DISCLAIMER: I (sadly) don't own Psych. True story, sis. Now go eat a sammich.
A/N: I know I know I know! It's been too long! I'm a failure, and I need to stick my face in a hole and not come out until I am fully ready to take on the harrowing responsibilities of writing a Psych fan-fiction again! I'm sorry!
Whew, now that that's over (groveling is always so tiring), I'm going to skip the whole excuses spiel, because it's dumb and I don't want to do it. This is going to be a weird shift, because I've been writing Merlin fan-fics lately, but will make the transition as gracefully as a blind mouse doing the macerana (however you spell it; apparently I butchered it so badly that spell check can't even identify it!) with roller skates in an ice skating rink...
I will admit, this chapter is (for the most part) pretty fluffy and humorous (with bits of subtle angst mixed in there), but I assure you, it is the fluff before the whump-storm... as you will see at the end of this chapter, things are going to take a much darker turn after this chapter, so enjoy the fluffiness and funny stuff... muahaha. :D
Enjoy, and please do not forsake this fan-fiction because of slow updates! I assure you, it will get better, and I will NEVER leave a story unfinished! I am back, people! So please not only read, but review! Now that my shameless begging is at an end... enjoy! :D
Chapter Three: The Federal Bureau of Irritation
The ride back to the station was not a pleasant one for Carlton Lassiter.
"It's not fair, Lassie-frass!"
"You promised we'd have our first sleepover! You promised!"
"Lassie, don't be the only penguin who can actually fly! Take me baaaaack!"
"Calling Carlton Lassiter, can you read me? Lassie? Lassie? Why are you ignoring me, dude? I'm trying to mend our bromance here, and you're killing it. Why'd you have to call off the slumber party? And just when I was about to break out Dance Dance Revolution!"
"Lassie. Lassie. Lassie. Lassie. Lassie-face. Lassie-frass. Lassiter. Lassiter. Carlton. Carlton. Carlton. CARLTON!"
Finally, unable to take any more of Spencer's babbling, whining, cajoling, cat-calling, and speaking, Lassiter swerved over to the shoulder, slammed on the breaks, and spun around in his seat, practically throwing himself at Spencer, the seatbelt the only thing really holding him back.
"Will. You. Shut. Up."
Spencer seemed to think about this for a moment. "I dunno... I suppose we can negotiate. How about this. I shut up, and we head back to your place. We watch scary movies, maybe Devil Wears Prada, gossip about Gus, do each other's hair, and then not go to the station where you plan to put me in a safe house with the FBI? It's a plan, right?"
"It's something all right," Lassiter hissed, rubbing his throbbing temples. He tried to lean in a little closer to Shawn, to get up in his face for emphasis, but his seat belt locked up. He tried again, but to no avail. Fuming, and trying his hardest not to throttle Spencer as the idiot giggled at his efforts, Lassiter unbuckled his seat belt and leaned in, flashing. "Listen, Spencer. I know exactly what it is you're doing, and it's not cute; it's not funny. It's ridiculous, and annoying, and there are people out there who are worried sick about you right now, and all you're doing is making an ass out of yourself because you're too much of a child to seriously face what's going on here! I'm not going to put up with your crap like Guster does, so you're going to stop being so insufferable, man up, and go to the FBI's safe house without a fuss. Got it?"
To which Shawn blinked owlishly and replied: "Aw, Lassie, I knew you cared!"
Spencer would be lucky if he made it to the station alive.
In all honesty, Shawn was a little surprised that Lassiter had read him so well. He was surprised, and he didn't like it. The only time he liked to be surprised was at surprise parties, and he never actually was surprised because he always figured out the surprise beforehand. But Lassie had seen through every defense mechanism Shawn had desperately tacked up around him, and because of that, Shawn could feel his meager control over the situation beginning to crumble.
Like he'd told Gus when they'd first gone up against Yang, he needed this. He needed his funny, his wit, his charm; he couldn't let these people get into his head. He had to focus: There was a crazed, homicidal serial killer after him (as opposed to a crazed, not-homicidal serial killer? Shawn thought that was a bit redundant), and he needed to feel like he had control of something. If he couldn't be on top of the situation, if he had to be helpless, then he was going to grab the reins of the only thing he had left in his bag o'tricks and turn this horrifying situation into something to laugh at.
