Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. I do not own any of the characters of Psych and am not affiliated with the show or USA Network. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. I do not own nor am I associated with Enterprise Rent-a-car, the character Dirty Harry, or the movie Secret Admirer.
*AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story takes place after my two previous Psych Fan Fiction stories "Choose It Or Lose It", and "It Can Happen". Events affecting the Lassiter/Shawn and Lassiter/Juliet dynamics that take place in both of these previous stories are mentioned in this one. You might want to read them first. Doing so is not a requirement to understand what is going on in this one, but it will help alleviate any confusion that might occur when the references pop up.*
WARNING: Minor spoilers for the Psych episode "An Evening With Mr. Yang."
WARNING: Some good whump with fairly graphic description.
That being said, ENJOY! Please be kind enough to review. All feedback, good or bad, is welcome.
CHAPTER 1: "Having A Stalker - So NOT Awesome!"
"I will kill you Shawn!" Gus was not happy with Shawn's latest request for a favor. As usual.
"Oh come on, Gus," Shawn whined into his phone in reply. "I just need a ride to the police station. Is it really my fault that my bike ran out of gas? Again?"
"That's the second time this week, Shawn! Now I'm going to be late for work! You know how I hate being late for work!"
"Don't be Richard Grieco's hair, Gus," Shawn admonished him. "Besides, I'll buy you lunch today." Shawn paused for dramatic effect. "Pretty please? With sprinkles on top?" he begged.
Shawn heard Gus snort. "All right, Shawn. But I'm actually holding you to your 'sprinkles on top' promise this time. You will buy me some manner of delicious frozen desert!"
"You got it, buddy! See you in five!" Shawn hung up his cell phone, hastily donned his trademark Converse sneakers and a blue plaid short-sleeve button down shirt to go with his well-worn jeans, then made his way out the front door. He actually took care to make sure it was locked securely this time. He was relieved that Gus had caved in and agreed to give him a ride in the "Psychmobile", as Shawn had dubbed the little blue company car. His Norton motorcycle actually had plenty of gas in the tank, but he so wasn't telling Gus that. Not if he valued his life as well as his prized collection of various food items that resembled celebrities. The last time Shawn had annoyed Gus this much, his friend had threatened to secretly sell the infamous food assortment on E-Bay and use the proceeds to supplement his ever expanding DVD collection. That potato chip bearing a striking resemblance to David Hasselhoff was irreplaceable.
No, what Shawn needed most this morning was Gus's company, and he decided it was important enough to risk his friend's wrath in order to obtain it. He could live with never again seeing Gandhi's face on that piece of toast if absolutely necessary. As Shawn stood in the warm California morning sun on the sidewalk in front of his apartment, he peered down the street in anticipation of seeing that motorized blueberry appear. And that's when he saw it - a gray, new model Honda Civic, parked on the side of the street several hundred feet away. Just like the vehicle he had spotted a fair distance behind him five days ago while at a stoplight as he and Gus were on their way to lunch together. Just like the car he saw following a few car lengths back three days prior while he and Gus drove to the SBPD station. Just like the car he thought had been following him last night as he rode his motorcycle alone on a dark road to his father's house. The vehicle had always stayed just far enough away that could never see the license plate. Shawn hated to admit it, but this was starting to get a little creepy. He didn't have any real evidence yet, but he thought that, perhaps, whoever was in the car was deliberately following him. If Shawn was right, then being alone wasn't necessarily the smartest - or safest - option.
Shawn breathed a sigh of relief when he finally saw the Psychmobile turn the corner down the street. Gus pulled up next to his friend and stopped as Shawn hopped into the passenger seat. Gus was ready for work and looked impeccable as always in his shiny gray suit and muted lavender shirt with matching silk tie. "I'm thinking strawberry shortcake sundae from Braums," Gus said as soon as Shawn buckled his seat belt. "Large, of course!" Gus put the car into gear and pulled out into traffic.
"After lunch or dinner?" Shawn inquired.
"Oh that's after dinner," Gus stated firmly with his nose in the air. "After lunch, we're hitting Dairy Queen for blizzards. Cookies and cream, please."
