I reference a specific firearm in this story, and that reference was the product of a few quick Google searches, so I apologize for any inaccuracy. Also, I don't know any real policewomen, so if any of Lucinda's rants seem odd or inaccurate, I completely apologize. A lot of the things Lucinda says are compiled based on pure speculation and my own limited personal experiences. As always, please feel free to correct me on anything and please let me know if you have any constructive criticism.
One thousand thanks to my good friend, BlkLunaDragon, for looking over this for me. Any errors that remain are all my own fault.
And sorry about the sucky summary. I couldn't think of anything.
Disclaimer: I do not own Psych, nor do I own any of its characters, settings, trademarks, or related material. Psych and all related materials are the property of their respective owners. The plot and original characters of this story are my intellectual property. I am not associated with Psych, its creators, or any involved parties, nor am I associated with any other media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
***UPDATE: I have to say that I am truly touched. It means so much to me that people out there read, nominated, and voted for this story. Lucinda and her story mean a lot to me, and I truly put my heart and soul into writing this. For days on end, I would stay up well past midnight, working on it for hours. Then I'd throw it at Luna and revise it obsessively until it was worthy of being posted. Thank you for supporting me. You have my sincerest thanks, and I am honored.
But like it or not, she was thinking and feeling and she was without a doubt on the way to Sacramento, and since she was thousands of feet in the air, locked in a giant metal tube, she literally had no way out. No escape. And since the trashy romance novel she'd picked up at the stupid airport kiosk was the absolute last thing she wanted to read right now---where was a good true crime thriller when you needed one?---she had nothing to do except the one thing she wanted to avoid: think about how and why things had gone wrong.
It was him. It had to be him, didn't it? Just had to be.
And there was nobody to blame for it but herself.
She kept wondering if she really loved him. Cared about him, yes, but love? Maybe yes, maybe not so much. Was he really worth losing her job? Worth losing her city?
She had to think on that one. Maybe yes, maybe not so much. Maybe just a little.
Did it really matter at all, now that the damage was done and she couldn't change it if she wanted to?
Yes, she finally admitted to herself. Yes, it did matter. And yes, in her opinion, it had all been worth it. What she had gained outweighed the things she'd lost.
But knowing that didn't make it hurt any less.
The first time she encountered Lassiter, she thought he was the sexiest man she'd ever seen. Not because he was handsome. Actually, she was a little repulsed by his looks at first. Too tall and lanky, and those ridiculous ears...not to mention his oddly-shaped nose and that weird way his forehead crinkled up sometimes. (Eventually, she got used to all of those things and came to look on them with fondness, even affection...she particularly enjoyed that quirky little forehead crinkle.)
But actually, she was attracted to the way he'd shot a perp in the leg by reaching around a corner and shooting a metal barrier so that the bullet ricocheted at just the right angle to hit his intended target. And he'd actually done it on purpose, not by accident, with skill and not luck. It was a feat of marksmanship unlike anything she'd seen before, and suddenly being stuck with the resident freakshow for a partner didn't seem so bad.
It wasn't like she threw herself at him or anything, though. If anything, she did the opposite. She did everything she could to keep him at arm's length or farther. Challenging him on every call he made, picking every fight she could, making everything tougher than it needed to be and still charging through cases with more speed and efficiency than any other detective duo in Santa Barbara. She tried to push herself---and him---harder than any other team in the department. Being attracted to her partner didn't mean that she was going to give him any leeway, and she sure didn't want any kind of leniency from him, either. Being soft on each other didn't get any cases solved, and it sure didn't make for strong cops. Of course, she knew that her kind of attitude didn't make many friends. She'd clashed with every partner she'd ever had, and she fully expected to get the same amount of flak from Lassiter.
But she didn't.
No, nobody else understood her way of thinking, but he did. He got it. And unlike a lot of others, he actually respected her for it.
And, looking back on it, that mutual respect had been their downfall. Because if Lassiter had grown tired of her and asked for a transfer, they would've had different partners and he wouldn't have developed enough trust in her to confide about his marital problems, and he sure wouldn't have ever had the opportunity to ask her if she'd like to get a drink with him after work sometime.
