A (Fake) Psychic and a (Real) Warlock Walk Into a Bar by Emachinescat
A Merlin & Psych Crossover Fan-Fiction
SUMMARY: Two loners, two travelers. One has had centuries to run, the other only years, but when these two cross paths, destiny will make sure it's a meeting that they'll not soon forget. Fake psychic meets real sorcerer, and friendships will be forged, drinks will be downed, and pineapples will be mentioned more than once.
Word Count: 4,210
Don't own Psych or Merlin, because if I did, neither one would ever end!
A/N: This just randomly came to me tonight, and I simply had to write it, staying up way past my bedtime. But I think it was worth it. I hope you enjoy. Please, please review. This is the love child of two of my favorite shows ever, and I need your feedback! :) Man, this was fun (and at times, sad!) to write! Spoilers for the Merlin series finale and just general background spoilers for Psych.
A (Fake) Psychic and a Warlock Walk Into a Bar
During the hundreds of years that he lived on, he couldn't stand to stay in one place for too long. Only one place had ever felt like home, really, and that place was long gone. Lost to the ages, mere myths in storybooks, goofy cartoons where he was a dopey old singing man who liked to turn into a fish or some such nonsense. He'd never made it through the entire film, to be honest. Because as watered down and childproofed as it had become, it still reminded him too much of home. The home that had long since been buried under the mounds of the dead, the remnants of armies and dynasties and kingdoms that would never rise again.
Hundreds of years ago, the Great Dragon had told him that the Once and Future King would live again. Arthur would return, he'd said. And Merlin would be there to greet him, to embrace his old friend and finally find a piece of the home that he missed so dearly.
But the time wasn't now, and the memories were too painful, still too raw and fresh even after all these centuries. And so he traveled around the world, making sure to keep his magic hidden, as magic was but a fable, a child's fancy in this new world that he had watched forged around him, and now wasn't the time to bring it back. Not until the Once and Future King, so now, he just moved from place to place, never staying somewhere for too long, always helping someone if he could, but never making any real personal connections. Sometimes he appeared as a wizened, strange old man, and sometimes he appeared as he'd been in his youth all those years ago – dark hair, fair, unwrinkled skin, large ears and all. He'd updated his wardrobe a bit with the times, of course, but he still fancied subtle blues and browns to all the bright, flashy colors most people wore these days.
He'd seen the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. He'd been to China, stood at the edge of the wall and stared over the vast, foreign, wonderful, terrifying world he'd found himself in. He'd traveled across America in the 1960s. He'd witnessed the building of the Empire State Building. The Eiffel Tower. The Statue of Liberty. He'd seen so many things, wonderful things, but he didn't stay to admire them for very long. It hurt too much to stay still.
The year was now 2010, and he had stumbled upon a city that he hadn't stepped foot into yet, even in the vast amount of years he'd walked the earth – there were literally billions and billions of cities, and even the most powerful wizard in the world couldn't visit them all in the course of a thousand years, he didn't think. It was a nice, sunny town, right on the ocean. Bright colored buildings, boardwalks, pubs and hotels and quirky little businesses and shops – he'd been to tons of coastal cities and towns, but he'd found that not one was quite the same as the last one. And he liked them – the breeze, the clear blue skies, the salty sea, the sun.
He walked down the boardwalk, hands in his jeans pockets and simple pair of sunglasses blocking the brightest of the sun's rays from his light blue eyes. He ambled along, simply watching the people, the kids running along, peering in the shop windows; the vendors, advertising their hot dogs and tacos and snow cones like they were the greatest gift to mankind; the star-crossed lovers, holding hands as they walked side by side. He watched, but didn't take part.
He wasn't sure how long or how far he walked, just soaking in the sun, enjoying the slight wind and the shouts of laughter around him, but he finally stopped in front of a little pub on a street corner. It was nothing fancy, nothing special, but something about it drew to him. Maybe it was his dry throat and his sudden desire for that delicious-sounding blueberry pomegranate smoothie that was advertised on the chalkboard outside the pub.
"Tom Blair's Pub," he said softly to himself, and then decided, why not? He didn't have anywhere to go. Arthur wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. And he'd come to experience Santa Barbara, California, hadn't he?
The bell above the door dinged when he walked in.
