" Gus asked as they started to check the paperwork. "And why the rush?"
"Gus, they don't know when and if Arnou would talk, or what he would remember. So they're going to take every opportunity to nail him, and that means Lassie is in danger until we help figure out who killed Sal." He picked up a paper and saw it was an invoice for renting a property for filming purposes. It was dated almost two years before and had to have been from the first movie. The amount of zeroes in the bill was shocking. "Holy cow. I thought you said the first movie was an independent film. How could they afford all this?"
"Independent film doesn't always mean cheap, Shawn. It just means that they don't have a major film company backing them. Some of the best movies out there are independent films. Pulp Fiction for example."
Gus knew how much Shawn liked Pulp Fiction. "God bless Quentin Tarrantino."
"You know that's right."
Underneath the first bill there was another for almost as much. It was a dizzying sum. "So, how do independent films get financed? Did the director just fork over his own money?"
"Sometimes that." Gus shrugged and handed him yet another charge slip. "Sometimes it's the producer's job to procure funds. I've looked into some of that and found out that some movies got funded in pretty interesting ways." He turned to Shawn with wide, interested eyes. "Did you know one director sold his body to science to pay for his movie?"
Shawn curled his lip in disgust, "How could I possibly know that..." Wait, did Gus say producers get money for the film too? He put a hand to his temple and closed his eyes.
Arnou's statement of events had the killers asking Sal for their money, and commenting on the film's success. If the producer didn't know the film would become a cult favorite, and promised a portion of the profits to someone and didn't deliver, that would be a good motivation for murder. He'd seen people kill for less.
He lowered his hand and opened his eyes. "Gus! I think I've got it. Sal needed help funding the first movie and found someone to back them, then bailed when it was time to pay out. Judging by the bills here, it looks like he got a lot of money from that someone. All we need to do is find out who that someone is and we'll have our killer." Shawn knew that was the right track. He could almost feel it.
"So, we back track through the financial records and look for a large deposit?" Shawn nodded and looked dejectedly at the large file cabinet. "Dude, that's going to take forever."
"Well we don't have forever, and neither do Arnou and Lassie. Let's get to work."
Three hours of searching, and a lot of paper cuts later, Gus stood up from his seat on the carpet, since Shawn had procured the one desk chair in the room. "I think I've got it! Ten million dollars." He handed the paper to Shawn, who needed to see the amount for himself, "That's a lot of money to borrow out privately. No wonder he got killed."
"Yeah, no wonder." The psychic's eyes zeroed in on the name the transfer was from. "Jack Saulinni." He giggled, "Sounds like a fancy type of lunch meat."
"Well that fancy lunch meat is probably a killer. We have to phone this in and see if we can get the LAPD to get question him." Gus grabbed his cell phone and gave their Los Angeles Police contacts a call.
While Gus was distracted, Shawn decided to check in with Juliet. She picked up almost immediately. "Shawn! How is everything going?"
"Good, we got some leads on the killer."
"That's great!" There was a pause. Shawn hated awkward pauses and was about to say something, when Juliet's voice came back over the line, "Shawn, I talked to Carlton this morning, and I heard what you did for him."
Shawn rolled his eyes, "I bet he told you it was all my fault and I ruined everything."
"No - Well - yes he did say that, but I also saw that you saved him. It was very brave of you, and I'm sure he appreciates it in his own way."
"It was nothing Jules, really. Certainly not something I can hang over his head for years to come whenever I need him to do me a favor."
She laughed, and it made his heart flutter to hear it. "Well, keep me posted. I'll let the chief know."
"SHAWN! Quit chatting up Juliet and let's go!"
Shawn winced and mouthed horrible threats to his best friend, knowing that Juliet had to have heard that, but luckily she didn't say anything. "I guess you have to go. Say hi to Gus for me."
"Oh, I will." He was still glaring at Gus. "Catch you later Jules." After he closed the phone, he had to bite his tongue to stop the expletives that wanted to come pouring out of his mouth. As far as he knew, Juliet didn't know how much he really liked her. With the recent events and her tendency to date older men like Arnou, it was embarrassing when Gus put him on the spot like that.
Unfortunately for Gus, him holding his tongue didn't stop him from smacking him in the chest as he went to the door.
"Uuuh!" His friend cried out in pain. "That wasn't necessary Shawn! Jeez."
"There's more where that came from blabby. Now, let's go catch us a murderer." Shawn continued to walk out the door, and wasn't surprised when his earlobe was flicked as Gus ran past him to get to the driver's seat. I'll get him later, he vowed. Right now though, they did have a job to do and hopefully some lives to save. An action which tended to give him major brownie points with a certain Junior Detective.