Shawn looked over at his friend, noting the familiar determined look on his face as he drove. Years of friendship had taught him it was useless to argue with Gus when he dug in his heels on a demand for food. "You ask a hefty price, my friend. Sure you don't want a pint of my blood and my firstborn with that?"
"Of course, you could always just remember to gas up your bike."
Shawn paused, then grinned. "Point taken. To the Psych office, George McFly!"
"Shawn! Do not compare me to Crispin Glover! You know I think he's creepy!"
"Jeez, Gus, lighten up," Shawn smiled, remembering Gus's reaction after watching Glover's freaky villain in Charlie's Angles. "You're as cranky as Gary Coleman around paparazzi this morning."
"Keep it up, Shawn," Gus warned. "Just keep it up and you'll owe me 'rooti-tooty fresh n' fruity' pancakes from IHOP to boot!"
Shawn glanced in the passenger side mirror. What he saw caused a chill to run down his spine. There, reflected in the glass, was the gray Honda, traveling about five car lengths behind them. Shawn looked up and spied the local 'Smoothie King' on the right side of the street only fifty feet ahead of them. "Gus, quick! Stop the car!"
Gus slammed on the breaks and frantically looked out the windshield. "What, Shawn? Was I about to run over something? Was someone about to step out into traffic?"
Shawn opened up the door and hopped out, then leaned his head inside the open door. "No, just a smoothie emergency. Go grab that parking space right there in front and I'll get you one too. It's 'National Buy Gus A Smoothie Day', you know!"
"Shawn! Get back here! I will slap you, Shawn!" Gus yelled, but Shawn was already running into the shop. "You so owe me pancakes for this!" Gus grumbled as he parked the car.
Shawn looked back over his shoulder and out the front window as he stood in line inside the store. There went the gray Honda driving by, just as he hoped it would. As he watched the car drive past the front of the store, Shawn took advantage of the opportunity he had created to get a look at the driver. He saw a clean-shaven figure wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled up, large, dark aviator sunglasses, and black gloves as the car drove by. Odd attire, considering it was almost 80 degrees outside. As the car drove away he tried to get a look at the rear license plate, but a newspaper delivery truck parked in the street in front of the shop blocked his view of the back of the car as it drove past the obstruction. Frustrated at his failed attempt to get the plate of the car, Shawn made a mental note to cancel his subscription to the Santa Barbara Daily News. Remembering that he didn't actually have a subscription to that paper, he decided to secretly cancel his father's subscription instead.
A few minutes and two smoothies later, Shawn returned to the car and hopped into the passenger seat. "Dude, I got you a blueberry!" he said enthusiastically as he handed Gus the slushy drink.
One sip of that frozen goodness and Gus's annoyed expression softened, his anger momentarily placated. Shawn knew Gus never could remain angry when enjoying a beverage full of delicious flavor. "You still owe me the sundae and the blizzard, Shawn," he informed him as he resumed the drive.
Shawn looked out the window and spied a plump woman on the sidewalk walking a large white French poodle complete with a "cotton ball" show dog hair cut. "Look at that poodle, Gus!"
Gus looked, and couldn't help but laugh.
"The way that poor thing's butt is shaved naked...you'd think the dog would be embarrassed to walk out the door like that!" Shawn was on a roll, making Gus laugh. It suddenly became Shawn's mission in life to make Gus spew blueberry smoothie out his nose. "How humiliating. And the poofy haircut only adds insult to injury! Poor little boy dog. With a bare ass like that, I'm betting there's a major 'shrinkage' factor with every cool breeze..."
As Gus burst out laughing uncontrollably, Shawn happened to glance in the side mirror again. He did a double-take and felt his stomach drop when he saw the gray Honda was following them again. There was no mistake this time, as he could see the distinctive gray hooded figure behind the wheel.
Someone, for some reason, was following Shawn. And he had no idea why.
Shawn looked over at Gus, who had somehow managed to laugh that hard without exhaling any blueberry-colored liquid. Shawn admired his self-control, apparently honed through years of experience around his best friend.
"Uh, Gus, buddy? Change of plans."
Gus looked suspicious. "What now?" he asked warily.
"Drop me off at the the police station, would you?"
