Saturday: March 3, 2029
11:02 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, BACK DECK
Jensen sat down in one of the chairs on the deck, his phone pressed to his ear. It was warm out that morning, something he was thankful for.
“What can I do for you?” Jamal asked after the second ring.
“What did you make Eli do while he was in L.A.?”
“I didn’t make Bo do anything. He’s his own person.”
“Okay, fine. Who’d you assign him to kill?”
“Nobody. We were bodyguarding a young singer from his crazy ass teenaged fans. One of my men killed somebody in a separate mission, but not Bo.” Jamal cleared his throat. “Why? Is he okay?”
“It’s eleven in the morning.”
“He’s still asleep. He laid down at, like, eight, Jamal. He’s been sleeping for over twelve damn hours.”
“Well… you know he doesn’t sleep much when you’re apart. That hasn’t changed, Jensen. He might just, you know… be tired.”
“Even you know that’s bullshit,” Jensen said.
“Yes, I do, but I know what you’re insinuating, and I don’t like it. I did nothing to him. I love him. Don’t treat me like I’m some sort of evil bastard just because your husband willingly made a choice to take over for me,” Jamal said. “Brilliant suggestion. Ask your husband if something’s wrong. I can’t read his mind from the goddamn west coast.”
“Yeah,” Jensen said quietly. “Are you sure he was okay when he was there?”
“Besides the shoulder and knee, he was his normal self.”
“Ah. So… awkward, nerdy, and way too quiet?” Jensen asked.
Jamal snorted. “Pretty much.”
Jensen sighed, raking a hand through his hair. “Your guys tracking this vigilante guy?”
“Why the hell not?”
“You have to know by now that I no longer meddle in homicide cases unless given specific permission,” Jamal said.
“He’ll never do that!” Jensen hissed.
“Sometimes, he does. It depends on the case, the killer, the victims, how long it’s been going on, how well he’s been handling it… Contrary to your personal beliefs, he isn’t entirely incapable of deciding when he’s had enough of something. He will ask for help if he decides he needs it. He doesn’t need one of us to make that decision for us. He isn’t stupid,” Jamal said.
“I never said—”
“I never said you did. If he needs help, he’ll ask for it. If I decide he needs help, I will push him on it and see if he folds,” Jamal said. “Until then, just talk to him, Jensen. Christ, you have to know how marriage to Bo works by now. You have to pull that kind of information out of the little shit, and he’ll fight you on it tooth and nail the whole damn time.”
“Yeah, I know.” Jensen cleared his throat. “Well, uh, thanks, anyway.”
“Sure, Jensen. Keep my boy safe?” Jamal asked.
Jensen closed his eyes, drawing in a breath as he forced his eyes open again. “I’ll protect him with my life.”
“Good man. I’ll talk to you later, Jensen.”
“Sure thing, Jamal.” Jensen ended the call and pushed himself to his feet. He headed back into the house, smiling faintly as Hati dashed back inside. He closed the door and twisted the lock back into place.
Jensen headed into the kitchen and turned on the coffee maker. He pulled open the refrigerator, turning at the sound of footsteps. He smiled softly. “Morning, sweetheart.”
“Morning, Dad.” Kayla crossed her arms over the counter, leaning forward ever so slightly as Jensen turned back toward the refrigerator. “Dad still asleep?”
“Yeah, rough week in L.A.’s all,” Jensen explained.
Kayla nodded. “Think… he’ll be up soon?” she asked.
“Oh, of course. Just give him a little bit more time. He’s tired,” he said.
“How, umm… how’d you sleep?”
Kayla smiled faintly. “Just fine, Daddy. Thanks.”
Jensen grabbed a carton of eggs from the refrigerator and set them on the counter, letting the door close. “You know, I wish I were more like your dad, that I could talk about all of this girl stuff with you like it was just another day. It’s just, you know, odd for me.”
“I know. Dad helped me figure that out,” Kayla said.
Jensen nodded. “Good,” he murmured. He cleared his throat. “Scrambled or fried?” he asked.
“I was thinking the same damn thing,” Jensen said, reaching up to grab a pan from the cupboard. “You and Dad are going shopping, then?”
“Uh-huh. We’ll take at least one of the twins off your hands, too,” Kayla said.
“Well, umm, maybe I’ll come with you guys. Although I’ll probably hang out in video games and computers while you guys look at girl stuff.”
She snorted. “Okay, Daddy.” She rested her chin on her folded arms, sighing quietly. “Next year, I get to go out for sports and stuff.”
“Shit, I guess you do,” Jensen said with a chuckle. “Any ideas as to what sports you’re interested in?”
