It began, as such things do, with a conversation on Twitter. The lovely and talented Janice Whaley was passing the time as she waited (and waited… and waited…) for her turn to audition for The Voice. That she was there at all was due to the Evil Influence of one James Roday, AKA the irrepressible Shawn Spencer from USA Network’s psych . Many who are fans of the show or of Janice or James or all of the above also know that James is a Damned Fine Singer. Don’t believe me? Just listen to the cover of Tears For Fears’ “Ideas as Opiates” that James and Janice recorded as a duet for Curt Smith’s birthday gift last year.
Anyhow, I digress, but not really, since this is all Very Important Information leading up to my part in the madness.
So Janice was passing time tweeting and she happened to mention what a fabulous cheerleader James had been throughout the whole process, from encouraging her to sign up for an audition to helping her figure out what to sing. Which, of course, led to envisioning James in cheerleading drag. Which begat envisioning his costar Dulé Hill in cheerleading drag. Which begat envisioning their costar Tim Omundson in cheerleading drag. (I know, I know, but look, my only defense is that we were trying to distract Janice and keep her somewhat mellow prior to the audition.)
At any rate, the madness culminated with Janice proclaiming this was all starting to edge toward fanfic territory. To which I responded if she made it through her audition, I’d write her a wee little psych-fic with Shawn, Gus, and Lassie as cheerleaders. Because c’mon, just having the guts to do what she did deserves some sort of reward, right?
Maybe chocolates would’ve been better.
But because writing is what I do and Janice did make it through her audition, I wrote this wee little tale—after I sent it to her, she asked if I would be willing to share with you lovelies online as a Valentine’s Day gift and because I adore Janice and I adore all of you, I said sure (and promptly downed a handful of Tums).
Now, because I am a professional writer and I’m sensitive to these sorts of things, the standard
Disclaimer: Psych and its characters belong to Steve Franks & Co., NBC/Universal, and pretty much anyone else who isn’t me. This work of fiction has been produced solely for entertainment purposes, no infringement intended.
And if the Intellectual Property/Copyright Police come after me, I will take this down, no questions asked.
So without further ado, I give you…
Shawn & the Valentine’s Pyramid o’Doom
Barbara Caridad Ferrer
For Janice Whaley whose talent, guts, and good humor are a constant inspiration
“Lassie, my long cool lanky drink of water—”
Too accustomed to the wild gibberings for more than token annoyance, Lassiter replied, “Words I never want to hear emerge from that gaping piehole you call a mouth—ever.”
“What? That you’re long, cool, and lanky?” Shawn paused, brows drawn together as if in thought.
Carlton knew better.
“Okay, so you’re not really cool, per se—at least, not in this universe.” He paused again, pursing his lips. “Or any other, come to think of it, but you are lanky and as far as the long goes, in the spirit of using it as a metaphor for tall, well yeah. Any other possible iterations we’re not in any position to say and honestly, don’t really wanna contemplate—”
While Spencer babbled, Lassiter closed his eyes and counted to three. Amended it to ten. Added another five and a pair of Hail Marys for good measure. “Spencer—”
“But we do want to see you.”
“No, no we really do not.” Guster stared at Carlton with that familiar Bambi-trapped-in-the-headlights gaze. “Lassiter, you have to say no.”
“I don’t even know what inanity he’s about to spew forth and I was already going to say no.” He took a sip of coffee, wishing like hell he wasn’t on the clock and that it wasn’t too early to lace it with a shot of bourbon. “So let me save you the time and trouble—no.”
“But it’s for Jules.”
“And it’s ridiculous,” Gus protested.
“It’s for Valentine’s.”
“And it’s ridiculous.”
Carlton sighed. “Entertaining as this really isn’t, the adults have work to do, so why don’t the two of you just run along and go play in traffic or find a juice box somewhere.”
“Juice boxes?” Spencer’s eyes brightened, inspiring faint hope that the idiot’s ADHD would kick in and he’d wander off to play In Search Of…
“Down in Strode’s lab,” he offered helpfully. Or not. He didn’t have a damned clue if the space cadet masquerading as a coroner had juice boxes but a) it wouldn’t surprise him if he did and b) the likelihood that Woody and Spencer would venture off on some conversational tangent that had nothing to do with either juice boxes or anything, you know, sane, was reasonably high. Either way, it would get Spencer out of his hair.
Guster, clearly of a similar let’s-distract-Shawn mindset, tried to herd him in the direction of the stairs. “C’mon—last time we were in the lab, Woody had Thin Mints.”
