Hacker – Chapter Twenty-Two

NOT EDITED

Chapter Twenty-Two

4:13 PM; WESTWOOD, LOS ANGELES, SOUTH SEPULVEDA BOULEVARD

Luca stepped up beside Dallas, hands shoved into the pockets of his jeans. “Bo’s back in L.A.?” he asked.

“Yeah, but he’s skipping out on this one. We’re just waiting for Brad,” Dallas said.

“Is… Bo feeling okay?”

“He and Jensen are holding off on any cases until at least Monday. Technically, this is their vacation,” Dallas said. He cleared his throat. “Well, according to the sign, this chick’s a prostitute.”

“Is that… really a crime worth murder?”

“Depends on how much our killer hates prostitutes,” Dallas said.

“Think it’s anything that can help Bo create a profile of the guy?” Luca asked, glancing down at Dallas.

The black lieutenant shrugged, crossing his arms over his chest. “Yes and no, I think. When it comes to vigilantes, some of them limit themselves, you know? Just murder, just kidnapping, just misdemeanors. Some of them only like to stick to crimes where another human being was actually harmed or the criminal benefited from the loss of the other person. Robberies, burglaries, theft, arson… Things like that. Others are willing to cross over into any crime or category, regardless of how bad that crime actually is.”

“And because we’ve seen him take out a killer, a rapist, and a prostitute, it’s hard to know for sure what he’s sticking to,” Luca said.

“Bingo.” Dallas pointed at Luca before recrossing his arms. “We don’t know the kill in Clinstone was this guy. We can’t prove that yet, and Bo doesn’t want to assume. It’s probable, but it’s best to stay open on it until we can prove it was this guy,” he said.

Luca nodded once. “Sure, Loo.”

Dallas lifted his head as Brad’s car pulled up several yards from the yellow crime scene tape the responding officers were still wrapping around the trees to help act as a barricade for the road. “I’m gonna go help with the tape. Listen to Brad for a few until your partner gets her. Fill her in on what you know, and then start questioning potential witnesses. Officers already have them pretty separated out here, so you’re good to go as soon as Lopez gets here.”

“Will do, Loo. Have fun.”

Dallas snorted. “Oh, I’ll do my best, Roth.”

7:39 PM; LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT, MAIN COMPUTER SERVER STORAGE

Bo sat at the small desk in the room, hands clasped in front of his mouth. He had spent much more time than he wanted to admit on the server, but he was relatively certain he had fixed the back door their hacker had used to slip into the system undetected. He couldn’t be sure, not until after their hacker tried it again, but he had done his best.

Of course, ‘his best’ wasn’t quite as high as it usually was, but it was the best he could offer to the server, to the system. He figured it was better than nothing.

“Are we good?” Jensen questioned from his place by the door.

“I think so.”

“Then let’s roll. We should grab supper and hit up Jamal’s,” Jensen said.

“I’m not really hungry,” Bo mumbled, pushing himself to his feet. “But you can grab something. We can go through a drive-through, if you’d like. I don’t mind.”

“Can I convince you to at least order a smoothie?”

“Probably,” Bo said quietly. He pushed the chair under the desk and grabbed Jensen’s outstretched hand. “I can’t promise to drink all of it.”

“That’s okay.” Jensen opened the door and stepped out of the room, gently tugging Bo out with him. Bo reached back and closed the door, letting out a sigh before following Jensen through the station. “We’ll stop by the house first, okay? Let Hati outside, make sure they both have food and water, and then we’ll head to Jamal’s. Okay?”

“Okay, Jens.”

Out in the parking lot, Dallas didn’t even have to open his mouth before Bo knew what he wanted to say. The scene Bo and Jensen had skipped out on had definitely been the work of the vigilante. Still, the lieutenant confirmed it when he stopped in front of the couple and said, “Vigilante struck again. Prostitute this time, same beatdown. Caine says it was probably with a wrench, but he’ll know more after testing.”

Bo’s gut twisted almost painfully as he fingers tightened around Jensen’s hand. March was clearly just not his month.

“Why a prostitute? Did she refuse to suck his dick?” Jensen asked.

Bo grimaced. “It just means our vigilante isn’t going to stick to criminals who do, arguably, ‘deserve’ the killing.” He released Jensen’s hand, tucking both of his own behind his back. “I’ll be in the car,” he said quietly.

Dallas watched the blonde over his shoulder before turning back to Jensen. “Is this because of the vigilante?”

Jensen lifted his shoulders. “It’s just… a lotta bad shit. It’s a rough patch.”

“Sorry to hear that.”

“Me, too.”

Dallas nodded. “Take care of him, Jensen.”

“Always do,” Jensen assured. Dallas glanced back over his shoulder one last time before walking past Jensen and heading toward the station. Jensen closed his eyes briefly, letting out a harsh breath as he forced them open again. He walked to the car, pulling open the driver’s side door and sliding into the seat. “How’re we holding up, Eli?”

“Managing,” Bo said simply. “Can you call Mom when we get home, find out if the kids want to stay the night again? If not… we’ll pick them up and take them with us to Jamal’s.”

“Of course, baby.” Jensen drove out of the parking lot and reached over, laying a hand on Bo’s thigh. “What happens after you patch Jamal’s server?”

“We sleep for a few hours and come back home in the morning,” Bo said. “Presumably, the algorithm will be done by Monday, and I’ll be closer to finding where our harasser sent the emails from. Even if it’s not one distinct location, anything that narrows it down is… ideal.” He let out a breath, curling his fingers beneath Jensen’s palm. “I need to find this person before they convince someone else to throw themself off a building, Jens.”

“You will. I’ve got your back the whole damn time,” Jensen said. He squeezed Bo’s fingers. “You’ll find this dickhead, Eli. You’re a hell of a lot better than you give yourself credit for, even depressed and sleep-deprived, and lacking proper diet and nutrition.”

Bo couldn’t help but chuckle, even though the half-hearted sound of it tugged at Jensen’s heart. “Thanks, Jens.”

“Always a pleasure, babe.”


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