Shawn Spencer leaves four voicemails on Cordelia Chase’s cell phone.
“Really? Really? You couldn’t just turn me down for dinner; you had to give me psychic mono? I can take ‘no’ for an answer! And your explanation is crap. How do I get rid of this? There has to be some sort of return policy. Why me? What did I ever do to you? Fine. You know what? Our hypothetical date is off. Consider us hypothetically broken up. Jerk, using your distracting awesome kiss and the really low cut shirt to give me the motion-picture migraines from hell. Thanks; thanks so much. Oh, and saying you’re dead just to avoid the guilt trip isn’t cool.”
“You know, making my living as a psychic and all, I can appreciate the irony of my being a skeptic. I can even appreciate the irony of something like this happening to me, in a careful-what-you-wish-for sort of way. But this is not funny. Got it? Not funny. ”
“Okay, so you’re actually dead. I read your obituary. It’s nice, as far as obituaries go. And there’s a picture! You look pretty. So you win that one, I admit. But it’s still not fair. Now I’m not just lying to everyone but Gus and my dad, because now I am kind of psychic, so… So I’m half-lying to everyone, which is really confusing for me. But you don’t care, because you’re dead. Lucky you. And I’m still not calling your boss, so there. Nyah.”
…is not from Shawn Spencer. It is from a man in Idaho who was trying to reach his insurance company, and he says only, “Lady, what are you on?”
Shawn’s next not-so-pseudo vision is an info-dump about Cordelia’s boss, this guy named Angel. And now Shawn really doesn’t want to call a guy with that kind of a back-story.
Too many, too much. Shawn has been laying low for a week, dodging questions from either the police or Gus. Gus is angry, thinking Shawn overdid his act, and he hides concern beneath of bluster of disapproval. Since he thinks that Shawn deliberately fell off a desk, he gives a lengthy speech about how Shawn could have cracked his skull open and died. He blames Shawn for being immature and irresponsible, and he gets more and more into it the more concerned he gets, and he gets more and more concerned the longer it goes on without Shawn interrupting by brushing it off in favor of smoothies or witty pop-culture references. He’s too busy trying to figure out how to say ‘Hey, Gus, guess what: I’m psychic!’ in a way that doesn’t sound like, ‘Wolf! Wolf! Seriously, wolf! Wolf, for real this time! I mean it; wolf!” He’s coming up with nothing.
A bit late in the game, he shakes it off and says, “Dude, I’m fine. Relax, man; it was one of my best visions ever. Let’s go grab some ice cream. We can eat it really fast, and whoever doesn’t get brain freeze wins.”
Gus makes a face, but his lecture is successfully derailed. “That’s a terrible game, Shawn.”
They play it anyway. Gus wins three rounds, Shawn wins two, and they argue over the fifth until they either have to resolve it in a draw or call in a neutral judge to determine the outcome.
Shawn sets his ice cream down, though, and launches into the explanation, which somehow comes out in the way he most vehemently rejected during the mental trial run, “Gus? The reason I fell off the desk is because I had an actual vision. I got it from this dead girl, who wasn’t dead when I met her – or, she was, but she wasn’t. But she wasn’t undead, either, don’t worry; it wasn’t a mummy curse. Or a zombie. Or a vampire. Or a ghost. Or anything else like that; and, actually, all of those are apparently real. She was just temporarily not-dead any more, so technically she was alive. And she made out with me to give me her psychic visions, and now—”
Gus flicks some ice cream at him. “Don’t even try to weasel your way out of this, Shawn. I’m still annoyed with you.”
Shawn scrapes the glob of ice cream off of his shirt with his finger and sticks it in his mouth, much to Gus’s mortification, and grumbles, “Wolf.”
When he can’t ignore them any more, he shoves some necessities in a bag and grabs his spare cash, and he stops by Psych to pick up some things he’s forgotten there and he runs into Gus on his way out the door.