During the many years after he'd left Santa Barbara, he'd never stayed in the same place long. He hadn't held down a job for more than six months. And that was just fine with him. He couldn't, wouldn't be held down in one place again. He wouldn't be forced to count the hats or hear lecture after lecture about how he wasn't good enough, wouldn't be arrested by his own dad or forced to play stupid games. He'd be responsible for and to himself only. No one to worry about. No looking behind him, no worrying about tomorrow until the day after tomorrow came. And it worked.
Until he'd found out that his dad had moved to Miami and decided to come back home for a visit, to see Gus again, and then he was going to head off. But then he found an apartment, hung out with Gus some more, and found that he really wasn't quite ready to hit the road yet. But Santa Barbara wasn't home, no. He wouldn't let it be that again. Nowhere was home. He was a lone wolf. Traveling around, doing whatever he wanted, and peeing on whatever fire hydrant he felt like, dang it!
…Okay, so that had only happened once, but it had been a dare and the stakes were a pineapple smoothie and a round of drinks at the local bar, but that was all irrelevant. Fact was, he was still his own man. Not rooted down to anywhere.
And then he called in that tip. The police thought he was psychic. His dad came back. Chief Vick called him in for cases. He dragged Gus into his shenanigans. Psych was born. Many guns were waved, bad guys were caught, nicknames were given… And suddenly, Santa Barbara felt a little more like home. And he'd stayed. He'd kept up a job for nearly four years now, and he loved it. He never wanted it to end.
He was tired today. While he normally reveled in the chance to dive headfirst into whatever mystery called his name, the case he'd solved today had been a tough one. There'd been a young teen involved, and a drug overdose, and the guy who'd supplied the drugs and then killed the kid with them had smirked about it. He'd been proud of what he'd done. He'd seen a lot of awful crap since his ten-year as a private psychic detective (and yes, he was going to continue calling it ten-year, despite that Gus always insisted it was tenure, and anyway, you don't have that, Shawn, and no, you haven't heard it both ways!), but this was the kind of case that rocked him to the core, got into his head.
He needed a drink.
He walked into Tom Blair's pub, fully intent on squirreling himself away in some obscure corner booth with a drink, but after he'd ordered his beer and turned around to find his seat, he realized that all the corner booths were taken. He glanced around at the patrons who sat at his seats of preference. Finally, his eyes landed on a young man sitting rather sullenly in the back left corner, nursing what looked to be a smoothie of some kind. He watched everything going on around him with a surprisingly attentive gaze, and despite the fact that he was as normal-looking as the next guy – 'cept for those ears – he didn't seem like he belonged in the pub at all. Or just… in general.
He was intrigued, and also, he'd learned from experience that a great way to cheer himself up was to play a little game called 'let's see how far I can push and annoy this random stranger until they get up and leave or try to get me arrested.' Driving Lassie crazy was another favorite, but, alas, Lassie-frass was actually busy tying up some loose ends with the kid's family.
He made up his mind, striding purposefully across the pub and then sliding into the booth across from the dark-haired young man, who he now saw had bright blue eyes – almost Lassie-ish in their light blueness, but they lacked the stark Irish eyelash line – and a slender face with some mega-cheekbones, pale skin. He was wearing a plain, dark blue polo shirt and jeans.
He decided on the direct approach, ignoring the confused and slightly uncomfortable look on the younger man's face. "Hiya!"
"Er," said the young man. "Hullo."
Oooh, he was British, to boot! This was going to be fun. (He fancied himself to be a bit of an anglophile, after all.)
"Dude, you're a long way from home!" was his response to the bewildered stranger. "What brings you from the other side of the river, man?"
A jet-black eyebrow quirked in amusement. "I'm pretty sure the saying is 'across the pond.'"
"I've heard it both ways."
A slight smirk tugged at the corner of the guy's mouth. Hm. A worthy opponent, perhaps. "Do you normally just walk up and start conversations with complete strangers?"
"Only if their cheekbones look like they were carved by the gods themselves," he joked, and to his great amusement, said cheekbones flushed bright red against pale skin.
"Look, no offense, but I don't exactly lean that way," the flustered man stammered.
He burst out laughing. "I was messing with you. Gah, you're as gullible as Gus on a bad day."
"Is Gus your… boyfriend?"
"Oh, come on, man, I told you, it was a joke-!"
Holy crap. Kid was smiling.
"Now who's gullible?" he asked with a smirk.
