1:04 PM; CHESTERWICK, GARCÍA & BURNHAM PSYCHIATRY OFFICES, PARKING LOT
“So,” Jensen started as soon as the pair made it to the parking lot, “how’d it go?”
“He diagnosed me with moderately severe depression,” Bo said. He watched Jensen pull his keys from his pocket. “Which, of course, is a relieving step down from the severe depression I was diagnosed with the last time I had an appointment with him.”
“Do we have a prescription to fill?” Jensen asked cautiously.
“I didn’t want a prescription then, and I don’t want one now,” Bo said.
“Okay,” Jensen murmured. He squeezed Bo’s hand. “What’re we doing, then?”
“I’m going to be scheduling phone appointments with him. I want help, but I don’t want to drive clear up here every time for said help,” Bo said.
“That’s good, baby. Smart.” Jensen unlocked the car, reaching out to pull open the front door. “I’m glad you want help, Eli. That’s a big step.”
“Yeah,” Bo whispered. He stepped in front of Jensen, turning to face the man. “Did you find anything on her?” he asked.
“You don’t wanna talk about this in the car?” Jensen asked.
“I don’t want to be cooped up just yet,” Bo said.
Jensen nodded, tugging down on the beanie his husband wore. “I talked to Jamal, pulled a few favors with him, got a little bit of info.” He hooked an arm around Bo’s waist, resting his free hand on the top of the door. “Three years ago, she killed a kid in her house. Fourteen-year-old boy broke into her house, fake little Nerf gun in his hand. He thought the place was abandoned. At least that’s what his friends say.” Jensen cleared his throat. “Anyway, she came out of her room, saw the kid in the dark, saw the gun, shouted for him to leave, he froze, she shot him. She tried to save him, but he bled out before the cops or the ambulance got there. She was questioned, arrested, charged, and put on trial.”
“And she was found innocent,” Bo said quietly.
The younger man nodded. “Yeah. I can only imagine that’s where the guilt comes from, where the depression came from.”
“Why not do it in prison? Well, county. It would’ve been county. I saw a lot of people…” Bo cleared his throat. “In county.”
“Yeah,” Jensen whispered. He lifted his hand, brushed a thumb over Bo’s cheek. “I don’t know. Maybe she was hoping she’d be found guilty.”
“That doesn’t make sense. All she would have had to do is plead guilty. No trial. Simple,” Bo said. “If you’re that guilty, if you feel that guilty, you don’t sit it out and plead not guilty.”
“Yeah… yeah, I did.”
“Shit, Eli, I didn’t mean it like that.”
“I know, love.” Bo cleared his throat. “I let Cecilia do whatever she and my family wanted. Mom and Dad wanted me out of jail. Jake wanted me out of jail. So did Jamal. Jamal worked his ass off, pulling strings and flipping switches. I wanted a guilty plea, Cecilia said no, and I… didn’t have it in me to fight her on that,” he said. “Her family. How did they feel about it?”
“Jamal said they weren’t on her side during the trial. They didn’t even visit her in county. They only started talking to her several months after the not guilty verdict,” Jensen said.
“So… unless she had a lawyer she truly loved or something close to that, why sit through a trial if she wanted to be found guilty? Why let a lawyer argue that she was innocent?” Bo asked.
“I don’t know, baby. I wish I did, but I’m at a loss on that.”
“Me, too,” Bo murmured. “Think… you can get me access to her phone and computer?”
“I think they’re with the family.” Jensen offered a smile. “But I’ll do what I can. If nothing comes of it, I’ll talk to Jamal. Okay?”
“Thank you,” the blonde whispered.
“No problem, Eli.” Jensen nodded to the car. “Ready?”
Bo glanced down at his watch. “Can we just go for a short walk? It’s not terribly cold.” He lifted his eyes back to Jensen’s face. “I just need a moment outside of my head, and I think once we’re in the car, that’s the only place I’ll be.”