The sun was hanging low in the sky as Henry and Arnou returned to port after a long, and successful, day of fishing. Arnou couldn't remember the last time he'd had so much fun out on his boat. Sure it was relaxing when he went by himself, but having someone who genuinely enjoyed fishing, and someone who was willing to learn, sitting next to him was something he rarely got to experience.
While they fished, the retired detective had learned a lot about the actor during their trip. The fact that Arnou Coswell wasn't his real name was probably the most shocking. Arnou had explained that "Harold Grunsweiger" wasn't considered a very good 'action hero' name, and he'd finally come up with Arnou Coswell after a college binge drinking session with a couple of friends in acting school. They'd both laughed long and hard about that one. He didn't even worry about scaring away the fish.
Arnou went on to explain that even though he had been an actor for years, he hadn't gotten his big break until one of his independent films went cult classic and a studio requested two back to back sequels. The shooting schedule hadn't given him much time to do anything in his personal life, so when reporters always asked if he had a new girl, the answer was always no.
It was a shame because Henry had really been looking forward to asking the man for a few pointers. Especially since the woman he'd been seeing the last couple weeks now refuses to talk to him because she hadn't been allowed over for the past few days. He'd have to find some way to make it up to her.
"Hey Arnou, can you get the tackle boxes?" The actor nodded and grabbed the rest of the items. While he grabbed the poles and started heading for his truck, he noticed a couple teenage boys eyeing them. Instantly suspicious, Henry switched the poles to one hand so he could keep his shooting hand clear. He was still guarding a witness, and couldn't take any chances.
Arnou must have noticed something and asked, "What is it?"
Henry nodded in the direction of the staring boys, "We're being watched."
The actor's eyes widened. "Oh no. I've been spotted." Henry thought he should be more scared than that. Arnou almost sounded exasperated.
"Get in the car." Henry started pushing him towards the vehicle, instinctively putting himself in front of his charge protectively.
"Henry stop. It's okay!"
"What are you talking about!?" The kids were coming closer, he started reaching for his firearm.
"Mr. Coswell! It's you isn't it?" One of the boys asked excitedly and Arnou nodded.
What in the hell? Henry watched as the actor smiled and stepped forward. Then it hit him. They weren't assassins. They were fans. He let go of his gun and stepped back, letting the kids have their chance to meet the actor. He was still leery about the situation. Arnou was still technically in witness protection, but he didn't see how letting a couple of kids take his picture would hurt anything.
"Oh my gosh! We loved you in, 'Razor Sharp Axe!' It was the coolest! Can we have your picture?"
"Sure! Henry, could you?" Arnou handed him the cell phone, and took a stand in front of his truck with the two young men. He finally figured out that the little camera on the screen was the 'shutter' and he was able to get a really good picture of Arnou with his fans.
The way the kids' faces lit up was amazing, they thanked them both and ran off whooping in triumph. "No one is going to believe us! Oh my gosh!"
Watching Arnou watch them run off, Henry realized why the actor sacrificed so much of his time and energy: He did it for the fans. It earned a lot of respect in Henry's eyes. "Alright Arnou, let's get back to the house."
Breaking his gaze away from the running boys, Arnou nodded and headed for the truck. "Absolutely." He paused by Henry and shook his hand. "I had a lot of fun today. Thank you Henry."
"No problem. C'mon, I'll show you how to de-scale fish before it gets dark."
Jack Saulinni, loan shark and gang leader, stared at his phone while clenching his jaw so hard it popped. He was looking at the impossible; it was two Facebook pictures of Arnou Coswell from some brat in Santa Barbara that were posted less than fifteen minutes before. The impossible part of it was that his eyes on Arnou, Sammi, said that the actor hadn't left the apartment until he was ready to go out for the night. There was no way the actor could be in two places at once. Something didn't smell right, and Jack hated people making a fool out of him.
Sal found that out the hard way.
He got a tip from someone who owed him, and for the last five minutes, he'd been finding out everything he possibly could from the pictures. He originally thought the truck they'd stood in front of in the first picture belonged to the kids parents, until he saw a second shot of Arnou waving from the cab of the truck as it pulled away. Whoever had that truck, knew where the second Arnou was.
He could make out a license number on the car they were standing in front of: California plates, 3JR0158. If they found the owner of the truck, they would find the other Arnou. It was probably a look alike, cashing in on the fact that he resembled the actor, but it was worth a look. Arnou hadn't talked yet, but he could and Jack couldn't have that.
The whole situation called for a change of plans. He'd already let Sammi know to stick with the original plan for the Arnou here. The botch up last night had been too public and there was no way for him to get close to Arnou again when he was expecting someone to go after him, especially with his new bodyguard or whatever the man who saved him was. Even so, the actor was too stupid to keep to himself, and was still going out for a night on the town.
Jack decided to use that to his advantage.
