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Author's Chapter Notes:
With the Psychfic Discord server now buzzing with activity again, I have been attacked by all the plot bunnies that were hibernating in my old Google Drive folder of Psych fic ideas/WIPs. (That also means please excuse any rustiness with the characters.)

This is set sometime between the series finale and before the second movie.

Standard disclaimers apply.

Big thanks to insert56 for the quick beta!
"I know you don't want to do this."

The stocky gunman, the one Shawn had dubbed as Grumpy, frowned. "Like we haven't heard that before," he scoffed.

"No." Shawn shook his head. He'd glanced over when the man had started talking, but now he redirected his attention back to Punchy, the guy he'd been talking to before being interrupted. "You don't want to do this; I can tell." He tapped his temple with one hand. "I can sense it. You wanted to let us go in the first place."

Punchy shook his head, although his brow furrowed slightly in indecision and betrayed the gesture.

Grumpy turned to glare at Punchy. "Don't let him get to you, man! You've been lettin' him make you nervous all day!" He raised his gun to point at Shawn. "And you! I told you to shut up the first five times you tried this."

"Aw, but I thought you might've changed your mind," Shawn responded with a grin. He was about ninety-five percent sure the man wasn't going to shoot him, based on the rest of their afternoon together, so he took a chance and pressed a little further. "After all, what do they say? Seventh time's the charm?"

There was a pause, and then Buzz cleared his throat quietly. "Um, Shawn, nobody says that."

"I've heard it both ways," Shawn replied. It was almost a reflex at this point, honestly.

He bit the inside of his cheek in thought as he looked between the others. There was only so long he could keep stalling, and he wasn't seeing any clever way to escape. Not only that, but these guys seemed like they might do something violent soon.

Now would be a really good time for Gus and Brannigan to show up.

Approximately five hours earlier…

As Lassiter strolled through the doors of the Santa Barbara police station, he was cheerfully optimistic about his day. It had started with a quiet breakfast and some early morning range time. And while there were many open cases still to solve at the station, he wasn't even dreading the paperwork he knew was waiting for him.

Of course, nothing good could stay that way for very long. As soon as he walked past McNab's desk, any cheerfulness he might have had evaporated with the words, "Hey, Lassie! Long time no see!"

Lassiter groaned and asked the question he was sure he would regret shortly. "Spencer, what are you doing here? You're not a part of this department anymore."

The other man didn't take the hint. Of course. "Well, yeah. I moved, remember? Didn't you get the Psychfrancisco business card Gus made me send you?"

"I don't have time for this." Lassiter sighed heavily. "What do you want?" There had to be a good reason for Spencer to be over 300 miles from his new home... although, with Spencer, you never really knew.

"What, I can't just come and spend time with old friends because I'm homesick?" Spencer asked innocently.

"At seven-fifteen in the morning?"

"We've been in town since last night," Spencer shrugged in acknowledgment. "At least Buzz was happy to see me."

Following Spencer's gaze, Lassiter scowled at the cheerful smile on McNab's face.

Said cheerful smile faltered when McNab met his boss's gaze, and he quickly turned his attention back to the case file in his hand.

"Why are you really here?" Lassiter rounded on Spencer and raised an eyebrow.

"You're no fun," the man pouted. Then he shrugged and reverted to his sickeningly cheery self. "I got called as a witness for the trial for one of the cases we solved right before moving, so Gus and I decided to make a road trip of it and visit all of our old haunts."

Lassiter had a feeling most of those 'haunts' had something to do with food.

"Any interesting open cases lately?" Spencer asked curiously. Before either of the others could respond, he reached for one of the files sitting in a neat stack on McNab's desk.

"Spencer, put that down!" Lassiter snapped, snatching the paperwork out of the other man's grasp. "You officially don't work here at all —in any capacity— any longer. And if you're not hired on a case, you can't look at the file."

Blinking innocently, Spencer dropped back down with a small thwick of vinyl as he hit the seat. "But, Lassie, I just wanted to help."

"Somehow I doubt that."

Spencer slumped farther down in the chair. Lassiter was sure the other man was supposed to be relaxing, but it didn't look the slightest bit comfortable. Then again, Spencer never did anything like a normal person anyway.

