Wednesday: May 10, 2028
3:09 AM; LOS ANGELES, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, MASTER BEDROOM
Bo’s eyes snapped open, finding himself staring at a far too close Acamas. Gently, he pushed her away from his face and rolled onto his back instead. He yawned, grabbing his phone from the pillow. His screen lit up, temporarily rendering his vision useless. He groaned, blinking several times until the screen came into focus.
His call with Jensen was still on and had been for over three hours. He pressed his phone to his ear, listening to Jensen’s soft snores on the other end of the line. Bo closed his eyes, smiling softly. “Goodnight, love,” Bo whispered. He pulled his phone from his ear and opened his eyes again, ending the call.
He leaned over Acamas and set his phone on the charging disc on his nightstand. He dropped back to the bed, tugging the covers over his shoulders. Acamas stood, stretching beneath the sheets. She walked over to Bo and climbed onto his chest. She pawed at his shirt for a moment before laying down. Bo smiled, rolling his eyes as he laid a hand on the cat’s side.
Although he missed Jensen and the kids more than what he once would’ve considered physically impossible, Acamas certainly helped dampen the annoyance of being entirely alone. Much like his days before Jensen, his days before the kids, Acamas made an empty house feel like home.
6:00 AM; LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT, POLICE CHIEF JAMAL PITMAN’S OFFICE
“Where’s Frank?” Bo asked.
“Away,” Jamal said quietly. He cleared his throat. “He left after I wouldn’t let him take you to the airport. He was pissed that I chose Jacó over you.”
Bo shrugged. “You made two promises and you had to chose which one to break. I don’t mind that you broke mine. You apologized, and that’s all I needed,” he said.
“Have you told Frank you apologized?”
“No, not yet.” Jamal sighed, folding his hands over his chest as he leaned back in his chair. “Truthfully, I’m not entirely certain that I will be informing him of… of that particular situation. Frank’s put up with my bullshit long enough. If he finally has the chance to get away from me, I think I should let him.”
“Frank cares about you, Jamal. He didn’t leave to get away from ‘your bullshit’. He left to get away from something he didn’t believe in.” Bo cocked his head to the side. “Did Jacó do something to Frank? Something that made him hate the guy?”
“No, of course not. If he had hurt Frank, I would’ve killed him a long time ago,” Jamal murmured. He offered a smile that even Bo knew wasn’t entirely genuine. “Frank walked me right back out of hell after Jacó left. Having the little bastard leave felt the same as when Katherine left. It was a damn punch to the heart that I didn’t need, and it was another situation that I wasn’t emotionally ready to handle. I wanted to die.” He tilted his head to the left, to the right. “Again. I wanted to die again, and Frank kept me from drowning. Figuratively, of course.
“The fact that I would dare choose Jacó over you after that was… I don’t know. He couldn’t wrap his mind around it. He left not even five minutes after you did. I know he was gone before the ambulance ever arrived,” Jamal said.
“You chose Jacó in the heat of the moment. You loved your brother more than anything, Jamal. It’s understandable that you felt the need to protect him and push me away,” Bo said. “Like I said before, emotions. You can only do so much to control them. They have a habit of getting in the way.”
Jamal chuckled softly. “I suppose.” He swiveled his chair to the side, running his tongue over his top row of teeth. “I don’t know, kiddo. Franklin… He has to hate me by now.”
Bo shook his head. “He’s been with you too long to hate you, Jamal.”
“I can’t,” Jamal said simply, pulling his phone out of his pocket. He tossed it to Bo. “You can call him.”
Bo tapped the lock screen button and slid his thumb across the bottom of the screen. “What’s your password?” he asked.
Jamal closed his eyes. “Eleven twenty-six.”
Bo typed in the numbers and opened up Jamal’s contact list. His heart skipped a beat as he scrolled through the numbers.
The names were mixed in among the rest, and there were many other ‘deceased’ notes after names Bo didn’t recognize. He glanced up at Jamal, but the older man’s eyes were still closed.
“Jamal?” Bo asked tentatively.
“Why do you keep their names in your phone?” Bo asked, hoping that Jamal would know what he was talking about without the direct need to spell it out. Why do you keep the numbers of dead people?
“Reminds me that I could’ve done more for them,” Jamal murmured. “If I get rid of the numbers, it’s accepting that I couldn’t have done anything, and that’s wrong.”
“Jesus,” Bo whispered. Jamal grunted his response. Clearing his throat, Bo clicked on Frank’s name, tapped the little green phone icon, and pressed Jamal’s phone to his ear.
“Mister Pitman,” Frank greeted after the second ring.
Silence followed for nearly five seconds before Frank asked, “My God, is he all right?”
“He’s fine.” A pause. “As fine as Jamal can be, anyway,” Bo said. Jamal snorted, swiveling his chair around to face the window instead of the wall.
“Then what’s this about?”
“He apologized to me, Frank.”
“That’s something. What about Jacó?” Frank asked.
“He threatened to kill me.”
“So Jamal killed him,” Frank murmured. “Of course.”
“He wouldn’t call you to let you know. He, uh, he thinks you deserve to rid yourself of his bullshit, I believe is how he has chosen to word it,” Bo said.
“You’ve forgiven him?”
“You know all about Jacó, then?”
“Yes,” Bo repeated.
“Are you at the station with him?” Frank asked.
“Yes, we’re in his office,” Bo said.
“I’ll be there in a minute.”
“Would you like to give me an actual ETA?”
“Oh, that is the actual ETA, Mister Austen. I’m in the parking lot,” Frank said.
Bo’s brow furrowed. “Why?”
“Please. Like I wasn’t following the old son of a bitch around to make sure he was all right?” Frank questioned. Bo smiled faintly. It wasn’t long before Frank walked into Jamal’s office, closing the door behind him. He shoved his phone into his pockets as Bo set Jamal’s phone back on the desk.
For the first time since Bo had known Jamal or Frank, the man was dressed in jeans and a dark blue t-shirt, his reading glasses tucked into the pocket at the left of his chest. “Mister Pitman, sir,” Frank said, tucking his hands behind his back.
Jamal cleared his throat, but he didn’t turn his chair back around. “Good morning, Franklin.”
Frank nodded slightly. “Are you all right, sir?”
Jamal chuckled. “Like Bo said, as all right as I can be.” With a heavy sigh, he turned his chair around, his dark eyes settling on Frank’s face. He smiled. “Thank you, Frank.”
Frank nodded once. “Always a pleasure, sir.”
10:37 PM; CLINSTONE MUNICIPAL AIRPORT, LOBBY
Jensen waited for Bo to set Acamas’s crate on the floor before he pulled his husband into a tight hug. “I missed you,” he whispered.
Bo smiled softly, wrapping his arms around the taller man. “I missed you, too, Jens.”
“Mm.” Jensen moved both hands to Bo’s face and tilted his head back, leaning down to kiss the blonde. “You ready to go home?”
Bo nodded. “Yeah, love. Let’s go home.”
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