"You, my friend," he announced once he found his voice, "are pretty badass. And you seem pretty adept at the whole banter shtick, too, which is impressive, because not many people can even get close to attaining the level of sheer banterliciousness of yours truly."
Another smile, this one a bit sadder. "Yeah, well," he said. "I had a lot of practice. Long time ago." His eyes were impossibly old and sad.
"When did he die?"
The gaze shot up to meet his own, and something within those blue depths sent a wave of chills down his spine.
"What are you talking about?"
"Your best friend," he said, his voice subdued, sad. "Your brother. The macaroni to your cheese." Those icy blue eyes just stared at him. "Look man, I'm sorry. I mean, if I ever lost Gus, I'd…" He didn't think about things like this. He didn't handle death well. At all. Despite the fact that he solved murders all the time, which was something he was still trying to figure out.
He glanced down to see that the guy's knuckles were white from where he was gripping the edge of the table. "How'd you know?" he asked, his voice trembling slightly.
"Allow me to introduce myself," he said, hand flying to his temple with a flourish. "Shawn Spencer, psychic detective."
He was used to the odd looks that he got when he announced his job title, and this one didn't disappoint. He then gave a quick smile that didn't reach his eyes and stretched out a large, gangly hand across the table. "Merlin," he said. "I'm Merlin."
"That's a strange name," said the psychic detective named Shawn Spencer. "Sounds like a fish or something."
Merlin looked at him strangely. "A merlin is a bird, actually."
"No, I'm pretty sure you're thinking of marlins," Shawn countered. "Marlins are birds, merlins are fish. Haven't you seen Finding Nemo?"
Merlin, who had actually watched that movie, nodded but pointed out, "First off, the fish's name wasMarlin, not Merlin. And he was a clownfish, not a marlin. A marlin is another kind of fish."
"How do you want me to prove it?" Merlin asked, incredulous. What was with this man? One minute he seemed sincere and eerily all-knowing, the next, he was demanding that Merlin prove that a marlin wasn't a merlin and it wasn't a clownfish either. Merlin didn't particularly care for fish anyway, thanks toThe Sword in the Stone (why on earth would he want to turn himself and Arthur into a fish, of all things?), and he knew what he knew about them from Finding Nemo and his short stint aboard a fishing vessel in the middle of Loch Ness (long story). "Do you want me to say a couple of magic words and make a marlin appear?" Because I can… and I'd kind of love to see the look on your face…
"That would be dope," Shawn agreed, "but how about you tell me about your friend instead?" And they were back, full-circle, and the genuine tone was in the man's voice again.
"Why are you so interested?" Merlin asked defensively. This was why he chose not to talk to many people. Everyone was so nosy, so interested in everyone's business but their own. And this guy… well he certainly was nosy… and in more than one way. And he'd thought Arthur's nose was large…
"Just trying to make conversation, man. You look like you could use a pick-me-up. And judging by the color of your smoothie there, it's pomegranate, not pineapple, so that's not going to do you any good. So, you know. Get it off your chest."
Merlin studied Shawn for a long moment, blue eyes meeting hazel ones, both guarded. "Okay," he said. "But you have to tell me what's bothering you, too."
"Nothing's bothering me other than the fact that Billy Zane hasn't answered any of my fan-mail, not even with a stamped-on signature."
"In that case, nothing's bothering me but this strange so-called psychic who keeps bugging me for personal information."
Shawn pursed his lips, looking slightly annoyed but also amused, and finally he agreed. "Fine. You first."
Merlin took a deep breath, trying to decide what he could and couldn't say. Obviously the fact that he was from the middle ages and his closest friend, his brother, had been the legendary King Arthur from the legends was out. He settled with, "He was bossy. Kind of arrogant. Supercilious. He was far too pleased with himself. Bossed me around all the time, threw things at my head, made fun of me…"
"You sure you're not talking about your grade-school bully?"
Merlin rolled his eyes. "Sometimes it felt that way. But… He was loyal. Strong. He cared about people, always tried to do what was right. He was kind, and a natural leader. And he was…" his voice hitched slightly, "…the best friend I've ever had."
"How'd he die?"
"He was murdered. Protecting the people he loved. And I wasn't there soon enough to stop it."
Shawn winced. Merlin wondered for a moment if he was going to start saying he was sorry, or asking a bunch of pesky questions, or maybe even surprising him by saying something wise. But instead, he simply said, "Dude, that sucks."