He covers up his half-beat of immobile surprise by saying, “Gus! Good, buddy, you’re here. Lock up for me, would you?”
But Gus is more perceptive than Shawn gives him credit for, and his eyes gravitate inexorably to the bag dangling from Shawn’s left hand, and when he meets Shawn’s gaze again his expression is accusatory, and Shawn tries to look away before he can see the hurt there but he doesn’t manage it in time. “Going somewhere?” Gus demands heatedly, because of course he already knows the answer from the guilt Shawn is projecting in neon letters, probably with some shrieking alarms and a couple of those zig-zaggy underlines. Maybe a shadow effect. Definitely capital letters. “You’re taking off, Shawn? Now?”
“No, I’m not taking off,” Shawn protests, though he isn’t sure right now.
“You know what? Fine. I knew this would happen, Shawn. When this first started, I kept telling myself, there’s no way he’s going to stick with it. Thanks, Shawn, for proving me right. Again.”
“Gus!” Shawn says. “I’m – I’m not! I’ll be back; I just have a trip to make!”
“Whatever, Shawn,” Gus says, brushing past him. “I’ll lock up. But you’re not sticking me with the fee for breaking our lease. That’s all on you.”
“But, Gus!” Shawn cries. Gus goes into the office and closes the door emphatically behind him. Shawn sees him move through the room, and he calls uselessly, “But I’m coming back!” He vacillates for a second, uncertain whether he should go after his friend or finish up his detour to L.A. so that he can come back when Gus has cooled down, and when Shawn has proven his point – because it’s one thing to argue about how he’s going to come back and then still have to leave, and another to leave and then actually come back. And right now, he just doesn’t know.
Shawn has always been one to avoid awkward conversations, so he just slings his bag onto his bike, kicks off, and roars down the road.
He does it right, this time. He stops by the police station and makes up a story about an annual psychic convention, and launches into an elaborate description of star-patterned tablecloths and how they wear robes but voted against the pointy hats. He’s making up voodoo terms in long strings of irreplicable syllables when finally Chief Vick just cuts him off and tells him to take as much time as he needs, but to let her know when he comes back so she can call him if anything comes up.
He grins, and on his way out he tells a joke to Buzz, he flirts with Juliet, he annoys Lassiter, and he flashes Officer Allen a knowing smile. Then he’s on the highway.
He doesn’t say goodbye to his father. He doesn’t mean not to; it’s just habit.
Some things don’t change.
The air is sweet and warm, it beats against his face through the visor in his helmet, and because it’s still early there are almost no other drivers on the road. It’s beautiful enough to be cliché, with the wide-open road and the blue, blue sky. He doesn’t know what to expect now that he’s gone all vision-tastic, and from what he’s seen of the world Cordelia used to be a part of he’s not sure it’s for him. But he kind of has to try. It’s – god, it’s a mission. He’s been chosen. (It’s not as cool as in the movies. Actually, it’s rather crappy.)
It’s not a long drive – not even a hundred miles; he’s done longer in a day. But forty minutes in, he apparently makes a decision without even thinking about it, and he steers the bike onto the shoulder and breaks before he puts an intention behind his actions, and he pulls out his cell phone and dials from memory, still sitting on his bike.
“Hi! So I guess there’s not a lot of weight to the sleeping-in-coffins stories, huh?” He chuckles, and the voice on the other end becomes somewhat sharper.
“Who is this?”
“The spirits apparently want us talking, General Fangful, and they can be pret-ty demanding when they want to be. My name’s Shawn Spencer; I believe we have a mutual acquaintance in one Cordelia Chase.”
Silence, broken only by heavy breathing – which prompts Shawn to wonder why a vampire is breathing – and then, “You better explain yourself. Fast.”
“Sure thing. The spirits – powers, whatever – have elected me as their new messenger. Well, not elected. It wasn’t even hiring. It was more of a draft. I’ve tendered my resignation letter, even printed it on Central Coast stationery with bullet points that look like little leaves and everything, but they’re just not accepting it. They want me. And, I mean, who could blame them?”
