Monday: March 5, 2029
8:00 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, KITCHEN
Jensen poured himself a cup of coffee, his phone sandwiched between his phone and his shoulder.
“Good morning. García and Burnham Psychiatry Offices, this is Sheila speaking. How can I help you?”
“Hiya, Sheila. This is Jensen, and I’d like to make an appointment for my husband, Bo Austen-Taylor.”
“Austen with an E?”
“Yeah. And a hyphen,” Jensen said. He leaned back against the counter, grabbing his phone.
“Okay. Has your husband ever been into our offices?”
“Not as a patient, no.”
“All right. We’ll have him fill out some paperwork when he gets here. What doctor is he looking to see?”
Jensen glanced up briefly. “Doctor García. Does he have any openings today? It’d take us about three hours to make the drive,” he said.
“I can fit you in at noon?” Sheila asked.
“Noon is perfect.”
“Great. We’ll see you and your husband then, Mister Austen-Taylor.”
“All righty, Sheila. Thank you.”
“Mmhmm. And thank you.”
Jensen smiled faintly. “Bye-bye.” He waited a moment before pulling his phone away from his ear and ending the call. He set his phone on the counter, grabbing his coffee instead. He added creamer and sugar, more for Bo’s benefit than his own, and headed back to the bedroom. He sat down on the edge of the bed, offering a soft smile. “I’ve got an appointment for you at noon.”
“Thanks,” Bo whispered. “Will you be there?”
“Of course. Although I’ll probably be in the waiting room during your actual appointment,” Jensen said. The blonde nodded. “Here. I put creamer and sugar in it so you could have a few sips. Otherwise, we’ll grab coffee on our way to Chesterwick.”
One corner of Bo’s mouth lifted as he took the mug Jensen held out to him. “I hope you know how amazing you are.”
“Well, I have a good idea of it,” Jensen said with a soft chuckle. He squeezed Bo’s thigh. “I’ll drop the boys off at the station’s daycare before we head in.”
“Is that okay? We aren’t going to be there.”
“I already asked Jake. He said it’s fine,” Jensen said. He leaned to the side, kissing Bo’s temple as the blonde took a sip of coffee. “Like I said, I’ll look into the dead gal’s past while you’re with the quack.”
Bo snorted before shaking his head. “He’s a doctor,” he said. “He does have a doctorate in psychology, Mister Taylor.”
Jensen smiled. “I know, babe. The doctor part’s what makes him a quack.”
“Mm.” Bo handed the mug back to the younger man, dropping his hands to his lap. “I won’t be offended if you can’t find anything spectacular about her past. I’m projecting my problems onto a dead woman. It’s never comforting to me when there’s a suicide of any kind. Here or anywhere else. I just… can’t wrap my mind around it without first feeling entirely sickened by what I once tried to do. By what I’ve fallen back into.”
“Most… people relapse, baby. That’s not something you have to feel sick about,” Jensen said. “But it’s reasonable if you do. And valid. You can feel however you wanna feel.”
Bo offered a smile, reaching out to squeeze Jensen’s hand. “The point stands. If you find nothing on her, that’s okay. I think this is mostly me being, well, me.”
“Maybe. Still gonna try, though.”
“Thanks, love.” Bo sighed softly, shaking his head. “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, as I so often am, but if this is just a suicide, I think I’ll have to go back to L.A..”
“So you have cases to occupy your mind with?” Jensen asked. Bo nodded. “Counter offer, I just make Jamal send a shit ton of cases your way.
A ghost of a smile tugged at one corner of Bo’s mouth. “Okay, Jens.”
“Good.” Jensen cleared his throat. “I’m gonna down this coffee, then we’ll take a shower and get around to go, all right?”
Bo hesitated. “We… can only shower together if you promise not to look at my thigh.”
“Deal,” Jensen said quietly.
“I’ll get the water warm, then.” Bo leaned forward and kissed Jensen’s temple. It felt like a subtle step-up from where Bo had been the day before. It was progress of some sort. Jensen felt good about that. Bo pushed himself to his feet and left the room. Jensen sighed softly, holding his coffee mug to his chest.
Once, he had asked Bo if he’d ever be able to love himself as much as Jensen loved him. He’d said no, that it was impossible. He had, however, assured Jensen that loving himself half as much was definitely possible.
In light of recent events, Jensen didn’t think it was quite as possible as Bo had once made it out to be, and that killed the younger man inside.
