8:05 AM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, MORGUE
Bo looked up as Jacob walked into the room. “You look happy,” he noted.
“I am,” Jacob said quietly. He lifted himself onto the counter, a cup of coffee held between his hands. “Allie and I… We talked this morning, Bo,” he whispered.
“You did? Seriously?”
Jacob nodded quickly, a smile tugging at one corner of his mouth. “Two hundred and nineteen, brother. She said two hundred and nineteen words to me in one sitting.”
Bo smiled softly. “You counted?”
“God, are you kidding? It’s the first time we’ve actually spoken and had an actual conversation since December. I remember every single word,” Jacob said.
“That’s great, Jake,” Bo said softly. “What’d you guys talk about?” he asked.
“Well… sad shit. The kids. She just wanted to make sure she wouldn’t be alone with them today. She thinks she’ll forget she has to watch them and… that something will happen to them,” Jacob said.
“That means she cares about them, though. It means she cares enough to know she’s not ready to watch them again,” Bo said. He set his ring on the counter beside his coffee cup, pulling on a pair of gloves. “That’s a step in the right direction, Jake. The little signs that she still cares about them and you are all good steps.”
Jacob smiled softly. “Thanks, Bo.”
The blonde nodded. “Somebody from Ellepath will be here in a few hours, so they gave me permission to start the autopsy. Up to you, but you may want to leave before I do that,” he said.
Jacob shook his head. “I can’t see the body from back here. I just don’t wanna be upstairs,” he said quietly. “They’re all still looking at me like I’m…”
“Broken?” Bo asked. The sergeant nodded. “Yeah… You get used to it after a while. I mean, secretly, you want to throat punch them for making you feel so damn self-conscious of yourself, but you do eventually get used to it.” He cleared his throat. “That being said, you can hide out down here with me as long as you want,” he said.
“Mmhmm.” Bo took a small sip of his coffee before crossing the room to where Serena Bishop’s body lay on the autopsy table. He picked up a scalpel and, with one last glance in Jacob’s direction, cut into the skin near her shoulder, dragging the blade at an angle to her mid-chest. He repeated the cut on the opposite side before cutting the long, vertical line down to her pubic bone.
“Jensen said you’ve worked in Ellepath before.”
“Yeah, once. It was the last case I worked with Kathy before she started weening herself off of detective work,” Bo said.
“So it was after that case that she retired?” Jacob asked.
“Pretty much,” Bo said quietly. “It was, umm, shortly before that case that she found out about Dallas. After that, the last thing she wanted was to keep doing detective work. She didn’t want to uncover any more secrets.”
Jacob nodded, looking down at his coffee cup. “What’re the people there like? In Ellepath?”
“They’re nice, polite. It’s a small town. Everybody knows everybody kind of thing. Their elementary, middle school, and high school are all in the same building, kind of like here. Their station, last I knew, didn’t have a forensics team any more. They’re too small for it, and they lack the funds to continue to provide that particular service.”
“And that’s why Kathy took you with.”
“Bingo.” Bo cleared his throat, picking up the rib cutters. “Warning, most people don’t like this sound.”
“ ‘Kay,” Jacob said quietly. He took a sip of his coffee, flinching ever so slightly at the sound of Bo cutting through the woman’s rib cage. “How long before you got used to it?” he asked.
“Three autopsies. The fourth time was pretty much so routine that I didn’t even notice it any more.” Bo set the rib cutters down, picking up the scalpel again. Prying the chest plate back with one hand, he used the scalpel to cut away the connecting tissue. “But some people never get entirely used to it. An older gentleman that I used to work with, Aramis? He hated the sound every single time.”
“So it totally depends on the person?” Jacob asked.
“Pretty much.” Bo walked around the table, setting the front panel of Serena’s rib cage on one of the large trays set up beside the table.
Jacob nodded, lightly drumming his fingers against the side of his coffee cup. “Bo?”
“Is seeing someone from Ellepath going to bring up any bad memories for you?”
“Gosh, no. I have nothing bad connected to Ellepath. It’s one of the only places I have ever been where no one tried to tell me I was a freak,” Bo said.
“Oh… you betcha.” Jacob smiled faintly. “No, we all stayed with one of the cops there and his family. Real sweet guy, honestly. Called me ‘boy genius’. In general, he was just impressed with everything I did, and most of that was just doing math in my head,” Bo said.
Jacob chuckled softly. “Well, good. ‘Cause one of us has to be at full-functioning capacity for this case, and it sure as hell can’t be me.”
