Blackout – Chapter Eighteen

NOT EDITED

Chapter Eighteen

Thursday: August 31, 2028
4:19 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, BREAKFAST NOOK

Bo’s shoulders lifted defensively as a pair of arms wrapped around him. He pulled out one earphone as Jensen’s lips touched his neck. “You should be asleep,” Bo said, reaching back to lay a hand on the side of Jensen’s head.

“Mm… same could be said for you,” Jensen said, voice rough with sleep. “Woke up and you weren’t in bed anymore. What’re you doing?”

“I… I’m working to see if there’s a way to find out more about the killer,” Bo said. “But you’re tired, and I’m not going to bore you with details.”

“Never bored of you. Talk ‘bout all the details.”

Bo chuckled softly, reaching out to close his laptop. “Come on, love. Let’s get you back to bed.” Jensen lifted his head, taking a step away from Bo. The blonde pushed his chair back and slid out of it. Pushing the chair back under the table, he held out his free hand. “Come on.”

Jensen grabbed Bo’s hand, allowing the blonde to tuck him back through the kitchen. “You need to sleep.”

“I can’t,” Bo denied, turning off the light above the stove.

“Solving a case isn’t in your hands. It’s in mine and Ryan’s.”

“It’s the only thing that makes me feel useful, Jens.”

“If you feel worthless, I’m not doing my fucking job.”

“I didn’t say worthless,” Bo corrected. “At the station, if I’m not a huge part of solving a case, I don’t feel useful to the station. That’s it.”

“Mm. Still bullshit.”

“I know.”

Jensen pulled Bo closer to him, wrapping an arm around the blonde’s shoulders. “I love you. You need to take a nap, Eli.”

“I know,” Bo repeated. “But I can’t, Jens. I tried so damn hard.” He walked back into the bedroom, stepping away from his husband. “I am… beyond tired, and I laid here, and I tried to sleep, but I couldn’t.”

“ ‘Cause you get stuck in here too damn often,” Jensen said, pressing two fingers to Bo’s temple. “You think about the little details, and you get stuck.” He threw the covers back and crawled into bed.

“I’ve tried breaking that habit,” Bo said as he sat down on his side of the bed. “It just doesn’t work.”

“I know,” Jensen mumbled. He ran a hand up Bo’s spine, closing his eyes. “You gonna lay down again? Or is your time better spent dicking around on the computer?”

“I’ll stay in here.”

Jensen grunted, rolling onto his other side. “Don’t gotta sound so excited about it.”

Bo frowned. “My apologies. I don’t mean to sound like it’s a burden to be in here. I’m just tired.” Again, the younger man responded with a grunt. Bo sighed, drawing his legs onto the bed. He lay down, wrapping an arm around Jensen’s torso. “I’m sorry.”

Jensen moved a hand up to cover Bo’s. “Not your fault. I’m tired as hell and way too emotional. It’s cool.” He cleared his throat. “This what we’re gonna do? You’re gonna spoon me?”

Bo snorted. “If you want.”

“Mmhmm.”

Bo pressed a kiss to Jensen’s shoulder. “I love you,” he whispered.

A smile tugged at one corner of Jensen’s mouth. “I love you, too, Eli.”

8:32 AM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, LAB

Bo lifted his head as Jacob walked into the room. “Coming down to check on me?” he questioned.

Jacob smiled. “What can I say? I worry about you.”

“I’m fine, Jake. I don’t need a babysitter, anymore,” Bo said.

The lieutenant had the decency to blush. “I know. I just, well… you know.” He cleared his throat. “You aren’t sleeping. This case is screwing with your head.”

“Every case screws with my head,” the blonde reminded. “But I’m fine.”

“Mm.” Jacob lifted himself onto the counter. “Jensen says you didn’t sleep last night. Not that that’s surprising.”

“I can’t sleep. I tried, though.” Bo tugged on his beanie, clearing his throat. “I got up, started running through homicides and rapes. I went back five years, started a shitty algorithm that I’m already trying to rework. The killer hates women, or… at least one woman. He hates her enough to take it out on a teenager and her family. Theoretically, the woman he hates is dead, and there’s a damn good chance he killed her. Theoretically, that’s the reason he moved onto new victims, to new women. He took his anger out on the woman he hated most, and afterward, he needed someone new to take it all out on.”

