Surgeon – Chapter Six

A/N: I’m trying to raise $600 to bring another megaesophagus pup into the sanctuary. Megaesophagus (or ME) is a disease that essentially makes it impossible for a dog’s esophagus to move food from their mouth to their stomach. Without proper care, they often end up starving to death or dying from aspiration pneumonia. I currently have three and would love to get another out of the shelter ASAP.

For every $25 milestone hit, I’ll update all of my available books. That’s where this update is coming from! We’re currently at $41 out of $600. The next milestone is only $9 away! If you can help us rescue another ME pup, you can donate through PayPal, Venmo, or Cash App. Thank you!**


Chapter Six

Saturday: January 4, 2020

    “Oh, geez, I’m sorry. I didn’t think anyone would actually be in here this morning,” a rather pregnant blonde said.

    “That’s all right.” Bo tucked his pen between the pages of his notebook and closed it. Setting the notebook down beside him, he pushed himself off the floor. He crossed the room and stuck out a hand. “Bo Austen.”

    “Ah, you’re my replacement.” She shook his hand. “Misty Archer.” After dropping Bo’s had, hers moved back to her stomach. “We probably wouldn’t be meeting if my little guy here stuck to the plan. I’m two days ovedue.”

    “Stubborn, huh?”

    She snorted. “Yeah, I guess he’s just not reayd for the world yet.”

    Bo forced a chuckle, lifting a hand to rub the back of his neck. Truthfully, he couldn’t blame the kid. He wasn’t ready for the world, either.

    He glanced down at her left hand. Wedding band. Married. Archer was likely her married name. “Is there anything I can help you with, Mrs. Archer?”

    “I’m just looking for… something,” she said, eyes scanning the room.”

    “I tidied up a little. So… what can I help you find?”

    “Well, umm, it’s a black binder. There’s a name on the cover. Sanders.”

    “Stan Sanders,” Bo murmured with a ond. “It’s in the lab.” He walked past Misty and pulled open the door, holding it open until she had walked into the lab. She didn’t thank him, something that bothered him just a little. It generally didn’t bother him much, though he’d always been taught that a simple ‘thank you’ was polite and normal, but with the way most people in the criminal justice system had treated him in his time in the field, it felt like a personal attack. He hated that.

    He crossed the room, forcing himself to keep his pace as nomal as he was pretending to be. Truly, he just wanted to get Misty Archer out of the lab before she had a chance to tornado up the place again. He pulled open a cabinet door and grabbed the binder in question. He turned and held it out to her. “Here you go.”

    She took it without a thank you. Bo tried not to let it get to his head. For Misty, this was likely nothing more than a simple conversation, a simple interaction, a simple transaction. Focusing on every little thing she did or said probably wasn’t on her mind. What stuck in Bo’s head as some sort of attack or dig wasn’t her problem.

    “Nice job on the lab. It looks… nice,” Misty said.

    The words pulled Bo back to the present. Nice? “It’s just easier for me if things are organized,” he said quietly.

    “Mm.” She looked around the lab again. “You have OCD or something?”

    “Obsessive-compulsive disorder isn’t about cleaning or organizing, Mrs. Archer.  It’s about obsessions and compulsions, not the level of one’s tidiness.” Bo cleared his throat, tucking his hands behind his back. He bit down on the inside of his lower lip, fighting off the longer explanation he wanted to give. He’d learned long ago that long explanations often led to arguments. ‘You have an answer for everything, don’t you?’ ‘You don’t have to be an ass about it.’ ‘You don’t have to mansplain it to me.’ ‘Wow, you just know everything, don’t you?’ He wasn’t here to fight. He was here to work, solve the case, and go somewhere else, somewhere further away.

    “No, I don’t have OCD,” he finally whispered.

    Misty’s brow furrowed for the briefest of moments. Bo couldn’t help but be thankful for the dark-haired, green-eyed man that came into the lab before Misty had a chance to respond. The little girl at his side—maybe five or six years old—looked a lot like Misty, though her brown hair was closer in color to the man’s. The overdue baby would be her second child.

    The man held out his hand. “John Archer.”

    Bo shook it. In 2010, Chevrolet UK commissioned a university professor to come up with an equation for the perfect handshake. The professor had done it, though it was admittedly quite a ridiculous thing to look at.

    √ (e^2 + ve^2)(d^2) + (cg + dr)^2 + π{(4^2)(4^2)}^2 + (vi + t + te)^2 + {(4^2 )(4^2)}^2

    Each letter stood for a specific part of the handshake, a part that would make said handshake perfect if executed correctly. John had failed eye contact, but he had gotten a verbal greeting up to par, as far as Bo was concerned. The smile on his face was false—which the equation factored in as ‘non-Duchenne’—so he’d failed that section too. An incomplete grip and a sweaty palm wer low scores on John’s end as well. It had been a strong shake, though. That counted for something.

    The position of John’s hand had been all right, and the vigor had been okay, but his hands were cold and rough. Contrl and duration had been much better than the previous factors, but the negatives outdid the positives.

    John had scored a whopping twenty points out of the posible forty-five the eqation alloed for. Forty-four pecent. Failure. Bo would have given him an A for effort, bt effort ddn’t begin wih the letter A. So instead, he mentally marked him down with an F for failure.

    Even before Bo had learned about the existence of such a crazed equation, he had only ever known one person who gave the perfect handshake, and that was Dallas Silver. Dallas had done quite a lot of things perfectly. He’d secured a detective job, married the detective working the Hangman case, befriended cops and lab geeks alike. He’d played nice with just about everyone, secured a cushy, perfect little life inside of a perfect little family to perfectly hide who he truly. And boy, had he wildly succeeded at hiding. He’d hidden it from Bo for almost a decade before he made himself a fugitive.

    Bo kept these things to himself, of course—the handshae equation and evaluation, the murderous people he had once trusted with his life. Instead, he offered a smile to John and said, “Bo Austen.”

    “John’s my husband,” Misty said. “And that’s our dauhter, Karen.” The little girl lifted a hand and waved. Bo repeated the action befor averting his gaze. By Jupiter, he wanted this to be over. The only children he’d ever really been around had been Dallas’s kids, and he didn’t need reminders of them. Not now. Not today.

    Not ever.

    “Well, it was good meeting yo, Bo. I’ll see you again when I get back from maternity leave.”

    Bo nodded. “Of course, Mrs. Archer. It was good meeting you, as wll. And congratulation.”

    Misty smiled. “Thank you. And thanks for the binder.” She held it up for a moment before grabbing her daughter’s hand. Finally, the Archer family walked out of the lab.

    Bo let out a deep sigh, shoulders sinking as the door swung shut. With his headspace for work entirely shattered by thoughts of Dallas Silver and the people he had carved up and hanged in between working and hanging out with Bo, he rolled up the sleeves of his blue and white checkered flannel shirt. If he couldn’t work, he could clean. Again. Anything was better than the deafening silence of the lab and the shattering loudness of his mind.

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