“Hell, yeah, Eli. We can do whatever you need.” Jensen tugged Bo to his chest, closing the door as Bo wrapped him in a soft hug. “Besides, I need to get back into exercising, anyway. Bullet to the thigh really knocked down my workout regime.”
Bo chuckled, rolling his eyes. “Of course.” He wrapped his hands around the back of Jensen’s jacket. “Tonight?”
“Let’s just… let the kids go ham on something less healthy than usual. Cas deserves it for his birthday. Pizza, tacos, anything. Your choice, I don’t care,” Bo said.
“You’ll eat, too?” Jensen asked. Bo nodded. “Okay.” The younger man pressed a kiss to the top of Bo’s head before stepping away from him and holding out a hand. “Come on. Let’s get that walk started.”
3:20 PM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, LOBBY
“I’m gonna head on over and talk to Jake quick, but I’ll be down at the daycare to help grab the boys in just a sec, okay?” Jensen asked. Bo nodded. Jensen squeezed his hand before walking away from him. Bo let out a breath and headed downstairs. Before he made it to the daycare, he caught sight of two men leaning against the wall, both of which he hadn’t expected to see again in a million years—which spoke for itself, since they’d all be dead by then, anyway.
“What can I do for you, Mister Smalls?”
Timothy Smalls shook his head. “God, just Tim works.”
“Okay. Question stands.”
Timothy pointed to the other man. “He was here first.”
Bo’s eyes shifted over ever so slightly. “Mister Lehmann,” he greeted.
Caleb Lehmann, a man who had been Jacob’s partner when Bo first arrived at the station nine years ago, offered a nervous smile. “Can we talk?” he asked.
“In… private?” Bo asked. Caleb nodded. Bo leaned into the lab. The light was on, but it was empty. “Where’s Gwen and Misty?”
“Late lunch,” Caleb said simply.
Bo nodded. “This way, then.” Caleb followed him into the lab, walking further into the room as Bo closed the door. “To what do I owe the pleasure?” he asked.
“I’m two months sober,” Caleb said, hands shoved into his pockets. “I had… a hard time dealing with all of my own baggage and my own bullshit for a long time. I kept falling in and out of sobriety, so I checked myself into rehab, and now I attend AA meetings four times a week.”
“Well, I’m glad to hear you’re doing better,” Bo said.
Caleb nodded once. “I want to apologize for anything I ever said or did that would be considered harmful to you or anyone else. I was an ass. In the end, that was mostly because of the alcohol, but that isn’t an excuse. I was terrible to you, end of story, and I sincerely apologize for that,” he said.
“Thank you,” Bo said after a moment. “I know how difficult it can be to get yourself far too involved in alcohol. I commend you on fighting that on your own.”
“Thanks,” Caleb whispered.
Bo cleared his throat, tucking his hands behind his back. “Is that all?”
Caleb shook his head. “How’s Jake?”
“He made Lieutenant.”
“I saw that on the news when he got promoted.”
“He has two more children than when you were here. Alice is working with Adam Sullivan again. They’re both happy, their kids are happy, Katie’s graduating this year and heading off to college a few months afterward. They’re great,” Bo said.
“Good, good.” Caleb fidgeted briefly. “And you?”
Depressed, self-harmer, recovered alcoholic, undeserving of what I have… Need I go on? Bo settled for, “Better.”
Caleb offered a smile. “That’s it?”
Bo let out a breath. “Former alcoholic, two adopted girls, married a detective, two beautiful boys, a home in L.A., a home here. I’m… better,” he said.
“That’s great,” Caleb whispered. He nodded. “Really great, Bo. Mister Austen?” he questioned.
“Bo’s fine,” the blonde assured. “Besides sobriety… anything else?”
“I have a little apartment here,” Caleb said. He winced; Bo could only imagine he’d seen the girl that threw herself from said apartment complex. “I’m going to apply for a job here again. But, uh, having to go through two of your friends for that is a little daunting. I wanted your permission.”