When the actor and his body guards leave, Sammi will sneak in and wait for him to come back. Then take care of him. By the time the body is found, no one will know who did it. It will become just another Hollywood conspiracy theory about an actor who was killed in his prime.
The change would be that he'd have to send out his right hand guy to find the owner of the truck, and question him about Arnou. It would take his man a couple of hours to get to Santa Barbara which worked out well because the party Arnou was at wouldn't be ending for a couple of hours either.
After explaining the situation, Jack wanted to make sure things didn't get messed up again. His reputation was on the line. "Mickey, get it done. You mucked up enough letting him get away twice. In fact, this whole business is screwy."
"But what if it ain't him?"
"Then just - " Jack's words were cut off when a banging on his door made him jump.
"Jack Saulinni! This is the LAPD! Open up!"
"Damn it! Just do what you have to do Mickey!" He yelled in the phone and stuffed it in his pocket. He opened the door and his eyes widened as he saw five police officers at his porch, with a warrant.
"Jack Saulinni, you're being detained for questioning in the death of Sal Greason. Come with us please."
Jack did his best to calm his nerves. They had to have no proof, because they hadn't left any. He figured they had to be checking him out as an acquaintance. No reason to worry. Plus, the officers had just given him an air tight alibi. Arnou Coswell would die tonight, and how could he have done it when he was in police custody? A smile spread across his face, knowing he was off the hook. "Alright officers, I'll come quietly."
Shawn and Gus sat in a tiny room with a single monitor and table. They’d been ordered to stay in the room, that was more like a large closet, despite Shawn's insistence that they be in on Jack’s interrogation. Since they technically weren't employed by the LAPD, they didn’t have the same rights to interrogating as they did in Santa Barbara. So they were stuck.
It was currently over an hour and a half into the questioning and the police were still having no luck. The man almost seemed to be playing with them. Giving simple, noncommittal answers and being a genuine pain in the ass. Plus the fact that he'd been hiring other people to do his dirty work, even further distanced him from the crime. They had nothing on him, and he knew it.
To pass the time, Gus had time to read up on Jack’s file while Shawn stared at the monitor grumbling about how dumb it was to watch everything on a tiny screen with no snacks. “Huh,” Gus pointed to a line in the file, “apparently his street name is Jack the Mack. Kinda catchy.”
Shawn turned to him, amused. “Why do they call him that? Cuz he’s the Mack daddy of all crime in the area?”
“It’s probably because he was almost convicted of killing someone with a Mack truck. He got off on a technicality.”
“Sounds like this guy really needs to go down.”
“You know that’s right.”
Shawn froze for a moment before turning to him and asking, "You've read the case file right?" Gus scoffed. Of course he'd read the case file. Probably better than Shawn had. "Remember what Arnou's statement said about the murderer saying something about, how Sal should have given 'the Mack' his money?"
"You don't think he was talking about Jack 'The Mack' do you?"
"Yes I do Gus." Shawn was suddenly on his feet and pacing the room. "He’s playing with them. We're not going to get any answers this way and his trigger men are still out there." He sighed, “Just our luck, we get a case in Hollywood and get stuck in a back room.”
Gus shook his head. "What do you suggest we do? We have no jurisdiction here. They didn't even have to let us watch."
Shawn looked out the door with a determined gaze. "I have an idea."
"Shawn, no. We were told to stay here!" He knew it was no use. Once Shawn got an idea it was nigh impossible to stop him. Sometimes he just felt like he was along for the ride. "Shawn! Wait up!"
It didn't take him long to realize that Shawn was hurrying, more like limping quickly, for the few items they'd stripped from Jack when they arrived. "We can't do this. The police haven't been through this stuff yet."
"Stuff? It's a phone Gus." Shawn growled in frustration. "Why don't they just turn it on and look?"
"They need a warrant for the information on his phone, Shawn. That may take a couple more hours, but they'll get it." Gus watched as Shawn grabbed Jack's cell phone.
"Lassie may not have that long. I need to see what's on here now. It may tell us something." Shawn pocketed the device, currently in an evidence bag, and slinked out of the holding area.
"Great, now we can be charged with theft of evidence too." When Shawn ignored him, he tried a different tactic. "You sure Lassiter won't be in trouble until he's alone?" Gus didn't have reason to doubt Shawn's logic, but sometimes he had to make damn sure Shawn wasn't just guessing on something that could get a co-worker killed.
Sure enough, Shawn gave him a hurt look as they entered a more private office. "I'm offended at your lack of trust. Of course I'm sure."
Shawn pulled out the phone and turned it on. There was no password and he was easily able to access it. Gus scoffed. "You'd think a crime boss would at least use something besides a finger swipe to guard his phone."