And Lassie wasn't playing along, which meant that Shawn's fearless facade was just about ready to crumble around his ears. And his neck. Probably his spleen and pancreas, too. There'd be a lot of crumbling.
To what was sure to be Lassiter's great surprise, Shawn was actually quiet the rest of the way to the station, other than to plead one or two times to let him go back to the house because he forgot Nervana the Zebra Pillow Pet. Well, it was worth a try, he supposed.
Upon arriving at the station, Shawn saw Juliet standing near the door, and a strange sense of deja-vu hit him - and he couldn't care less. He was out of the car before Lassie had even shut off the engine, earning him some very colorful remarks from Lassiter. When he reached his girlfriend, he quipped in a horrendous British accent, "Fancy seeing you here, gorgeous."
Juliet didn't smile, and she didn't frown, either. Her eyebrows just did that cute little thing where they scrunched together when she was worried. Shawn leaned forward and tried to kiss the concern away, but it didn't work, although she did start to tear up. Oh, crap. He'd wanted to make her feel better, not make her cry! Feeling utterly useless, Shawn tried to be his usual hilarious self and apologized, "I'm sorry, that wasn't one of my better entrances. Tell you what. I'll get back in Lassie's car, and we'll take it from the top."
"Shawn..." said Juliet. "Please."
And he stopped, because she looked terrified, and he suddenly realized there was nothing he could do about it. His stomach churned, and he looked away, only to find himself face-to-face with Gus, who, by the way, hadn't been standing there when Shawn had greeted Juliet.
"Gah!" he yelped. "Gus, what the heck, man?"
"Sorry, Shawn," said Gus, and Shawn realized that he'd said and heard enough of that word ("sorry," not "Shawn"; he didn't think he'd ever be tired of hearing his own name). Gus started doing that thing he did when he was trying his best not to cry - a high pitched whine, scrunching his face up like a mushy black raison.
"Gus," Shawn snapped, a bit irritably. "Stop it."
"I just want to say, Shawn, that it's going to be okay. I'm h-here for you, buddy, and I promise we won't let anything happen to -"
"Gus, stop!" Shawn finally exploded. Gus's face uncrumpled somewhat, but a kind of hurt look remained in his eyes. "I'm fine, I'm not scared, I'm not going to die, I'm fine. Why does everybody seem to think that I'm freaking out about all of this? You guys are the ones freaking out! You're the ones that are making a fuss, making me go into protective custody, when I'm perfectly fine with staying at my own apartment or the Psych office until this is sorted out. I didn't need a babysitter with Yin or Yang, and I certainly don't need one now!"
"Yeah, well, that was a totally different situation," a familiar but so-not-welcome-at-the-moment voice said, "and you know it. Get over it, kid. These people are your friends -"
"They are," Lassiter was quick to point out as he, too, joined Shawn, Gus, Juliet, and now Henry in front of the station. "Not me."
Though he was still stewing about being treated like he was made of glass, Shawn couldn't pass up the chance to rib Lassiter a bit more. "Don't kid yourself, Lassie," he grinned, and the smile was strained, but he didn't care (he needed a bit of normalcy to return to the situation; all this girly emotion was getting a little out of his depth, to be honest). "We're not only friends, we're buds. We're amigos. Two musketeers minus one musketeer. Platonic soul-mates."
"Gross," said Lassiter.
"I said platonic!"
"And I said gross. What's your point?"
Shawn smirked slightly, feeling marginally better now that he had managed to rile Lassie up a bit, but his slight raise of spirits went spiraling downward as his father, once again, saw fit to bring an end to his joking and bring everyone's attention back to the uncool matter at hand.