"Sorry, sir," McNab apologized, clearing his throat. He put a protective hand on top of the stack of files.

At least the detective had the decency to look contrite. Spencer, on the other hand…

"Gus! Tell Lassie I was just trying to help!"

"Uh, no," Guster replied quickly, shaking his head as he joined the others. He handed one of the two small, vending-machine-sized bags in his hands to Spencer, then pulled open his own.

Lassiter rolled his eyes. "Did you two not eat breakfast this morning?"

Frowning, Spencer tilted his head. "But you didn't even ask what it was!" he complained to Gus before turning and shaking his head at Lassiter. "Haven't you ever heard of second breakfast, Lassie?"

"I don't care, Shawn," Guster shot back. "I'm not arguing with Lassiter. He's the chief now, and I intend to stay a free man my entire time in Santa Barbara."

Lassiter started to reply, then tilted his head in thought. If it kept Spencer in line, Lassiter certainly wasn't going to argue with Guster's mistaken understanding of the exact capabilities of the chief of police.

"Fine." Spencer made a face of annoyance and sank back, sulking. "We just won't help Lassie and Co. with the rash of carjackings they're trying to solve before somebody gets hurt." He smirked and opened his bag of Funyuns. "Bet you're wondering how I knew that," he commented as he popped one of the snacks in his mouth.

Making a face of disgust, Lassiter took a sip of his coffee. "No," he returned. "Any idiot can read the news, and that information has been all over it since the second carjacking occurred."

By now, Guster had taken the second open chair by McNab's desk, and he sighed. "Makes you feel bad for the first guy," he remarked.

Lassiter ignored Guster's comment and took another gulp of coffee. Besides the fact that he now had to deal with the annoyance of Spencer running amuck in his station, Lassiter did have a serial carjacking crew to catch— on top of all the other cases and his duties as chief of police. Honestly, as much as he liked his new position, he sometimes wished he could just pull up a chair at his old desk and work the streets rather than playing politics and managing a whole station.

"Oh, hi, boys!"

A chipper greeting broke into Lassiter's thoughts, and he looked up to see Head Detective Brannigan strolling up to her desk beside McNab's, smiling widely.

"I didn't know you two were coming in!"

"Neither did I," Lassiter grumbled.

Spencer turned to the new arrival and gave her his best pleading smile as he put a hand to his head. "I'm… sensing you need some help with this big carjacking case. The guys behind it aren't murderers." He tilted his head, then added, "Yet, but that could change. You need someone who can tell you who's stealing the cars at gunpoint and what they're doing with them before somebody gets kidnapped or killed along with the robbery." He made an exaggerated thinking face. "If only you could get the chief to let you hire a consultant to tell you who these bad guys are..."

When Brannigan shot a look at Lassiter, he firmly shook his head.

"Sorry, Shawn, no-can-do," Brannigan returned cheerily. "Chief said no."

"But you didn't even ask him!"

The head detective shrugged apologetically as she switched on her computer. "We're still working on the case; we don't need a consultant yet."

"'Yet'!" Spencer repeated excitedly. "So you will need help! Why don't you just hire me now, and then I won't have to get brought up to speed later when time is of the elephant!"

"Essence," Guster corrected.

"I've heard it both ways— Hey!" Spencer ducked the elbow his friend had sent his way, jostling his Funyuns as he did and sending the chips spilling into his lap. "Aww, Gus, look what you did."

So nothing had changed; Spencer was still making a mess everywhere he went.

"Me?" Guster yelped indignantly, then grimaced as a thought occurred to him. "Great; you'll make my car smell like fake onions for the rest of the day."

"Well, if somebody hadn't refused to go and get tacos with me, then maybe I wouldn't have to rely on vending machine snacks to avoid starvation, and then this wouldn't even be an issue," Spencer argued, brushing crumbs off his shirt.

Lassiter made a noise of disapproval as crumbs of varying sizes hit the floor and bounced every which way. "Spencer, stop making a mess in my station."

"Sorry, Lassie," Spencer replied distractedly, wiping his hands on his jeans and sounding the exact opposite of apologetic.

