Saturday: February 20, 2027
6:35 AM; STONE HARBOR, NEW JERSEY, 117TH STREET
The Casanova stared at house before him, sighing. He walked along the little pathway and up to the stairs to the porch. He stood at the door for a moment, listening for any resounding hesitation in his mind. He heard none, thankfully. He pushed open the door, stepped inside. He closed the door, kicked off his shoes.
“That you, Mickey?”
“Yeah, Momma. Kitchen?” Mickey asked.
Mickey shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans as he headed for the kitchen in his childhood home. His mother, an older woman with white hair and a pair of reading glasses perched on her nose, turned and smiled at her son. She slung a hand towel over her shoulder before wrapping her hands around him. “Hey, Ma,” he greeted softly, hugging her tightly.
She stepped back, moving both hands up to her son’s face. “Have you been eating?”
Laughing, Mickey pulled her hands away from his face. “I’m good, Ma. I’ve been eating and sleeping. Promise.”
“Are you hungry?”
He wanted to say no, but he knew that’d result in his mother offering him every single bit of food they had in the house until he caved and ate something. Instead, he offered a simple, “Yeah, Ma, I could eat.”
“Oh, good. I’ll make breakfast.”
One corner of Mickey’s mouth lifted as he leaned back against the counter, crossing his arms over his chest. “How’ve you been, Ma?”
“Oh, same old same old, dear.”
He nodded. “You need money?”
“Of course not!”
“What’d you call me out here for? I mean, don’t get me wrong, Ma, I love seeing ya, but… but we usually just talk over the phone unless you need something.”
She sighed. “Your dad’s getting worse, Mickey.”
Mickey closed his eyes. “How bad is he?”
“He didn’t know who I was yesterday. He thought I was a thief, that I broke into the house to steal from him and his family.”
“Jesus, Ma,” Mickey whispered. “What do you wanna do?”
“He needs… God, Mickey, I hate to say it, but he needs to go somewhere. For help.”
“Assisted living, you think?”
“I think so,” she murmured. “I’m old, Mickey. I can’t take care of him all the time. Sometimes he wakes up in the middle of the night, turns on the stove, and goes back to bed. Almost lit the kitchen on fire a couple a times. I can’t…”
“I’ll find a good one to set up in, Ma. Don’t worry about it.”
“Thank you, sweetheart. It just… it just felt wrong for me to be the one to do it.”
“I get it, Ma,” Mickey said with a nod. “I’ll handle it.”
“You’re a lifesaver, Mickey,” she whispered, reaching up to pat his cheek.
And a life ender, Mickey thought dryly. “I do my best, Mom.”
“You should stay until he’s in a good place. Can you do that?” she asked.
“I can do whatever you need me to do, Ma.” Mickey leaned forward slightly, clearing his throat. “Got anything that needs fixing?”
“The bathroom sink leaks,” she said after a moment.
Mickey chuckled softly. “A’ight, Ma. I’ll fix it.”
“No prob, Ma.”
5:41 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, MASTER BEDROOM
Bo lay on his back, Jensen sound asleep beside him, one arm thrown across his chest. Bo had, in all fairness, done his best to sleep more than three hours, but he hadn’t fallen asleep until one, and he’d been up since four.
His mind always picked one little thing to focus itself on, one little nagging thing that would wake him up and keep him awake, no matter what he did to make the thing go away. That morning, the thing was about one of the only times he’d truly been rude to Jensen. He’d always been more than thankful for Jensen, and he’d always done his best to let the younger man know that. The time he’d failed, however, had been the night they first slept together.
Bo had been drunk, tired, grieving, and—in general—entirely pissy. For reasons that sober, mentally-sound Bo couldn’t make sense of, he’d threatened to have Jensen fired, to have Jamal ruin the young man’s life if he didn’t follow through with the obvious promise of sex. Bo had, in the past, tried to apologize for it, but he always came up short. No apology seemed like enough.
Beside him, Jensen stirred, wrapping his fingers around Bo’s shirt. The younger man cleared his throat, snuggling up closer to the blonde. “Bridget?” he questioned, his voice rough.
Bo shook his head, gently combing his fingers through Jensen’s hair. “No, love. I just… can’t sleep.”
“What’s got all the gears turnin’?”
“Can I apologize to you for something?”
“Mm… go for it.”
“When we first slept together?”
“I’m incredibly ashamed of the way I treated you. No words will ever be enough to say how sorry I am, Jensen.”
The younger man shook his head. “Not your fault,” he mumbled. “Coming down from drunken happiness, waking up from a nightmare about her… You needed something, somebody, and I was willing to be that something, and then I took it away. That’s on me, not you.”
“I said a lot of bad things to you, Jens.”
“Mm.” Jensen offered a shrug, lifting one shoulder. “Not your fault,” he repeated.
“You’re wrong. I’m still sorry.”
Jensen snorted. “Apology accepted.” He threw a leg between both of Bo’s, wrapping his arm around the blonde’s chest. “Should go back to sleep.”
“I’m not tired.”
“Mm… you are. Just refuse to acknowledge it.” Jensen cleared his throat, lifting a hand to tap a finger against Bo’s temple. “Brain’s got you thinkin’ crooked. Tired, just can’t admit it.” He sniffled, sliding his hand back to Bo’s chest. “Nothin’ else, close your eyes and pretend to sleep. Better than nothin’.”