"Would you two stop it? Shawn," he directed his son's attention back to the previous line of conversation. "These people are your friends, and they're worried about you. We're all worried about you. So if you would just get off your high horse for a moment and stop acting like such a jackass, maybe we could actually get something done about the fact that there's a crazed serial killer after you. You're going into protective custody with the FBI, because if that nut was able to locate you that quickly, then you're not going to be safe anywhere else. Get. Over. It."
Shawn studied the concerned faces of his girlfriend, best friend, and father, and the seemingly unconcerned face of his platonic soul-mate, and grumbled, "Fine." Not willing to not have the last word, however, he quickly tacked on in a totally carefree voice, "I'll have you know, though, that I do not have a 'high horse.' Not only do I not have an animal of the equestrian kind, but I would never give it drugs. That's irresponsible, and frankly, quite sick."
"You are an idiot," Lassiter said bluntly. "Let's get this over with. We've got some FBI guys in the conference room."
"You are an idiot, Shawn," Henry agreed, clapping Shawn on the shoulder in what might have been a fatherly gesture if not coupled with the words that it was. "Lassiter nailed that one on the head."
"You're our idiot, Shawn," Juliet said, kissing him lightly on the cheek. "And you don't have to pretend in front of us. We understand."
"No, you really don't," Shawn said seriously, uncharacteristically, before shooting Gus a look that clearly said something along the lines of, Sorry, man. Didn't mean to make you feel bad. Tacos later, okay?
Gus gave a slight smile in his best friend's direction, one that just as clearly stated, It's all good, Shawn. Nothing to forgive. Oh, and tacos and burritos, dude. Don't forget the burritos.
Shawn tried to shrug off the emotions trying to smother him once more, shook his head slightly, and without a word, followed his father and Lassiter into the police station, Juliet and Gus right on his heels.
"I don't agree with this course of action," Shawn said as he looked around the inside of the long, black sedan. "Not in the slightest. I will, however, admit that the interior of this car is very posh, and thus saying, the ride to wherever this safe house is is slightly better because of it. Now, where is this alleged 'safe house,' again, anyway?"
The two FBI agents that he was riding with, one driving, and the other one in the passenger's seat, decked all out in black suit, ear devices, the works, exchanged exasperated looks, and Shawn knew that his plan to annoy the people effectively holding him captive for the foreseeable future was coming along splendidly.
"We told you already," said Agent Carson. "That's privileged information. We can't tell you. You'll find out when we get there."
"Privileged information? If anyone is privileged in this situation, it should be me!"
"Safety reasons," said Agent Clint. "We told you that, too."
"But it's just us in this car. Who am I going to tell?"
"There could be bugs."
"Ew! Where? Get them off!" Shawn flapped his arms around madly, hoping that his antics would hide the growing grin on his face.
"Not insects. Listening devices," Agent Carson ground out, his fingers twitching on the steering wheel. Shawn could tell that he was really getting under his skin. Excellent. He turned shifted slightly in his seat, only to see that there was another dark sedan following them. He wondered if his new friends new about it.
"While you guys are so busy worrying about not-insects," Shawn said in the most obnoxious tone of voice that he could muster, "someone's on our tail. Following us. Did you know that? Oh, and it's kind of sad if you're worried about listening devices in your own car. You're the FBI. Shouldn't you know if somenone's bugging your car?"
"Yes," Agent Clint said, annoyance painting his words. "They're with us. And it's just a safety precaution," he added through gritted teeth, addressing Shawn's second question.
"Oh. Well. Who are they? Why wasn't I told about this? And don't say privileged information; that's a lame excuse!" Shawn decided not to pursue the bug argument, because while he would enjoy watching the smoke come out of these agents' ears, he was far more interested in why they were being followed by someone else. It was obvious that they had hoped that Shawn wouldn't notice, but they hadn't counted on his amazing psychic powers of observation... or the fact that he just couldn't sit still in a car and had to look out every window available, even the back one. He'd heard it both ways.
"We were asked not to tell you about it until you were already in the car."
Shawn narrowed his eyes. "Why?"
"Because you probably won't be happy about it."
Shawn's eyes were now twin slits. "Why?"
"Well," said Agent Carson, "Your father is staying with you at the safe house."
