12:33 PM; CLINSTONE, LITTLE DELIGHTS DINER
Jensen cleared his throat as Ruth walked away from the table. “Find out anything with the emails and shit?” he asked.
Bo shook his head, picking up his fork. “I’ve been a bit distracted today.”
“Bad thoughts?” Jensen asked after a moment.
The blonde aimlessly stirred the salad before him, offering another shake of his head. “No, not… not anything like that. I called Jamal this morning before you woke up, and for the first time, he just wanted off the phone with me. He kept saying he was fine, but I can’t shake the feeling that something’s entirely wrong with that picture.” He lifted his eyes to Jensen’s face. “Anything I should know?”
“What? No, of course not. Why would you assume I knew something?”
“You were practically wide awake when you came out to the kitchen this morning. You looked like you’d just rolled out of bed, sure, but you didn’t sound tired,” Bo said. “And not to put down all the hard work that went into your training, but you aren’t exactly Mister Stone Cold and Unreadable. You were nervous this morning, and you’re uncomfortable now.”
Jensen stared at Bo for a moment, shaking his head. “Don’t worry about it, Eli.”
“So you do know,” Bo said quietly. He set his fork down, gently pushing the small bowl away from him with one hand. He folded his hands in front of his mouth, tired blue eyes on his husband’s face. “Is he okay?”
Jensen raked a hand through his hair. “Eli, I’m supposed to just sit here and keep my damn mouth shut,” he said.
“I’m taking over for him in January. What’s the worst he can do if you told me?” Bo asked.
Jensen let out a long sigh, scrubbing both hands over his face. “He got shot.”
“Chest, couple inches from the heart.” Jensen held out his hands. “But he’s okay. He’s fine.”
“And he told you instead of me?”
“He promised he’d never let you see him weak again,” Jensen said softly.
Bo watched him for a moment. “You’ve left something out. I can see you battling with it. How bad is it?” he asked. Jensen’s lips parted thrice, the man’s voice coming up empty all three times. “What is it? Why’d he get shot and call you for it?”
Jensen swallowed. “Someone threatened to… to kill us,” he said, his voice low. “You, me, and the kids. They wanted to make Jamal suffer for something. He didn’t go into detail. He called to let me know I needed to protect you and the kids.”
Bo closed his eyes, dropping his head to his hands. “That’s why you took the girls out of school today.”
“Yeah, and there are four officers in the daycare to make sure shit doesn’t go down.”
“How’d you swing that?”
“Jake wouldn’t be able to keep his mouth shut,” Bo mumbled.
“That’s why he’s been locked in his office all day,” Jensen said quietly.
Bo lifted his head just enough to meet Jensen’s gaze. “Can you lie to me now and tell me this is all some sick, early April Fool’s prank?” he asked. Slowly, Jensen shook his head. “Excuse me,” Bo whispered, sliding out of the booth.
Jensen remained seated for exactly ten seconds before he got up and hurried back to the bathroom of the diner. He checked the stalls before locking the bathroom door. He grabbed several paper towels and squatted down behind Bo.
Jensen combed his fingers through the blonde’s hair for a moment before resting his hand on Bo’s back as he threw up whatever food was left in his stomach. He handed the paper towels over to Bo, wrapping his arms around him as soon as the shorter man turned into his chest.
“I’m so sorry,” Bo whispered.
“You have nothing to be sorry for, baby.”
Bo shook his head, squeezing his eyes shut. “It’s one thing… when I’m a danger to me. It’s another when my existence is a danger to you and our kids. You’re all innocent. You don’t deserve this.”
“Oh, baby, no, that’s not on you. Never,” Jensen said softly.
“You guys shouldn’t be in danger because of me. You don’t deserve this,” Bo repeated. “You should take the kids and leave.”
“I’m not gonna do that.” Jensen rose to his feet, Bo held to his chest. He lifted a foot to flush the toilet before walking toward the sinks. “I love you. The kids love you. We’re not going anywhere.”
“You’re in danger as long as you’re around me.”
“Jamal and Mekhi are gonna take care of it,” Jensen whispered, setting Bo on the counter. He moved to stand between the blonde’s legs. “They’re gonna take care of it, and Jamal’s gonna send someone to make sure the girls are safe when they’re at school, that the boys are safe at the daycare, that we’re all safe at home. But I’m gonna take care of you and the kids. Protect you with my damn life, remember?”