“If this is some kind of joke…”
“Nope! Believe me, it’s really not funny where I’m sitting. This one’s all on the spirits. They noticed you were short one sexy brunette psychic and decided to put me on the payroll, whether I wanted it or not. So, anyway, I was on my way to L.A., and I got to thinking… See, you’ve got your big, shiny, important mission, right, and that’s great… But I’m starting to think I have one of my own. I mean, I’m not stopping the end of the world on a yearly basis, or anything, but what I do is important, too. And, really, I don’t see why this relationship won’t work long distance, right? I can be vision boy – or, psych man, let’s go with that; so much cooler – and I can just give you calls to pass along the message. I don’t have to be there to tell you this stuff. So, yeah. I just called to let you know I’m not coming, but keep your phone on.”
Another pause, and then, “You better not be messin’ with me.”
“And if I am, you’ll come rip my intestines out through my throat. I know; I got the Cliff’s Notes on you. Which is another reason I’m heading the other way. Nothing personal, I just don’t like pointy things, and really I’m no good with demons, either. It’s not you, it’s me.”
Angel huffs out a strangled laugh. “Good. So you know what’ll happen if this turns out to be a lie again.”
“She says hi,” Shawn tells him, even though she didn’t. He can divine plenty from Angel’s voice, and he knows it’s the sort of thing he should say.
“Yeah. I know.”
“Okay, then. Talk to you next time I get a psychic drill through my brain.”
A little less hesitant now: “Okay.”
“Oh, and: love the coat, man.”
He hangs up, takes a moment to bask in the sunshine and think, holy crap, I just had a conversation with a friggin’ vampire, and then he turns his motorcycle back around and drives back up the road to Santa Barbara, his head gloriously light, like he’s just woken up from a long, uninterrupted sleep, warm and content and trouble-free.
He dumps his stuff at home, calls his dad and suffers through the expected berating, because of course Gus has told Henry that Shawn was leaving. Shawn pins it all on Gus, just because it’s easier, says his friend misunderstood and that he’s not going to take off, and the rest of his dad’s tirade sounds a little less tirade-y and a little more relieved. He makes himself dinner, and in the evening he drives to Psych. He turns on all the lights, putting a smoothie on Gus’s desk while he sips his own, his feet up, the TV on to keep his mind occupied. He knows Gus will drive by some time before nightfall, either to check up on the place for one last time (seriously, even if they installed a burglar alarm Gus would still be all paranoid-pants) or to give himself fuel for a Shawn-you-jerk mental rant.
He gets an extra heads-up when he sees Gus’s silhouette through the door just before Gus himself barrels in, holding a potted plant over his head and fully prepared to bash in heads of any trespassers. He stops short when he sees Shawn, who swivels to face him with a blank look on his face. Shawn frowns. “Did you steal that plant from the dentist’s next door?” he asks.
Gus’s surprise disappears. “Shawn?” he asks.
“You know, I don’t think it’s ethical to sacrifice a poor innocent plant just because somebody might have broken in,” Shawn says. “Plants are living, too.” He jerks his thumb towards Gus’s desk. “Brought you a cupful of fruity deliciousness. And, look! They had green bendy straws.”
Gus finally lowers his arms, sets the plant down by the door, and says, “I thought you were leaving.”
Shawn grins his you’re-so-silly grin. “Yeah, but I told you I was coming back.”
“You told the Chief you were taking time off!” Gus accuses.
“I am.” He spreads his arms. “Two words: Road trip. One more word: awesome. Come on, you and me, we’ll go some place totally cool and make up fake names for everyone we meet just to see if they’ll call us by them.”
“You do that anyway, Shawn.”
“Oh, yeah. Regardless. I already called your work and booked a week off.”