One drink. That was all they both had. It wasn't at Tom Blair's Pub or at any of the other cop bars; he'd taken her to some dinky Irish place way on the outskirts of town. And that was her first clue on how serious it was going to be: he didn't want to risk them being seen. That evening was the beginning of a life of secrecy and hidden love. Which was, incidentally, not half as romantic and exhilarating as it sounded. It was mostly a huge pain in the neck. But no pain, no gain, and for five months, they kept their secret affections away from the prying eyes of anyone who would separate them. They were the quietest, stealthiest, and most discreet star-crossed lovers on the West Coast.
Until Shawn Spencer.
Shawn Spencer. Psychic detective. Yeah right.
It wouldn't be the first time she wondered how exactly the universe had aligned perfectly enough to drop that strange man into their lives. And what would have been different if he hadn't swung in like a wonky curveball, throwing everything off-kilter. Would she still be in Santa Barbara? Would she still be with Lassiter? Maybe yes. Maybe not so much. How was she supposed to know?
All she knew was that she could tell he was trouble from the second she laid eyes on him. Everything about the guy sent her cop sense tingling. Tingling in the same sense that a good old-fashioned California wildfire "tingled" the forest that it carelessly blazed through. Everything about him screamed "Guilty."
At first, she thought that he was guilty of the robbery, the same as Lassiter did. But it didn't take her long to realize that he was innocent of that particular charge. Guilty for stealing the car? Guilty for lying to the police about being psychic? Could those things be the cause? Maybe yes, but probably no.
So what was it, then? She still didn't know. Not really.
What she did know was that, despite his utter ridiculousness and blatant lies, Shawn Spencer was amazing. No, not amazing; astounding.
How did he do it? How? She didn't know. And she wasn't sure that he did, either. There was just something about him. Something...
Lucinda caught a glimpse of her reflection in the glass of the airplane window. She was frowning. Why? She pushed her face back into its mask of total indifference, hoping that no one had seen.
Then she sighed. What did she care if someone saw her feelings? Didn't she have the right to have an honest-to-God emotion once in a while?
Maybe that was the problem all along... Maybe that was the real reason why she was on her way to Sacramento instead of sitting in her desk chair with Lassiter, drinking overly-sugared coffee and finding new ways to joke about bullets. She couldn't handle trying to be in control all the time.
There were moments when she felt self-conscious, as a cop. The old geezers who made cracks about policewomen fetching coffee or being secretarial didn't really bother her so much, because they'd be keeling over sometime soon anyway, but what really got her was the quiet, sneaky kind of prejudice that the everyday common people had in their heads. The horrible kinds of things that people thought every day about female cops that would never occur to them about male cops. Overly emotional; sleeping with the boss; crying on the job; running in high heels; lack of physical strength and stamina; too easily scared; soft and weak; not tough enough, too compassionate; easily manipulated; and what about those bra holsters? Did the lady cops change in the same locker rooms as the guys? Did the lady cops gossip amongst themselves, or did they cuss and swear and tell sex jokes with the guys? What do you do if you start your period on a stakeout? And what if, God forbid, you go out and get yourself pregnant?
If Lucinda had a nickel for every stupid, ignorant, utterly dumb remark and stereotype she'd seen cropping up in snippets of overheard conversations, on the news, on those stupid blog websites where people go to run their mouths off, or even to her face---like that awful disastrous conversation with Lassiter's stupid mother---she'd have enough nickels to plop down $1604 on a Desert Eagle XIX and have enough left over to buy the ammo for it, too.
But here she was, with hardly a dime to her name, let alone any nickels, and all that this stuff really amounted to was that a lot of the time, she felt the need to hide who she really was. To hide the fact that yes, she did have the occasional cracks of emotion, and yes, she did cry on occasion, and yes, she both gossiped with the girls and still managed to crack some good dirty jokes with the boys, and heck yeah, someday she wanted to go out and get herself pregnant and raise another generation of strong Barry women. ...or men. And especially she felt the need to hide the fact that yes, she was technically sleeping with her boss. Because even though the reason she was sleeping with him had absolutely nothing at all to do with the fact that he was her boss, they both knew exactly how awful it would look on her and on policewomen everywhere.
Because did the man ever get blamed for sleeping with a woman? Did the boss ever get blamed for sleeping with his subordinates?
Well...except for Lassiter.
She had to hand it to him; he was a gentleman unlike any other. He took chivalry to a whole new level. He took the fall for it, 100 percent, without even being asked. He insisted on it. Wouldn't take no for an answer. But in return, Lucinda made the choice to leave Santa Barbara so that he could stay. She'd insisted, not taking his "no" for an answer. It was the least she could do to thank him for his generosity, for the kindness he'd shown her that so few ever got to see.
