Saturday: March 17, 2029
3:15 AM; LOS ANGELES, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, GARAGE
Bo closed the lid of his laptop as Jensen parked the car in the garage. He let out a breath, closing his eyes as the engine shut off, leaving them in the dark with nothing but the radio playing quiet music through the speakers.
“So?” Jensen asked.
“It’s officially running emails through the system to backtrack the pings. I’ll check it in the morning before we leave for the massage to make sure it’s actually, well, doing its job,” Bo said.
“That’s great, baby.” Jensen patted Bo’s thigh. “You’re a genius. You know that, don’t you?”
“I… do recognize the word,” Bo said plainly. He unfastened his seat belt, clearing his throat. “I do appreciate the ego stroking, though.”
“Oh, always a pleasure, babe.” Jensen climbed out of the car and headed for the door to the house, keys in hand. Bo waited until Jensen had unlocked and opened the door before he got out of the car. Bo headed into the house and walked to the family room. He set his laptop on the coffee table, scratching Hati’s head as he straightened himself back out.
She lifted her head from the couch, grunting as she stood, trueness around, and dropped back to the couch.
Bo closed his eyes as Jensen came up behind him, wrapping his arms around his waist. “Did you want to grab a shower before bed?” Bo asked.
“Probably for the best.” Jensen pressed a kiss to Bo’s shoulder before pulling away from him. “Come.”
Bo turned, grabbing Jensen’s outstretched hand. “In the morning, before we leave, make sure I call Mom? Just to check on the kids.”
“Of course, Eli.” Jensen cleared his throat. “Think you’ll be able to sleep?”
“I’m tired, but I have so many damn thoughts going on in my head, I don’t think I could sleep if I wanted to.”
“Then we’ll light some candles and, like, spray some lavender. I’ll run a bath.” Jensen smiled down at Bo as he flipped on the twinkle lights on the bedroom ceiling. “Sound okay?”
“You’re perfect.” Bo said. “That sounds lovely.”
“Great.” Jensen pressed a kiss to the top of Bo’s head before stepping away from him. “I’ll go draw up the bath, then. Where… do you keep the candles?”
Bo smiled faintly, chuckling. “Anything bath or stress related is beneath my sink.”
“A’ight.” Jensen smacked a hand against Bo’s backside before walking into the bathroom. Bo drew in a breath, sitting down on the edge of the bed. He reached back and scratched Acamas’s head.
Bo hoped the bath would knock his stress down just enough that he’d be able to sleep. The last thing he needed was another sleepless night, and the last thing Jensen needed was another night of attempting to stay awake for the blonde’s benefit.
Bo reached back and unhooked his necklaces, carefully laying them on his nightstand. He pulled his phone from his pocket and unlocked the screen. He stared at the notification for an email, his brow furrowed.
The contact name all on its own kept him from clicking it.
Bo locked his screen and tossed the device onto his nightstand. He had enough on his mind without the harasser telling him to kill himself for everything bad he’d ever done. Bo didn’t need anyone to tell him to hurt himself.
His mind did that all on its own.
Bo pushed himself to his feet and walked into the bathroom.
“You all right, Eli?” Jensen asked.
Bo nodded. “I’m okay,” he said. He figured he’d tell Jensen about the email later. Jensen’s stress and anxiety were already higher than usual, both because of Bo and the threat on their family. Bo felt adding to that anytime near bedtime was a bad idea.
“So, while the bath fills, I should fill you in on some things about our day today.”
“Why? Did you do something crazy?” Bo asked.
Jensen snorted, crossing his arms over his chest. “No, it’s just a little more than a couple’s massage. I have a shitton of stress relief shit planned.”
Bo smiled faintly. “Okay. Do tell.”
“We’ve got acupuncture, yoga, we’re gonna go for a run, then we’ve got the massage and facial, and then we’re gonna come back home and… I don’t know, we can take a nap or something. Your mom and dad are gonna watch the kids as long as we need ‘em to.”
“Stress relief exercise. Smart.”
“I thought so.”
Bo pushed away from the doorway and wrapped his arms around Jensen’s torso. “Thanks for putting up with me, Jens.”
“Always a pleasure, Eli.” Jensen squeezed the blonde tightly, resting his head against Bo’s. “Are you sure you’re okay?” Bo only nodded. The email could wait. Reading it for himself could wait, showing it to Jensen could wait.
For now, he was just fine, and all he wanted was a bath and a couple hours of sleep.