12:00 PM; CHESTERWICK, GARCÍA & BURNHAM PSYCHIATRY OFFICES, DOCTOR GABRIEL GARCÍA’S OFFICE
“Hi, Bo,” Doctor Gabriel García said, his voice soft.
Bo nodded once. “Hi.”
“So, I’ll skip my preamble for your benefit. What’re you here for today?”
“Before I met Jensen, I tried to drink myself to death, and when that didn’t work, I tried to overdose on sleeping meds. Stomach pumped. Again.” Bo cleared his throat. “And then I started cutting. I stopped, the drinking stopped, I started a family, I got married, we had our twins, and all of that went away. The other day, all of the bad shit came back, and I started again. Just one cut, but it happened, and I hate myself for it.”
“Why do you hate yourself for it?” Gabriel asked.
“Well, I suppose ashamed is a better word.”
“Of course. What makes you ashamed?”
“I don’t know.”
“Not even a guess?” Gabriel asked.
Bo pulled his knees his chest, wrapping his arms around them. He rested his chin on them, letting out a heavy breath as he offered a shrug. “I promised Jensen I’d never do it again. I promised.”
“Breaking promises makes you ashamed?” Gabriel asked.
“Something like that, I suppose,” Bo said.
Gabriel cocked his head to the side. “Again, for your benefit, I’m going to skip through the shit I run through with my usual patients, and I’m just gonna flat out ask. Are you being treated for the depression I diagnosed you with a thousand years ago?”
“I don’t like doctors, Gabe.”
“What’s your problem with doctors?” Gabriel asked.
“I’m considered a violent patient. They drug me, put me to sleep. I don’t like the treatment or the way it makes me feel,” Bo said. “Although, nowadays, I or Jamal could pull a few strings, and they’d never be able to lay a hand on me.”
Gabriel nodded, clearing his throat. “Mind if I ask you some questions?”
“Are you going to try and diagnose me with depression again?” Bo asked.
“You and I both know it’s not trying, Bo.” Bo lifted his shoulders. “Right, then.”
“Ask away,” Bo mumbled.
“Over the past two weeks,” Gabriel started, “how often have you experienced little interest or pleasure in doing things?”
“I was at a crime scene on Friday. I just wanted to leave. Didn’t care to take pictures, didn’t give a single fuck about any of it.” The blonde lifted his eyes to Gabriel’s face. “Does that answer any questions?”
“It’s definitely an idea. You used to enjoy it, correct?”
“Most of the time. If we’re only counting the last two weeks, not so much. It’s been hell.” A pause. “Nearly every day.”
“Over the past two weeks, how often have you felt down or hopeless?”
Bo’s gaze shifted to the ceiling for a moment. “More than half, but not every day. I was around Jamal for a lot of it. He tends to make it better.”
“What about your husband?”
“I was in L.A.. Jens was here with the kids.”
Gabriel nodded. “Mm,” he murmured. “Over the past two weeks, how often have you had trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much?”
“Every day. I don’t sleep well when I’m away from my family.” Bo cleared his throat. “I even had to sleep at my parents’ house a couple times, try to balance it out.” He chuckled humorlessly. “Didn’t really work much.”
“Two weeks,” Gabriel stated simply. “Feeling tired or having little energy?”
“Mm… several days. I wouldn’t even say half. I function… much better than I should on no sleep. I’ve lived with it long enough now that I’ve just adapted to it,” Bo said.
“Two weeks. Poor appetite or overeating?”
“Shitty appetite. More than seven days,” Bo said.
“Two weeks. Feeling bad about yourself? That you’re a failure? That you’ve let yourself or your family down?”
“Several days. Mostly after I pulled that damn razor out,” Bo muttered.
“Two weeks. Trouble concentrating on things, such as reading or watching TV?” Gabriel asked.
Bo shook his head. “Not at all, I don’t think. Even on the days it’s difficult, I do everything I can to push through it.”
“So you haven’t had trouble concentrating?” Gabriel asked.
“No. Not that I recall.”
“Two weeks. Moving or speaking so slowly that other people may have noticed?”
“Not at all. Slowness is from a sore shoulder and a banged up knee,” Bo said.
“Mmhmm. How about the opposite? Fidgety or restless?”
“Thoughts… that you would be better off dead or thoughts of hurting yourself?” Gabriel asked.
Bo remained silent for several long seconds. “Those never go away,” he whispered. “When it’s quiet? When everyone is asleep and I can’t sleep?” He shook his head. “Those ones never go away, Gabe.”