...Especially considering what she'd done to him.
Not bothering to disguise the deepening frown on her lips, Lucinda leaned her head against the cloudy airplane window. That was really the kicker of it all, wasn't it? That was why she hadn't been able to sleep in days. The real reason for her transfer...
It had been an innocent thing. Take him to the firing range so they could talk about the case without any snooping ears overhearing. That, and so she could show off her sharpshooting skills and subtly let him know that she meant business. She was an award-winning shooter, one of the best marksmen in California, and second only to Lassiter in Santa Barbara. Or so she'd thought.
Until Shawn Spencer put a bullet in every single hole she'd left in the target.
That wasn't just astounding. That was...something.
Something special. Something she didn't want to think about. Something she didn't want to admit to herself.
That level of accuracy, that precision...
...was the sexiest thing she'd ever seen.
And more importantly, it was a skill she could respect.
And that, along with the fact that he knew about her secret tryst with Lassiter, made Shawn Spencer dangerous.
Which was one of the reasons---along with lots of others that were way more professional and way less petty---that she hated that he kept getting assigned cases. It seemed like every week, the fake psychic and his dorky partner got new opportunities from the Chief, and new opportunities to get in her and Lassiter's way.
To add insult to injury, Lassiter kept bringing the morons up during their lunch breaks. And as much as she hated that, she really couldn't think of anything else to talk about, either. It got to the point where she began to wonder what she and Carlton had ever talked about before "Psych" came into the picture.
So it was really no wonder that on one rain-slicked evening, she snapped and told Shawn Spencer exactly what he could do with himself in the police station's parking lot. It was night and the place was mostly deserted and Lassiter had already gone home, thank God, so nobody was there to hear her little outburst.
Nobody except her and that idiot Spencer.
Only he wasn't an idiot, and they both knew it.
"Why do you hate me so much?" he asked finally, after several long drawn-out seconds of silence. "I kinda thought we had this weird mutual respect understanding-ish thing going on at the beginning there. Didn't we? Where did that even go?"
Lucinda just gaped at him for a second. Whatever she'd expected to come out of his mouth, it sure hadn't been that. She was surprised that he seemed so surprised by her actions. After another few seconds of silence, her mouth started working again. "I don't know."
"I don't know either." Shawn sounded odd. Fatigued, maybe? Probably tired from rapid-fire case-solving. "Is it because I found out about you and Lassie? Because I haven't told anyone. I swear."
Lucinda's brow furrowed. "You haven't? Really? I find that difficult to believe."
"Why?" Once again, his surprise and confusion seemed genuine.
"You're such a motor-mouthed moron."
"Hm. Nice alliteration there."
This time, the silence lasted long enough to make Lucinda wonder if she should just walk away. Just get in her car without saying or doing anything else.
But then he spoke again. "Do you...?" He shook his head. "Never mind."
"Do I what?"
Shawn crossed his arms, leaning back against the door of the nearest police cruiser. "Nothing. I was just...wondering."
Lucinda scowled. "I don't have times for your games today, Spencer."
"Lighten up! I was just wondering if...you were okay."
"If I'm okay? Of course I'm okay. What kind of question is that?"
"I just noticed--- Well, the spirits told me that---"
"Spencer, if you do that stupid thing where you put your hand to your head, I will break it without a second thought."
Shawn's hand slowly dropped back down to his side. "Okay... Fair enough."
"Come on, don't keep me waiting. Spit it out. What were you going to say?"
"You and Lassie just don't seem to be as...happy...as you were before. When I first came here."
Lucinda could tell by the look on his face that he didn't think "happy" was the right word for it---or rather, for Lassiter. And to be honest, she couldn't say she blamed him. Lassiter just wasn't a happy kind of guy. But he was right; something in the two of them---and in the police department in general---had changed since Shawn Spencer arrived. The dynamic, the atmosphere, was different in an almost indescribable way.
"Maybe it's all the stress of dealing with you," she suggested.
"Because I'm a motor-mouthed moron?" A wry smile crossed his face, and a part of her wanted to slap it off. Hard.
"I don't think you really believe that," he said.
"So what do you think I believe, then?"