“You did what? You can’t do that, Shawn! I’ve never taken a sick day. I’m saving up my vacation time. I’ve won Most Punctual every year since I started – or, I did, before you came along with your psychic detective agency and gave me a perpetually ailing cat and a line-dancing grandma.”
“See, you’ve already broken your record. What’s the big deal? Do I need to repeat the third word again? Awesome, Gus. How can you turn down awesome?”
Gus’s jaw works, and he crosses to his desk, warming to the idea and trying badly to hide it. “Well…” he says, and Shawn fights to keep his triumphant smile from breaking through. “I guess, since you’ve already booked the time…”
Shawn fist-pumps the air. “Yes! It’ll be great, Gus.”
“But!” Gus says, lifting one finger sternly. “It’s going to be relaxing. Not crazy. Not dangerous. We’re not going to Mexico. In fact, we’re not going to the border at all, so no Canada. I’m not going near the Grand Canyon or the Rocky Mountains. And no Indianapolis, either, Shawn. And if we get arrested even once, I will stock your fridge with nothing but overripe pears and vegemite for the next year and a half.”
“Year and a half, that seems awfully random…” Shawn muses, but at Gus’s look he gets back on track. “Oh, right. Deal. Icky, icky vegemite and mushy, mushy pears.”
“Just remember this, Shawn: I know all your secrets.”
For now, Shawn settles for nodding pensively. Before they leave on their super-awesome road trip, Gus has him call Henry to tell him, and Gus insists on drawing up an itinerary and stocking up on emergency supplies (who says Shawn needs to grow up? He has a best friend who is often grown up enough for twelve Shawn Spencers.) But later on, Shawn says, apropos of nothing, “About that…”
And he explains. He asks Gus to listen and he tells the story and he plays Cordelia’s voice mail message to back it up. Gus, who has always been more accepting of these things, is skeptical for about four miles, and then he says, “Okay. So, what now?”
Shawn adds another reason to his unwritten list of Why Gus is The Best Friend Ever of Any Best Friends That Ever Were in the History of Best Friends, and then another two miles go by and Gus starts gloating about how he was right all along about ghosts and mummies and such. They argue about it good-naturedly, and then less good-naturedly, and then Shawn folds his arms and tries to do the silent treatment even though it comes off as pouting, and by the time they get to their next destination they’ve both forgotten the argument and are back to fist-bumping and trying to figure out whether or not Shawn should try to get paid for this new psychic gig.
They pass it off easily enough, as a further advancement of Shawn’s abilities. The next visions he gets are easier to ride, though still unbelievably painful, and he and Gus have no trouble spinning some tale about how seeing into the future is more taxing than just seeing into the present. People buy it. It actually seems to add more credibility to Shawn’s act than before, and fittingly so. The visions are mostly useless for cases (Shawn is delighted with the fact that he’s often a better psychic when he’s not being a psychic,) but occasionally he’ll be able to send officers off to prevent crimes before they can happen. The spirits are weirdly accommodating with sending not only supernatural visions but a few ordinary ones, too. It gets to the point where people are used to it, such that there are always painkillers and water for when he surfaces, and someone is waiting to radio it in if necessary.
He’ll either rattle off the details of everything he’s gleaned, or he’ll smile up at Vick and say, “Sorry. Message for someone else.” And he’ll pull out his cell phone and go through the same routine he does with the cops with Angel or one of his friends, supplying details and answering questions, with the addition of attempts at long-distance flirting with that blue-haired girl he sometimes catches glimpses of in his visions.
And that’s that.
Shawn Spencer, (semi-)psychic (and otherwise just eerily observant and really, really good at detective reasoning) detective (unofficial.)
Cordelia Chase gloats as much as it’s possible for a higher being to gloat, and says, “See? I told you I’d pick a good one.”
“Luck of the draw,” one of the others grumbles, as much as it’s possible for a higher being to grumble.
(And the only real problem, head-splitting migraines aside, is that they neglect to return the dentist’s potted plant.)