“In a minute, Gus.”
Desperation laced the cajoling tone of Guster’s voice as he sing-songed, “A whole case.”
“In a minute.”
Lassiter had to—grudgingly—admit to being intrigued. For Spencer to so cavalierly dismiss the promise of Thin Mints…
“Shawn, I’m serious—this is so not a good idea.” Gus tugged at Spencer’s sleeve, but the man-child was as immovable as an oversized garden gnome.
“Gus, Gus, Gus—don’t be the Mentos in the Diet Coke.”
Intrigue faded in light of the advent of the incessant throbbing behind his eyeballs that a case of Excedrin Migraine couldn’t alleviate. Carlton rubbed his temples as the ever-familiar scrim of red obscured his vision.
“Guster, you appear to have a modicum of sense left as well as a healthy survival instinct—”
“You know that’s right,” he muttered.
“Get your idiot best friend out of here before I shoot both of you.”
“Pfft, he’s not gonna shoot us.”
“I, for one, am not willing to take that risk—” Guster’s eyes widened far enough to reveal a full ring of white around the irises. “Especially with the way his hand’s already on his weapon.”
“Empty threat at best—the Chief tends to get cranky when Lassie discharges his weapon in the building.”
“Not if it’s against a threat to public safety.”
“Lassie, would you just untwist your dainties for a second and listen? It’s for Jules.”
Carlton sighed and released his sidearm in favor of rubbing his temples again. It was for Valentine’s. And it was for O’Hara. Even a hardened cynic such as himself could appreciate that Spencer, in his own bent, nonsensical way was trying. As opposed to just simply trying. And it had to beat a bounce house. But what in God’s name could the man have in mind that would need not just Guster’s assistance—a given, when one took into consideration who possessed the positive credit limit—but his own as well?
Really, what sort of Valentine’s-themed stunt could possibly require three men for one woman?
Carlton gaped at Spencer in horror.
“Dear God, Spencer, please tell me you don’t have some bad erotica-inspired escapade in mind.”
His mother had sent him the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy for Christmas, suggesting it might help him spice up his sex life. The receipt of which had very nearly driven him to alert the bomb squad to come remove the damned thing. And consider filing a restraining order on his mother. He’d settled for downing a double of Jack and calling a therapist for the first time in three years.
“What? No.” Shawn pulled a face then spluttered as Guster pounded him on the back. “Dude, what was that for?”
Guster blinked. “Wanted to see if your face would freeze like that.”
“Like this.” Guster pulled a credible approximation of the face, then ducked as Spencer heaved a swing an arthritic old lady with severely compromised vision could have avoided. “Stop it!”
Spencer continued girl-slapping at Guster. “You stop it.”
Guster girl-slapped back. “You stop it.”
Fighting the impulse to bang his head on the desk—repeatedly—because could. Not. Show. Weakness. Carlton snapped, “Phineas—Ferb—both of you—shut the hell up. Better still, get the hell out.”
“What?” Spencer froze mid-swat, clearly attempting to recall the conversation’s former point.
As if there had ever been one to begin with.
The asshat’s expression cleared. “Right—erotic shenanigans.”
Carlton sighed. Again. At his last annual the doctor had noted with considerable amazement his remarkable lung capacity.
“Okay, first off, ew. Second, ew. And third and most importantly, ewww.” The last accompanied by a full-body shudder Carlton might have enjoyed more if not for the fact that Spencer and Guster were still standing there. In front of his desk. And showing no signs of leaving without being forcibly removed at gunpoint. A tactic against which he had no objection employing except it tended to annoy O’Hara.
And an annoyed O’Hara was nothing to be trifled with.
There was only one way to end this—at least, without bloodshed. Besides, he reasoned with himself, how bad could it possibly be? Participants notwithstanding.
He’d faced down hardened criminals.
Had survived multiple attempts on his life.
Had survived his mother and his ex-wife.
Perhaps most relevant to his current situation, had tap-danced in public with eight-year-olds.
How bad could it possibly be?
How bad could it possibly be?
The phrase, “famous last words” did come to mind.
“Detective Lassiter, I’m sure you’ll understand why I have to ask this, but have you by any chance taken up drinking on the job?”
“Don’t think I haven’t been tempted,” Carlton muttered, then winced as he shifted.
A single eyebrow rose as Karen crossed her arms and hit him with a patented Chief Vick glare. “Excuse me?”
He briefly closed his eyes then met her gaze. “No, Chief,” he enunciated as clearly and distinctly as he could manage. “Despite any evidence to the contrary, I have not taken up drinking on the job.”
