“I have it,” Bo assured for the sixth time as he pushed the television toward Dallas’s desk.
“Are you sure?”
Bo stopped long enough to meet Dallas’s eye. “My short stature and thin frame don’t determine my ability to roll a cart across the room, Mister Silver.”
Dallas couldn’t help but chuckle. “I know, but I feel a little useless here.”
“Well, I do believe you’re supposed to be resting that shoulder for, what, four to six weeks? For the sling, anyway. The shoulder itself will take closer to four to six months. Yes?”
“Creeper. You been Googling me?”
Bo shook his head. “I don’t need Google to know you’re in the sling because you needed surgery on the rotator cuff after that bullet ripped through it. Outside of that, I already know how long it takes to recover from that type of surgery.”
“Why? I’m assuming you haven’t been shot before.”
“No, but my adoptive mother needed surgery on her rotator cuff when I was in middle school. I helped out around the house more during that time.” Bo stopped, turning the cart so the screen of the television faced Dallas’s desk.
“Do you do that every time you talk about one of them? Make sure people know you’re adopted?” Dallas asked.
Bo grabbed the tape from the cart’s shelf, eyes on the floor. “Mostly, I suppose.”
“Do you know why?” Bo didn’t respond. Though Dallas wanted to push him on the topic, he wanted to be friends with Bo. Christ, he needed to be friends with Bo, even if the lab geek thought befriending the short and smart kid was a bad idea. He needed someone to stick to in the department, someone who would be his shield from prying eyes. A loner was easier to pick on, easier to investigate. The perfect example of that stood right in front of him.
“I don’t do it because I want or need other people to know I’m adopted,” Bo said, as if that closed more questions than it opened.
“That’s okay. You’re allowed to say things that are more for yourself than others.” Bo snorted, but he didn’t respond. “What?”
“I imagine the idea that we’re allowed to do anything for ourselves is supposed to be humorous.”
“In some cases, yeah. Not in this one. I genuinely meant it.” Dallas sat down behind his desk, finally willing to accept that Bo didn’t want his help setting anything up. “I know part of it is that you refuse to look at my face when I talk, but what’s the other part? Inability to read tone? Body language?”
“I try not to base my judgments on tone or body language. People can say something in a polite tone while being passive aggressive or rude. Why bother judging on tone when many nasty people go out of their way to make sure the only one who knows the true meaning of their words is them?” Bo pushed the security tape into the VHS player and handed the remote to Dallas. “In regards to body language, I believe the ideals of it are a good general rule of thumb, but individual people often don’t hit all the markers to judge them appropriately.”
After a moment, Dallas nodded. “All right, I get that. That’s fair. Maybe I can help you pick up some stuff with a combo of all the judgment methods.”
“Though the idea is appreciated, I don’t believe I’d be a good use of your time.”
“You think you, a human being, are a bad use of my time?”
As expected, Bo didn’t respond. Instead, he sat down in front of Dallas’s desk and pulled his notebook and pen from his satchel.
Doesn’t this get tiring, Tex? Pretending you aren’t annoyed by him just because he reminds you of Xavier? Pretending you can fix him to prove to yourself you can fix Xavier? Prove to yourself that your oddball brother will be perfectly fine once he’s out in the real world with people who aren’t forced to like him because they’re biologically bound? Aren’t you tired?
I’m not tired of anything. You don’t know me as well as your manipulative tactics pretend to.
Ed chuckled. Whatever helps you sleep at night, Tex.
With a deep inhale, Dallas pressed ‘play’ on the remote. “Should I fast forward to a specific point, or…?”
“We only asked for the footage beginning at the time of death to when he was found. If the camera caught anything, it shouldn’t take forever to have something show up,” Bo said. “But I would still advise a slight fast forward until you see someone or something on screen.”
Dallas chuckled as he pressed the fast forward button. “Thank you for giving me your honest suggestion.”
Dallas paused the video. “Blue van. Woulda been before our body-finder got there.”
Bo turned to look at Dallas. Actually look at him. “Body… finder?”
“Yeah, the gal on the beach?”
“I assume you got her name, yes?”
“Of course. It’s in my notes.”
“You really can’t recall names, can you?” Bo asked.
“If they aren’t a suspect or a victim, names generally go in one ear and out the other for me,” Dallas said.
