7:52 PM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, KEEPING ROOM
Bo sat down on the couch beside Clinstone Police Lieutenant Jacob Mason, a folder in one hand and a sleeping Castor balanced on his hip. Carefully, he moved the boy over to his lap and leaned back against the couch. He held the folder out to Jacob.
“Do we have to do this?” Jacob asked quietly.
“I’d appreciate it,” Bo said.
The lieutenant nodded, flipping open the folder. “Ah, Christ,” he whispered, his eyes skimming the photos within. “I forgot how bad this guy beat up McCullough.”
“So you’re admitting it looks like the same handiwork on the victim in Clinstone?”
“I’m admitting it looks like some wackadoo took a wrench to someone’s face, and I’m admitting that that’s what Gwen determined happened here,” Jacob said. He cleared his throat, flipping through the photos and briefly scanning the reports. “Don’t put words into my mouth,” he added, closing the folder.
“That’s it?” Bo asked.
“That’s it. I’m not going to sit here and entertain an idea that puts you or your mental state in danger,” Jacob said.
“And I thought we were friends.”
“Bo, come on,” Jacob whispered. “I love you, but I can’t be the one to break you. Not ever again.”
“All I’m asking is if they look similar.”
“Well, duh, they look fucking similar. Take a damn wrench to someone’s face until they’re unrecognizable, and it’s going to look like that time someone else took a wrench to someone else’s face until they were unrecognizable,” Jacob said.
Bo sighed quietly. “Yeah,” he said quietly. “I suppose it was pretty stupid to assume you’d be much help. You can’t do anything but push paperwork,” he said, grabbing the folder. He felt terrible even saying it, but it was pushing buttons, and pushing buttons was the only way to get Jacob to say what he needed him to say.
“Hey, now. I’m still a damn detective at heart,” Jacob said, snagging to folder from Bo’s grip. “I’m not suddenly a moron just because I work behind a desk all day.”
Jacob scoffed, opening the folder once more. This time, he looked through the pictures meticulously. This time, he actually read the reports. “Broken jaw, missing eye, orbital fracture, busted shoulder… Christ,” he whispered. He cleared his throat, tapping a finger to the picture in front of him. “The sign doesn’t make sense if it’s the same guy.”
“Part of me thinks the killer wasn’t planning on killing McCullough. The wrench he was beaten with belonged to the family on the farm. The killer didn’t go there entirely prepared,” Bo said.
“Then why kidnap him?”
“I think the killer may have been holding McCullough for the cops, waiting to call it in. But… but maybe he did something that upset the killer, and they just… snapped,” Bo said. “They were better prepared for the second victim. They needed time to cool down, time to recover from the mistake, time to recover from actually killing someone with their own hands. After that, everything just fell into place for them.” He cleared his throat. “But that’s just a useless theory.”
“They look eerily similar. I really don’t wanna encourage the vigilante thoughts. It’ll put you in a bad place. But they look similar. That’s all I’m willing to say,” Jacob said.
Jacob nodded. He set the folder aside, shaking his head. “Don’t you ever Pitman me again.”
“Because if you purposely throw shit at me like that ever again, I won’t talk to you anymore. I’ll work with you, and I’ll be your boss, but that’s it. I won’t be friends with a manipulating bastard,” Jacob said.
“Yeah,” Bo whispered. With a wincing grunt, Bo pushed himself to his feet. “I’m putting Cas to bed. You can… you can leave, if you’d like.”
“Why? Because I reminded you you’re already a perfect replica of Jamal?” Jacob asked.
“You know what, Jake? I’d be honored,” Bo said through his teeth. He moved a hand to the back of Castor’s head. “You can go.”
Jacob shook his head as he pushed himself to his feet. “I love you, Blondie. You can take over for Jamal without turning into him… you know?”
“I’m not turning into Jamal. I’m tired, and I’m sore, and I’m terrified of some bullshit vigilante case absorbing my life again. This time, though, I have a family that I can’t stand to lose. It’s just…”
“It’s a lot to handle,” Jacob said quietly. Bo nodded. “Well, you know where to find me if you need to talk, Bo. I’m always right next door.”
Bo cleared his throat. “I love you. Goodnight.”
“Love you, too, Blondie. Get some sleep.”
After Castor was tucked into bed, Bo checked on Pollux, who was still asleep. Bo left the room, closed the door, and headed back to the bathroom. Bo locked the door, resting his head against it. He stood there for what felt like an eternity before he forced himself away from it.
He undressed, deciding that a shower could wait until tomorrow morning. Instead, he found his eyes landing on the mirror. His gaze shifted to the deep cut on his upper thigh, just beneath where his boxers rested on his leg.
Bo swallowed roughly. He’d done it that morning before the call for the crime scene came into dispatch. Everything in his life had caught up to him all at once, and he’d removed the razor blade from his razor without a second thought. He had, of course, stopped himself from taking it to his wrist.
Jensen would have noticed that one far too quickly.
He’d settled for his thigh instead, and he’d cried immediately afterward.
Bo closed his eyes briefly before pulling on a pair of pajama pants and shrugging on a shirt. He did up the buttons and dropped his clothes into the laundry basket before walking back into the bedroom.
Jensen sat propped up against the headboard, a gaming controller in his hands, his eyes on the television mounted on the wall. Bo flipped off the bathroom light and crossed the room, climbing onto the bed. He lay down, tugging the covers over his shoulders.
Jensen frowned, pausing his game. “Are you okay, Eli?”
“Are you sure?”
Jensen’s brow furrowed. He leaned down, pressing a kiss to Bo’s temple. “I love you,” he whispered.
“I love you, too,” Bo said softly.
“Do you… do you want me to lay down?”
“No, it’s okay. You can keep playing,” Bo assured with a nod. Jensen squeezed Bo’s arm, lingering. “It’s okay, Jens. I’m okay. Promise.”
“You can talk to me if something’s wrong, Eli. Cravings or… or bad thoughts. Any of that,” Jensen said.
“I know.” Bo cleared his throat. “Maybe, you know, ask me again in the morning.”
“Okay,” Jensen murmured. “I love you,” he said once more.
“I love you, too.”
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