Monday: April 10, 2028
6:00 AM; LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT, POLICE CHIEF JAMAL PITMAN’S OFFICE
Bo closed the door to Jamal’s office, clearing his throat as he crossed the room and sat down in one of the chairs in front of the older man’s desk. “I’m going home tomorrow night to be with Jensen and the kids. Cecilia needs me Wednesday morning, as well. I’ll be back for the next kill.” He lifted his shoulders, tilting his head to the side. “If there’s a next kill,” he corrected.
“Sure, kiddo.” Jamal held out a hand, opening the folder as soon as Bo handed it to him. His dark eyes scanned the page before him as Bo stood up and turned to leave the room. “Kid.”
“ ‘Unidentified blood spatter’. What’s it from?”
“I don’t know. That’s why it’s unidentified.”
“You can bullshit a lot of people, Bo, but not me. What do you think it’s from?” Jamal said.
Bo turned to face the man, tucking his hands behind his back. “The idea is entirely obscure, Jamal, and there’s no evidence to back it up. I haven’t looked at the traffic cam footage yet,” he said.
“That’s fine. What do you think it’s from?” Jamal questioned.
“Off the record?”
Bo nodded, clearing his throat. “I spent most of my sleepless night working up computer animations to test different scenarios. The blood spatter on the throat is most consistent with a scenario in which a person between the heights of six-foot-two and six-foot-five takes a bite out of the heart.”
Jamal let out a breath, tossing the folder onto his desk. “Admittedly, that’s a new one, even for me,” he said.
“I know.” Bo lifted a hand, passing a hand through his hair. “I did a bit of research on the subject matter. It’s… not all that uncommon in the hunting of animals. Deer, specifically, as far as I can tell. In some places, it’s a custom to take something from their first kill. Sometimes blood, sometimes the more rarely consumed organs.”
“Like the heart.”
“Yes. They remove the heart, or even the liver, while it’s still warm and they just… take a bite of it,” Bo said.
“And you think it’s possible that this killer did the same thing?” Jamal said.
“Yes, I believe it could be a possibility,” Bo confirmed. “Depending on what comes up from the surrounding traffic cams, I might be able to offer a more… valid and factual opinion,” he said.
“Mm.” Jamal nodded, leaning back in his chair. “How long will it take before you have anything on the traffic cams?”
“Unless something comes up with a new scene or you need me for something else, I’ll have a full rundown of most of the cameras and their footage before I leave tomorrow,” Bo said.
“Good. One more and then I’ll let you get to it.”
“Are you wanting to fly private or commercial, and either way, what time do you need to be out of here by?” Jamal asked.
“If it’s no trouble, private,” Bo said. The older man only nodded. “The plane’s being kept at LAX now, right?”
“As of two weeks ago, yes. Much more efficient, if you ask me,” Jamal said.
Bo chuckled softly. “Definitely more efficient,” he agreed. “Possibly around… three or four?” he asked. “I’d like to be home for tuck-ins.”
Jamal smiled. “No problem. I’ll make sure it’s fueled and ready for you to leave tomorrow afternoon, then.” He cleared his throat, smoothing a hand over his tie. “Franklin?”
Frank lifted his head from where he sat in the corner, his reading glasses resting on the bridge of his nose. “Yes, sir?”
“Make sure Samson fuels the plane for tomorrow afternoon. He’ll be taking Bo back to Clinstone,” Jamal said.
Frank tilted his wrist to the side, glancing down at his watch. “Of course, sir. I’ll call him around noon.”
“Thank you,” Jamal said simply.
“My pleasure, sir.”
Jamal nodded, turning back toward Bo. “Lunch. The Slice of Life Diner, just us three?” he asked, nodding toward Frank.
A smile tugged at one corner of Bo’s mouth. “Of course, Jamal. I’ll just be in my office working on the traffic cam footage. Just, you know, knock whenever you want to head out?” he asked.
“Sure thing, kiddo. See you in a few,” Jamal said. Bo nodded, turning around and walking to the door. “Bo?”
“It’s real good to have you back for a case.”
Bo smiled softly. “I’m glad to be back, Jamal. Thanks for calling me in for this one,” he said.
“My pleasure, kiddo.”
12:47 PM; LOS ANGELES, SLICE OF LIFE DINER
“You know, kid, I love you, but do you have to watch boring ass footage while you’re supposed to be eating?” Jamal asked.
“I’m eating,” Bo defended, glancing up at the blonde. “I’m just also watching the traffic cam footage.” A pause. “Besides, they aren’t all boring,” he said, sliding his phone over to Jamal. Frank leaned over to look at the screen, grimacing before leaning away again.
“So he definitely bites the heart,” Jamal said, pushing the phone back toward Bo.
“Right. The shoulder-structure highly suggests the killer’s a male. Besides that, I’ll compare the shadows, take a measurement, work out a height,” Bo said. He glanced up briefly, reaching out to grab his pen from the table. “Six-foot-three. Best guess, of course. I’ll rewatch the footage, find a still where he’s standing rather than kneeling.”