"I think..." He started to speak and then paused, looking off to the side a little, thinking. Or at least trying to act like he was thinking. "I think that you are a lot more...complicated than you want me to think. And I think you like me a lot more than you want me to think."
She didn't know what to say. He was right, even if she didn't want to say it. She didn't want to lie, either. So she didn't say anything.
He smiled a little bigger, and that just made it worse, because that just let her know that he knew what she was thinking.
"It's okay," he said, chuckling a little. "I mean, I get it. I'm this incredible psychic with great hair---"
"Don't flatter yourself."
"And in I come, dragging Gus along with me, upsetting the pineapple cart---"
"I think it's just an apple cart."
"I've heard it both ways."
"No, you haven't."
Shawn's smiling lip curled into a pout. "You eat your fruits, I'll eat mine."
She shook her head. "Whatever."
"So I come in, upsetting the cart containing the fruit of your choice, and stepping in all over your thing with Lassie and getting in your way and just making things miserable for you in general, even though I'm way better at solving cases than any of the cops and you know it."
"Because you backdoor it, bending the rules and taking shortcuts. You don't solve cases faster because you're actually faster. You solve them faster because you cheat."
Shawn shook his head. "It's not cheating if I'm just that good."
"Are you?" she challenged.
He shrugged. "Yeah, actually. I am."
And then, because it was in her nature to say it and because she just couldn't help herself, she said: "Prove it."
And then, because it was in his nature to say it, he replied: "Sure."
Lucinda crossed her arms and scoffed. "This is going to be good."
"Show me a case file," he said. "Any case file. Anything that you know I haven't seen before. I'll solve the case in five minutes."
"No way you'll give it to me, or no way I can do it?"
"There's no way you can do it," she said as she reached into her briefcase and handed him a Manila folder. "Here. I just got this file an hour ago. Nobody's seen it but me yet. I didn't even have a chance to go over it with Lassiter. We're supposed to check it out in the morning."
Flipping the folder open, Shawn mused over the contents, rearranging the papers and crime scene photos to get a better look, sometimes tilting his head to the side and squinting.
Is that his "It's a clue" face? she wondered.
After only two minutes tops, he snapped the folder shut and looked up at her. "The brother did it."
"What makes you think that? His alibi checks."
"No, it doesn't. Look closer. The bakery guy says the brother was there, but if you look at the bank statements, the bakery guy got paid off the week before the murder."
"What? Let me see that."
Shawn handed her the folder and she snatched the printout of the financial information, scanning it to see if she could notice what Shawn had.
"That could be anything," she said. "He runs a business. Businesses make deposits."
"Businesses make deposits, but look at the spacing of the earlier transactions. He always puts his money in on the first Friday of every month. That big payoff? He deposited it on a Tuesday. And also, that number is waaaaay too big to be just the usual doings of a small-time local bakery. That's suspicious. And if the brother's alibi is no good..."
"Then he had the means, motive, and opportunity," Lucinda finished. She stared down at all the paperwork and names and dates and pictures in the file. "I won't be able to verify this for a while, you know. So you haven't won yet. All of this is circumstantial. It might just be a coincidence. You might not be right."
"I am right, and you know it," Shawn said.
The infuriating thing was that he was right, about everything, and she did know it.
"That's the thing, isn't it? That's the problem!" Shawn said. "You can't stand it that I'm right all the time!" She threw a glare at him, and he frowned. "You know, I really thought you were better than that. But you're just like Lassie. I mean, c'mon. Does it really do you any good to be jealous of me all the time?"
"I'm not jealous," she retorted, a little too quickly. "You trivialize---"
"I trivialize police work? Seriously? You're even giving me Lassie's lines now? Wow."
Lucinda sighed. "Look, it's just hard. You make it look so easy. But it's called police work for a reason. It's work."
"That doesn't sound like much fun."
"Work isn't fun. That's why it's called work."
Shawn shook his head. "Well, that's ridiculous. Why can't it be both?"
"It doesn't work like that."
"Well, why not? It worked like that when I had that job as a tour guide for Mammoth Cave and I got to explore all the tiny little tunnels that people really aren't supposed to go into."
"Well, it doesn't work like that for cops."
Shawn scoffed. "I'm not a cop."
Lucinda stared him down. "Yes, you are. You just solved a case in two minutes by looking at some pieces of paper. You're a detective, whether you like it or not."