"I know right?" Shawn replied as he looked at the screen. The Recent Calls section was up and Shawn exited it after a moment. It looked like Jack had also had the internet window up on his phone as well. "Since when do crime bosses have Facebook? We must be really behind the times." He chuckled before his eyes fell on the picture that Jack had last looked at.
Gus stomach dropped as he too saw a pair of teenage boys smiling with what could have been Carlton or Arnou. Carlton smiling wasn’t all that common, so there was only one choice on whom it could be. "Wait. Is that who I think it is?"
"Gus!" Shawn exclaimed. “Look behind them!" Sure enough, right behind them was a familiar cream truck with a familiar license plate. The lack of Henry in the photo made Gus think that it was probably Shawn's dad behind the camera. "Jack knows where Arnou is. That license plate will lead them straight to my dad's house!" Shawn thrust the evidence bag and cell phone at him and took out his own, dialing frantically.
"C'mon cmon! Pick up!" There was no answer. "Damn it!" He tried another number. Thankfully, this one answered. "Jules! Listen to me. My dad is in danger. Somehow Jack found out where he was hiding."
Gus heard a faint answer but not clear enough to hear the response.
"I don't have time to explain right now. You have to go to his house, and make sure he's okay and get them out of there!" He'd rarely ever heard Shawn this upset and desperate. "Alright, give me a call as soon as you find out." Shawn hung up the phone and rested his head on his hand.
"It'll be alright. Maybe he didn't have the chance to tell anyone about it before we got him."
Shawn sniffed and raised his head. "Yeah, maybe. I have to call Lassie. Let him know. He should be out of the awards by now." With shaky breaths Shawn dialed Carlton's cell number.
Gus wasn't sure if it was because Carlton had a naturally projecting voice, but he heard him loud and clear when he answered. "Spencer, this better be good. I'm tired."
"Lassie, stick with your guards. Jack somehow found a picture of Arnou with my dad and someone could be going after them. I already let Jules know. Just stay around people okay!?" There was silence. "Lassie!?"
Finally over the phone they heard, "Someone's he - " Before it went dead.
"Oh my God. We have to tell the cops!"
Shawn was already half way out the door before Gus was done talking. His friend stopped a lieutenant they recognized, one who had been questioning Jack. Gus quickly tucked the phone under his shirt. "You have to get a hold of Detective Lassiter's detail!" Shawn put a hand to his head, "I sense that someone has him!"
The officer quickly radioed, "Lieutenant Hess here. Are you guys back at the apartment?"
"Has anyone come in or out?"
"Negative. No one since Detective Lassiter."
"Alright. Keep me posted. Over." The lieutenant shook his head. "Listen boys, I know you're concerned for your friend, but everything is taken care of. We know what we're doing. Now we haven't gotten anything from - "
Shawn brushed the detective off and ran for the interrogation rooms. Gus was right on his heels, as was the lieutenant. He burst in the room, surprising both the interrogating officers, and Jack.
Gus saw recognition in the man’s features, and if Gus had seen it, it was certain that Shawn had too. He knew who Shawn was at least. That was a start. I guess that magazine was good for something.
“Hey, Jack. Nice to meet you. I can call you Jack right? Or do you prefer Jack the Mack?” The glare Shawn received clearly told him that he did not prefer that name. “Alright Jackie, let me be straight with you. I’m a psychic, I know all your little secrets. Let’s drop the innocent act and hopefully you won’t have to go to jail for double homicide.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I haven't killed anyone.” Jack was desperately trying to maintain his composure, but Gus could already see it was already cracking. Shawn had the uncanny ability to convince almost anyone to do anything, from giving up their weapon, to not committing suicide. However, if there was one thing his friend was amazing at, it was getting on people’s nerves.
The officers in the room had little chance to react to the spectacle before the lieutenant walked in. Gus roughly grabbed Shawn by the shoulder and whispered. “Uh Shawn, we’re about to get in serious trouble here.”
“Trust me buddy. I got this.” Shawn took his arm away and spun back around to confront Jack while Gus watched the lieutenant. The officer seemed to be letting Shawn go at it, for now, having seen the reaction Jack was having to the conversation.
“Oh, you do know what I’m talking about, and I know, you know, that I know.” Everyone’s face contorted with puzzlement, except Gus’. He just put his hand over his face and hoped they wouldn’t be in jail more than a year for interfering in an investigation.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
Shawn took a step forward and leaned on the table. "You've been had, Jack. I knew your plan every step of the way and you fell for every trick in the book. Don't you think that picture of Arnou was a little convenient? Someone in witness protection just happened to get his picture taken? Please." Gus did his best to keep his own face straight, because that is what happened, even if Jack didn't know it. "We caught the guy you sent ten minutes ago, we were just waiting for the other one to strike our decoy." Jack's eye twitched. "That's right. Arnou is miles away, you've been chasing a look-a-like cop."