“Suffered a crippling blow to the head, then?” The second eyebrow rose to join the first as her expression shifted to something trapped between confusion and alarm. “Because honestly, no matter from what angle I consider this current situation, those are really my only two viable options.”
Carlton would have rolled his eyes except a) he couldn’t blame her one damned bit and b) it hurt too freakin’ much. Everything hurt too freakin’ much.
“Look, the idiot wanted to do something nice for O’Hara for Valentine’s and I, in a moment of weakness that I can assure you will never again be repeated, agreed to help.”
“You… agreed to help Mr. Spencer?” Karen spoke slowly, each word more disbelieving than the last. “You?”
He slouched back against the pillow in resigned defeat. “Yes.”
Her eyes narrowed into a suspicious stare. “I’m not buying it. He’s got to have something on you. Something big.”
Before Carlton could formulate a response, the cubicle’s curtain was swept back by a nurse, revealing the rest of the E.R., humming with activity as medical personnel sought to repair the carnage from Spencer’s Valentine stunt.
The should have been simple, straightforward cheerleading pyramid that Spencer had roped Carlton and Guster into helping him perform. Ridiculous, Carlton had thought, but a typically Spencer-sort of ridiculous, therefore, he’d imagined himself prepared and so with an atypical naiveté had agreed to help. The plan had been he would form one of the two bases of the pyramid along with Guster after which Spencer would clamber onto their backs with a sign reading Dear Jules, Be My Valentine.
Say it again—ridiculous—but even Carlton could admit it was a… charming sort of ridiculous. Heartwarming, even.
Maybe he had suffered a heretofore unrealized blow to the head.
Because his mistake—his big, enormous, what-in-the-ever-loving-hell-had-he-been-thinking mistake— had been in not realizing—still—that there was no such thing as “typically” Spencer-sort of ridiculous. Because once one was lulled into the false sense of security of imagining there was no further level of ridiculous to which Spencer could sink, the pineapple-scented nimrod somehow always found a way to shatter those illusions.
Generally with life-threatening consequences.
His first sign should have been the cheerleaders’ uniforms. The no doubt stolen Leland Bosseigh High School cheerleader uniforms. Carlton had made a mental note to cite Spencer for theft and had the good sense—and firepower—to absolutely refuse to put the damned thing on. Especially once they were revealed to be girls’ uniforms, short skirts and all. Not Spencer’s, though—Spencer’s uniform had pants because “Really, dudes, you don’t expect me to be getting up on your backs and exposing these shapely stems to the world, do you? It’d be like Tom Jones meets the Beatles meets Joe Biden—make it impossible to control the rush of lust-crazed women.”
Guster, on the other hand, despite repeated imprecations and mutterings of “You must be out of your damned mind,” had exhibited his usual overcooked spaghetti sense of resolve where Spencer was concerned and found himself clad in full cheerleader drag. At least the short skirt made fitting him with his new cumbersome leg brace an easier task. Why he continued to wear the platinum blonde ponytail wig, on the other hand…
Adding to the mayhem had been the springboard and vault—the inclusion of which Spencer had conveniently neglected to mention to either Carlton or Guster. Apparently at some point the idiot savant had come to the conclusion that wouldn’t it be just nifty if he leapt onto their backs?
After somersaulting through a flaming hoop.
While the Leland Bosseigh High School Marching Sabercats serenaded O’Hara with a spirited rendition of “an eighties’ classic and arguably one of the greatest love songs ever composed,” Tears For Fears’ “Head Over Heels.”
And the Sabercats’ mascot shot off a cannon’s worth of streamers and sparkly confetti.
All taking place in the wide curving driveway of the Santa Barbara Police Department, for maximum effect, of course.
Without so much as a single run through.
Or warning to the public at large.
Needless to say, it had not… gone well.
“My dear Detective Lassiter!”
“Son of a bitch.” Carlton groaned as Woody Strode’s preternaturally cheerful face hove into view. “Strode, what the hell are you doing here?”
“I’m on call for emergencies when the hospital’s staff is overtaxed due to natural disasters.”
“I’d say that adequately describes Mr. Spencer.” Karen’s tone was dry.
“Such a lovely gesture, wouldn’t you say?” Woody gifted them with such an innocent, beneficent smile, Carlton could almost see wings sprouting from the gangly coroner’s back, the chart in his hand replaced by bow and arrow.
Oblivious as ever, Woody added, “Truly, Detective O’Hara is a fortunate woman.”