Head Detective Carlton Lassiter sat at his desk, enjoying the relative peace of a slow morning at the SBPD. He and his partner, Detective O'Hara, had cleared up every current open case and had absolutely nothing waiting for them that day. They had even finished all pending reports and were completely caught up on paperwork. It was one of those lazy days that allowed bored officers to swap "war stories" while huddled around a desk or the break room table, randomly grazing on any unclaimed food item within sight. Lassiter had actually pulled a few cold case files and began reviewing them out of pure boredom while Juliet assisted Buzz McNabb with unraveling the mysteries contained within "The Big Book of Crossword Puzzles."
Lassiter looked up as Shawn Spencer's unwanted presence shattered the peaceful silence. Sometimes Lassiter thought the sound of Spencer's voice was the verbal equivalent to nails on a chalkboard. "Damn it," he muttered under his breath as he rolled his eyes. "What the hell do you want, Spencer?" he asked, not bothering to hide his annoyance at the younger man's presence.
"Aww, come on, Lassie! You know you love me!" he happily replied, unceremoniously plopping his rump down right on top of an open cold case file.
Lassiter wished Spencer's backside had landed about six inches farther over to the left, which is where his paper spike sat near the edge of his desk. He made a mental note to discretely move the sharp office accessory over into the proper position next time Spencer was about to defile the Head Detective's workspace with his behind. "Either tell me why you're here or go away. I'm busy," he stated flatly in an obvious attempt to dismiss Spencer.
"Don't be such a 'Mr. Bungle', Lassie. I know you're not busy today. Look," he pulled the file out from underneath his posterior. "You've even started going over cold cases. You only do that when you're really bored and have nothing to do!" Shawn leaned in a little closer and said with mock concern, "Seriously, man. You need to find a hobby that doesn't involve dead bodies. Try softball. Maybe some needlepoint-"
"Enough, Spencer!" Lassiter fumed. "Go bother O'Hara, or McNabb. They tolerate your presence much better than I do, and without that annoying sense of nausea that seems to plague me whenever you're around."
Shawn picked up a staple remover and played with it as though it was Pac Man from the video games, working its jaws to make it 'eat' various objects on the desk complete with 'waca waca waca' sound effects.
Lassiter watched him for a moment, then a thought struck him. "So why aren't you pestering McNabb or O'Hara? They're usually happy to see you. Why I'll never know, but they are..." Lassiter's expression darkened as Shawn stopped the staple remover from 'eating' a pencil. "Why are you really here?"
Shawn awkwardly set down the staple remover and looked around, making sure they were alone. Shawn leaned forward a little and spoke in a low voice so no one else could hear him. "Um...I need to talk to you about something."
Lassiter's eyes narrowed, automatically suspicious. "We are talking."
"Can we talk...you know...in private?"
Shawn's expression was serious, almost pleading with the Detective to grant him this favor. Lassiter found it slightly unnerving, because the eternally immature Shawn Spencer was almost never serious. And, he hated to admit, now he was also curious. "All right," he reluctantly agreed. "Interrogation room B."
Shawn looked relieved. "Thanks, Carly-corn."
Lassiter fixed Shawn with an icy stare at the use of one of Spencer's more ridiculous nicknames for him. "I swear, Spencer, if this is some kind of joke-"
"It's not, I promise." Shawn held up his hands in a 'peace' gesture.
Lassiter stalked off towards the interrogation rooms with Shawn lagging behind to avoid raising suspicions. They entered room B, and Lassiter hung the "Do Not Disturb" sign outside the observation room door to avoid unwanted interruptions. Lassiter stood with his arms crossed and his back to the door while Shawn nervously paced the room.
"Well?" Lassiter asked impatiently, his face set in his trademark scowl.
Shawn stopped pacing and stuffed his hands in his back pockets, a gesture Lassiter noticed the so-called psychic often did when he was agitated. "I think..." Shawn began reluctantly, then paused.
Lassiter's scowl deepened, clearly annoyed. "You think what," he stated in a tone clearly demanding information.
Shawn raised his eyes to meet his. "I think someone is following me."
Lassiter raised an eyebrow. "You think." He was waiting for the punch line that he was sure would follow.
Shawn looked down at the floor. "I know... I know someone is following me. I don't know why, but they are."