“For what it’s worth, anyone could be a suspect, the ‘body-finder’ included.”
“That’s… fair.” Dallas pulled open his desk drawer and grabbed the folder Bo had started for the case. He flipped it open and searched through the papers until he found his notes. “Joyce Carter.”
“I’ll be sure to file that away in my memory for both of our convenience.”
Dallas laughed. “Deal.” He tucked the folder away and pointed to the screen. “This van driving through. That’s quite a bit before Joyce got there.”
“Yes. Can you press the pause button a few times to move it a few frames forward?”
“Yep.” Dallas did as asked. “No license plate. I have a feeling they did that for a reason.”
Bo nodded. “Yes. I have the same feeling.” A pause. “Do you know much about cars, Mister Silver?”
“A little. Pretty sure it’s a Chevy, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“It is. Thank you. I’ll look into the specifics and see if I can find a match.” Bo jotted down something before pointing at the screen with his pen. “You can press play. I doubt they’ll park where we can see the driver.”
Dallas nodded. True to assumption, the van parked close to the edge of frame, the passenger side of the vehicle facing the camera.
Dallas paused the video. That was by far the least monotone Bo had sounded since they’d met. “What?”
Bo leaned forward, touching a finger to the screen. “Shadow. If I get the height of the railings on this side of the parking lot, I can measure the shadow they cast in order to calculate the height of the driver.”
“Awesome. So after we’re done with this, we’ll add that to the list of shit to do, right?”
Dallas watched Bo for a moment. “What’re you writing down?”
“Timestamps with minor descriptions of the image I’d like from each one for further analysis,” Bo said.
“So you must enjoy the… mathematical stuff, right?”
“Yes. I enjoy nearly every aspect of forensics, but I do enjoy the added ability to measure and work numbers into a formula to gain a solution. It’s more involved than having to wait for blood test results or wait for fingerprints. I also… just enjoy numbers.”
“Nothing wrong with liking it because you enjoy it. My brother likes astrology and astronomy just because he enjoys looking at stars and the potential connection between their alignment and a person’s personality.”
Bo clicked the end of his pen three times, eyes on the television. “If I take you up on the offer of a couch, will I get to meet your brother?”
Dallas couldn’t help but smile. So long as he didn’t mess it up, Bo genuinely considering it was a good step in the direction of friendship.
A good step in the direction of your personal innocent shield from serial killer accusations would be a more correct description of your version of ‘friendship’.
Fuck off, Ed. I’m working.
Ed laughed. That’s cute. When has that ever stopped our little chats?
Dallas rolled his eyes. Ed wasn’t worth responding to again. He rarely was. “Yeah, you’d get to meet my brother. Without locking one of you in the attic, you’d have to eventually.”
“Yes, I suppose that makes sense.” Bo cleared his throat. “You can press play again. Let’s see if we can find anything else useful.”
They hadn’t found anything else ‘useful’ in the security footage, but Bo had assured him there was nothing unusual about it. Hell, as Bo had phrased it: “I know it doesn’t seem like much, but it’s more than we usually end up with in the vast majority of our homicide cases. We have a good start. For your first case, that’s what you want. A good start.”
Now, they stood in the parking lot near the beach. Though Dallas wasn’t exactly useful in the process, he enjoyed watching Bo work. Everything the kid did held a certain elegance that most people didn’t have, especially in their line of work.
Bo lifted his head, and for the first time, Dallas watched a genuine smile cross his face. A man jogged up the beach and held out a fist. Bo, despite every ounce of awkwardness and uncertainty Dallas had seen from him, bumped his own fist against it without complaint. Holding his camera out of the way, Bo leaned over the railing and hugged him.
Dallas couldn’t help but feel like the analyst he’d been trying to befriend for the last twenty-something hours had been replaced with a completely different person.
Bo pulled away and turned to Dallas, the other man’s arm wrapped loosely around his shoulder. “This is Officer Dallas Silver, the Homicide rookie I’m ‘babysitting’ for the time being.”
The man chuckled and lifted a hand. “Homicide detective Russ Chase.”
“Oh, you’re the detective.”
“Short Rib’s BFF? Hell yeah.”
“Well… that… is a bit extreme,” Bo said.