“I know, Jake.” Bo lifted his head, turning to look back at the sergeant. “I’ll be the strong one again. You just lean on me whenever you need to.”
“Thank you,” Jacob whispered.
“My pleasure, Sarge.”
11:49 AM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, LAB
“Bo?” Jensen questioned. Bo lifted his gaze to the man’s face, one eyebrow raised. “The officer from Ellepath is here, if you’re ready.”
“Sure. Send him in,” Bo said quietly. He clicked the end of his pen, pushing himself to his feet. The blonde smiled as soon as the officer walked into the room. “Mister Downs,” he greeted.
Rick Downs chuckled softly, slashing a hand through the air. “No formalities, Austen. It’s Rick, and you know it.”
“Of course, Rick.” Bo crossed the room and grasped the man’s hand. “How have you been?”
Rick blew out a heavy breath. “Good. I’ve been good. My little girl just turned eighteen, so she’ll be leaving for college in August.”
“Jesus. Eighteen,” Bo whispered. “She was, what, seven when I saw her?”
“Eh, thereabouts.” Rick smacked the back of his hand against Bo’s shoulder. “What about you? What great adventures have you stumbled upon?” he asked.
Bo cleared his throat. “Well, uh, you’ve met my fiancé,” he said, gesturing to the door.
Rick looked back at Jensen over his shoulder. “No fucking way?”
“Yes, fucking way,” Bo said.
“Christ, congratulations, Bo.”
“Thank you,” Bo said softly. “Umm… we’ve adopted two girls. Amber and Kayla. Amber’s six and Kayla is eight. We bounce back and forth between here and L.A., but it works for us.”
“Again, congratulations. Seriously, kid, that’s amazing.”
Bo smiled. “Thank you.” He looked back at Jensen, who only smiled back at him. “So,” Bo said, clearing his throat, “Serena Bishop.”
Rick nodded. “Her husband’s on a business trip. Both of her kids are with his parents. I don’t know what she was doing here,” he said.
“Well, that’s what we’re here to find out,” Bo said.
“She was… headless?”
“Okay,” Rick said quietly. “What else?”
“Her fingernails were removed. Presumably, she probably scratched the killer and the killer removed the nails so we couldn’t find any DNA under them. Her lungs have sustained damage that I assume is from chloroform. I’ll need to do just a bit more testing to figure that out for sure, though.” Bo held up a hand as he turned to cross the room. Rick followed. “The head was removed with a bone saw like this one,” he said, holding it up for Rick to see. “They aren’t hard to find. They’re sold online. Autopsy, forensic-grade equipment, yes, but anyone can buy it. I could set up an algorithm, rifle through purchases, but we have no idea how old the particular saw is or the exact model or what website it was purchased from. There are far too many factors to account for correctly, and I’d probably miss something if I attempted to find the killer that way at this point in time.”
Rick nodded. “Okay. What do you suggest then?”
Bo set the bonesaw back on the tray he had grabbed it from. “We don’t know where she was killed or where she was taken from, so, at the moment, we have no witness of the situation. We need to talk to her husband and her children, see if they know why she was here. If she wasn’t here, the killer took her directly from Ellepath or wherever she may have been staying. If we find out where she was taken from, we can interrogate possible witnesses. Then we’ll go from there,” he said.
Again, Rick nodded. He sighed, passing a hand through his brown hair. “I… will go call her husband,” he said softly. “Keep up the good work, Bo. You’re on a roll so far.” Rick turned and walked out of the morgue.
Bo sighed quietly, letting out a harsh breath as Jensen crossed the room to stand in front of him. “What?” the blonde questioned.
“Nothing,” Jensen said with a shrug. Curling his fingers beneath Bo’s chin, he leaned down and kissed him. “Hungry? Jake’s ready for lunch whenever you are,” he said.
Bo nodded. “After Rick calls the husband, sure.”
“Okay,” Jensen said softly. He brushed a thumb over Bo’s cheek, one corner of his mouth lifting in a smile. “You introduced me as your fiancé,” he whispered.
“Of course I did. I love you. I’m not embarrassed by you.”
“I know. Sometimes, I just forget that we’re actually engaged now. So you introducing me that way is amazing.”
“Mm. I’ll make sure to do it more often, then,” Bo said. He laid a hand on Jensen’s cheek, leaning up to kiss him. “You need to shave.”
Jensen snorted. “You’ll have to remind me in the morning or I’ll forget again.”
“Trust me, I know,” Bo said. “Come on. We’ll go wait upstairs with Jake.”
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