Gus was flabbergasted. He'd just given away their entire plan! Of all the stupid, idiotic -
The officer's hands instinctively went to their guns at Jack's shout. The man was practically red in the face, but he still hadn't said anything incriminating, so Shawn kept going.
He put a finger to his temple, Gus could instantly tell it wasn't his psychic act. It was Shawn, remembering things. "The cops are bringing Mickey in as we speak. As soon as he gets back here they're going to offer him a plea bargain, and guess who he'll point the finger at. Oh!" Shawn checked his watch, "Sammi should be in custody in a minute. I'm sure they'll give him the same deal. Guess you got no one else to count on do you Jackie?" Shawn leaned in closer, baiting the gangster. "You failed, and everyone is gonna know it."
"YOU!" Jack pushed his chair back and swung a fist at Shawn. He hit the psychic square in the nose before the officers could grab him. Beyond sanity, Jack still screamed and practically frothed at the mouth while yelling threats at Shawn. "When Arnou's a corpse, you're next! You have no idea how many contacts I have. You'll never be able to sleep without wondering if my people are watching! You're a dead man!!"
Gus ran to Shawn's side, avoiding the kicking and screaming Jack being hauled out of the room. His friend's nose was bleeding and he was currently wiping some of the bloody runoff away. "Oh my God, Shawn. Are you okay?"
"I'm fine." He turned to the lieutenant who was standing stunned at the door, watching the blood drip down his face. "You gonna send someone to save Lassie now?" Shawn pointed to the officer's radio. Fumbling for a second, the lieutenant ran out of the room, barking orders into his radio and practically getting a SWAT team together to go help the detective.
"Ow," Shawn staggered into the chair and fell back holding his nose as soon as it was just him and Gus. "Is it broken?"
He looked closely, but it just looked bloody. Shaking his head, Gus replied, "No, it's not. But with that hit you're lucky your jaw didn't get broken again."
Still holding his nose Shawn nodded. Even through his hand, Gus could see the worry he had for Carlton and his father. Shawn had taken the only chance he had to get the cops to believe him, and he'd come through. Albeit, worse for the wear.
While they impatiently waited for word about either man, Gus kept hoping both of the targets were okay for Shawn's sake. He knew his friend enough to know that if anything happened to either of them, he'd never forgive himself.
Arnou couldn’t remember a day when he’d had more fun. After the fishing trip he and Henry drank beers and skinned the fish while talking sports, an hour later he’d had one of the best fish dinners he’d ever tasted.
“I should go into witness protection more often.” He jokingly told Henry after they’d finished dinner.
“Well at least someone appreciates a good meal around here.” Henry had already gathered the plates and scrubbed the pans and put them to dry. Arnou saw there was some bitterness there and figured it was from his son.
“What? Shawn doesn’t like your food?” He couldn't understand how that was possible. He'd eaten at a million five star restaurants in the last few years and he still preferred home cooked meals.
Henry shook his head, “He likes my steaks, but he’s never been a fan of fish. Feels sorry for them.”
“And he doesn’t feel sorry for the cow?”
“Weird.” Arnou had already asked about the ‘psychic’ thing days ago, but Henry said that if he wanted to know about it, he would have to ask Shawn, and that was the end of that conversation.
“Hey, Arnou.” Arnou looked up expectantly, and saw a blank look on the former detective’s face. “Back away from the window would you?”
He did as he was told, “What’s going on?”
“Someone is walking around outside, trying to look into the house.” Arnou strained his eyes, it was dark, which meant there was absolutely no chance of seeing the person doing it. “I’m going to get my gun. Stay in the living room. Fewer windows and you’ll have a way out if you have to run.”
Run?! Oh God. This is really happening. Playing an action hero was so much different than actually being one. His adrenaline went into overdrive as Henry grabbed a gun seemingly from out of nowhere. If his heart wasn't already pounding in his chest it had to have been bursting out of it when all the power went off all at once.
"Henry what's going on?" Arnou whispered quietly.
Henry ignored his question, and went for the landline phone on the coffee table. He listened for a moment before cursing under his breath. "It's dead." He patted his chest and checked his pockets. "Damn it, my cell phone must still be in the boat." A creak from above them made them both jump, and Henry's grip tighten on the gun. Then, a few feet from them, the front door began to slowly open. Arnou could hear the fear in Henry's voice when he finally whispered to him. "We're surrounded."
Carlton was exhausted. Meeting person after person, schmoozing, and dealing with air headed actors took a lot out of him. He'd made sure to avoid people that knew Arnou best, just in case they caught on. All in all everything seemed to go well, despite the fact that he was pretending to be someone else, and the fact that the whole time he feared for his life. Any loud noise or even tink of wine glasses made him jump and the people around him laugh that he'd had too much to drink, or took his work as an action star too seriously.
