Gus stared at his phone. He was looking at the call log—all his unanswered calls to Shawn. Gus knew Shawn was hurting from the break-up with Juliet, but he wished there was something he could do. Shawn was his best friend and seeing him like this… It was painful.
Walking into the Santa Barbara Police Department, Gus approached the front desk and asked for his and Shawn's Psych check. As the officer searched for it, Gus' eyes wandered to Juliet's desk. She was sitting behind it, her hair tucked into a messy bun, her fingers typing away at the keyboard. She seemed entirely focused on whatever it was she was doing.
The officer handed Gus the check and Gus thanked him. He folded it and started to leave, but stopped himself. He looked back at Juliet.
A moment later, Juliet looked up as Gus walked to her desk. Her eyes were suddenly guarded. "Gus, I really don't want to—"
"He's sorry, Juliet," whispered Gus. "Shawn's more sorry about this than anything he's ever done, and that's saying something—"
Juliet held up a hand, stopping Gus. "Gus, I can't do this right now. Nothing you say will make me forgive Shawn, so give it a rest."
"He loves you, Juliet." said Gus simply. "He never wanted to hurt you—"
"Gus," warned Juliet dangerously.
Gus and Juliet turned as Lassiter walked into the room. He holstered his gun, seeming rushed. "There was a car accident about twenty minutes ago on State Street. Hit and run. Looks intentional."
"Anyone dead?" asked Juliet, her and Gus' quarrel temporarily set aside.
"I don't know yet," said Lassiter. He pulled on his jacket. "Apparently the vehicle hit was a cab. They said it was a pretty nasty accident."
"Let's get down there," said Juliet. She grabbed her own jacket and the two detectives started to head out of the station.
"Wait!" called Gus, following them. "Can I come?"
"Sure," said Lassiter. "I was hoping you'd ask."
Gus hesitated, surprised. He smiled. "Wow, really?"
Lassiter barked a laugh. "No, not really! Now get lost, Guster. O'hara and I have a case to solve."
"Come on," tried Gus. "I can be helpful!"
"Even if I was considering hiring your little detective agency," said Lassiter as they descended the stairs, "your psychic team isn't very psychic without the psychic."
"It hardly is with the psychic," muttered Juliet in a low voice that Lassiter didn't catch, but Gus did.
"Get lost, Guster," called Lassiter as he and Juliet picked up their pace and got into Lassiter's Fusion. Gus leaned against the railing, panting from the effort, and watched their engine start up. Quickly, Gus ran to his Echo and jumped into the driver's seat. Gus trailed a few dozen yards behind Lassiter's car. Gus was prepared to get as much information as he could; the best distraction for Shawn right now was this case.
Twenty minutes later, Gus watched Lassiter and Juliet pull up to the crime scene. Gus turned down a gravel road and parked his Echo. He got out and made his way to the crime scene walking through the backyards of a few houses along the side of the road. He crept up to the scene and peered from between two of the houses and Juliet and Lassiter approached the accident, weaving through the ambulances, police cars and professionals walking the scene.
The cab had spun off the road. Directly across from the cab was a street that ran perpendicular to the road the cab had been driving on—the vehicle that hit the cab had to have blown through the stop sign and went straight for the cab. There was no doubt it was intentional.
"So," said Lassiter, pointing to the road perpendicular—Yuler Road, Gus read, "the attacking vehicle came from Yuler and struck the cab on the driver's side." Lassiter and Juliet approached the cab. Gus took a few careful steps forward, ducking behind a bush. He pushed the twigs aside. The driver's side was severely dented inward. The windshield had cracked but didn't shatter. Gus watched as a mid-thirties Indian man was carefully extracted from the cab. He was dead; that was clear. As the man was placed onto a gurney, Gus saw it.
A gunshot wound.
The man had been shot in the chest. His entire torso was coated in blood. Lassiter and Juliet must have seen it at the same time Gus did. As Gus clamped a hand over his mouth, firmly telling his lunch to stay put, Lassiter said, "Well, that definitely rules out accident." He turned to one of the EMTs. "Gunshot wound was the cause of death, correct?"
"Yes, Detective." replied the EMT, nodding. He moved so another officer could snap photos of the crime scene. "Granted," the EMT continued, "he would have probably died of blood loss anyway."
"Hang on," said Lassiter, examining the car closer. He leaned inside, careful not to touch the blood. Gus resisted the urge to gag. Lassiter stared at the windshield. He pointed to the crack. "This is where the driver hit the windshield?"
