6:15 AM; LOS ANGELES, HOLLYWOOD, FOUNTAIN AVENUE
Bo held his phone to his ear with one hand, his camera to his chest with the other. “So… you talked to Jake?” he asked.
“I did. The ten-fifty-six was a woman. Martha Fraser. She’s a freelance writer and editor, but today, she drove down to the apartment complex, climbed the stairs to the roof, and threw herself off of it. There’s no evidence of anyone else being up there with her. There’s no evidence that anyone forced her to do it. Her mother says she was diagnosed with depression and suicidal tendencies about a month ago, and apparently, these last few days, she was calling or texting friends and family and leaving ominous goodbye messages. This is something she was planning on doing, Eli,” Jensen said softly.
“Yeah, baby. Positive.”
“Okay. Thank you.”
“Mmhmm.” Jensen cleared his throat. “How’s… the scene?”
“Well, I’ve taken all of my pictures of the body. Outside of that, the scene itself isn’t providing anything crucial or important or… or anything that could give us any sort of hint as to who the killer is. Jamal’s already working on pulling the camera feed from the streets, so we’ll see what comes of that. Otherwise, all I’m looking at is trash left out on the streets by your average citizen,” Bo explained.
“I’m sorry, baby.”
“I know. Thank you.” Bo sighed quietly. He tilted his camera down and snapped a picture of the slightest imprint of a shoe. It had rained earlier that morning. It had been incredibly light and gone shortly after it had begun, but it had been enough to muddy the uppermost layer of the dirt.
If they were lucky—and he was pretty sure they wouldn’t be—he could get an idea of who the killer was because of the shoeprint. Of course, Bo usually did everything he could not to count on lucky.
“How’re the kids?”
“Struggled with Cas for a while this morning. He wouldn’t eat, so—don’t kill me—he had a piece of cake for breakfast.”
Bo sighed quietly before shaking his head. “Hey, as long as he eats something. I’ll be home tonight. I’ll make sure he eats something good for supper,” he said. “What about everyone else?”
“P-Dog’s good. He and Cas both ended up in our bed last night. And, uh, Kay has girl stuff to talk to you about tonight, but otherwise, she and Amber are both good,” Jensen said.
“What kind of girl stuff?” Bo asked.
“Eli, if you think I have an answer to that, you know literally nothing about me.”
The blonde chuckled softly. “Of course, love. My apologies.”
“You okay, Eli?”
“I don’t like thinking about suicides. I just…”
“Yeah,” Jensen whispered.
“Is it wrong that I would feel better if it was murder? Does that make me even more of a freak?”
“No. It makes you a human being that’s trying his damnedest to cope with all the bad shit around him,” Jensen said. “Doesn’t mean you’re a freak, baby. It just means you’re trying to stay sane.”
Bo nodded slightly. “Thanks, Jens.”
“Sure thing, Eli.”
“I should land in Clinstone sometime around five. Would you mind inviting Jake and the Mason Gang over?” A pause. “I’d like to show him the photos.”
“You’d like to prove you were right,” Jensen said.
“No. There isn’t undeniable proof that I’m correct,” Bo reminded. “I’d just like an opinion that isn’t my own. Jamal hasn’t seen the pictures or the body. Jake has.”
“Yeah, fair enough.” Bo could imagine Jensen nodding, a hand fisted just beneath his jaw as he sat at his desk. “You gonna be okay, Eli?”
“You’re done with… with whatever Jamal wanted you to do?”
“Yeah, it’s done.” He was nursing a bruised shoulder and a banged up knee, but the mission itself was over, and Bo hadn’t had to hurt anyone. That was always a plus.
Mekhi did most of the hurting for him, now.
“Good.” Jensen sighed. “I’ll see you tonight, okay, babe?”
“Okay.” Bo let his camera rest against his chest, carefully lifting his left hand to readjust his beanie. “I love you, Jens.”
“I love you, too, Eli. Take care of yourself, okay?”
“I will. You, too.” Bo waited until Jensen ended the call before he reached back and tucked his phone into his back pocket again. He grabbed his camera, holding his left arm against his chest. He knew he’d find nothing more at the scene. He was doing nothing but wasting his time and putting too much stress on a bad knee and an even worse shoulder.
He turned as a hand touched his right shoulder. He smiled faintly. “Hey, Brad.”
Brad Caine smiled, camera in hand. “Pitman sent me to relieve you, said you needed a little rest, anyway.”
“You’re a lifesaver,” Bo said with a soft chuckle. “Thank you.”
“No problem, Bo.” Lightly, Brad patted him on the shoulder. “How much of the scene have you photographed?”
“Not much. I’ve been meandering.”
Brad chuckled. “No problem. I’ll handle it from here. You go on back to the station, Blondie. I’ve got it.” Bo squeezed Brad’s arm, a silent thanks, as he walked past the older man.
5:07 PM; CLINSTONE, CLINSTONE MUNICIPAL AIRPORT, LOBBY
Jensen pulled Bo into a tight hug. The blonde winced as Jensen’s hand came down on his left shoulder. “What’s that? Are you okay?”
“It’s just bruised,” Bo said quietly, fisting the material of Jensen’s shirt.
“I’m sorry, baby,” Jensen whispered. He pressed a kiss to the top of Bo’s head before stepping away from him. “You looked like you were limping.”
“My knee’s a little… less than fully functional at the moment,” Bo said.