So when he was just about to reach for the apartment door and his phone went off, he couldn't help but let out a pathetic groan. It increased in volume when he saw who it was. "Noooooo." He didn't even give Shawn a chance to talk before griping, "Spencer, this better be good. I'm tired."
"Lassie, stick with your guards. Jack somehow found a picture of Arnou with my dad and someone could be going after them. I already let Jules know - "
Carlton had stopped listening, after opening the door all his hair stood on end and his instincts were going crazy. It was the footprints on the carpet that were too small to be his, the couch cushions that were slightly out of place, it was a hundred other things that screamed at him that something was wrong.
He couldn't concentrate on much, because Shawn had started to scream into the phone, "Lassie!?"
Then he heard it, a creak in the floorboards. Oh crap. " Someone's he - " Carlton started before the phone practically exploded by his head, sending glass and plastic shrapnel into the side of his face.
"Son of a Bitch!" The intruder was armed. He ducked behind the couch and momentarily put a hand to his face. The wounds didn't feel deep, but he knew he was lucky that the phone was there to take the bullet for him. The footsteps moved closer, blocking his way to the door, and to safety. The wire he'd worn all night had been taken off after leaving the vehicle and since his phone was destroyed, he could only hope that Shawn, had the sense to call someone for help after losing him.
For now though, Carlton was on his own.
He ignored the blood running into his eye long enough to pull the side arm from his ankle holster and dove for the kitchen island and better cover. A few quiet pops sounded and Carlton realized the assassin had a silencer. Just like the one that tried to kill him at the red carpet. Spencer was right! Damn it I hate it when he's right. "Police! Put the gun down and put your hands on your head or I will open fire!"
He heard laughter from across the room. "Nice try Arnou. You should've used that one in your movies. It was almost convincing." The footsteps came closer and Carlton put his finger on the trigger, aiming low. He didn't want to kill the bastard if he didn't have to. Despite his visions of going gung ho shoot'em up rogue cop, he still had the law to uphold.
The shot rang out, a lot louder than the assailant's and the man's scream was just as loud. "OH MY GOD! YOU SHOT ME!"
"DROP THE WEAPON!" Carlton ordered one more time. "Next time it's in the head!"
"Holy crap man don't shoot!" Carlton heard the gun clatter to the kitchen floor and saw it slide by him. Still wary and unsure if the man had any more weapons, he stepped out from behind the counter, keeping the gun trained on him. The assassin clutched his leg in pain and whined, "I thought you were an actor!"
Footsteps in the hallway were music to Carlton's ears and he stepped out further, giving the prone man a contemptuous glare. "Looks like you got the wrong Axe."
The door was already open, and his guards had no trouble getting through and surrounding the suspect. "Are you hurt detective? The lieutenant called and said your psychic said you were in trouble, then we heard a gunshot when we were coming upstairs to check."
Carlton shook his head. Both in disbelief that Shawn had once again known what was going to happen, and also letting the other officers know he was fine. "Get him out of here." The officers followed his order and picked the injured perp up, dragging him from the room.
I'm really going to have to say something to Spencer now. Once Juliet found out about what happened, she'd make him show them some appreciation. Maybe another coupon. He smiled at his own cleverness. They seemed to enjoy the last ones so much.
Of all the things Henry wanted to do today, getting in a shootout was probably third to last thing he wanted to do. There were worse things than a shootout, but not many.
"How did they find us?" Arnou whispered frantically, as they moved to the front of the couch to get out of view of both the door and the stairway.
Henry shook his head, clueless. There were the kids that took the picture of Arnou, but what were the chances that whoever was after him would see it? Especially this fast. "No clue, but we're going to have to deal with the people coming in the door first. It sounds like the person upstairs is still trying to get in a window." The soft clunking and banging was unfortunately all too familiar to him. Shawn had snuck in one too many times when he was a kid for Henry to ever forget that sound.
By then the door had started to open slowly, and Henry could make out the barrel of a pistol. He gripped his gun tighter and pushed Arnou as low as he could go. I just need to get one good shot off on the son of a bitch. He raised his gun to aim but stopped short when he caught sight of a feminine hand gripping the gun, and soon he realized it wasn't an assassin. It was Juliet.
"Oh thank God." Henry lowered the gun and said as loud as he dared. "Here!"
Juliet looked behind her and quietly motioned at least four other officers in tactical gear into the house. Holy cow she practically brought a SWAT team. Henry gawked. Smiling, Henry could see what Shawn saw in the young detective. His son was always fell hard for strong women, plus she probably reminded him of his mother. Maddie was a pistol in her own right.
"Shawn said you were in trouble, so I brought some back up. I saw the lights go out and sent a couple of men around back." She'd trusted his son's statement so much, that she brought enough back up to help right away rather than checking out the validity of his psychic vision first. It completely floored him.