Shawn stared right back at her, and there was another long silence, even longer than all the previous silences. Lucinda hated it and her cop sense was telling her that she needed to just leave now, but she didn't want to abandon the challenge.
At last, Shawn broke through. "Do you...wanna...come ride on my bike?"
Lucinda wasn't sure she'd heard him correctly. "Do I what?"
"Do you want to take a ride on my bike?" Shawn repeated.
"I don't have a helmet," she said, startled by this oddball request.
"Dobson keeps one in his cruiser. He thinks his wife doesn't know about his midlife secret named 'Harley' yet." Shawn crossed the parking lot to Dobson's empty car and opened the trunk with a key he produced from his pocket.
"Dobson gave you his key?"
"No," Shawn said, holding up his keyring and jangling it with a grin. "I just cloned every key to every door and every car in the SBPD."
Lucinda's jaw dropped as she considered the ramifications and the sheer illegality of this fact. "What's wrong with you? Seriously. What kind of freak are you? I just want to know."
Shawn grabbed the helmet and slammed Dobson's trunk shut before tossing the protective headgear to Lucinda, a huge wild grin spreading across his face. "I'm a psychic, Detective Barry. The spirits move in mysterious ways!"
Wordlessly, Lucinda slipped the stolen---borrowed?---helmet over her head and got on the back of Shawn's Norton just after he did, gripping his waist with both arms to make sure she didn't fall off. Crazy? Only a little.
"If you wreck this rattletrap, I'll wreck your face," she shouted as he started up the engine, just to let him know where they stood.
"Don't worry!" He called back over the noise, grinning still. "I'll get you back to Lassie safe and in one piece!"
Lucinda had never been fond of motorcycles. They were dangerous, reckless, noisy, annoying, idiotic, deadly wrecks waiting to happen. But tonight, something snapped. It was like her cop sense was gone, or at least, temporarily switched off. The wind wasn't completely in her face thanks to the helmet and Shawn's body blocking the worst of the weather, but she got enough of the effect to finally realize just what people saw in these crazy two-wheeled machines.
Here she was, being propelled along through traffic and wind and a little bit of rain with no shield, no protection, and yet she felt exhilarated rather than frightened. The coolness of the night enveloped her as the world rushed by in streaks, and it felt amazing on a visceral, indescribable level. Like riding a fast, intense metal horse across an urban prairie.
Motorcycles were fun.
They whipped around the block twice, a little faster on the second time around, and then Shawn pulled them back into the police station parking lot, screeching to a halt just behind her car and cutting the engine off. Without the Norton's humming roar, the place was eerie in its quiet. It was much darker now than when they had first started out.
"Thanks for the ride," Lucinda said as she passed Dobson's helmet back to Shawn, trying to keep the excitement out of her voice and failing. "That was just..."
"Awesome?" Shawn supplied with a grin.
"Awesome. Yes. That was awesome." Lucinda didn't return the grin, but she did smile a little.
Shawn looked up at the sky. "Wow, it got dark really fast."
"Yeah, it did. I need to get home. See you later, Spencer."
"Okay. Hey, call me anytime you want to ride again. I love showing off my wheels!"
Lucinda arched an eyebrow. "Your wheels? Really? You sound like my twelve-year-old nephew showing off his collection of Hot Wheels."
"Hey, Hot Wheels are not a subject I take lightly. Those things are hardcore."
Shawn shrugged. "That's cool. I see how it is. You're just trying to hide your newfound love of all things fast and mechanical. Am I right?"
Lucinda scoffed. "Are you right, or are 'the spirits' right?"
Shawn grinned yet again. "You've got me there, Detective Barry! The spirits see all." Then he winked.
Lucinda stared at him. "Did you just wink at me?"
But Shawn had already started his motorcycle back up and was beginning to tear out of the parking lot again, calling out over his shoulder and over the noise: "Later, Detective!"
He must not have heard me over the engine noise, she thought. ...Or did he?
Lucinda tried to put the memory of the motorcycle ride behind her, but somehow her efforts just didn't work. She thought that going over the motorcycle crash fatality reports for the past year would help her forget about the strange joy of clambering onto the back of a two-wheeled death machine and flying unprotected over the pavement at 50-60 miles per hour, but even the gut-wrenching descriptions of motorcycle-related accidents couldn't push the thoughts out of her head.