Lassiter was silent for a moment, watching Spencer, reading the younger man's emotions with the practiced eye of an experienced interrogator. "How long has this been going on?" he asked, still somewhat skeptical.
"Oh," Spencer shrugged, "about a week now."
Lassiter continued his observation. "Why are you bringing this up to me? Alone? Why not go to O'Hara, or the Chief? Or Buzz, even?" Lassiter thought for a moment, then asked, "Did Guster put you up to this?"
"Gus doesn't know." Shawn lifted his eyes from the floor and met Lassiter's steel blue stare. "Things like this tend to freak him out."
The fact that Shawn had not confided in Gus about picking up an unwanted "guest" disturbed Lassiter. Spencer confided everything to his best friend, yet had chosen to keep this information from him. Lassiter studied Spencer's expression, using the keen eye for reading people's emotions he had honed through years of experience. He saw the one emotion lurking deep beneath the surface that Spencer couldn't quite hide behind his usual humorous facade, despite the fact that he was trying very hard not to show it.
Spencer was scared.
Lassiter's demeanor softened a bit in order to put Spencer at ease as he immediately switched into Detective mode. Spencer was no longer the constant hyperactive thorn in his side, but instead the possible victim of a crime. He nodded towards the empty chair on Spencer's side of the table in the middle of the room. "Sit," he said quietly. Shawn moved over and sat down, while Lassiter casually stepped over the back of his chair with his long legs and pulled a notepad out of his jacket pocket. He sat down, set the open notepad on the table in front of him, pen poised above blank paper.
"Tell me about it. Start from the beginning."
"Well," Shawn began with a sigh, "about a week ago I started noticing this car following the Psychmobile." Lassiter barely managed to suppress the usual annoyed eye roll at the mention of the blue car's ridiculous nickname, and continued taking notes. "Gray new model Honda Civic, very generic car. I kept seeing it randomly throughout the day, I didn't think anything about it at first. Then I kept seeing it more often, and I realized they always stayed just far enough away that I couldn't read the license plate."
Lassiter frowned when he heard that bit of information. It usually meant whoever was doing the following was either well-practiced at it or pretty smart. A question formed in his mind. "How do you know this person was following you and not Guster?"
"Because he followed me last night while I drove to my father's house alone on my bike."
Lassiter nodded, becoming increasingly alarmed. "Wait, 'he'? You're sure it was a male?"
"Well, I don't know for sure, but I caught a glimpse of the driver today as the car passed by 'Smoothie King' while I was inside. Driver was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled up, big dark sunglasses, and black gloves. No facial hair and I couldn't see enough of the driver's face to recognize him. Looked like it was probably a guy, but I'm not one hundred percent sure. After Gus and I left the shop, I saw the same car driven by the same person following us again."
Lassiter continued writing. "Any distinguishing characteristics on the car? Damage, body alterations, anything unique?"
Shawn shook his head, surprised that Lassiter was actually so thorough with his line of questioning. "No, none that I saw."
"You working any private cases right now that we don't know about?" Shawn shook his head. "Receive any strange fan letters or threatening messages within the last few months?"
"Nope. Well, no more than the usual requests for winning lottery numbers and desperate pleas to have seances with the spirits of dead house pets," he smirked.
Surprisingly, Lassiter did not even bat an eye at that revelation, he simply continued his line of questioning. "Nothing threatening or possessive in nature, though? To you or Guster?" Lassiter queried. Shawn realized he had probably heard and seen much stranger things on the job over the years. "Nope. That's it."
Shawn's brow furrowed in confusion. "What in the name of Billy Mays are you talking about?"
Lassiter fixed Shawn with an intensely questioning look. "Normally I would be the last person you would go to with something like this, but here we are. You didn't answer my question earlier, so I'll ask it again. Why are you confiding in me with this?"
Shawn looked away, silent for a moment, then met Lassiter's stare over the table. "Because Gus will overreact and panic, and I sure as hell don't want my dad to know, and..." he shrugged. "I know you can keep a secret," he said.