Henry pushed down the burst of pride swelling in his chest as they heard the distinctive sound of breaking glass. The intruder was inside. "Whoever's up there is already in. You'll have to send some officers up the stairs to get him cornered."
Juliet cast a worried glance at the other officers and understood just as much as he did, the peril of having to fight a potentially armed suspect in a hallway. "It's pretty narrow up there."
He remembered a Quentin Tarantino movie that Shawn had made him watch, which actually wasn't too bad, that had made the point: 'The worst thing about fighting in a basement, is that you're fighting in a basement.' The same was true for narrow hallways. Too much cover and any of the officers could end up getting hurt.
"Wait." Arnou had come up next to them without Henry seeing.
"Get back down!" Henry chastised.
Arnou shook his head. "No, listen. I can help. He's after me right? So why don't I lead him downstairs. It's more open and you can already have him surrounded. It's dark, so he won't see you guys till it's too late."
Juliet gave Arnou a worried look. "Are you sure? It could put you in a lot of danger."
"You guys have done the same for me. Especially your partner."
Henry couldn't argue with that, and it looked like Juliet couldn't either. She put her head in her hand, "Ug, the chief is going to kill me."
"Well you better do it quick." Henry turned to the detective and quickly told her where to put each of the men for maximum coverage. By the time they'd quietly gotten in position they could hear the perp coming down the hallway. He looked to Arnou from his perch just inside the living room door from the kitchen and gave him the signal.
As Shawn would say: It's show time.
"Henry, The living room lights aren't on! Did you get to the fuse box yet?" They all heard the footsteps halt for a split second, before their pace quickened down the stairs having located it's target. A moment later, a man dressed in black had stopped in the doorway on the kitchen side and stared at the lone visible figure in the room.
Even in the dark, Henry could see the nervous look on Arnou's face as he stared down his would be murderer. As the man raised his gun, showing the intent to kill, the action star smiled and said, "You've just been Axed."
The room converged on the assassin as Arnou ducked down just in case. The killer was down and cuffed in five seconds flat. Henry and Juliet quickly went over and helped Arnou to his feet. "Way to go. Not bad for your first sting operation."
Arnou gave him a beaming grin and let out a deep breath. "Thanks. After this I think I have enough experience to do a lifetime of Axe McDougan films."
Juliet gasped in realization. "Henry, you may want to call Shawn. He was pretty upset when he let me know about his vision." I'll take Arnou to the station for now."
"Yeah, I'll get right on it when I find my cell. See you there." As he watched them go, and saw the officers around him, he felt a twinge of something he hadn't had in years. It almost felt like he was back in the game, ready to take down some bad guys and kick some criminal behind. Too soon though, the feeling passed and he shook his head. Nah, I'm too old for this, he thought to himself, before dialing Shawn's number and going outside to fix the fuse box.
Two Days Later:
In the movies, all the best endings ended with the hero getting the girl, saving the day and genuinely looking cool as hell.
In real life though, just being able to sit down at your office, eating your favorite food, with your best friend was probably the best ending Shawn could hope for. Except for the whole ‘getting the girl’ thing. Someday that would totally happen.
The team and Arnou had all met at the station the day before. They exchanged stories and Shawn was able to regale them with his miraculous visions and Carlton told them all about his heroic gun battle with his own assassin. Even his father had put in how Arnou stepped up to the plate and possibly saved some injuries and even lives by being a decoy.
The most surprising thing for all of them was that Arnou had invited his father to go to the set on his first day of shooting, and offered to make him an extra in a scene. The look on Henry's face was priceless and he'd graciously accepted. Then Shawn had to spend the rest of the evening listening to Gus beg to be stuffed in his dad's suitcase so he could go to the set too. Needless to say, Shawn was glad when his father had left that morning for Hollywood, without Gus, but he did have his lady-friend with him.
At the desk cross the office from him, Gus licked his fingers after inhaling a mouthful of a foot long hot dog with all the trimmings. The food was courtesy of Detective Carlton Lassiter and his underachieving in the area of graciousness. At least the coupon was for something actually free this time.
"So, you never told me how you figured everything out at the police station." Gus pointed out, his mouth still full of food.
It was true, things had happened so fast he hadn’t been able to do the best part, the reveal of the reveal. Of course, it was only Gus or his father that he could tell it to, and his pop wasn't around to hear it.
Shrugging like it was no big deal, Shawn explained, "I kept wondering why Jack would kill Sal when he owed him money and wondering if we had the right guy.” He let Gus stew a moment while he took a sip of his banana chocolate shake. “Usually they go for breaking bones or blackmail." Gus nodded. "So, I figured it was to make an example out of him. It was his pride Gus. If one person could get away with not paying him, others might think he'd gone soft. He’d make sure the others who were ‘slacking’ would know that something bad happened to Sal. Then, when Arnou got away, he needed to erase him. Even if Arnou couldn't identify them, Jack couldn't have that loose end."