“Granted,” Bo said.
“Thank you,” the former detective breathed.
Bo nodded. “Of course.” He closed his eyes briefly as he heard footsteps behind him. Jensen.
Caleb stuck out a hand. “Caleb Lehmann.”
Jensen’s eyes narrowed, and Bo grabbed his hand, tugging him back a step. “What?” Jensen asked, his voice low.
“He came here to apologize. Play nice, love,” Bo said.
Jensen grunted before crossing his arms over his chest. “Did you accept it?”
Begrudgingly, Jensen stuck out a hand and shook Caleb’s. “Jensen Austen-Taylor.” He nodded toward Bo. “Husband and honorary anger manager.”
Caleb smiled. “Good to know.”
“He’s going to reapply to CPD,” Bo said. “So you may have to be your own anger manager.”
Jensen chuckled. “I’ll do my best.”
Bo nodded. “Good. Is… that all?”
“Yeah. Thank you for listening,” Caleb said.
“No problem.” Bo cleared his throat, touching a hand to Jensen’s back. “Grab the boys? I’m going to ask Timothy to meet us back home.”
“Sure, babe.” Jensen squeezed Bo’s shoulder and walked out of the room.
Bo looked back at Caleb. “It might take Jake a little bit to forgive you. He’s rather obsessed with me,” he said, chuckling softly. “But, uh, he will. You just have to be patient.”
“No problem,” Bo repeated.
4:47 PM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, STUDY
Bo closed the door to the room, staring at the back of Timothy’s head for a moment before crossing the room and sitting down at his desk. “What can I do for you?” he asked.
Timothy leaned back in his chair, arms crossed over his chest. Bo couldn’t help but notice he was thinner than the last time they’d spoken in person. Is he—? “I’m dying,” Timothy said. Bo’s heart sank. He is. “And I know you probably don’t care much about that, and I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t care, either. But I just wanted to know if there was any possible chance that I could get to know my only grandchildren before I go.”
“Why?” Bo asked in a whisper.
“Because they’re still my grandchildren.”
“Not… not that. Why are—How are you dying?” Bo asked.
“But…” Bo let out a harsh breath, raking a hand through his hair. “When?” He was more than disappointed in himself for being unable to form longer, more meaningful sentences, but he understood it. The human mind sometimes had a rather hard time processing shocking, sad, or surprising news.
His mind worked a little differently than others, but that didn’t change the fact that he was, indeed, still human.
Timothy blew out a breath. “Oh, coming up on five months or so?” he asked. “Stopped chemo when it all got too aggressive for me to handle. No more surgeries or… or any of that. I’m closing up shop and living out the time I got left. I don’t wanna die in some hospital bed, hooked up to machines and frail. I don’t wanna die weak or old. I just wanna die, and I wanna work in some good shit before then.”
“Timothy, I, umm… I’m so sorry,” Bo whispered.
Timothy waved a hand. “Don’t be. Cancer still in the top five causes of death in this country, Bo. It happens. No need to be sorry about it,” he said.
“Yeah. I just asked him not to tell you until I was ready,” Timothy said.
“How, umm, how long do you have?” Bo asked.
“Doc says four months, but I’m gonna do what I can to prove ‘em all wrong.” Timothy smiled. “I’m gonna push through as long as I can, Bo. I wanna be around for some of the shit I’ve already missed out. Birthday, holidays, music concerts, sports… All of that. I want… I need to be here for that kind of thing, but I’ll leave if you ask me to.”
“You’ll leave? Where are you staying?”
The older man cleared his throat. “Bernard’s apartment.”
“Jesus,” Bo whispered. “You can hang around. They’re your grandkids.” The blonde nodded once. “One of my boys? Cas? His birthday’s today. He’s turning three. We have ice cream cake downstairs, and Jake’s bringing a couple pizzas back for supper. You’re more than welcome to stick around.”
“My pleasure, Timothy.”
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