Strangely enough, hearing that said bluntly actually served to make Merlin feel a bit better. It was odd, but he'd never spoken this much about Arthur since the king's death. He tried to hide him, and all the other people he loved and who had left him alone, the victims of a fate he apparently could not join them in. Gaius. Gwaine. Gwen. Morgana, for she had died long before he'd stabbed her by the lake. His mother. Will. Lancelot.
He shook his head. "What about you?"
Shawn shrugged. "It's just this case I was helping the police with. You know, most of the time, it's a lot of fun. I love what I do, man, it's just… kid was just fifteen. Drug overdose, not of his own choosing, either. Murdered by his dealer. The look on his mom's face when she found out…" He shuddered, looking ill. "Hell," he cursed, then took a swig of his beer. "Sorry, man. See, this is why I don't do all this heart-to-heart crap. Messes with my head. Don't like to be serious."
Merlin's lips twitched. "I couldn't tell."
Shawn chuckled. "You in town for long?"
"No. I don't stay in one place any length of time. It's good to keep moving." Merlin studied the psychic's face, his expression neutral. "I have a feeling you understand."
"Yeah, well. I've been in Santa Barbara for nearly four years now. Almost a whole decade!"
"A decade is ten years."
"Oh, Merlin, don't be the first, second, or third High School Musical movies, or any of the obnoxious spin-offs. Decades are where kids go to play games after school."
"I'm pretty sure you're thinking of arcades."
"No, arcades are—"
"Okay, I get it," Merlin laughed. "Gods, you're almost as annoying as Arthur."
"Wait. Merlin. Arthur." Oops, he'd said too much. If Shawn really was psychic, and if he put the pieces together… Merlin tried not to freak out, but it wasn't time, people couldn't know who he was yet. "Oh my gosh, like in Sword in the Stone? That's so cool! I'll bet your parents and his parents were Disney fans and they planned the whole thing, right? That's frickin' awesome. I always wished my dad would've named me after a cartoon character. I mean, Gus is a mouse in Cinderella. If he'd named me Jacques, that would've rocked."
Really? thought Merlin blandly. At least he wasn't making the connection. "You like Cinderella?"
"I'd like it better if the godmother turned the pumpkin into a pineapple."
"But what good would it do?" Merlin asked, bewildered. "How would a pineapple help get her to the ball?"
"Maybe she didn't really want to go to the ball," Shawn argued. "Maybe she was just a fan of delicious flavor."
"I can't believe I'm having this conversation," Merlin muttered. But he realized that he was smiling, genuinely smiling. And so was Shawn. "So, can you tell me my future?" he asked, changing the subject. "Isn't that what psychics do?"
"Doesn't work that way."
Merlin remembered Morgana, the nightmares, the visions. "Do you dream?"
"Course I do. Every night. Usually involves Jackie Chan, a couple hundred fruit ninjas and a Pina Colada."
"No, but I can tell you this." Shawn's hands shot to his temples and he looked intently at Merlin. "You've been traveling for a long time," he said. "You've been on your own longer than you care to admit. You're lonely, but you're terrified to let anyone in, because you think if you do, you'll just lose them too." Merlin sat, stunned, because that hit the proverbial nail right on the head. But he could have just figured all that out from his comments about Arthur and not staying in one place too long…
"You also cannot hold your own liquor, you haven't had a date in years, you're a terrible liar, you do a lot of manual labor, your feet sweat more than normal, you don't like prunes, and you're horrible at bowling. How's that?"
"How on earth could you know that?"
"Well, I'll be honest, I didn't psychically divine the prune thing. It's just common knowledge that nobody but old people and the occasional squirrel likes prunes."
Merlin laughed, feeling lighter than he had in years. Something about this conversation with Psychic Detective Shawn Spencer had loosened up some of the fear and grief and guilt that he had been running from, trying to hide from, for so long. He'd laughed like he hadn't since before Arthur died, before Gwaine died. He'd let someone in – just for a moment, and somehow, someway, it had helped.
"Anything else?" he asked.
"Other than you having magic? Nah, that's about it."
Merlin stared slack-jawed at the psychic. "W-What did you say?"
"You have magic, right? Can turn into a fish and swim back across the river whenever you want to," he laughed at his own joke, once again referencing that infernal Disney movie. "Merlin, dude, you all right? I was just kidding, man, no need to have a pig."