“I don’t want you to die for me,” Bo said. “I don’t deserve that kind of dedication.” He sniffled, swallowing roughly. “Take the kids, pack of your things, and go somewhere safe. Jamal can even set you guys up somewhere.”
“I am not going anywhere,” Jensen said, his hands on other side of Bo’s face. “You’d fight tooth and nail if it were me. I’m always gonna do that same fucking thing for you. I knew what I was getting into when you told me you were taking over for Jamal. I knew, and I never once thought about walking away from you. I’m here to love you and protect you. Always. Promise.”
“Okay,” Bo whispered, burying his face in Jensen’s chest, his arms wrapped around the taller man’s torso. “When we’re in Los Angeles for the girls’ spring break?”
“I’m going to kill the sick sons of bitches that threatened my family. I need you to be okay with that.”
Jensen closed his eyes, hugging the blonde tightly. “You’ll come home every night?”
“Okay,” Jensen murmured. He pressed a kiss to Bo’s temple. “Okay,” he repeated, more to himself than the blonde.
11:24 PM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, MASTER BEDROOM
Jensen carefully slid out of bed as he grabbed his phone from the nightstand. He walked into the bathroom, closing the door behind him. “Yeah?” he asked, his voice quiet as he flipped on the light.
“How’s my boy?” Jamal asked. He sounded tired and weak, but Jensen did his best to ignore it. Imagining Jamal as weak certainly wouldn’t help him put most of his faith in the older man. “Jensen?”
“He’s asleep,” Jensen said. He cleared his throat. “I told him.”
“God, why do I tell you anything?”
“I was wondering the same thing. You know I can’t hide much from him, Jamal. He sees through most of my bullshit. I can’t help it,” Jensen said.
“Yeah, I know.” A pause. “How’d he take it?”
“Threw up, told me to get the kids and leave, go somewhere safer.”
“Away from him.”
“Yeah. I told him I wasn’t going anywhere,” Jensen said.
“Good man,” Jamal said softly.
“He wants to be there, Jamal. When Mekhi starts killing the people threatening him. He wants to be a part of it.”
“Of course he does. He wants to make sure people know he’s going to protect his family,” Jamal said. “You can’t show weakness in this world, Jensen. He knows that better than anyone. It eats him alive anytime a drop of it slips through the cracks and seeps into the real world.”
“I know.” Jensen leaned back against the door, closing his eyes. “All he wants to do here is work a damned suicide case. It’s clear she was harassed severely, but unless there’s emails telling her to kill herself and helping her do it, nothing further than that can really be proved. It’s the only thing he wants to do, and today, I watched him struggle to focus on it the whole damn time. He couldn’t focus this morning before he knew about this shit, and he certainly couldn’t focus on it afterward.” A pause. “He’s tearing himself up over this, Jamal.”
“Give him time. He always pulls through this kind of thing, Jensen. He just needs us to stand tall beside him so he can slouch for a little while. You catch what I’m throwing?”
“Yeah, always was great at baseball,” Jensen said.
Jamal chuckled. “Sure, kid.” He cleared his throat. “Mekhi will be in Clinstone in a few hours. After that, get yourself some sleep. He’ll keep you guys safe.”
“You trust him enough for that?”
“I never would’ve introduced Bo to him if I didn’t,” Jamal said. “You keep my boy sane, safe. Protect him.”
“With my life, sir.”
“Good,” Jamal murmured. “I’ll call you in the morning, Jensen. Keep yourself safe, too, all right? And the kids.”
“Always will,” Jensen assured. He waited for Jamal to end the call before he flipped off the bathroom light and headed back to the bedroom. He set his phone on the nightstand and climbed back into bed, wrapping an arm around Bo’s chest. The blonde shifted, mumbling something that Jensen didn’t quite catch.
“What?” he asked, his voice just above a whisper.
“Is he still okay?”
“Yeah, baby, he’s okay. Healing, but he’s all right,” Jensen said.
“Good,” Bo whispered. “I saw that his shooting was all over the news. What was his brilliant plan for when I checked the news and saw he’d been shot and taken to a hospital?”
“I don’t know. Jamal doesn’t explain his brilliance to me,” Jensen said honestly.
Bo snorted. “Fair,” he said softly. He sniffled, clearing his throat. “I love you, Jens.”
“I love you, too, Eli.” Jensen pressed a kiss to his shoulder. “Get some sleep, okay?”
“Sure. You, too.”
“Of course. Goodnight.”
Bo let out a heavy breath before nodding once. “Goodnight.”
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