After a mostly silent ride, Dallas parked his car in the lot outside the diner. “You want me to come in with you?”
“I’ll leave that up to you,” Bo said.
“Does your analyst normally go in with you?”
“Not usually, no.”
“All right. I’ll stay here. Mind grabbing me a black coffee?”
“No sugar or cream?” Bo asked, finally meeting his eyes for more than half a second. “Just… straight black coffee?”
One corner of Dallas’s mouth lifted. “Yeah, just straight black.”
“Okay. Do you have a preferred size?”
“Whatever size you normally get is cool with me. More likely to need a refill around the same time that way.” Dallas could’ve sworn that had drawn a smile from the blonde, but it was gone so quickly he wasn’t sure he’d ever seen it at all.
“Okay. I’ll be back in a moment.” Bo climbed out of the car, closed the door, and headed up to the diner.
We could poison his coffee when he gets back. I know it’s a little bit of a stray from our usual methods, but we could make it work, couldn’t we?
Dallas rolled his eyes, reaching across with his left arm to turn up the radio.
You know, it gets pretty boring when you refuse to respond. How many times do we have to go through this, Tex? I’m not going anywhere, no matter how long you give me the cold shoulder.
Dallas had half a mind to remind Ed that ‘boring’ was a pretty big part of why he was being ignored, but even that technically counted as no longer ignoring the bastard. It counted as engaging with him, and Ed would use the response to jump right back into the driver’s seat of Dallas’s control.
He let out a breath, turning to look into the diner. Bo stood at the counter, chatting up the blonde gal at the register. Dallas snorted, one corner of his mouth lifting. He hadn’t taken Bo for the ‘chatting up’ type. The woman must’ve been his usual barista, as well. She must’ve fit into his daily pattern.
Bo came back out of the diner, the coffee held in one hand. He pulled open the passenger side door of the cruiser and held one of the cups out to Dallas. “Your black coffee, no sugar or creamer.”
Dallas took it from him. “Thank you.” Bo nodded and slid into the car. “Who’s the blonde behind the counter?”
“You were chatting with her. More than you’d talk to a random person to order your coffee, anyway. I just figure you must know her.”
After a moment, Bo nodded. “Yes, her name’s Bridget. I’ve known her for a few years.”
“That’s cool. Is she your age?”
“How… old is your age, exactly?”
“Eighteen. I’ll be nineteen in April.”
“That’s pretty impressive. You’ve accomplished a lot in a real damn short period of time,” Dallas said.
Bo cleared his throat as he clicked his seat belt into place. “Thank you.”
“No problem.” Dallas took a sip of his coffee and fitted the cup into the holder in the center console. “So, Austen, where’s your usual analyst?”
“Mister A? He’s dealing with personal family issues.”
“When’s he coming back?”
“Given the condition of his brother, I have a feeling he’ll be gone longer than expected,” Bo said.
Dallas glanced over at him as he pulled out of the parking lot. “Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”
“It depends on your definition of either word, I suppose.” Bo shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “It’s a good thing. It means his brother will recover rather than die, but he’ll need help he didn’t need before. Mister A will most likely be the one providing that help.”
Dallas nodded. “People must give you a lot of shit for that, huh?”
“The definition thing. You looked uncomfortable, and then you gave the positive outlook other people probably expect from you, even though ‘Mister A’ being gone is clearly hell on you, which makes it not a good thing.” Bo, as expected, didn’t respond. He was very much a strong and silent type. Or, at the very least, the silent type. “You know, my little brother’s a lot like you. Very pattern-driven, likes rituals, schedules, predictability. People give him shit for it, but it’s just how he functions best. Some people need those patterns to survive. Those patterns are usually one of the only sense of control they have over their lives, but people who don’t need those patterns to survive don’t understand what it’s like for these other folks to live without it.”
After what felt like an eternity, Bo nodded.
“How do you manage in times like right now, where you’re missing large parts of your patterns?”
“I amplify certain parts to fill the void, and I do my best to lessen the parts that are only tolerable if there is no void.”
“I do my best to lessen interaction with station personnel. Mister A makes the… unprofessionalism less of a nuisance, and since he isn’t here right now, decreasing the likelihood of nuisance is required.”
“Not a bad idea.”
Bo nodded. “Yes. It’s why I stay in the basement.”
We could take him to OUR basement, Tex.
Dallas cleared his throat. “That’s all right, man. As someone who has spent the last couple of years upstairs for Narcotics and shit, you aren’t missing much. The basement’s probably nicer.”
“Much quieter and more organized.”
“Yeah, I bet.”
Bo took a sip of his coffee. “May I ask what you did to your shoulder?”
“Totally. I got shot.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. Is there permanent damage?”
“Nah, just a rotator cuff that needs a bit of relaxing and a bit of therapy before I can go back to punching bad guys,” Dallas said. He looked over at Bo as the shorter man’s cell phone went off. “What’s that for?”
“Crime scene.” Bo glanced up at him. “Would you like to head out to your first homicide?”
Bo let out the lightest chuckle Dallas had ever heard. Phone in hand, he pointed out the windshield. “You’ll want to take a right at the next intersection. We need to get my camera bag from the lab. Then I’ll direct you to the scene.”
“Works for me, Austen.”
Dallas pulled into the beach’s parking lot just as two other uniformed officers worked to set up barriers and crime scene tape. “Wait. Our first crime scene is on the actual beach? Not, like… in the parking lot?”
“Welcome to Los Angeles.”
Dallas snorted. “Am I supposed to help these guys? Or… what do we do?”
“As I understood it, Lieutenant Fox and Chief Pitman want you to ‘fill in’ as my Mister A. So, while you won’t be performing any forensic activities, you are allowed to follow me into the scene.” Bo cleared his throat, reaching down to unzip the camera bag on the floor of the car. “More than likely, whatever this homicide results in will be your case, anyway. I mean, if Burke is the detective they assign to it.”
“She doesn’t enjoy doing any of her own work, so she passes the work off to a pair of officers and then takes the credit when the case is said and done.” Bo snapped the flash onto his camera, glancing over at Dallas. “I’m not one for gossip, but it isn’t gossip if it’s factual information and not a secret. Burke slept her way to her detective promotion. She’ll do the least amount of work she has to in order to remain there. Letting an officer do that work for her counts as ‘least amount’.”
Dallas took a moment to process before offering a smile. “So… good news, we’ll be working a case together. Or is that bad news for your pattern?”
“Before he was transferred to the West Bureau, I worked rather frequently with an officer here. This fits my pattern just fine.” Bo opened the door and slid out of the car, closing the door behind him. Dallas let out a breath. At least he seemed to be making progress with the analyst. That had to count for something. He climbed out of the car and followed Bo to the crime scene, ducking under the yellow tape Bo held up for him.
A naked man lay on his stomach in the sand, his back filled with cuts and scars, some much more recent than others. They appeared to be arranged in a circle of some sort, each mass of marks cut to look like symbols, cut to hold meaning. “What… the hell?”
The faintest smile crossed Bo’s face. “Welcome to Homicide, Silver.”
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