Monday: February 11, 2008
Dallas awoke in the living room, his good arm hanging over the side of the rocking chair. Clearing his throat, he lifted his hand to rub at his eyes. Time?
Little after four, Ed said.
Why’d you wake me up?
I didn’t. This one’s all you. Sometimes normal people wake up at random times all by themselves. Welcome to the experience.
Dallas rolled his eyes. He wasn’t ever in the mood for Ed’s bullshit, but he was even less so at four in the damn morning.
He looked over to Bo, who was thankfully asleep and alive on the couch, the rise and fall of his chest and shoulders far more noticeable without a blanket pulled up to his chin. I was exhausted tonight. You could’ve taken over without trouble.
Dallas closed his eyes for a moment. Thank you for… not taking over. Thank you for just letting me sleep.
Ed chuckled softly. Aww, you’re very welcome, Tex.
Dallas pushed himself to his feet and flipped off the light on the end table. Grabbing his phone, he made his way back to his room. Just in case Ed had taken control, Dallas opened the door to Xavier’s room and peeked inside. Since Xavier slept in only a pair of boxer briefs with the blanket pulled up to just past his mid-thigh, checking his breathing from the doorway was easy. His shoulders and upper back moved with every inhale and exhale. He was alive. He was okay. Ed hadn’t taken control and hurt him, either.
Letting out a slow breath, Dallas closed the door again. He needed to get his sleep under control, though it was far from easy with Ed at the wheel of dreamland. Often riddled with violent nightmares–some of Dallas killing people, some of his father killing him–sleep was generally hard to come by and hard to stay in.
Tex, we’re still taking Spencer’s life today, yes?
Dallas closed his eyes, forcing them open as he walked into his room. “Yes,” he whispered. “But I have to get through an entire workday first, and the less you screw around with my head, the less time I’ll have to spend at the end of the day trying to catch up on what I missed. You got me?”
Mmhmm. But we both know you wouldn’t punish me by not nabbing Spencer. The man’s a danger to those poor, innocent civilians, and you surely couldn’t risk having their blood on your hands, right?
Dallas rolled his eyes. Unfortunately, Ed was right, and even worse, the bastard was absolutely certain of it. “Punishment or otherwise, I won’t have the strength or energy to ‘nab’ Spencer if you don’t just let me get through today. Let me sleep, and let me work the damn case. Afterward, we’ll grab him, and we’ll take care of it. Please.”
Ed inhaled sharply. Oh, I don’t know, Tex. Sounds like a lot of work on my part.
Dallas sat down at the foot of his bed and scrubbed his hands over his face. “It’s a lot of work to just shut the hell up for, like, ten hours?”
Ed laughed. Incredibly difficult, yeah.
With a sigh, Dallas lay back, arms stretched out to either side. “You make me consider some very dark options, Ed.”
Oh, please, like I’d let you off yourself. Do you know how easy you’d be to take control of if you were bleeding out? Suffocating? Drowning? I’d take control, save your life, and then STAY in control. Surely you wouldn’t want that.
Dallas crossed his arms over his chest and rolled onto his side. “I hate your fucking guts, Ed.”
Ed chuckled. Welcome to the club, Tex.
Dallas woke up far more tired than usual. He’d managed less than an hour of sleep after he’d gone back to his room. Ed had been about as helpful as he’d promised to be. Dallas wasn’t exactly surprised, but he was pissed off. Most days, thanks to Ed, ‘pissed off’ was nothing but his usual state of being.
With a sigh, he hauled his ass out of bed, despite how desperately he wished to stay beneath the covers forever. After a shower and a quick change from pajamas to a suit, he felt almost alive enough to go to work and face the world. If nothing else, he considered himself lucky his only ‘partner’ at the station was Bo. From his experience with cops, he’d be asked a million questions the moment he sat down from a homicide partner.
Why was he so tired? Did he get much sleep? Why didn’t he get enough sleep? Was something going on?
Bo, on the other hand, wasn’t much of an asker. He wasn’t much of an answerer, either. Questioning and answering on a personal, human-to-human level pushed the boundaries of what he was comfortable with to maintain a relatively low profile.
Today, Dallas planned to use that to his advantage and simply be thankful for it.
By the time he made it out to the kitchen, Bo was already pouring coffee into his own little travel mug. “I made it just the way you like it. Strong roast and disgusting.”
Dallas snorted. Bo’s willingness to take a jab at his distaste of sugar, creamer, or milk in his coffee was a damn good sign. It was human, normal, friendly. Bo was coming out of his protective shell more and more. “Thank you.”