Lassiter immediately knew what Shaw was referring to. Several months ago, when Lassiter had accidentally obtained indisputable evidence that Shawn was not psychic, he had refused the opportunity to turn him in to the Chief on principal. He couldn't bring himself to bust the pseudo-psychic because, as much as he hated to admit it, Spencer was damn good at putting criminals away. Destroying the younger man's career meant letting criminals go free, and Lassiter did not want that on his conscience. So in the end, for the greater good, Lassiter chose to destroy said evidence and spare Shawn Spencer from what Lassiter long thought was his rightful fate. And apparently, judging by what he just heard, he had earned Spencer's trust in the process.
Shawn nervously drummed his fingers on the table. "So, Lassy-face, what do you think?" Shawn asked expectantly.
Lassiter closed the notepad, sat back with a sigh, and stared at Shawn. "I don't like it," he said seriously. "Not one bit. As a matter of fact, I am concerned for your safety."
Shawn looked surprised. He had been hoping that the stern Head Detective would simply tell him he was being paranoid, that his suspicions were unfounded. Actually, he had kind of been counting on it. "You think it's a stalker? That some nut has latched on to me?" Shawn asked, afraid Lassiter was about to second the warnings about 'crazed hippies' his father had constantly lobbed at him since the day he went public as a fake psychic detective.
"No," Lassiter stated firmly. "At least not your garden variety type. 'Fan' stalkers always want attention from the object of their obsession. But this person hasn't even bothered to contact you. As a matter of fact, they've gone through great pains to deliberately hide their identity. I think it might be more serious than a regular stalker." Lassiter leaned forward over the table to meet Shawn's gaze. "The way this person is behaving leads me to believe they are planning on committing a crime in the near future, and want to remain anonymous so they can get away with it."
Shawn nodded solemnly. 'Great', he thought. 'This is getting worse by the second.' He would have preferred confirmation of the 'crazed hippie' theory. "So...what now, Lassie?"
"Where is Guster now? Is he coming back to pick you up?"
"Yeah, during lunch, around noon." Shawn smirked. "We'll be stopping by Dairy Queen for blizzards afterwards."
Lassiter shook his head, amazed at the amount of junk food the pair ate in one day. "All right. When Guster picks you up for lunch, I will follow you discretely. Hopefully your secret admirer will rear his head and I'll be able to tail him to get more information."
"Just get information?"
"From what you've told me, this person hasn't committed any crimes yet. That means I have no reason to arrest him. Besides, it's better if he doesn't know we're on to him at this point. This person could be harmless, or extremely dangerous. We just don't know. What we need is more information."
Shawn nodded. "Okay. Whatever you say, Lassie."
Lassiter fixed Shawn with an intense stare. "No playing around with this out there, Spencer. Don't try to lose me, don't shove a banana in my car's tailpipe, or bring me doughnuts or smoothies in my car because you think it's funny. None of that crap."
Shawn put on his best pouting face. "But smoothies are-"
"For all we know, this guy could be planning to kill you," he continued, ignoring Spencer's whining. "This is not a game. I mean it." Lassiter slipped the notepad back inside his jacket pocket. "You going to behave yourself?"
Shawn rolled his eyes in a manner perfected through years of listening to his father's lectures. "Yes, I understand. No shenanigans. Although the word shenanigans is quite fun to say..."
Lassiter shook his head as he stood up. "Why do I have the feeling that I'm going to regret this," he muttered to himself as he turned towards the door. "Go pester O'Hara or Buzz until Guster picks you up. Make it look like business as usual. Let me know when he's on his way."
"Will do, Lassie," Shawn said in a manner entirely too cheerful given the current circumstances. "Will do! And if you catch this guy by the end of the week, I'll even give you your very own rawhide chew toy!" Shawn skipped towards the door and held it open for the Head Detective. "You know, speaking of Secret Admirer, that was actually a pretty good movie. C. Thomas Howell's hair was six degrees of awesome."
Lassiter squeezed his eyes shut in frustration. 'Oh yeah,' he thought. 'Definitely going to regret this...'
Gus and Shawn sat at their desks that evening in the Psych office, each enjoying their respective sundaes 'to go' from Braums. Gus was savoring his strawberry shortcake sundae complete with promised extra sprinkles, while Shawn had opted for the caramel fudge with extra cherries on top.
"Admit it," Shawn said after swallowing a mouthful of ice cream, a huge grin spreading across his face.