“Mm.” Jensen laid a hand on Bo’s cheek and leaned down to kiss him. “Come on, Eli,” he murmured, wrapping an arm around Bo’s waist as he moved to stand beside the blonde. Bo wrapped an arm around Jensen, his hand gripping the taller man’s shoulder. For the first time since he’d gotten hurt, he didn’t try to suppress the limp he’d be stuck with for at least the next few days.
Instead, he just walked alongside his husband, for once accepting the help he had so desperately needed over the past several days.
Out in the parking lot, Jensen helped Bo into the car. He closed the door and walked around to the driver’s side. He slid into the car and, after driving away from the airport, laid a hand on Bo’s thigh, his thumb moving smoothly over the injured knee. “When’d you get hurt, then?”
“Umm… Wednesday, I think. Maybe Tuesday.” Bo cleared his throat, almost gingerly laying a hand over Jensen’s. “Tuesday makes the most sense.”
“You didn’t tell Jamal, did you?”
“No. If a limp prevents me from doing my job, I’m not good enough to take over for him in… less than ten months. He would’ve pulled me away from everything we were doing, and I didn’t want that,” Bo said.
“Yeah, I know.” Jensen glanced over at Bo before his eyes shifted back to the road. A fair share of the snow in Clinstone had melted the last several days, and when temperatures had dropped below freezing the night before, the roads had been left with a thin coat of ice. “Jake and Alice are at the house with the kids. And, uh, Kayla’s locked herself in the bedroom. I think she’s under the impression that I don’t wanna see her if she’s dealing with girl stuff.” He cleared his throat. “I feel disgusting for that.”
“It’s not your fault, Jens. If talking about it makes you uncomfortable, there’s nothing you can do about it. For instance, I’ll deal with anything related to feminine hygiene or puberty as long as you deal with the twins when they discover masturbation.”
“I figured.” Bo squeezed Jensen’s hand. “Look, love, girls have always made you uncomfortable, and you never exactly dated a woman to get over that feeling. It’s understandable that you don’t want to discuss most ‘girl problems’ with Kay. That’s what I’m here for.”
“Thanks, Eli,” he whispered.
It wasn’t long before they were home and Bo was in the hallway outside of Kayla and Amber’s bedroom. He knocked on the door. “Sweetheart? It’s Dad.” He heard the lock click and Kayla tugged the door open, throwing her arms around him. Bo laid a hand on her back. “Hi, baby.”
“I missed you.”
“I missed you, too, sweetheart.” He followed Kayla into the room, closing the door behind him. “So?”
Kayla let out a heavy sigh as she dropped down onto her bed. “I got my period this morning,” she said. “They have free pads in the bathroom at school, so I was okay today, but outside of that…”
Bo winced as he lowered himself onto the bed. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a pad, which he promptly held out to Kayla. “I keep a box of them in mine and your dad’s bathroom for when Aunt Celia’s here, just in case. This one keeps you from bleeding through anything tonight, and we’ll run to the store tomorrow to get you a few things. Okay?”
Bo nodded, clasping his hands between his thighs. “When I’m not here, you can talk to Alice or Celia about this kind of thing. They’ve gone through it, too.”
“I know. That just… you know, makes me uncomfortable.”
“Ah, that’s okay, then. You can always call me if you need to, sweetheart. Even when I’m not in this house, I’ll still always respond,” Bo assured.
“Thanks, Daddy.” Kayla cleared his throat, shifting. “Does Dad think I’m gross?”
“No, sweetheart. Dad just has a hard time dealing with girls. He loves you, Kay, and if he had to do it by himself, he’d figure it out eventually. But he knew I’d be home tonight, and he was scared that he’d make you uncomfortable, too,” Bo said.
“So it has nothing to do with me?”
“Not at all, baby.”
“Thank God,” Kayla whispered.
Bo tucked her hair back behind her ear, offering a smile. “You’re growing up, sweetheart,” he whispered.
“Don’t worry, Daddy. You have to put up with me until I’m at least eighteen,” she said.
He laughed, patting her thigh. “Yeah, sweetheart. Thank you.” She nodded. “Tomorrow, it’ll just be you and me. Maybe one of the twins. You know taking care of both of them can be hard.”
“That’s an understatement, Daddy.”
“I know.” Bo lifted a hand, scratching the side of his head. “I think, at this point, it’d be wise to get you a training bra.”
“There are only two girls in my class with those, though. The boys make fun of them.”
“The boys are assholes, and if they mess with my little girl, their parents will get quite the impression of how much I value family,” Bo said.
Kayla snorted. “Thanks, Dad.”
“Of course, Kay. And anything else you need, we’ll get tomorrow. Okay?”
Bo patted her thigh, pushing himself to his feet with a grunt. “I’m going to go ahead and start something for supper. You come on out whenever you’re ready, okay?”
“Okay. Umm, Dad?”
“You’re not gonna tell anyone out there, right?” Kayla asked.
“No,” Bo said softly, shaking his head. “If anyone asked, you had a bad day at school and just needed to talk to your dad.”
“Thanks, Dad. Really.”
“No problem, sweetheart.” Bo squeezed her shoulder and headed out of the room, closing the door behind him.
Bo lowered himself to his knees as Castor ran down the hall. Bo grunted, chuckling as he wrapped the boy in a hug. “Hi, buddy,” he whispered. “I missed you.”
“Missed you, Daddy.”
Bo laid a hand on the wall and pushed himself to his feet, Castor held to his chest. “Should we go scroll through Pinterest so you can pick something to eat?”
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