"So he went after him at the red carpet. It was another show of his power that only the right people would know about. If he could get someone at the red carpet, he could get someone anywhere."
"Exactly! But his pride took another hit when I knocked Lassie out of the way. Then, when he saw the pictures, and realized that he'd been tricked, what do you think his first act would be?" Shawn loved to see how Gus' magic head worked. His friend was just as smart as he was, but in different ways, and sometimes Gus needed to feel like he got the point on his own.
Gus eyes sparkled with realization before he exclaimed, "He'd call someone to go get the other Arnou!"
Shawn nodded and remembered the caller ID he'd exited out of right before seeing the Facebook pictures. "I saw that Mickey was the first call he'd made within the last six hours. Four minutes later, he called Sammi. Probably to make sure the plan to get Lassie was still on. He'd already failed to get Arnou twice, so he was going to take them both out just to be safe." Shawn leaned back in his chair and started to put his feet on the desk before pain in his knee made him remember his injury. He carefully lowered his leg to the ground, hoping Gus hadn't seen the unmanly action.
"Now I get it. You attacked his pride as soon as you came in the room. Calling him nicknames, taunting him with what he didn't know." Gus gave a mirthful snort, "You are an evil genius."
"I know. You're lucky I use my powers for good."
His friend rolled his eyes. "What about the time you used your memory to give Cindy Kopland all the test answers for the History final so she'd go out on a date with you?"
"It was desperation and doesn't count." Besides, it hadn't worked. She'd ditched him to go out with some Neanderthal from the football team.
"Am I interrupting anything?" A familiar, voice said from behind him.
Shawn's eyes widened as he turned around to face their surprise guest. "Jules, hey! We didn't hear you come in." God, I hope she didn't hear any of that. Finding out he wasn't really psychic was one thing, but Juliet realizing he'd struck out with every girl in their high school would be a social disaster.
As she stepped further into the room, he could see she was carrying two drinks on a tray. "I stopped by to see how you were doing. Your face looked pretty bad yesterday."
Damn it. He'd been getting hurt a lot lately, and it was seriously cramping his manliness. Maybe I should do a few push ups.
"So anyway, I got you and Gus some smoothies to thank you for all your help."
"Aw, you didn't have to do that." Shawn said as Gus made it half way across the room in a blink of an eye, grabbing one of the frosty cups. Juliet was taken aback at his speed, but Shawn just shook his head. "Dude, you're like Bruce Lee, but with food."
Gus said nothing and started drinking his smoothie.
Trying to be a lot more polite than his friend. Shawn gratefully took his own smoothie with a smile. "Well, it is a surprise to see you here Jules. I thought you'd be scheduling your date with Arnou." Juliet, probably knowing how he'd felt when she'd dated Luntz raised an eyebrow. Stuttering, Shawn tried to explain. "He is a handsome man, and a movie star to boot. I saw you hanging around him yesterday."
Surprisingly, Juliet made a face at his statement and shook her head. "He's a nice guy and all, but I don't think I could ever date someone that looked almost exactly like Lassiter."
While he silently thanked every single deity known to man, Shawn shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly. "You'll find someone eventually Jules. You're young, pretty, and badass. Any guy would be lucky to have you."
"Thank you Shawn." Juliet smiled warmly. Just seeing that look on her face almost made getting punched in the face worth it.
They chatted for a few minutes longer but too soon, she was looking at her watch sadly. "I better get going back to the station. The paperwork on the break in at your dad's is going to take me almost all day, and could you tell him to come in for a bit? I still need to get his statement."
"Alright," Juliet walked backwards, almost tripping on the edge of the couch. "Oops...well, bye." She quickly turned around, embarrassed, and left.
Gus shook his head at him in mock disgust. "You two should really just get together already."
If only. "Gus, our courtship is going to be an intricate dance of sugar plums and marzipan - "
" - we have time, and I'm slowly worming my way into her heart."
"That sounds disgusting Shawn."
"Pretty soon, she won't be able to get enough of this." Shawn gestured to himself.
"I'm sure she'll be able to resist... that."
Shawn tsked. Truth be told he was worried about how Juliet felt about him, but he didn't want to rush into a relationship and screw it up. Not with her. "Whatever man." Shawn grumbled and sat on the couch, turning on the TV. "So what do you want to watch tonight?"
"Anything but action movies. I've had enough action lately, thank you very much."
"Okay! The Gods Must Be Crazy it is." Shawn said with a sly grin. One glance at his friend's shocked and horrified face and he was suddenly glad everything was back to normal, for now at least.
"No Shawn! You promised you'd never make me watch it again..."