Bo nodded rather than responding.
Ed, however, chuckled. There’s always a chance he knows what you are, Tex. Maybe he simply hopes you slip up enough to let him catch you.
Analysts don’t really doing the ‘catching’, dumbass. And if he is befriending me in hopes I tell him everything? I say let him.
Christ, Dallas couldn’t believe that had worked. All this time, and all it took to silence Ed was one more reminder that he’d rather be in prison than let Ed continue to control his life? Continue to soak his hands in the blood of others? The more often that reminder tactic worked, the better. Even a few minutes away from an Ed were a blessing, and when he had to go to work, those few minutes were even better.
“What’s the game plan today, Bo?” Dallas asked, grabbing the coffee pot as soon as the blonde held it out to him.
“I’m not sure there is a game plan, per say. But I suppose starting with speaking to the victim’s friends wouldn’t be a terrible way to go about it.”
“Solid plan. You comin’ with me?”
“ ‘Course he is. Going with you is one of his duties as your assigned babysitter.”
“First of all, that’s rude,” Dallas said, pointing back at his brother. Xavier only smiled.
“He technically isn’t wrong. I am your assigned babysitter.”
“I would much rather you be called ‘partner’.”
“He has way more experience than you do,” Xavier said.
“He absolutely does not.”
“I… absolutely just might, Dallas,” Bo said. He smiled. “But I suppose I’ll tolerate the rookie calling me partner. It’s less embarrassing than ‘babysitter’ if a witness were to ask.”
Dallas scoffed as Xavier held up a hand for a high five. Truthfully, it was hard to pretend to be offended by the comment. His baby brother and his new friend—
Shield. Innocent, non-murderous shield.
—friend were joking and having fun. Christ, they were high fiving each other. How could that not be the biggest improvement he’d ever seen in either of them? “You,” Dallas said, turning back to Xavier. “Go get dressed so we can have breakfast and get your ass to school.”
“Aye aye.” Xavier pushed himself away from the island and, in an odd stage whisper, added, “He’s such a grump in the morning.”
“Pfft, you’re a grump.”
“I am actually quite pleasant,” Xavier assured. He saluted his brother before turning around and heading back to his room.
Bo leaned back against the counter, lightly drumming his fingers against the side of his coffee cup. “My friends, Bridgette and Keon, they’ve made me feel like it’s possible for people to care about me without an ulterior motive.”
Dallas waited a moment, scared that a response would silence the blonde. “Yeah?”
He nodded. “It’s still hard to wrap my head around much of the time, but I am aware that people can care for me. I know it’s possible. But your brother makes me feel like… I finally fit in. It feels like asking for trouble to say that aloud, but… I imagine that was why you wanted me to meet your brother, so… congratulations. Your prediction was correct.”
“Partly for you, partly for him,” Dallas said after a moment. “I’m glad you feel like it’s possible for you to fit in somewhere, Bo. Everyone deserves that feeling.”
“Have you ever felt that way?”
Dallas nearly choked. “Of course. Why wouldn’t I?”
Slowly, Bo cocked his head to the side. “Because… you were abused? Surely I am not the only one scarred by such an event.”
Dallas let out a nearly nervous chuckle. “Yeah, yeah, of course. I struggled with it from time to time for a while. I still do on occasion.”
Ed laughed. God, Tex, so jumpy, so on guard. If you aren’t careful, he’s gonna figure out what you are.
Dallas touched a hand to his ear, wishing like hell that that booming laugh didn’t rattle every damn nerve in his body. “Sorry, man. My brain hasn’t really woken up just yet.”
Bo nodded, looking back down at his coffee. “Sometimes I wonder what that must feel like. Having to be awake for X hours or Z minutes before your brain seems to function at its full capacity. Mine never shuts off. It never… stops.”
“That must be nice sometimes. Waking up at three for a crime scene and being on your game right away.”
“I suppose, though it’s far less helpful when the detective at three AM hasn’t fully woken up yet and you still have to attempt to help him understand the crime scene without ‘dumbing it down’ so far that it suddenly becomes condescending.” Bo offered a smile. “I hate it.”
“Being able to identify that you hate it could be considered a good thing. Not because it’s how you’ve been made to feel, but because it means you’re more than capable of recognizing your own feelings and emotions.”
“I suppose,” Bo repeated. He cleared his throat. “Do you need help with breakfast?”
Ah, there was the topic change. “No, I’m good.”
“Okay. I… will be in the living room until you’re ready to head out.”
“Sure thing, Bo.”
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