"Cow," Merlin corrected, trying to shake off the shock of what he had thought to be his biggest secret being revealed, and had turned out to be nothing but a big goofball making a lame joke at his expense.
Shawn gasped, horrified. "How dare you? I've been using my elliptical and everything!"
Merlin snorted. "I wasn't calling you a cow. The phrase is 'don't have a cow.'"
"That's udderly ridiculous," Shawn quipped.
"Wow. We're resorting to bad puns now, are we?" Merlin said dryly. "I think that's my cue to hit the road." He grinned at the faux wounded expression on Shawn's face.
Shawn grew semi-serious again. "You leaving town?"
Merlin thought for a moment. "Mmm… I don't know. Maybe I've been skipping around too quickly. And Santa Barbara does seem like a quaint town. I might get a room, stay for a few days, see the sights." He found that he actually wanted to stay somewhere for more than a day or two, and maybe it was because he'd finally faced up with some of his fears and doubts and hurts, and while he still had way more junk to deal with from his past, he'd enjoyed having someone to talk to.
"Sweet. Hey, you need a tour guide, stop by the Psych office, meet Gus. I'll show you around the city, introduce you to the chief – she's a really classy lady, by the way – and maybe you can turn Lassiter into a fish, just for a little while." Merlin barely tensed this time at the mention of magic. If only Shawn knew how close he really was to the truth. "And in return, you can teach me how to speak English."
Merlin furrowed his brow. "You're speaking it right now."
"Oh, you just don't know, man. You don't know."
Merlin laughed. "You're certainly one of the most colorful characters I've met in my travels, Shawn, and it's not just because you're wearing that bright green shirt, either."
"What can I say? I'm like a human mood ring. I'm a colorful person, I wear colorful clothes. If I were to suddenly become depressed and forlorn, I'd expect my wardrobe to suddenly change to black, or another lonely, ugly color, like puce."
"I'm sure it would," Merlin agreed, and although he didn't entirely understand Shawn's warped sense of humor, he liked it. He liked talking to Shawn. It was like having a friend again. "I'm going to find a place to stay," he said. "But it was… interesting to meet you, Shawn. I might look you up and drop by in a few days if I decide to stay long enough for a tour guide."
"Sweet." He met Merlin's eyes again, and his hazel ones were steady and deep for all of one moment. "I'm sorry about your friend," he said genuinely. "Sounded like a great guy… 'cept for all the yelling and bossing and throwing."
Merlin smiled, but it wasn't as sadly this time. "It's not the end," he said. "He's not gone for good."
"Aaand on that creepy and ominous note," Shawn said, looking only slightly weirded out by Merlin's out of place statement, "I'm going to leave, too. I've got a man-date with my black best friend and some enchiladas. Sure you don't want to join us?"
"No, thanks. I'm not much for Mexican food."
"What in the name of Katy Perry's ghost is wrong with you, man?"
"Katy Perry isn't dead."
"Agree to disagree."
And with that, and a promise to have another chat sometime if they crossed paths again, they parted ways, each man feeling somewhat lightened than they had before they'd walked into Tom Blair's Pub.
Sometimes, unloading all the crap bugging you onto a complete stranger worked wonders for your emotional well-being. Of course, there's always the relatively small chance that you'll get punched or have a restraining order put against you, but thankfully for both Merlin and Shawn Spencer, this hadn't been one of those times.
Shawn watched Merlin walk down the street and shook his head, running a hand through his fabulous mane of brown hair. "That was not how I expected my morning to go," he muttered. But he felt a lot better than he had before.
He thought about Merlin's reaction when he'd joked about him having magic. Almost as if…
But no, surely not. There was no way that he actually had…
Shawn shook his head again and turned around, walking the other direction toward where he'd parked his motorcycle. "Nah," he said as he mounted his bike.
Then again, he'd looked really freaked out when Shawn had mentioned magic; there'd been real fear and the oh-no-someone's-gonna-find-out-my-deep-dark-secret look in his eyes that Shawn knew all too well by this point in his career as a fake psychic detective.
"Holy crap," he said, sitting stunned on his parked bike. "He does have magic!"
A/N: Hope you enjoyed! It took several tedious hours to write this, but like I said, so worth it. And I left it open to a sequel, but I can't promise anything anytime soon, but the opportunity's there if I ever decide to pick up again. :)
Really, really hope you enjoyed, and if you read, please take the time to review; let me know your thoughts!
Thanks, everyone! Love y'all! XD