3:21 PM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, FAMILY ROOM
Jamal sat on the couch, his phone trapped between his ear and shoulder and a gaming controller in his hands.
“Hey,” Wayne Duncan greeted.
“Hello. I didn’t mean to miss your call. I’m in the middle of learning I suck at zombie games,” Jamal said.
“I didn’t say you sucked,” Amber said. “I just said you were bad at it.”
Jamal chuckled. “I know, baby.” A pause. “Anyway, what’d you need?”
“I called to say happy birthday, you old shit,” Wayne said.
“When’re you coming back home?”
“Tonight. Bo and Jensen are wrapping up a case here, and I’ll be leaving shortly after they come home,” Jamal said.
“So you’ll be here in… what, nine hours?”
“Give or take. Why?”
“I thought I’d meet you at the house, have a couple drinks,” Wayne said. “Nicole and the kids are outta town, so I’m bored out of my mind and dealing with a dog that only pretends to like me when Nickie’s here.”
Jamal snorted. “Well, I’ll call you when I’m on my way home.” He glanced to his right as he heard the front door open. “I do believe Bo and Jensen just got home. I’ll be in San Diego around… oh, let’s say quarter past ten. Your time.”
“Great. I’ll be at the house waiting for you.”
“You still have a key?”
“Always do, Dad. I’ll see you soon?” Wayne asked.
Jamal smiled. “Of course. See you in a few hours, kid.” He waited for Wayne to end the call before reaching up to grab his phone. He handed the gaming controller to Kayla. “Take over for me?”
Jamal pushed himself to his feet. Frank looked up from the book he was reading, his eyes settling on Jamal’s face. The older man only waved a hand. “I’m just going into the kitchen. I’ll let you know when we’re leaving.”
“All right, sir.”
Jamal headed into the kitchen, cocking his head to the side as Bo walked into the room. “Tired?” he questioned.
“Mm.” Bo wrapped his arms around Jamal, closing his eyes. “Long day.”
“I imagine so,” Jamal said softly, resting a hand on the back of Bo’s head. “I’m going to be heading home soon. Wayne wants to have a couple drinks.”
“Mmhmm.” Bo cleared his throat, pushing himself away from Jamal. “Stay. I have something for you before you go.”
“Okay.” Jamal watched Bo leave before crossing his arms over his chest. The blonde came back roughly a minute later and handed him a box. “What’s this?”
“Birthday present. But you can’t open it until you get back to California,” Bo said.
“Because I think it’s hilarious when you try to convey emotions through text.”
Jamal snorted. “You’re an ass.”
“I do my best.” Bo offered a smile. “But seriously, happy seventy-sixth.”
Jamal patted Bo’s cheek. “Thanks, kiddo.” He pulled the blonde into another quick hug. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
“Keep me updated on the boys. I’ll come back down here if you need me to.”
“And let me know when your parents are ready to come home. I’ll send the plane.”
After saying goodbye to Amber and Kayla and packing up the single suitcase he had brought with him, Jamal headed outside to meet Frank at the car. Instead, he found Jensen standing at the car, one hand resting on the back door. “Yes?” Jamal questioned.
“Kathy told me that Bo only married me to get over Bridget,” Jensen said.
Renee had been right. Jensen didn’t need to be scared into telling him anything. “Want me to fire her?” Jamal asked.
“Does Bo know you’re telling me?”
“Yeah. He just didn’t want to be the one to tell you,” Jensen said.
“He didn’t want to be the person that forced you to choose between him or Kathy,” Jensen said.
Jamal nodded. “All right,” he said quietly. “Let Bo know she’ll stay at the station until the next time he’s in L.A.. There’s one thing I need him to do first.”
“Not… not a big thing, right?”
“No. Nothing evil, either, I assure you,” Jamal said.
Jensen nodded almost hesitantly. “Okay.”
Jamal smiled faintly. “Thank you for telling me, Jensen. This had to be eating away at you.”
“It was,” Jensen whispered. “I told Bo that I wouldn’t be able to keep lying to you about it if you were in Clinstone.”
“Understandable. Again, thank you.”
“You aren’t mad?”
“At you? No. At Katherine? Yes. Tell Bo to come to L.A. when he has the time. Then I’ll deal with Katherine.”
Jensen nodded. “I will.” He cleared his throat, shoving his hands into his pocket. “Try to enjoy your birthday?” he asked.
Jamal chuckled. “I’ll do my best, Jensen.” Jensen smiled faintly, opening the door for Jamal. The older man patted him on the shoulder. “Enjoy your evening, Jensen.”
“You, too, Jamal.”
10:16 PM; SAN DIEGO, THE PITMAN ESTATE, OFFICE
Jamal sat down at his desk, setting the box from Bo in front of him.
“What’s that?” Wayne asked.
“A birthday present,” Jamal said. “I wasn’t allowed to open it until I got here.”
Wayne snorted. “Because Bo knows you can’t use emojis.”
Jamal rolled his eyes. “I won’t succumb to your generation’s lack of ability to communicate with words.” Wayne only laughed in response. Jamal opened the box, a soft smile on his face. “You little shit.”
“What?” Jamal turned the box toward Wayne. The younger man laughed. Inside, a bottle of Scotch and a glass tumbler sat. The bottle had ‘Pitman’ engraved on it, while the tumbler had been engraved with the words ‘The Grandfather’, a small had puppeteering the ‘father.’
“I get it. It’s a play on The Godfather.” Wayne bit back a laugh. “Because you’re a gangster.” He grinned. “Blondie’s funny.”
“Blondie’s a little shit,” Jamal muttered as he grabbed his cell phone and brought up his text thread with Bo.
Jamal: I opened the box.
Bo: Did you get it?
Jamal: Yes, I *got it*, you little shit. Pitman the gangster. You’re hilarious.
Bo: I tried REALLY hard, you know.
Jamal: I can tell, jackass. Thank you.
Bo: Ha, you’re welcome. Happy birthday.
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