I am not an adrenaline junkie, she chanted over and over in her head as she resisted the increasing urge to grab an Auto World and start circling the phone numbers of steel rattletrap peddlers.
Part of her wanted to tell Lassiter about her unusual and slightly out-of-character fixation---she still refused to call it an obsession---but an even bigger part of her wanted to make sure that he never, ever found out. Because he used to mock people like Spencer and their poor choices of transportation, and she used to join in, and if he ever found out about her change of heart... Social suicide wasn't the exact term for what she knew she'd experience, but it was pretty darn close.
And more than that, she knew that Lassiter would put an end to it. Lassiter's comments would ground her to Earth again and push the motorcycle idea out of her head once and for all, and just this once, she wanted something that was hers and hers alone. ...Something. Something special. Even if that something was just a little bit dangerous.
C'mon. She made a career out of one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. Would a motorcycle really hurt her odds of survival that much?
And did it really matter anyway? Wasn't the experience of living worth the risk of death by machine?
Yes, she decided, and so, the next time she found herself with nothing to do on a Friday night---Lassiter "wasn't available" for a date, and she suspected it had something to do with his "barely separated" wife---she made the executive decision to indulge herself for once.
"Hi, you've reached the office of the ever-fabulous Shawn Spencer, and if you're an old man who insists he's my dad, you can hit one. If you're Gus, hit two. If you're the cranky head detective who finally figured out that it was me who filled up your pencil can with Pop Rocks, you can just hang up now because I'm never calling you back."
"Shut up, Spencer. I know this isn't your answering machine."
"Huh? Who is this?"
"It's me, you moron." Lowering her voice a little---which, she realized, was an irrational move since she was at home alone---she added, "Lucinda Barry."
"Oh! Hey! Well, that's surprising. Why'd you listen to so much of the message if you knew it wasn't my voicemail?"
"I was curious. I wanted to know what kind of dumb thing you were going to say next."
"Well, in that case, you should have held on a little longer, because I had at least three more menu options ready to go."
Lucinda just shook her head. "Wow. You really have way too much time on your hands."
"Not really. I just work smart, so everything I do looks effortless. Even my hair looks effortless, and it takes up more of my time and effort than anything else in my life."
"No wonder you can't keep a job."
"I can too keep a job! I'm a psychic detective! And the spirits are telling me that you really want another go at my motorcycle."
Lucinda lowered her voice again. "How did you know?"
"Like I said, the spirits told me. I can sense things, even through a telephone. Where are you at? I'll come pick you up."
"Choose any public place you want. I'll meet you there."
Lucinda scoffed. "I'm not about to tell you where I live, Spencer."
"I already know where you live."
"Not in a creepy way or anything. Just---the spirits. Sometimes they pick up addresses, too. I'm like a psychic GPS. Just don't ask me to find you a Bass Pro Shop, an elephant graveyard, or a Red Cross blood drive. All those things short me out."
Lucinda paused for a second, debating on how to respond to that---if at all. "Just pick a public space, Spencer."
"Somewhere more discreet."
"Uhhh... Ooh! I know just the place!"
Ten minutes later, Lucinda was waiting in the parking lot of a dorky Mexican restaurant near the pier, sitting in her car with the doors locked, drumming on the steering wheel with her fingers and willing herself to be patient. Willing herself to be able to pretend that she hadn't been craving a motorcycle ride all week.
A loud, obnoxious knock sounded against the passenger's side window, and she got out of her car once she saw Shawn's dorky face peering at her, stupid grin fixed in place.
"Hey!" he said. "Pineapple smoothie? I thought we might need some refreshments for the road." His outstretched hand offered her a yellow-filled plastic cup.
"Pass," she said.
"Don't you like pineapple? It's the king of fruits!"
"I don't drink liquid calories."
"Liquid calories? C'mon, son! This thing is packed with nutrients!"
"And it's delicious! Come on. Live a little. You know you want to. Otherwise, why would you be out here in the middle of the night asking to ride on a psychic's motorcycle?"
Lucinda sighed. "Touché." She accepted the smoothie and took a tiny sip. "Huh. This isn't as horrible as I expected."
Shawn's face looked like it would split in two if he grinned any harder. "See what happens when you try new things! It's magical!"
"Don't push it."
"Fair enough. So, where would you like me to take you tonight? I bought a new helmet so you won't have to borrow Dobson's anymore."