“Pff. Whatever.” Gently, Russ pushed Bo a step forward and laid his hands on the railing. “So since you’re both here, I imagine you’re working that beach homicide. And Silver here must be Tessa’s new officer to work.”
“Tessa?” Dallas asked.
Now we have a first AND last name, Tex.
Dallas cleared his throat. “Yeah, I’m playing detective.”
Russ nodded. “Sorry, man. All the hard work without any of the damn credit. But Loo knows about Tessa’s bullshit, so you’ll make detective in no time.” He laid a hand on Bo’s shoulder. “She’s not bothering you, right?”
Bo shook his head. “No. She still has an officer or two to bother. Besides, I don’t think I’m her taste.”
Russ chuckled. “Well, I’ll hope you’re not. I’m gonna let you guys get back to crime scene stuff, I’m gonna get back to beach stuff.” He back-handed Bo’s shoulder. “Return my texts, shithead.”
Bo laughed. “I only don’t because it annoys you. I’ll respond tonight.”
“Thank you, shit.” Russ met Dallas’s eyes, lifting a hand again. “Good meeting you, man.”
“You too.” Dallas’s gaze shifted to Bo as the detective walked away. “I have questions.”
“I eventually learn to mimic the behavior of certain people I care about enough to do it. Russ is one of them,” Bo said.
“It’s just mimicking?”
“I don’t know. I suppose that depends on who you ask.”
“Why do you think it’s mimicking?”
“The difference around him versus away from him is quite stark, yes? That’s why I think it.”
“Maybe your true self is only comfortable coming out from that… monotone exterior when you trust the person enough to be certain they’re not gonna hurt you for being you.”
Bo watched him for a moment. “Maybe.” He squatted down in front of the railing and stretched out his tape measure again.
Dallas cleared his throat, stuffing his free hand into his pocket. “It’s not something a lot of people want to talk about, but have you tried therapy?”
“Yes. It hasn’t worked well for me in the past, and as it stands, I would rather be this… monotone shell.”
“I did not call you a shell.”
“No, but I know I am.” Bo met Dallas’s eyes, hesitantly offering a smile. “I appreciate your willingness to… befriend me or help me, but you don’t have to do either. If you want a friend to fit in, you don’t want it to be me.”
“Wh-why would you think I wanted you as a friend to fit in?” Dallas asked.
“You’re new to the department, and a cop with a friend in the department appears more stable than one by himself, one unwilling to ‘mingle’. The more stable you seem, the more likely Loo is not to give you an actual partner.”
“It’s okay. I don’t mind. But it’s okay if you only try to befriend me around others. I also don’t mind if we aren’t best friends one hundred percent of the time,” Bo said.
Dallas wanted to argue the point, but Bo had almost hit the nail on the end. Dallas did want a friend in the department to appear stable, and he did want to make sure their lieutenant didn’t give him a partner with a badge. But his reason for befriending Bo was two fold: he reminded Dallas of his little brother, though far more… awkward, and Dallas really did need a shield from the prying eyes of a bunch of homicide cops.
Without lying through his teeth, arguing the point was impossible.
“I don’t mind being friendly to you regardless of how many people we’re surrounded by,” Dallas finally said.
“So long as you don’t mind it, I will do my best to avoid suggesting that you do.”
“I appreciate that.”
Bo nodded and jotted something down in his notebook. “Well, I have what I need. We can head back to the station whenever you’re ready.”
“Mmhmm. You wanna tag along to a car dealership? I figure I could ask one of them what kind of van that might be.”
“I’ll come with, but I’d like to stay in the car, if you don’t mind.”
“Not at all. Only one of us is required to play detective. I’m just dragging you along.”
One corner of Bo’s mouth lifted as he tucked his camera back into its bag. “Yes, I suppose that’s true. Though as your babysitter, it’s partially my job to allow you to drag me along, lest I put my foot down instead.” He zipped up his bag and lifted the strap over his shoulder as he rose to his feet. “Unfortunately, there’s no need to put a stop to the car salesman visit. So… vamoose.” Dallas smiled, but he did his best to bite back his chuckle. Bo always seemed to figure out the hilarity of his statements whenever Dallas chuckled, based on nothing more than the blonde’s slight shift in expression afterward. For now, Dallas just wanted Bo to hold onto the real him left over from his little reunion with his detective. Dallas didn’t want to be the one to ruin it.
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