"No," said the EMT, looking up from the files he was reading. "The driver was wearing a seatbelt. He was lucky," he said, then looked at the dead body and shrugged. "Well, would have been lucky if not for the 9mm."
Lassiter's stared at the windshield. He turned to Juliet. "Something hit the windshield."
Juliet walked around the front of the car. "Or… someone."
"You think someone else had been in the car?" asked Lassiter. He nodded to himself, considering the theory.
"Actually, that would make sense," said the EMT. He pointed toward the upholstery and Juliet and Lassiter's gaze followed the EMT's. Gus couldn't see what they were all pointing at. He closed the gap he made in the twigs of the bush. He had to get closer. He was about two dozen feet away from the cab. He started crawling, his hands and knees sinking into the soft ground. He found another bush, closer to the cab, and he peered through the leaves. The EMT continued, "There's a severe amount of blood here, much more than should have come from the driver's gunshot wound. He wasn't bleeding anywhere else."
"He wasn't alone in the cab," said Juliet. "But if there was someone else… What happened to them?"
Lassiter nodded. "Good work, O'hara. Let's get back to the station and ID this guy. We'll contact the taxi station to find out who was in the car with him."
Gus shivered, looking at the hunk of twisted metal and blood-soaked seats. He was never eating right before seeing a crime scene. Never again.
Gus briefly glanced behind him; he almost felt as if he was waiting for Shawn to make a comment about Gus' weak stomach. Gus sighed, pulling out his phone, dialing Shawn's number for what seemed like the twentieth time that day. He hit send and waited for Shawn to pick up.
"Come on, Shawn," whispered Gus. Shawn was worrying him now. It wasn't like Shawn to screen his calls to this extent. He sighed when he got the voicemail again.
"You've reached Shawn Spencer, part-time detective, full-time psychic. I probably already sensed what you were going to say in your message but leave one anyway."
"Pick up your phone, Shawn," muttered Gus, snapping his phone shut. He was going to get back up and start for his Echo, when he felt a hand grab his shoulder. Gus barely held in a squeal as he was whipped around. Gus cracked his eyes open and held up his hands.
Lassiter scowled. "What did I tell you, Gustor? Stay away from my case!"
Gus sighed in relief. "Oh, thank God, Lassie, I thought you were going to kill me!"
"Don't make me consider it." muttered Lassiter. "Now, do I need to define get lost, or can you figure it out?"
"Let me stay, I can help!"
Lassiter sighed. "Gustor, don't make me arrest you for hindering a police case."
Gus laughed. "Like you'd ever actually do that."
Thirty minutes later.
"Lassie!" yelled Gus as Lassiter slid the bars shut in front of Gus' face. Gus grabbed the bars with both hands. "Are you kidding me right now? Get me out of here!"
"I told you that you had the right to remain silent," said Lassiter. "I suggest you do that."
"Lassie!" Gus rattled the bars on the cage doors. Lassiter had handcuffed him at the crime scene and brought him back to the SBPD and locked him in a holding cell. Lassiter held back a smile as he turned and walked out. "Lassie! Get back here! Lassiter!"
Gus sighed angrily and went to sit on the cot, when he realized just how grimy and unsanitary it was. He looked from the cot to the metal toilet, and back. Gus' anger was quickly being replaced by desperation. He grabbed the bars again and shook them. "Lassie!"
"They not comin' back down just 'cause ya yell."
Gus froze. He slowly turned to the holding cell beside him. A man in ripped jeans and a faded jersey was lying on his cot. He was looking at Gus. "So, what ya do t' get ya locked up in here, man?"
"I annoyed a cop," muttered Gus, taking slow steps backward, away from the other man's cell.
"Oh, hey," the man said, sitting up. "Tha' happened to me one time."
Gus' expression relaxed. "Really?"
"Yeah," said the man. "But then I killed 'im."
Gus' eyes widened.
The guy didn't seem to notice Gus' change in face. "Ya know, I get outta the slammer in 'bout thirty years from now. If tha' guy still gives ya trouble, I'll kill 'im for ya, if ya really want."
Gus hesitated, considering. A world without Lassiter… Gus shook his head. "No, no, no killing!"
"Tha' cop? Or like… anybody?" asked the convict slowly.
Gus turned quickly back to the doorway Lassiter went through. "Lassie! Get me out of here!"