Gus leaned back in his chair, cradling the delicious dessert to his chest. "Okay, I admit...it was worth being five minutes late to work for this."
"Totally worth it!" Shawn scooped another spoonful into his mouth as his cell phone rang. He looked at the caller ID before answering. "Lassie, what's up?" Shawn paused, listening to the phone. "We're at the Psych office." Gus continued eating his sundae. "Yeah, we'll be here for a while...Okay, but only if you bring a pineapple. We're running a bit low. As a matter of fact, make it two. Always best to have a spare. And Dole is the best brand...no, I don't know where I can 'cram it'...EEW! Lassie, that's gross! And quite uncomfortable, I'm sure..." Shawn hung up the phone when it became obvious the call had been ended by the other party. "Gus, Lassie is on his way over. And make sure you guard your 'back door', because apparently he has some pineapple-butt fetish tonight. Might be best if we stay seated."
"Might be best if you stay seated, Shawn. I'm not the one who pissed him off. My 'back door' is safe," Gus replied as he stuffed another spoonful of shortcake into his mouth.
Shawn looked at his friend as he finished off his sundae. "You really know how to cheer someone up, Gus. Way to go, Buzzkill Jenkins." Shawn crumpled up his napkin and tossed it through the miniature basketball hoop situated above the trash can.
About fifteen minutes later, Lassiter walked through the front door of the Psych office. As he entered the front waiting room, a paper airplane sailed out through the doorway leading into the interior office area and slid to a halt on the floor at his feet. Lassiter heard the distinctive voices of Gus and Shawn admiring the paper creation's aerodynamics and flight path.
"Now that's how you make a paper airplane, Shawn! Thirty-five feet in a straight line. Beat that!"
"I'll see your thirty-five feet, and raise you another ten!"
Lassiter rolled his eyes and stepped through the doorway into the main office area. Shawn had a fairly rough-looking paper airplane perched in his hand ready for flight, while Gus was neatly and carefully folding another piece of computer printer paper into shape. "Spencer, drop the plane, and-"
Shawn launched the plane into the air with a completely insincere "Oops!" The paper plane, surprisingly aerodynamic despite its appearance, flew straight for the Head Detective's face. Lassiter ducked and swatted the offending aircraft out of the air just before it could make contact with his head. "Hey Lassie, you looked just like King Kong there for a second!" Shawn looked at him with a huge, goofy smile on his face.
Clearly pissed off and reacting purely in instinct, Lassiter immediately reached out to the top of the filing cabinet next to the front door and grabbed the first object his hand came into contact with, which just happened to be a rubber squeaky frog toy. Lassiter wound up and quickly heaved the frog across the room, determined to wipe that stupid grin off Spencer's annoying face. The toy smacked Shawn right in the forehead with a resounding rubbery *SQUEAK*.
Gus stood up in amazement, then he burst out laughing. "WOAH! Good shot, Lassiter!"
Lassiter stalked towards Shawn's desk menacingly, pleased at the stunned look on fake psychic's face. At least that fucking grin was gone. He hitched up his belt with pride as he watched Shawn rub at the red welt beginning to form between his eyes. "Thanks, Guster."
Shawn tried to look hurt. "Lassie, you threw Winky at me! That is so wrong in so many ways! Bad dog, Lassie!"
"Get up, Spencer," Lassiter growled. "We have business to discuss."
"Why are you so cranky tonight, Carly-frown? Someone super glue your coffee mug to the top of your computer monitor again?"
Lassiter's face darkened into an angry scowl. "That was you?"
Shawn tried to look innocent. "Um, no..." He tried to change the subject. "Where's the pineapples? You were supposed to bring two-"
Lassiter grabbed Shawn by his upper arm and hauled him out of his chair. "Yeah I've got your pineapple you little..." he snarled through clenched teeth as he pulled Shawn in the direction of the front waiting area.
"Watch your 'back door', Shawn!" Gus called after him, clearly amused.
When they reached the waiting area, Lassiter released Shawn's arm with a little shove, then stood with his back to the office doorway with his hands on his hips.
Shawn rubbed the spot on his arm where Lassiter's fingers had dug into his flesh a little too hard for his liking. "What the hell is up with you tonight, Detective Cranky McBastard? Did your subscription to "Guns & Ammo" run out or something?"
