Executioner – Chapter Thirty-Six

NOT EDITED

Chapter Thirty-Six

Sunday: March 8, 2026
6:31 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, MASTER BEDROOM

Kayla opened the door to her parents’ bedroom and leaned in to peek at them. They were both asleep, and although she didn’t want to disturb them, she had woken up from a nightmare, and Bo had previously given her permission to come into the room, whether it woke them up or not. She walked into the room and climbed onto Bo’s side of the bed.

Bo wrapped an arm around her as soon as she was under the covers. “Happy birthday, Kay,” he said softly.

“Thanks, Daddy,” the girl whispered back.

“Bad dream? Or just… or just a birthday cuddle?”

“Both.”

Bo chuckled, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. “Well, you just go on back to sleep. I’ll protect you from the bad stuff.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

“That’s what I’m here for, sweetheart.”

11:36 AM; BRANDON, SOUTH DAKOTA, DÉJÀ TATTOO, BACK ROOM

Brandon, South Dakota was only half an hour away from Clinstone. The tattoo and piercing parlor had great reviews, and it was the reason Bo had chosen it for Kayla’s ear piercings. Kayla sat in the chair in the middle of the back room used specifically for piercings, Bo’s hand wrapped around her own. So far, the piercer had only pierced her left ear.

“All right, sweetheart, just like the first time,” the piercer said, her voice soft. “Breathe in for me.” Kayla did as told, squeezing her eyes shut as she squeezed Bo’s fingers. “And out,” the woman said as she pushed the needle through Kayla’s ear. “That wasn’t so bad was it?” she questioned, pulling the needle through and pushing a small pink stud into place.

Kayla shook her head, opening her eyes. “That’s it?”

“That’s it,” the woman repeated. “Do you like ‘em?”

“Uh-huh. Thank you.”

The woman smiled softly. “My pleasure, sweetheart.” She pulled off her gloves and pulled open a drawer. “These will take around two to three months to heal. You’re going to clean them twice a day with a sea salt solution.” She handed a small container of sea salt to Kayla, squatting down beside the chair. “You pour all of that into a normal water bottle, shake it up, and then put it on a cotton swab and use it to clean the piercing. When you clean them, turn them a little bit. Only when you’re cleaning them, okay?”

Kayla nodded. “Okay.”

The woman stood up and grabbed a piece of paper and a business card. She handed them over to Bo. “The rules for cleaning are in there, and if you need anything else, you can call the parlor or email me there,” she said, tapping a finger against the business card.

Bo glanced down briefly. Taven. “Thank you, Taven.”

“No problem,” Taven said. Kayla jumped down from the chair, moving to stand beside Bo. “If you don’t mind me asking, how old are the scars?” Taven questioned.

Bo’s heart skipped a beat. He was wearing a watch, but it had moved enough to show his scars to any passerby. “Kay, baby? Go sit out with everyone else for me?”

“Okay, Daddy.” Kayla stared up at her father for a moment, squeezing his hand before heading out toward the waiting area of the tattoo parlor.

“Little over four years,” Bo said.

“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to pry. It’s just… one of our artists loves to do scar cover-ups. It’s his specialty. If that’s something you wanted to get done, of course. It… it looks like you want to hide them.”

“I do want to hide them. The watch normally covers them, but if I move my arm wrong…”

“The watch slides out of place.”

“Yeah.”

“If you ever decide you want them covered permanently? Give us a call.” One corner of her mouth lifted. “We’ll take care of it.”

“Thank you,” Bo said softly.

“My pleasure.” Lightly, she squeezed his upper arm. “Stay strong.”

Bo smiled faintly. “My family makes sure of that,” he promised.

6:15 PM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, DINING ROOM

“All right, Kay. Make a wish and blow out the candles,” Bo said, Elijah balanced on his hip. The boy was just about an inch or two away from Bo never being able to hold him like this again, so it was something they were both cherishing while they still could.

Kayla closed her eyes briefly before blowing out all nine candles on her cake.

Jensen clapped his hands together. “All righty, baby girl. Which piece do you want?”

“That one.”

“Smackdab in the middle?” Bo questioned.

“Yep.”

The blonde scoffed, hiking Elijah up on his hip. “Difficulty. I wonder who you could have possibly picked that up from,” he said, looking up at Jensen.

The younger man scoffed. “As if. You’re the difficult one.” Bo snorted, rolling his eyes.

“You’re both difficult,” Renee corrected, picking up the knife on the table. “Just, you know, in different ways.”

“For instance,” Denzel started, “wanting a piece of cake out of the middle is definitely a Jensen trait. Bo wouldn’t want to disrupt the unity of the cake like that.”

“Ha,” Bo whispered. Jensen rolled his eyes, but a broad smile was present on his face.

“You know,” Jacob said, “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, you two are adorable.”

“Aren’t they?” Renee asked at the same time both Bo and Jensen groaned. “What? You know we’re right,” she insisted, cutting into the cake.

“ ‘Right’ is a subjective term, Momma,” Bo reminded.

Renee snorted. “Of course. You know we hold the opinion that you’re adorable.”

“There you go.” Bo cleared his throat. “But, uh… but I’d still like to just eat some cake, if that’s okay.”

“Sure, baby,” Renee said softly. “Let’s eat some cake.”

11:49 PM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, MASTER BEDROOM

Bo sat down on the edge of the bed, undoing the small buckle on his watch. “The piercer saw my scars.”

“How do you know that?” Jensen asked.

“She asked how old they were.”

“Christ, Eli. I’m sorry.”

Bo shook his head. “It’s okay. She said one of their artists there specializes in cover-ups for scars,” he said simply, setting his watch on the nightstand.

“And what’d you say?”

“Well, I thanked her. She was kind and told me to stay strong,” Bo said.

“Is that all?” Jensen questioned.

“I don’t know. I… kind of like the idea of them being covered up.” Bo unbuttoned his flannel shirt, clearing his throat. “What do you think?”

“Why does it matter what I think? It’s your body.”

“Because I love you, and I’d still like us to talk things over whenever a decision has to be made, no matter how big or small said decision is,” Bo said.

Jensen sat up in bed, leaning over to press a kiss to Bo’s shoulder. “I love you no matter what. I see the scars, I’m reminded I could’ve lost you before I even had the chance to have you, and I kiss them to remind us both you’re here. If you cover them with a tattoo, I’ll still do that. It’s a reminder. It’s a gesture. If covering them is going to help you in some way, do it,” he said. He pressed his lips to Bo’s neck, one corner of his mouth lifting ever so slightly. “For what it’s worth, I think you’d look nice with a little tattoo.”

“Promise you’d still kiss them?” Bo asked after a moment of silence.

“All the damn time,” Jensen promised.

Bo turned just enough to kiss the younger man. “After Pollux is born, I think it’s something I’ll look into,” he said. “If I’m going to have to look at ink every day for the rest of my life, it’s going to need to be incredibly important, and I don’t think that’s possible unless I manage to make it deal with our kids.”

Jensen smiled. “Sounds like a plan, babe.” He kissed Bo’s temple before laying back down.

Bo shrugged out of his shirt and took off his jeans. He slid under the covers, turning off the bedside lamp as Jensen wrapped an arm around him. “I love you, Jens.”

“I love you, too, Eli. Goodnight.”

Bo wasn’t incredibly tired, but given the option of working on the case that night or lying beside his husband, he’d always prefer the latter. “Goodnight, Jens.”


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