“Great.” Jamal reached across the table, covering Bo’s screen with his hand. “But for now, let’s take it easy and look away from it, all right? Eat something. Drink something. Do something other than work on the case. Can you do that for half an hour?” he asked.
“I… Sure, yeah. I’ll look away from it,” Bo said, batting Jamal’s hand away. He reached out and tapped a finger against the lock button. “Tada,” he added, gesturing to the darkened screen.
Jamal chuckled softly, picking up his fork. “Thank you.”
“No problem.” Bo cleared his throat, unable to stop a smile from spreading across his face. “Remember when you told Kayla you’d buy her a horse if you showed up late to the house?”
“She wants a horse now. Has wanted a horse since you brought it up,” Bo said. “I thought that we could maybe, possibly have a horse stable built on the estate. There’s more than enough room for one, more than enough room for a nice place for one to run around.” He glanced up at Jamal before sighing. “I know you aren’t around her all the time, but she’s good. She deserves this kind of thing. She’s earned it.”
“You don’t have to argue your daughter’s case to me, Bo. I’m not that cruel,” Jamal said. “It’s your job to find someone to build the stable, and it’s your job to find the horses, and it’s your job to find someone to maintain them when you aren’t here. Are we clear on that?” he asked. Bo nodded. “The estate’s pretty much yours as soon as the contract shifts. I’ll be staying there until I die, but everything but my bedroom is yours. Feel free to do whatever the hell you want with the land there,” he said.
“Thank you,” Bo whispered.
“Mmhmm. But, you know, make sure you tell her it’s only possible because I’m still her best grandpa.”
Bo snorted. “I’m not telling her that.”
“Fine, fine. Tell her it’s because I’m still awesome, then,” Jamal said.
“That I can do,” Bo assured. “She still thinks you’re pretty damn great anyway. Horse or not, she’d never stop believing that,” he added softly. “All my kids know you’re great. That’s all they need.”
Frank snorted, flipping a page in his book. “Don’t tell him that. He doesn’t need any ego stroking.”
“Hey, now. I’m an old man, Franklin. I need all the help I can get,” Jamal said.
“You do not, you old bastard. You already think you’re amazing,” Frank said.
“Amazing at firing a gun, maybe,” Jamal said. “I need all the help I can get when it comes to children thinking I’m great. I’m still an evil, gunslinging dickhead, in case you’ve forgotten.
Bo rolled his eyes, shaking his head. “You’re much less of an ‘evil, gunslinging dickhead’ nowadays, Pitman. Soon, you’ll just get to be Grandpa J and play golf all day and play poker all night.”
“I know,” Jamal said quietly. A smile tugged at one corner of his mouth. “Pretty damn happy about that. I know you were reluctant in the beginning, but I can’t thank you enough for letting me out of this shit early, you know? For, umm, for giving me the chance to retire and live out my last few years with family instead of people like Venetia, people like me.”
“My pleasure, Jamal,” Bo said. “We’ll be happy to have you around more often, anyway.”
3:47 PM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, DETECTIVE SERGEANT JENSEN AUSTEN-TAYLOR’S DESK
Jensen swiped his phone from his desk and leaned back in his chair. Being homicide detective in Clinstone had its advantages and its disadvantages. He could chalk up a lot of the aspects of the job to positivity. The people in the station were friendly and close enough to be family, the people in town rarely slammed doors in his face, most citizens were more than happy to offer whatever they could to help, even when the cops knew it held no importance to the case.
Currently, the disadvantages all boiled down to one thing: none of the crimes being committed in Clinstone were crimes he could work. There had been a robbery that morning and an assault sometime around noon, but neither one involved a homicide. It wasn’t his department.
To say he was bored was an understatement.
With a sigh, he unlocked his phone and opened up Pinterest. Despite Bo’s protest that it was an entirely useless app that existed only to eat away at hours upon hours of a person’s day, it was still Jensen’s favorite app to screw around on when boredom struck. It only served to prove Bo’s theory correct, of course. Pinterest turned Jensen’s hours of boredom into hours of, “Could I craft that? Probably not!”
Jensen glanced up at the time on his phone before going back to scrolling aimlessly through do-it-yourself projects and recipes for food, smoothies, and drinks. Bo wouldn’t be home for over twenty-four hours. It’d be another relatively sleepless night for the both of them. He was, however, excited for Tuesday. The idea of being able to sleep more than an hour or two was appealing to the man.
Bo: How’re you handling being all by your lonesome, handsome?
Jensen snorted, rolling his eyes.
Jensen: Very very bored
Bo: Hold on
Bo: I’ll make it less boring
Jensen raised an eyebrow. Bo’s idea of ‘less boring’ was much different than his. He couldn’t begin to imagine what his husband would send. Blood? An autopsy report? Numbers and equations that Jensen couldn’t begin to wrap his mind around?
He tapped his thumb against the side of his phone before clicking on the image Bo had sent. His eyes widened briefly in surprise before he tilted his screen back toward himself. That definitely wasn’t related to a crime scene.