"Just... clean that up, will you?" Lassiter shook his head. "I have a call with the mayor in five minutes. This better be spotless when I get back," he ordered sternly before turning and striding the rest of the way to his office.

Behind him, he could hear Spencer starting to cajole the others. Something about breakfast tacos and starvation. Lassiter shook his head to himself; he gave it five minutes before McNab would agree to go with the other man. Part of Lassiter was tempted to turn around and put an end to Spencer's interruptions, but then he decided against it.

If he let it happen now, at least his detectives would have the rest of the day to actually do their jobs.

"This is it!" Shawn was grinning widely as he looked out of the window. "I hear this is the best spot for breakfast tacos in Santa Barbara."

Buzz wrinkled his nose as he looked around in search of parking. "Are you sure?" he asked. "I mean, not that I'm doubting you, exactly, but this really doesn't look like the safest place to get food. I'm not even sure if this is the safest block to walk down, much less if that food truck is even sanitary."

"Buzz, don't be that Channel 9 newscaster's fake toupee," Shawn replied, shaking his head. "This place has, like, four stars on Yelp. It can't be that bad."

Shaking his head, Buzz pulled into a spot parallel to the curb. "I'm pretty sure that's not how it works," he remarked, putting the car into park and cutting the ignition. He pushed his door open and unfolded his long legs as he climbed out of the car and slammed the door shut behind him.

"But you had to park on a back street because there was no parking on the main road," Shawn defended. "Of course it doesn't look all that great. It's not supposed to." He scrambled out of the passenger door, fully ready to hurry for the end of the street and the garish orange vehicle advertising The Best Tacos in Santa Barbara, when movement out of the corner of his eye caught his attention.

He turned to face it—

—only to be confronted by a thin man wearing sunglasses and a bandana and pointing a gun right in his face.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Shawn yelped, his eyes widening. He glanced over at Buzz, only to see the detective in a similar predicament.

Buzz's eyes were darting between the two newcomers, and Shawn knew the detective's hand was hovering halfway to his belt as he calculated just how quickly he could pull his weapon and take the carjackers down.

"Hand me the keys to the car!" the carjacker holding a pistol on Buzz barked. The guy was stockier than Shawn's guy, his voice much gruffer and deeper. He waved his gun threateningly. "And don't try anything funny!"

Shawn tried to catch Buzz's eye. If he could just get the detective's attention, they could coordinate taking down the bad guys. It happened on all the cop shows; it couldn't be that hard, even if Shawn didn't have a gun…

Just then, Buzz looked over at Shawn, who immediately tried to pull off a barely perceptible head tilt to communicate his intentions.

Buzz's brow furrowed slightly as he took in the look on Shawn's face, and Shawn could tell his nod hadn't quite come across like he'd meant for it to, so he tried again. This time, Buzz seemed to understand, and he shook his head slightly.

What? Shawn must have misunderstood. They could totally take these guys—

There was a sudden blur of movement next to him, and, in the next second, Shawn felt more than heard a crack as something connected with his temple alongside an explosion of light and pain.

He heard a pained shout that might have been his own and felt himself falling back against the car and then tumbling to the ground.

Somewhere off to his left, he could hear the sounds of a scuffle, punctuated by several grunts and a muffled yell, but a fire was still echoing through his brain and he just couldn't see past the clouds in his vision. And when he tried to shake his head to clear the cobwebs from it, all it did was intensify the ringing and send his stomach roiling with nausea.

He was still trying to get his bearings when a gunshot came from way too close by and set his ears ringing.

"What did you do?" a voice from nearby exclaimed, its pitch rising noticeably.

"We told you not to try anything, man!" This from a voice farther away. Shawn was pretty sure it was the guy who'd pulled the gun on him first, but he couldn't be positive.

But that gunshot…


Try as he might, Shawn couldn't seem to make out anything around him. The dark haze still obscuring everything around him foiled his attempts to look for the detective to see if Buzz was okay.

The realization Buzz might be hurt sent a jolt of panic through Shawn's gut that rivaled the nausea from the pain, and he immediately tried to shove his hands underneath him and push off of the ground. Everything went gray and blurry again, and the sounds around him faded out of focus again. Someone was saying something, but he couldn't fully concentrate on it, no matter how hard he tried.