"Maybe we could go around the block a few times. Let's not get too crazy."
"Well, that's not nearly as cool as I was expecting, but sure, let's do it!"
It wasn't until their third exhilarating trip around the block that a question popped into Lucinda's mind. A very important question, one that she kicked herself for not thinking of before. After tapping his shoulder at a red light to get his attention, she signaled him to return to the parking lot, and when the light turned green, he zoomed back and slid the Norton neatly into the parking space next to her car.
"What's wrong?" Shawn asked, taking off his helmet and tucking it under one arm as he twisted in the seat to look at her. "I can sense that you're restless, but surely you're not tired yet. The night's still young! And let's face it, Lassie's probably going to be tied up for a while."
Lucinda blinked, taken off-guard by that last remark. "You know where he is?"
Shawn lifted one hand to his head and closed his eyes. "I'm seeing Lassie now. I'm seeing...his mother? And another elderly woman too. A sick woman. Maybe...an aunt? No...a grandmother!"
Lucinda forced herself not to breathe a sigh of relief at hearing---even from an unreliable source---that Lassiter wasn't with his wife. Pushing away the voice in the back of her head that warned her that a relationship full of insecurity and jealousy like this wouldn't last, she gave Shawn the only response she could muster: "Oh." After a beat, she tried to cover up her moment of vulnerability by continuing, "Well, anyway, the thing that's bothering me is...why are you being so nice to me? We aren't friends."
This time, it was Shawn's turn to blink. "We're not?"
"No. We're colleagues, and we're competitors for cases. I'm a cop and you're a consultant. That isn't exactly friend material," Lucinda said. "Besides, we barely know each other."
"But that's the great thing about it! Our differences just give us stuff to talk about, right? And please. You know that I love pineapples, and I know that you have a secret love of motorcycles. What more do we need to know about each other?"
"For starters, it would be great if you weren't constantly lying about being psychic."
"I'm not lying, Detective Barry. I have a gift!"
"Just not a psychic one."
"Would you just stop it? Just believe in me!"
Lucinda shook her head. "I believe that you have a lot of talent, but I don't believe in all your mumbo-jumbo, and nothing will convince me otherwise."
Shawn frowned. "Okay, first of all, it's juju magumbo. There's a difference. And second of all, you should at least pretend to believe me while you're on my bike."
Lucinda---more reluctantly than she'd like to admit---eased herself out of the seat and stood with her arms crossed next to the motorcycle.
Shawn was silent for a moment. "Okay, fine. I take it back. Your angry silent stare is kinda starting to freak me out a little bit."
"My stare isn't angry," Lucinda said.
"Oh, really? I suppose you want me to believe that this is your stare of butterflies and rainbows?"
Lucinda smirked. "I was thinking more along the lines of puppies."
Shawn perked up. "Really?" He gasped. "Pugs?! Or labradoodles?"
"What is that? Is that some kind of poodle?"
Lucinda's smirk turned into a grin. "Like German shepherds on steroids. The ultimate police dogs."
Shawn shook his head. "I should have known. The spirits should have told me that, but I wasn't listening."
"That's because you never listen."
"Sure I do."
"When do you listen?"
"I'm sorry, what did you say? I wasn't listening."
Lucinda frowned. "That's not funny, Shawn."
"That is completely debatable. But what was your original question? I forgot it already."
"Why are you being so nice to me?"
"Oh, right, that." Shawn shrugged. "I don't know. I guess I wanted you to hate me less. Lassie hates me enough for everybody in a 50-mile radius of Santa Barbara."
"He doesn't hate you," Lucinda said.
Shawn nodded. "Oh, yes he does."
"No, he really doesn't."
"He sure acts like it."
Lucinda glanced around to make sure that no annoying passersby were around to overhear before saying, "Look, it really isn't personal. He's just going through a lot of stuff right now, and work is kind of his escape, and now that you're making work complicated for him, well..."
"I'm not making his work complicated. If anything, I'm un-complicating it! Look at how many cases I've solved over just the past few weeks. I'm helping, aren't I?"
"Yes, and no. You're helping the city of Santa Barbara and the public at large, but... Carlton just really needs to be able to depend on his job. He sees it as the only stable thing he has."
"What about you?" Shawn asked.
"What about me?"
"You said work was the only stable thing he has. What about you? Aren't you stable?"