Jensen: Did you… did you just dick pic me?
Bo: Did that, umm… does that make your day less boring? I don’t really know how this works
Bo: This website says I should build-up suspense before sending pictures but… that isn’t really my strong suit
Jensen: Your method’s much more effective Eli
Jensen: Where are you?
Bo: Home. L.A. I took the rest of the day off.
Jensen smiled softly. Clicking on Bo’s number, he called him instead. He pressed the phone to his ear, closing his eyes.
“Hi,” Bo greeted.
“Hey.” Jensen cleared his throat, shifting in his chair. “You’ve caught me in a very awkward position, Eli. As in, I’m still sitting behind my damn desk,” he whispered.
“I’m aware. That’s why I sent it now,” Bo said.
“You’re a lot freakier than you’ve led me to believe.”
Bo laughed, and Jensen could only imagine that the blonde was blushing. “Umm… after I come home tomorrow night?”
“After the kids are tucked in and asleep, You and I could take a shower together. After that, the night’s in your hands.” A pause. “Figuratively and literally.”
Jensen chuckled, a smirk tugging at one corner of his mouth. “Okay, babe. You’re adorable. You know that, don’t you?”
“I’ll take your word for it.”
The younger man rolled his eyes. “What’re you wearing?” he asked, his voice quiet.
“Are you asking what I’m actually wearing? Because this article I read says I should tell you I’m naked.”
Jensen snorted. “No, babe, I’m actually asking.”
“The same thing I wore to work. Flannel, jeans, and a beanie.”
“Which makes you adorable.”
“My pleasure. I, uh, I’m gonna text you a question. Feel free to just talk to answer it, all right? I’m just, you know, at work.”
Jensen: Why are you looking up articles on sexting?
“Because I’m still rather boring, Jens. I don’t want you to be bored with me.”
“I’m not bored with you,” Jensen whispered. “Good God, Eli. I love you, hands down. You’re perfect just as you are.”
Jensen: Not that I’m complaining if you send nudes when you’re in LA
Bo chuckled softly. “Duly noted.” He cleared his throat. “I’m really not boring to you?”
“No. I wouldn’t have married you if I thought you were boring,” Jensen said.
“Fair,” Bo agreed.
“Who made you think you were boring?”
“Well, I spend a lot more time than I’m willing to admit reading articles about gay men and what they like.”
“Because I’m not gay, Jens,” Bo said quietly. Jensen frowned. How many times had he said that exact thing to his husband like it was some kind of insult? “And it’s not just that. I’m also, you know, me. I’m odd and awkward and… and you get the picture. I told myself I was boring. No one had to do that for me.”
“That’s bullshit, Eli. You being odd and awkward? That’s half of why I love you so damn much. It doesn’t make you boring. It makes you you,” Jensen said.
Jensen: And you not being gay shouldn’t be a factor here
Jensen: I’ve said that before because I’m an ass
Jensen: It doesn’t mean you’re in the wrong
Jensen: You know what I like. That’s all that matters
“Really?” Bo asked.
“Okay,” Bo whispered. “I’m sorry. It’s just…” He let out a heavy sigh. “After this birthday, I only have a year before I’m forty. Sometimes, I find myself worrying that, because you’ll be thirty-three and I’ll be nearing a mid-life crisis… I don’t know how to word it.”
“I know what you’re getting at. You’re scared this is gonna turn into one of those stupid TV shows where I run around and get drunk and find new hookups just because you’re older than I am.”
“Well, I wouldn’t word it like that. I have a much higher opinion of you than that,” Bo said. “For instance, you’d have the decency to divorce me first.”
“That’s not an insult.”
“I’m not going anywhere, Eli. I know your insecurities flair up around your birthday, but you shouldn’t have to worry about it. You’re way too damn special to me, and if I ever got bored with you, I’d want Jamal to kick my ass for being a moron,” Jensen said. “One thousand, three hundred and fifty-one miles apart or standing in the same room, I love you. That isn’t ever gonna change,” he said.
“Point-four,” Bo whispered. “One thousand, three hundred and fifty-one-point-four.”
Jensen smiled. “Yeah, baby. That.”
“I, umm… I know I can be an ass and quite the handful, but I love you,” Bo said. “Thanks for putting up with me,” he added.
Jensen chuckled softly. “Believe me, Eli, I’d be lost without cha. I love you, but I’ll let you go. I’ll see you tomorrow night.”
“And, uh, mind doing me a favor?”
“Send another pic around… seven-thirty tonight?”
“Your time?” Bo asked.
“Your time,” Jensen said.
“I, umm… I think I can do that.”
“What about you? You want anything?”
Bo coughed, clearing his throat. “I, uh, think I’d benefit most from a picture of your face,” he said.
“Mm. One selfie coming your way tonight, then,” Jensen said.
“Sure thing, babe. I will see… part of you tonight and… all of you tomorrow, okay?” Jensen asked, his voice just above a whisper.
“Okay. You’ll pick me up at the airport?”
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Jens. I love you.”
“Love you, too, Eli. I’ll see you soon.”
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