“Have you ever talked to anyone about those thoughts?” Gabriel asked.
“Jake and Jens,” Bo said quietly. “Jamal knows… for obvious reasons. He’s the reason I have Jensen in the first place, to make sure I don’t end it all.”
“And how does telling them about those feelings make you feel?”
“Relieved?” Bo questioned. “They always assure me they’re always there to listen. It’s comforting. I like that.”
“That’s good. They’re your support system.”
“Yes, I suppose.”
Gabriel cleared his throat. “The questions you answered?” Bo nodded. “How difficult have those problems made it for you at work, home, or with other people?”
“Not that difficult. I have difficulties around many people, but that’s because of the intelligence and the awkwardness and the patterns of, well, being a freak. That has nothing to do with this,” Bo said.
Gabriel nodded, tapping his pen against the paper on his clipboard. “What’re you going to do with these results?”
“Tell them to Jensen,” Bo said.
Bo lifted his shoulders. “I don’t want drugs, if that’s what you’re asking. I was already addicted to alcohol, and that made me feel like hell every single day. I don’t need to be addicted to meds that can make you feel even worse.”
“So that’s the real reason you didn’t seek treatment the first time we had this conversation. You didn’t like the possible side effects.”
“Well of course I didn’t like the side effects. I want to be me. I’ll handle the good days and the bad days, but I won’t take drugs to help me handle them. I can’t. It’s opening up a dark path I don’t ever want to go down again,” Bo said.
“Aside from the addiction, what particular issue do you have with the side effects?”
“Agitation, irritability,” Bo said. “I’m a calm man. Mellow. Usually. I’d like to not turn into an evil bastard. I have children.”
“None of the side effects are guaranteed, Bo.”
“Dizziness, nausea,” Bo continued. “Both are no-gos for me.” He cleared his throat. “Not to mention sex.”
“Loss of desire?” Gabriel asked.
Bo nodded. “It took me a long time to feel any desire or pleasure for or from sex in the first place. Losing that when my husband’s thirty-two? Christ, I’m going to be forty this year. I can’t lose that if he’s supposed to be stuck with me for at least another forty years.”
“Do you really think your husband would be upset if you lost sexual desire in order to help your depression?”
“I don’t really want to talk about my sex life,” Bo said.
“Well, you’ll have to talk about it if you want any real help, here, Bo,” Gabriel said.
Bo let out a long breath, resting his forehead on his knees. “When I’m not having one of my bad days, we have sex anywhere between… one and six times a day, depending on the day and where the kids are or how soon they go to bed or what time he wakes up. It’s active. He is active. He loves it, and he always has. You can’t tell me that entertaining the idea of taking sex away from my husband when he’s thirty-two is a good thing. It’s not. It’s just… it’s just not. It’s not something I’m willing to entertain, and it’s not something I’m willing to risk.”
“Because he loves it?” Gabriel asked.
“Because I love him, because it’s unfair to take something like that away from a normal human being,” Bo said.
“So this all boils down to you thinking you’re a freak.”
Bo lifted his head. “A freak is a person with an abnormality or a person who is obsessed or unusually enthusiastic about a certain interest. Gabe, I am a walking example of a freak. That’s not a thought. It doesn’t bother me much anymore. It’s a fact, and it just exists. I don’t care about that. It’s just another quality about me. That’s it.”
“Freak has many negative connotations,” Gabriel said.
“To most, yes. It can also be considered special, unique, a medical miracle, a scientific advancement. A freak can be many things. If it appears negative to you, it’s because you believe it’s a negative word,” Bo said.
“You don’t want the meds that could sincerely help improve your quality of life.”
“Then what can I do to help you, Bo? You tell me,” Gabriel said, folding his arms over his chest.
“I just want to talk. Talking can help.”
“I can set you up with a therapist.”
“I don’t want a therapist. I don’t trust enough people to spill my guts to one. I’m here because I know you, I’ve worked with you to try and improve upon my mental health previously, and because I trust you. I don’t want to switch to someone new,” Bo said.
“It’s a three-hour drive for you, Bo.”
“I know. I thought… we could schedule phone calls instead of appointments in this room. Maybe sometimes I’ll come in for a physical appointment. Otherwise…”
Gabriel nodded. “I get it,” he said softly. “Let’s go ahead and keep, uh, keep up this little chat for the rest of your hour. We’ll see what your thoughts are after that. Does that sound okay?” Bo nodded.
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