“Track. I thought about volleyball, too, but I don’t know if I’d be any good at it,” Kayla said. “I suck at it in P.E..”
“Talk to Dad. He played volleyball,” Jensen said as he went about cracking eggs into a small bowl on the counter. “I mean, he played it for fun with his friends, but I’m pretty sure he was good at it. Maybe he could teach you.” A pause. “If it’s something you think you’d wanna do.”
Kayla nodded. “Good idea, Dad.” She straightened herself out as a hand touched her shoulder.
“Morning, sweetheart,” Bo said softly.
“Morning, Daddy.” Kayla had, never in life, been able to hear Bo walk up behind her. Sometimes it was an almost annoying surprise. Other times, it was just impressive.
Bo rounded the counter and laid a hand on Jensen’s upper back, leaning up to press a kiss to the taller man’s jaw. “Eggs?”
“Mmhmm. With veggies and avocados and all that healthy shit,” Jensen said.
A smile tugged at one corner of Bo’s mouth. “And you made that decision all by yourself? Good job, love.”
“Thanks, babe. Coffee’s good to go for you.” Jensen turned, pointing to Kayla. “She’s thinking about volleyball for next school year. Thought… maybe you could help her pick up a thing or two.”
Bo nodded, reaching up to pull open the cupboard. “Of course. Actually, if you feel up to it today, the gym in town has, uh, little volleyball court rooms downstairs. I could show you a few things, run through the rules, show you all my nerd techniques.”
Kayla laughed, shaking her head. “Daddy, I love you, but I can’t solve all angular calculations in half a second. I’d have to learn it like normal people do.”
Bo nodded, holding the empty mug to his chest. “Of course, sweetheart. I think I can manage to be at least half normal.” He cleared his throat, grabbing the coffee pot. He set the mug down and filled it within an inch of the rim. “Are you going to do track?”
“Thought so.” The blonde sighed, holding his left arm to his chest as he reached out and pulled the refrigerator open. “We can go to the gym after we finish shopping if you’d like. They have a pool, Jens. It could keep you and the others entertained.”
“Sure, baby,” Jensen said softly. Bo added creamer and sugar to his coffee, grabbing a spoon before patting Jensen on the back and walking back out of the room.
Kayla watched him leave before turning back to Jensen. “Are you sure Dad’s okay?”
“Positive,” he said. Jensen wasn’t positive, not at all. Quite far from, if he had to be honest with himself. But whatever was bothering Bo wasn’t their daughter’s problem. He figured he could ask Bo about what was on his mind later that night. Whether it be vigilante-related or something entirely different, he’d do what he could to make it better.
3:07 PM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, PARKING LOT
“Can I come in?” Kayla asked as Bo parked the car. “I won’t even tell Dad we came here if I can come in.”
Bo chuckled softly, shaking his head. “Sweetheart, I don’t care if your dad knows I came to the station,” he said. “But, yes, of course you can come in.” He pulled the key from the ignition and got out of the car. He opened the back door and unbuckled Castor from his car seat as Kayla climbed out of the car.
Bo held the young boy on his hip, closed the door, and locked the car. “I’m just going to be down in the lab for a few minutes. I just need to look at something,” Bo said as they headed toward the station.
In the station, Kayla followed Bo down to the lab. He sorted through the small stack of folders on the table, none of which were what he was in search of. He headed into the morgue instead, flipping on the light. He walked over to the counter, hiking Castor up on his hip as he laid a hand on the thin folder there. A sticky note laid on top of it.
Here’s the info we have on Martha Fraser. As far as we can tell, it’s a suicide through and through. Don’t push yourself too hard.
One corner of Bo’s mouth lifted. “You’re a lifesaver, Gwen,” he murmured, grabbing the folder. He made a mental note to text her, thank her. She’d predicted his need to know everything about every case—homicide or otherwise—multiple times in the past, and he never managed to fully express just how much he appreciated it.
Maybe he’d have Jensen help him construct a thankful text. Jensen was great at thanking people and sounding as genuine and truthful as he felt. Bo, not so much.
The blonde cleared his throat, tucking the folder between his chest and Castor. “There. You can just hold that for Daddy, can’t you?” he asked.
Castor giggled, nodding. “Uh-huh.”
Bo smoothed a hand over the back of the child’s head before gesturing to the door. “Go on, sweetheart.”
Kayla turned and headed out of the morgue. “What case is that?” she asked.
“Apparently not a homicide,” Bo said as he turned off the light.
“So why does it matter?”
“Because I’m not a homicide analyst, and… well, because I get bored.”
Kayla snorted. “Sure, Dad.” She glanced back at him over her shoulder. “The gym?”
He offered a nod. “Yeah, baby. Come on.”
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