A moment later, as things started to clear up again, Shawn gritted his teeth and struggled to get up off the ground. It was probably a lot less smooth than he'd intended, and his vision was still all wonky, but that took a backseat to the argument between the two carjackers.

"You didn't have to do that!" the thin one nearest Shawn was saying.

"You started it when you conked your guy in the head! What did you think was gonna happen, genius?"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" the skinny guy yelled, catching Shawn's movement and swinging his weapon to point directly at the injured man's chest. "What're you doing?"

Raising his hands to his sides in a sign he wasn't about to rush the man, Shawn squeezed his eyes shut and then blinked them open again, thankful he could finally see straight again. Something wet and sticky trailed down his cheek just in front of his ear, and his head was pounding intensely, but he ignored it all as best as he could.

The guy was definitely scared, regardless of his threatening actions. Shawn couldn't see his face, but the sudden change to his posture, the slight shaking of his hand, and the way he was flexing his grip on his weapon told Shawn this was probably the first time he'd had a confrontation like this with a target. The police reports Shawn had seen about the case so far backed that fact up; the carjacking crew had never committed physical violence— at least, not until now.

Shawn swallowed hard and turned toward the other side of the car. Worry clenched at his stomach, and, although he tried his best to ignore it, it wouldn't go away. "Buzz? You okay, buddy?" he risked calling out, glancing at the carjacker before turning back toward the driver's side of the vehicle.

"He's better than he's gonna be if you don't stop causing trouble!" the stocky carjacker snapped. "Now, come help me move your buddy. It's your lucky day, and we're just gonna take the car. You can do whatever you want once we leave, but you're gonna do it from out of our way." He jerked his head to indicate the empty sidewalk across the street.

Something told Shawn it would be an excellent idea not to argue with the guy. He moved to do as he'd been told, albeit slowly, as his head was still pounding. His first step sent his stomach into a tailspin, but he just swallowed and kept going. This was not the time to puke all over the asphalt. He could do that later after these guys had left.

"Come on!" The carjacker on Buzz's side yelled again. "I don't have all day, you know!"

Shawn rounded the back of the car and took in the scene in front of him, which sent his stomach roiling even more.

There was blood on the side of the car, including a trail leading down to where Buzz was currently sitting on the street. The detective was leaning against the closed front door of the vehicle, his left hand clenched against his right side— which was stained red by a wet spot that seemed to grow even as Shawn looked at it.

Gus would definitely have puked already.

"'m fine," Buzz said, although his wince and the way he licked his lips as his voice cracked belied his words. "Just a... small one."

Shawn lifted an eyebrow, noting the detective's pale complexion and shortness of breath. Before he could reply, though, the stocky carjacker was yelling again.

"Come on! Move it!" He waved his gun toward the far pavement. "I got places to be!"

Settling for shooting a dirty look in the guy's direction, Shawn moved as quickly as he dared over to where Buzz was sitting on the ground. He put a hand on Buzz's left shoulder. "Sorry, Busby. This is going to hurt."

Buzz nodded, the pain evident on his face. "Don't worry… about me… Shawn. Let's just…" He trailed off but didn't have to finish his sentence; Shawn knew exactly what he meant.

Shawn helped Buzz shift his weight, wincing as the pain in his head flared up at the exertion. The detective was tall, much taller than Shawn, which meant he also weighed much more. But Shawn was not about to give in and have to deal with whatever the angry carjacker might do if they didn't follow his directions quickly enough. That left him with one option: following orders and hoping for the best.

He felt Buzz tense beside him, and then the detective pushed up off the ground at the same time as Shawn straightened. It was literally one of the hardest things Shawn had ever done. Both he and Buzz were painfully straining with the difficulty of the task at hand, but they somehow managed to get the detective to his feet.

Unfortunately, any hope Shawn had for the carjackers quickly leaving them alone was shattered by an exclamation from the particularly shouty bad guy.

"You're a cop?"

"What?" This from the other guy.

"He's got a badge, man!"

Shawn glanced down and noticed that, in all of the moving around, Buzz's blazer had fallen open and revealed the shield clipped to his belt. Oops.