Shawn's previously narrowed eyes widened in shock. "No, no, no," he said petulantly. "Me, locked up in a house somewhere in the middle of nowhere with him for God knows how long? No thank you. He'll nag me into oblivion."
"Good," said Agent Clint, smirking.
"That was very unprofessional of you," Shawn sulked.
"Everything about you is unprofessional," Agent Clint countered smugly. "I honestly think that The Hunter targeted the wrong guy."
"Maybe I'm not the right guy. Why don't we say that I'm not, so we can all go home?"
"As much as I'd love to do that," said Agent Carson, "we can't."
"Why not? You should live a little. Embrace life. Stick it to the man!"
"Our boss is a woman."
"To the woman!" Shawn corrected. He then decided to impress them with a bit of his psychic juju-magumbo. "By the way," he said, taking note of the ever so slight timorous, borderline defensive tone in Agent Carson's voice when he said that about the woman, and about the way that his ringed left hand twitched ever so slightly when he said it, "Does your wife know you're sleeping with your boss?"
He quite enjoyed watching Agent Carson's face turn from white to red in a matter of seconds.
The next three days passed by in a blur of trying not to go stir-crazy in the two-level safe house, avoiding his antsy, nagging father at all costs, and taking advantage of every chance he had to make Agent Carson, Agent Clint, or the other two guys who'd been with his dad in the other car, Agents Bowling and Newman, turn beet red in annoyance.
Once, he'd cornered Agent Newman in the smaller upstairs kitchenette and asked, "Why are you guys here?"
"We're keeping you safe," Agent Newman had said, "It's our job."
"Oh," said Shawn. "But I thought your job description was the Federal Bureau of Irritation."
Agent Newman's right cheek twitched slightly. He was very serious about his job. "Federal Bureau of Investigation," he corrected in a forced-calm voice.
"Oh," said Shawn again. "So shouldn't you be out investigating something instead of keeping me prisoner here? I mean, it'd be different if you were the Federal Bureau of Incarceration..."
Needless to say, Agent Newman had not been amused, especially after Shawn had told his colleagues about his (mostly) off-duty drinking problem, his inclination to clean and crochet when he got nervous, and his pet cat, who slept on his chest every night (those cat hairs just won't come off those official black PJs, no matter how much you roll'em with the lint roller), all of which Shawn had figured out using various clues the first time he met the tall, buff, big-eared man.
The four agents avoided Shawn as much as possible, but Shawn was excellent at finding people, so he usually had something to do other than hide from his dad and think about the Hunter.
He couldn't get to sleep, especially on the third night. He couldn't help but remember how the note had said that in three days time, if he hadn't come of his own free will, someone would come and collect him. He knew that it should be impossible. He currently had no contact with the outside world, and only the chief knew exactly where the safe house was stationed, a two-story bungalow on the California-Nevada border. As much as he hated being stuck in the safe house, he knew that it was supposed to keep him safe (well, duh). But still... something didn't set right in his gut, and it was the small hours of the morning before Shawn finally fell into a light, fretful sleep.
He dreamed of nothing.
He wasn't sure how long he'd slept when he found himself being shaken gently awake. "Mrrph," he said, and he didn't even know what that translated to. Finally, without opening his eyes, he forced his tongue to cooperate with the rest of his mouth and said, "Dad... told you to leave me alone."
The shaking continued, and Shawn blearily opened his eyes, an insult right at the tip of his tongue. It froze there when his vision cleared to reveal three men standing over him, two wearing ski masks and the other not, and he was not a man that Shawn had ever seen before. Panic flooded into his mind and he opened his mouth to yell for help. A damp rag was then shoved onto his face, covering his nose and mouth, and his world was shifting, turning, tilting.
The last thing he remembered before his vision went black and he knew no more was a strangely proper voice saying, "They always make it the hard way, don't they?" Then a pause. "Bring him."
A/N: Well, that chapter took a turn for the sinister, now didn't it? :D I'm so pumped about this story, and as you can tell, we're getting to the good stuff. Hope you enjoyed it, and I'll try my best to update soon! You all rock!