Bo chuckled softly, pressing a kiss to the top of Jensen’s head. “I love you,” he whispered.
“Mm… love you, too. But, y’know, sleep. ‘Kay?”
“I’ll do what I can, Jens. In the meantime, go back to sleep. You sound beyond tired.”
“Understatement,” Jensen mumbled. “Night, Eli.”
“Goodnight, Jens,” Bo murmured. Though he knew he wouldn’t fall asleep anytime soon, he closed his eyes. Because Jensen had asked him to, as well as for the sake of his own sanity, he’d at least try to sleep.
8:16 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, FOYER
Bo held out Elijah Mason’s coat, tugging the sleeves over the child’s arms. Elijah turned to face the blonde, allowing him to zip up the coat. “Excited to go home?” Bo asked.
Elijah glanced up briefly before offering a shrug. “Excited to see Momma and have birthday cake tonight.”
Bo smiled. “I figured.” He pulled a hat onto Elijah’s head before pushing himself back to his feet. “You make sure your daddy know you guys are welcome here anytime.”
Elijah nodded. “Okay.” He wrapped his arms around Bo. “See you soon, Uncle Bo.”
“See you soon, buddy.” Elijah ran outside to where his sisters were waiting by Jacob’s car.
Jacob offered a smile, using his shoulder to push his glasses up on his nose. “Thanks for letting us stay here, Blondie.”
“Always a pleasure.”
Jacob nodded, reaching out to pat Bo on the shoulder. “You should go back to sleep for a couple hours. You look like hell.”
Bo snorted. “Thanks.”
“It’s what I’m here for.” Jacob smiled, shoving his hands into the pocket of his jacket. “See you Monday?”
“Of course. Tell your wife happy birthday for me,” Bo said.
“You betcha. Save a slice of cake for you and Jensen? I’ll even bring it to the station Monday morning.”
Bo chuckled. “Yes, that’d be great.”
“Figured.” Jacob nodded toward the door. “I gotta go, but get some sleep. You need it. Stop worrying about the case or whatever else is on your mind. It’s a weekend. The bad shit can wait.”
“I know, Jake. Thank you.”
“Ah… you betcha. Love you, Blondie.”
“Love you, too, Jake. See you Monday,” Bo said. Jacob nodded, lifting a hand in departure before turning around and heading down the walkway to his car. Bo watched Jacob and the kids get into the car before waving and closing the door. He turned around, flinching. “Jesus,” he whispered. “You scared the hell out of me.”
Jensen offered a sheepish smile. “Sorry.”
Bo shook his head, patting Jensen on the chest as he walked past the younger man. “When the hell did you get so quiet?”
“Picked it up from Jamal. Man’s a thousand years old and still walks quieter than anyone else I’ve ever met,” Jensen said.
“I think a thousand is a bit far fetched,” Bo said.
Jensen shrugged as he followed the blonde into the kitchen. “I dunno. A thousand seems just about right.” He pressed a hand to the refrigerator as Bo tried to open it. “I love you, Eli, but you should try to get some more sleep. The twins finally sleep more than two hours at a time. Take advantage of that and get some sleep before they start walking and climbing out of their cribs.”
“Let’s hear it.”
“I have a cup of coffee now and take a nap on the couch later while everyone else is watching a movie.”
“Deal.” Jensen stepped away from the refrigerator, leaning back again the counter again. “Since you’re staying awake anyway, do you… think you have any idea as to why the Casanova’s taken a break?”
“I haven’t profiled him yet, so I’m not entirely certain,” Bo said as he pulled open the door. He grabbed the coffee creamer and set it on the counter. “I really don’t even have a solid guess. The lack of a profile on him makes that a bit more difficult than usual. But I have a few mild suggestions, I suppose.”
“And those would be?” Jensen questioned.
“He could be taking a break to purposely screw with us all. The break could be because he was never planning on coming back to killing fully.”
“Like a temporary fix for the urge?”
“More or less,” Bo agreed after a moment. “He could be having personal issues that interrupt his spree. He could’ve gotten injured and he’s currently unable to get around and hurt other people. He could be busy reminiscing. He could be looking over whatever possible trophies he managed to nab from each victim. He could be bored with it. He might’ve moved to a new state or town.” He offered a shrug. “The possibilities in this situation are nearly endless.”
“What about after he’s been profiled?” Jensen asked.
“Then we might have a chance to narrow those possibilities down at least a little bit, but it’s still no guarantee as to what really caused the break,” Bo said. “But we’ll get there eventually. Maybe that’s something Tom and I can hash out tomorrow or Monday. Until then, I need coffee and a nap.”
Jensen chuckled softly. “Sounds like a plan, Eli. You do what you gotta do.” He pushed away from the counter, smacking Bo’s rear as soon as the blonde turned back toward the coffee machine. “I’m gonna let Hati back in.”
“Thank you. Do you want coffee?”
“Uh… yeah, sure. Thanks.” Jensen leaned down and kissed Bo before walking out of the kitchen. He backpedaled quickly, hands tucked behind his back. “And Eli?”
“I know I was barely awake this morning, but that’s something you don’t ever have to apologize for. I forgave you for it years ago.”
“Thank you, Jensen,” Bo whispered.
“My pleasure, Eli.”
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