“Jensen know that?”

Bo shook his head. “I told him I was working on something when he came out of the bedroom, but he was tired, and I didn’t see a point in bogging him down with details,” he said honestly.

“Fair enough.” Jacob cocked his head to the side. “Hasn’t been a homicide here in a long ass time. Does it make sense for him to wait this long to take out his issues on everyone else?”

“Not at all.”

“So why bother?”

Bo glanced up at the ceiling briefly before shaking his head. “Because ‘I’m working on the case’ is a hell of a lot better than ‘I don’t feel safe in my own home, and I wish I could drink that feeling away’,” he whispered. “Working on this every single hour that I can? That’s nothing but a damn cover-up for me being… such a disaster.”

“You’re not… a disaster,” Jacob said. “You’re a recovered alcoholic, and the fact that you’re still going strong is a good thing. You’re strong, brother.” He nodded toward the door. “You don’t gotta do it right this instant, but you should talk to Jensen. He thinks you aren’t sleeping just because of a few nightmares and because you can’t take a damn break from work. He thinks that you like work more than family.

“Let him know you’re suffering. He married you and every thought that crosses your mind. Tell him about the urge, tell him what’s going on. He’s there to help, promise.”

Bo dropped his head into his hands, offering a quick nod. “Thanks,” he whispered.

“You betcha, Blondie.”

“Sometimes,” Bo said through a humorless laugh, “I wake up, and I forget that we’re married, that… he loves me, that we have a family. Sometimes, I have to be reminded that another human being would love me enough to listen to my problems and help me with them. Sometimes, this is the only reason I remember he’s not just someone Jamal’s paying to make sure I don’t drink and drive, to make sure no one walks up to me in the street and shoots me.” He let out a heavy sigh, lifting his head to meet Jake’s gaze. “Sometimes, I forget that I don’t have to be alone in… in all of the terrible thoughts that run through my head.”

Jacob stared at him for a long moment before nodding. “Been through a lotta shit, Bo. You’re depressed, you’ve got all kinds of anxiety shooting through the roof that you refuse to acknowledge, you’ve got your abandonment issues, and you’ve got years and years of, well, bad shit. No one expects you to wake up and welcome the sun’s shining rays like today’s the best day of your life,” he said. “Sometimes you just need a little reminder that you’ve got people rooting for you. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

“Promise?”

“You betcha.”

4:35 PM; CLINSTONE POLICE STATION, PARKING LOT

“I’ve been working on algorithms to… search through violent crimes to try and find our killer. A woman he may have assaulted or killed, someone that was once probably important to him,” Bo said.

“Wouldn’t be in Clinstone if it was recent,” Jensen said, pulling open the driver’s side door as soon as he reached it.

“I know.”

“So you’re just purposely wasting your time now?” the younger man questioned, looking down at his husband.

“It’s a reason to be awake at night, a reason to… not know how to balance family with this case,” Bo said.

“You need a reason to avoid your family and avoid sleeping with me?”

“No, no, that’s not…”

“What you meant,” Jensen finished quietly. He looked at his children in the backseat before closing the passenger door. “What’s going on, Eli?”

“I’m obsessed with this case and every detail of it in hopes of covering up the need to drink, even if only for a while. I don’t feel safe at home, and it makes me want to get drunk,” Bo said.

Jensen frowned. “How long have you been feeling that way?”

“Ever since I took the first picture of Gia Weaver’s body,” Bo said.

Jensen tugged the blonde into a tight hug. “We’ll make fudge tonight. And popcorn, add a shitton of salt. Screw being healthy for tonight. Junk food and a movie, whatever you need. Okay?”

Bo closed his eyes, squeezing his husband tightly. “What’d I do to deserve you?”

“Mm… I dunno, babe. Call it God, fate, the butterfly effect, or something entirely different,” Jensen reminded. “Either way, I’m here for you, no matter what you need. You just gotta let me into your head more often. You don’t need to be scared to tell me things. Okay?”

“Okay,” Bo murmured. He pulled away from Jensen and leaned up to kiss him instead. “Thank you,” he whispered, hands on either side of the younger man’s face.

“Always a goddamn pleasure, babe.”


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