Lassiter took a deep breath and closed his eyes in an attempt to calm himself. 'Don't kill him, don't kill him...count to ten...' After collecting himself, he finally spoke. "I thought we agreed - no games, Spencer."
"Out there. You distinctly said, 'No games out there, Spencer!'" The last part of the sentence delivered in his best imitation of the Head Detective. Which, of course, sounded more like a bad impersonation of Dirty Harry with a cold. "The Psych office is officially out of bounds!"
"I'm serious, Spencer. Cut the crap and listen to me." Lassiter was not in the mood for jokes.
"Go ahead, Lassie. I'm listening." Obviously Lassiter wasn't in a playful mood.
"I followed you and Guster after lunch as planned. You were right, Spencer. Someone is following you. I spotted the car as you two were leaving the restaurant. His technique was very good, too. He never got too close and didn't let you get too far ahead. This person is either experienced or very smart."
Shawn sighed. "Okay, I expected that. So what happened?"
"I followed him as he drove around town for a good three hours. A good portion of that time was spent in a parking garage on the corner of Fifth and Main in downtown. When he left the parking garage he drove straight to the highway and headed North out of town. I followed him about ten miles past the city limits before peeling off so he wouldn't get suspicious. He was traveling in the inside lane still heading North last time I saw him."
"Did you get anything else?"
"I got the license plate on the car. It's a rental from a local Enterprise agency downtown. I called the company and they said it was rented a little over a week ago, the day before you said you first noticed this vehicle following you. I checked with the company and found it was rented with a credit card under the name John Franklin."
"Did you manage to track him down?" Shawn asked hopefully. "Did you ask him about renting the car?"
"I tracked him down, all right," Lassiter replied. "Unfortunately Mr. Franklin is an 86 year old man with early stage Alzheimer's living in a nursing home, currently the victim of identity theft. The signature on the rental paperwork doesn't match his known signature. I also checked with the car rental agency to see if they caught whoever rented the car on camera. Apparently they were upgrading their video system on the day this car was rented and the cameras weren't working. So we have no video, either."
"Great." Shawn slapped his hands on his thighs in frustration. "We have nothing."
"We may be able to dig something up through the identity theft. It's a long shot, but it might pan out." Lassiter sighed and folded his arms across his chest. "Spencer, I already know how you feel about this, but I have to insist we bring in O'Hara. I'm going to need her help to research the identity theft leads anyway."
As expected, Spencer immediately began to protest. "But Lassie, I-"
Lassiter raised his hand to cut him off. "Spencer, listen to me. Like I said before, whoever is following you is good at it. I hate to say it, but the more I dig into this, the more concerned I am for your safety. We need O'Hara. I can't do this alone, Spencer. I can't protect you and chase down leads at the same time."
"I can handle-"
"Look, Spencer," Lassiter stepped closer to him, hands sweeping back the corners of his jacket as he placed them on his hips. "You came to me asking for help, remember? Now...do you want it, or not?"
Shawn glared at him for a moment, his natural stubborn streak urging him to argue with the older man until he somehow got his way. But Lassiter's stare was unwavering and determined. He was one bull-headed Irish cop who had broken tougher opponents than Shawn Spencer on many previous occasions. It was clear that he wasn't about to back down.
"You really think I'm in danger here?"
"Yes," Lassiter answered without hesitation. "We need tell Guster, too. He has the right to know. Like it or not, being in your presence puts him at risk as well."
Shawn sighed. As carefree as he could be with his own safety, Gus was another matter. He didn't want anything to happen to his best friend because of him.
"Spencer..." he tried to reassure him. "Trust me."
Spencer nodded. "Okay...Okay, Lassie. Just...don't let anything happen to Gus. All right?"
Lassiter couldn't help but notice Spencer was much more concerned for Gus's safety than his own. He was suitably impressed by Spencer's apparent selflessness when it came to his lifelong friend's well being. "I promise. And by the way, Spencer," he said with a smirk. "That goes for you, too. As much as I dislike your so-called methods, you are on the payroll, and that officially makes you property of the great City of Santa Barbara." He narrowed his eyes and gave Spencer his best serious glare. "And no one damages city property on my watch."