7:00 AM; UNITED STATES, UNKNOWN LOCATION
The Hacker sat down at their computer desk, reaching out to turn on the tower. They took a sip of their coffee and set the mug down on their desk. They typed in their password and waited for the desktop to come to life.
Several hours ago, they had sent out three emails, one to each person on their list. One was a man planning to run for Congress. He wasn’t necessarily a bad guy, not in the sense of what Martha Fraser had done.
The Hacker just hated politicians.
They’d sent another email to a college student in Oregon. The woman had basically tortured her roommate, and she spent most of her free time stealing from everyone around her. She wasn’t a murderer by any means, but she still deserved at least some sense of punishment.
And then there was that forensic analyst from Minnesota. He was their favorite of the three. He, unlike the other two, had a history of depression, and according to everything they’d dug into, he’d attempted suicide more than once.
The Hacker knew he’d be the easiest to manipulate, to tear down. They were excited for that.
4:09 PM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, MASTER BEDROOM
Bo rested his head on Jensen’s shoulder, his hand resting on the younger man’s bare chest. “Jens?”
“I… have something to tell you,” Bo said quietly.
“Mm. Sounds ominous.” Jensen shifted, sliding a hand down to Bo’s lower back. “Is it something that’s gonna piss me off?”
“Probably, but it shouldn’t. It’s just something you deserve to know.”
Jensen sighed. “All right. What is it?”
“When we got home this morning, I checked my phone. I had an email waiting for me, but I chose not to open it.”
“Who was it from?”
“BoAusten EatShit.” Jensen tensed. “That’s… why I didn’t open it,” he added quietly.
“Why didn’t you tell me that when you got it?”
“If I had shown you, you wouldn’t have been able to sleep, and we wouldn’t have left the house today. I wanted to make sure you slept okay, that’s all.” Bo closed his eyes. “I’m not going to open it. I don’t need some other bastard telling me to take my own life. I don’t need help with that. I’m… I’m just going to use them to help find the person responsible for it.”
“Can I read it?” Jensen asked.
“What? I wanna know what the fucker thinks he knows about you.” Bo sighed, pushing himself away from Jensen. He grabbed his phone from the nightstand and passed it back to his husband.
“Password?” Wordlessly, Bo reached out and unlocked his phone. “Thanks.”
“Mmhmm.” Bo watched Jensen open the email before he climbed out of bed. He crossed the room and pulled open his dresser drawer, grabbing a pair of boxers and pulling them up his legs. “So?” Bo asked nearly a minute later, sitting down on the edge of the bed.
“They know about Larry. How do they know that, Eli?”
Bo sighed. Larry, the man he’d put into a coma for Jamal’s benefit, a man he’d killed so his boss could get a new heart in time. “I don’t know,” he said quietly. “I probably have the name written down somewhere. Between you, me, and Jamal, at least one of us has to have written it out at some point. They hack their way into the system, find what they need, and get back out.”
“That’d mean it’s not your laptop, right? You have that alarm thing set on it,” Jensen said.
Bo nodded. “It could’ve been Jamal.” He scrubbed his hands down his face, closing his eyes. He figured the only benefit of the day was that he still felt relatively good and relaxed. His muscles hadn’t worked up the courage to tense up yet. For that, he was thankful. “We should go to the station. I’ll tighten up the system, close any, umm… back doors that they might’ve wormed their way into. Then we’ll head to Jamal’s so I can do the same for his system.”
“You sure you can manage that, Eli?” Jensen asked. He laid a hand on Bo’s back, pushing himself up on his other elbow. “I love you, but with all due respect, I don’t know if you can stand to do that right now. Sounds like a lot of work.”
“I’ll manage,” Bo mumbled. He ran his fingers through his hair. “My laptop’s still running the email pings through the algorithm. I need to do something to kill time, anyway.” He reached back and squeezed Jensen’s arm. “Quick shower, we’ll get dressed, and then we’ll head to the station. Okay?”
“Sure, Eli.” Jensen locked Bo’s phone and sat up on the bed. He wrapped an arm around Bo, his hand resting on the blonde’s chest as he kissed Bo’s shoulder. “I love you, Eli.”
“I love you, too,” Bo said softly. He cleared his throat as his phone went off. He grabbed it, frowning.
“Should… we go?”
Bo shook his head. “Bludgeoning. I can’t handle a possible vigilante victim today.” He lifted his hand and squeezed Jensen’s arm. “We’ll let Brad handle the scene. Let’s worry about fixing our little hacker’s loophole, okay?”
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