Lucinda kept quiet for a second. Why did this guy have to ask so many questions and make so many weird comments that she couldn't answer? "Of course I am."
"So work isn't the only stable thing Lassie has, because he also has you." Shawn's hand went back to his head. "At least, I think so. My senses are telling me that you're still together."
"That's right," Lucinda said.
"You know, I just thought of something," Shawn said. "Just a second ago, you used Lassie's first name in front of me for the first time. You never do that in front of anyone. Maybe not even Lassie."
Lucinda scoffed. "Of course I call him by his first name to his face. I just prefer to keep things more professional at work. So what? Who cares?"
"I care," said Shawn. "The spirits are telling me that you must really trust me."
Lucinda shook her head. "I trust you not to crash into a tree while you're driving and I trust you not to mug me in a dark alley, but I don't trust you trust you, so don't flatter yourself. Besides, you've already 'divined' everything there is to know about me and C---Lassiter already, so what's the point in hiding it?"
"Yeah, I guess you're right. You definitely have a point there," Shawn said.
"If I didn't have a point, I wouldn't have said anything in the first place. ... You know, I never got to ask. You're not going to spread that around, are you? About me and him?"
"No, I'd never do that," Shawn said. "Then I'd have to break in a whole new detective, or maybe a set of them, and I doubt that anybody the Interim Chief could find to replace you guys would be half as smart as you. Or as blonde. I'd probably end up with some fat dude who's hooked on doughnuts, and that wouldn't be nearly as much fun."
Lucinda just laughed and took off her helmet. "I'll see you later, Spencer," she said as she offered the headgear to him.
He shook his head and waved the helmet away with one hand. "You keep it. Technically, Gus bought it and not me, but I still think he'd want you to have it. So, when are we gonna do this again?"
"Again?" Lucinda echoed. "What makes you think there will be an 'again?' This was just a fluke. I don't have time to go off on random rides around the city all the time."
Shawn grinned a big and sparkly grin. "You know just as well as I do that there's going to be a next time. You've been bit by that crazy, addictive little motorcycle bug! It's probably a Decepticon, but we all love it anyway. Face it, Detective. You're a motorcycle person now!"
"No, I'm not!"
Shawn turned the engine on and revved it up, showing off the power of the Norton. Shouting just barely loud enough to make himself heard, he told her, "Call me when you're ready to own it, okay?!"
"Talking to you over the engine noise is really annoying!" Lucinda shouted back.
"Sorry! I was gonna do the dramatic driving-out thing again! But that---that's a little overdone, isn't it?"
"Yes!" Lucinda yelled. "But you've already started it now, so you might as well commit!"
"You're right!" Shawn shouted. "Okay, so here I go! See you next time!"
Shawn then proceeded to screech out of the parking lot, the two wheels of the Norton carrying him down the road, through the intersection, and far away from Lucinda, who got into her car and took a sip of the forgotten cup of slushy pineapple and sugar that she'd left behind just before she headed back home.
Once again, Shawn proved himself right. There was indeed a next time. And a time after that, and a time after that, until they---or rather, Lucinda---finally agreed to stop pretending that there was any question about it and decided to meet on the first and last Friday of every month. Lucinda figured that meeting two weeks per month would allow her to get a sufficient Norton fix without raising any suspicion from Lassiter or anyone else. As for Shawn, well, he just figured that the weeks he wasn't showing off his sweet ride would just be an opportunity for him to catch up on Monday Night Raw with Gus.
But of course, as with all addictions, Lucinda slowly built a tolerance for the motorcycle. Soon, just taking a ride on the back with Shawn wasn't enough. Soon, Shawn was teaching her how to drive it for herself.
Lucinda was a quick study, and Shawn was impressed by how well she managed to learn all the skills necessary for riding an incredibly fast two-wheeled vehicle. How to keep her balance; how to start and stop; how to control the turns so that she didn't skid or slide out of control; how to tackle rain and slick pavement like a pro; how to gun the engine at just the right moment for maximum awesomeness; how to fill it up with gas; how to bribe the official in charge of the DMV so that nobody in the police department heard that she'd gotten herself a permit to actually drive the bike legally; and most importantly, how to look smoking hot in a helmet and leather jacket.
Lucinda was impressed that Shawn didn't manage to completely annoy her, humiliate her, and make her miserable when he was teaching her. He actually was helpful, even kind at times. ...And annoying. But still...not completely.