"Look at all the cars on this street!" the carjacker yelled. "I tell you to pick one, and, out of all of them, you pick a cop car?"

'Grumpy seems like a good name for him,' Shawn decided. 'But what does that make the other guy? He's definitely not a Happy...'

"Well, it's not like I knew that before!" Punchy shot back defensively.

Shawn cleared his throat. "Guess, uh, guess that means you should just let us go. We haven't seen your faces yet, right? So we can't track you down to arrest you later." He could feel Buzz's weight sagging against him and realized the detective was even worse off than he'd initially thought. Shawn had to get rid of these carjackers so Buzz could get help— and fast. "You can walk away, free and clear," he added.

Of course, Shawn didn't intend to just let the situation go— plus Buzz being shot opened another can of caterpillars, even if they didn't take into account the concussion Shawn definitely had. However, there was no reason to let the bad guys in on that right now. Let them leave, and then the cops could track them down. Shawn had already spotted an identifying tattoo on Punchy's wrist they could use later. They'd totally track these guys down and arrest them for theft and assault— probably multiple counts, too, because Shawn was willing to bet these were the carjackers the SBPD was hunting— not to mention shooting an officer of the law.

Grumpy snorted a laugh of derision. "Or we could just kill you and be on our way."

"What?" Punchy exclaimed, sounding even more nervous. "We can't just kill a cop, man!"

Grumpy shook his head. "The boss is expecting us to bring him a car, and no way we're just lettin' these guys go. They probably have a dozen ways to identify us already."

Seeing the opportunity, Shawn chimed in. "But what is your boss going to say if he finds out you killed a police officer?" he asked. "You know that won't do you any favors, right?" He suddenly felt his knees going weak, but he clenched his teeth and willed himself to stay upright. Buzz was counting on him.

Shawn glanced up at the detective. Somehow, Buzz was still on his feet, but Shawn didn't know how. The detective was even paler than before— if that was possible— and his side was growing even slicker with blood. Shawn was no doctor, but that definitely did not look good.

The two carjackers were still hesitating, so Shawn hurried to continue. He had to convince them to leave, and he had to do it quickly. "Besides, you might not know this, but I am the police department's psychic consultant."

Buzz frowned but didn't say anything.

"Wait, what? 'Psychic'?" Grumpy repeated, the scorn evident in his voice.

Nodding, Shawn tapped his temple. "Yep, that's right. And I have a connection with the police chief, so, if you do kill me, I can most definitely visit him from beyond the grave."

Shawn didn't need to see past the sunglasses to know Punchy's eyes widened at that. The guy turned to look at his co-criminal. "Man, I don't know..."

"Don't tell me you actually believe this baloney," Grumpy scoffed.

"I take offense to that," Shawn declared indignantly. "Baloney, while delicious, is nowhere near the level of awesome my gift is."

"Just…" Grumpy trailed off, then let out a growl of frustration. "Just… just get in the car. Now! Both of you!" He waved his gun again.

"We're takin' 'em with us?" Punchy gulped.

Grumpy rolled his eyes. "No, we're just letting them take off in the car. Of course they're coming with us, you idiot! We'll let the boss decide what to do." He waved his gun at their prisoners. "Backseat," he ordered with another wave of his gun.

Hesitating, Shawn darted another look at Buzz, then cleared his throat. His eyes widened slightly when the pistol leveled with his face, but he pushed on. "Come on, dude. If you're going to take someone, just take me. You don't want an injured hostage, right? I mean, look at him. He'll just slow you down."

"Shawn…" Buzz tried.

Shawn ignored him. "Look, he's hurt and can't identify you anyway. Just…" He swallowed. "Take me and let him stay here, okay?" He wasn't sure if the plea would work, but he knew he had to try. "What's your boss going to say if you show up with a guy bleeding all over the inside of the nice car you just stole? Sure, you can clean the outside, but what about the upholstery?"

The gun waved threateningly in his direction and then turned to point at Buzz, whose face was growing paler by the second.

"Get. In."

"Okay, okay," Shawn acquiesced, lifting his hands in surrender. He was going to have to figure this out on the road.

Hopefully they'd both live long enough for him to do so.
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