Stunned, Carlton muttered, “Jesus Christ, maybe I really did suffer a blow to the head.”
Karen met his gaze with a wide-eyed one of her own. “Maybe I did too.”
Once again, Carlton took stock of the E.R., littered with scores of marching band members, innocent bystanders, and one Sabercat mascot—battered, bruised, and more than a little singed from the unfortunate collision between highly flammable confetti and blazing ring of fire.
“Oh, no, Detective—” Woody’s eerie Pennywise smile faded as he studied the chart in his hand while Carlton prayed the man’s medical degree wasn’t the product of a mail-in coupon from the back of a comic book.
“No blow to the head as far as I can tell. Just a broken clavicle, for which I see you’ve already received your sling and a nasty second-degree burn to your left posterior—”
“I know where it’s at, Strode.”
Carlton shifted further to his right, attempting to relieve the pressure on his left posterior… well, where the flaming baton had landed.
“I’ve prescribed a ten-day course of an antibiotic ointment. If you like, I could assist with the—”
“Lassiter, you cannot discharge your weapon in a hospital.”
Agitated, Carlton pulled free from Karen’s firm hold in favor of shaking the tubing leading from his I.V. drip, desperately hoping it would send the meds coursing through his system that much faster. Then maybe he’d be able to dismiss this entire misbegotten escapade as the byproduct of nothing more than heavy-duty psychotropic drugs.
Of course, it would still leave him with the issue of explaining the scars. Perhaps he could make up a story about singlehandedly taking down a pack of rabid honey badgers.
Or a rabid Honey Boo-Boo. Whatever the hell that was.
“Oh my God, Carlton, are you okay?”
He glanced up from the I.V. to find O’Hara anxiously hovering beside the bed, shaking her head as she surveyed the madness. Uncomfortable, he tugged the blankets up further. No need for her to see the full extent of the damage.
“I’m fine, O’Hara.”
She released a relieved breath. “Oh, thank God.”
Well, at least she wasn’t pissed at him. Small favors.
“You’re an idiot.”
“Ow—” He rubbed the back of his head where she’d landed a sharp blow. “What the hell, O’Hara? Why am I the one getting the abuse? It was your boyfriend’s harebrained idea. Everything you see here before you is his fault.”
“But you’re supposed to be the adult.”
She crossed her arms and glared. At him. Was she serious?
“You’re the one dating him.”
Her brows lowered and her voice dropped a notch to a dangerous register. “I’m also the one with whom you spend upwards of twelve hours a day so I’d tread carefully, Lassiter.”
Dammit. She had a point. Not to mention, scores that rivaled his at the gun range.
Gesturing helplessly at the surrounding chaos including the unfortunate sousaphone player staggering past, his instrument a blackened, twisted mass of metal, feathers on his hat still smoldering, she said, “You couldn’t have just suggested he get some nice chocolates?”
“Oh puh-leeze. And what makes you believe he wouldn’t have interpreted that to mean a bubbling chocolate fountain with himself as the centerpiece? In all likelihood, nude?”
She cringed. “Oh, God.”
“And I repeat, you’re the one dating him.”
A moment later, the asshat of the hour sauntered up, pink-tinged smoothie in one hand, idly twirling a thankfully-not-flaming baton in the other. Completely unscathed, of course, because he’d had Carlton and Guster to cushion his fall. Even his hair remained perfectly coiffed, nary a hair out of place in his jaunty fauxhawk.
“Hey, Lassie—how’s the arm?”
“Clavicle,” he snapped.
“I’ve heard it both ways.”
Carlton resisted the urge to go for his weapon. “And what do you think? It hurts.”
“That’s nice.” Spencer nodded absently as he took a noisy slurp. “And Jules… my sweet, sweet Valentine—strawberry-pineapple smoothie?”
He offered the drink with what Carlton was absolutely certain the man thought was a winsome smile. Why in the name of Sweet Lady Justice a man in his thirties imagined he needed to be winsome was beyond him, but then again, why Spencer did anything was beyond him.
“No. I do not want a smoothie. God, Shawn—”
Every line of O’Hara’s body language screamed stunned incredulity.
Carlton could relate.
“What the hell were you thinking?”
“Jules, I’m beyond delighted you asked.” With a sleight-of-hand flourish worthy of the finest magician—or con artist—Spencer produced a drum major’s whistle.
Instantly horrified, Carlton reached for a nearby tray and handed it to Vick.
Confused she took it. “What the—?”
“Karen, I suggest you duck.”
Fade to black…