3:29 PM; ELLEPATH POLICE DEPARTMENT, LOBBY
“Oh, I forgot how cozy this station was,” Bo murmured, wrapping both of his arms around one of Jensen’s.
“Well, it’s actually just small,” Jensen said.
Bo rolled his eyes. “Does it or does it not make you feel comfortable and relaxed?”
Jensen shrugged. “Yeah, I guess. I feel relaxed. It’s… homey in here.”
Bo stepped back, smacking the back of his hand against the younger man’s chest. “Jensen fucking Taylor, that’s the goddamn definition of cozy.”
Jensen laughed, hooking an arm around Bo’s shoulders. “Sorry, babe.”
“Mister Austen, Detective Taylor. Hi.”
Bo smiled, holding out a hand. “Officer Biggs. Good to see you again.”
Jeff grinned, shaking Bo’s hand. “You, too, short stuff.” He held his hand out to Jensen, “Detective.”
Jensen smiled faintly, shaking the older officer’s hand. “Officer,” he greeted softly.
“So,” Jeff started, clapping his hands together near his chest, “you ready to head on down to Ames?” he asked.
“Of course. We’ll follow you down?” Bo asked.
Jeff nodded. “Sounds like a plan. Come on.”
4:20 PM; AMES, SERENA BISHOP’S APARTMENT, KITCHEN
While Bo was in the living room snapping pictures of the blood and the overall mess of the apartment, Jensen and Jeff stood in the kitchen, watching.
“How long have you known him?” Jeff asked.
“How long have I known him, or how long have I dated him?” Jensen asked.
Jeff chuckled softly. “Both.”
“I’ve known him for about three and a half years. We’ve been dating for a little over two years.”
“How long have you been engaged?”
“How’d you know that?”
Jeff tapped a finger against Jensen’s ring. “I’ve spent my whole life around married people. You aren’t miserable enough to be married.”
Jensen snorted. “Just under six months.”
“Thank you,” Jensen said softly.
Jeff nodded. “When’re you getting married?”
“Valentine’s Day,” Bo answered from the living room. He squatted down by the coffee table for a better angle on the blood. “See, we got engaged on the three-year anniversary of when we met, and we’ll be getting married on the three-year anniversary of when we started dating,” he said.
“That’s pretty damn great,” Jeff said.
Bo smiled. “Thanks, Jeff.” Bo pushed himself to his feet, holding his camera to his chest. “So I still have to photograph the other rooms. Try not to touch anything without gloves while I’m out of sight?” he asked, turning toward the kitchen.
“We’ll do our best,” Jensen promised. He smiled softly. “Won’t touch anything. Promise.”
“Thank you.” Bo lifted a hand before walking out of the kitchen and heading into the bedroom. He flipped on the light in the room and let his eyes scan the room. The bedroom was clean, with the exception of a few shirts on the floor. The bed had been made, and the closet doors were closed. The nightstands were clean, untouched. The lamps were in their places. No papers or books had been shoved to the floor.
Bo grabbed the door with one gloved hand, pulling it away from the wall. The lock wasn’t damaged, and there was no mark on the wall where the door could have been swung into it. His brow furrowed.
Tired, drunken Serena Bishop had never made it to her bedroom.
Bo frowned, walking out of the bedroom and into the bathroom instead. He reached out, flipping on the light. There was a towel draped over one of the rungs of the towel rack. The bathmat lay over the side of the bathtub, the shower door open, undisturbed. Like before, he pulled the door away from the wall. The lock was fine, the wall was undamaged.
Serena Bishop hadn’t made it to the bathroom.
Bo walked back out into the kitchen, his grip tightening around his camera. “The killer was waiting for her.” Jensen and Jeff looked up at the blonde. “Mrs. Bishop opened the door to her apartment, shut it, flipped on a light, probably locked the door, since… it was still locked. I doubt the killer did that. But before she ever made it to the bedroom or the bathroom, the killer revealed themselves and tried to catch her, but she fought. Hard.” He offered a shrug, turning his head to look at the mess through the rest of the apartment. “Just… not hard enough.”
5:02 PM; CLINSTONE, THE MASON HOUSEHOLD, MASTER BEDROOM
Jacob sat down on the edge of the bed, dropping his hands into his lap. Clearing his throat, he turned his head toward Alice. “How was your appointment?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” Alice said quietly. She pulled her legs closer to herself, wrapping her arms around her knees. “He thinks we’re getting down to the root of all of my problems.”
“Yeah? That’s good. It means you can heal,” Jacob said, laying a hand over one of Alice’s.
Carefully, she pulled his hand out from under his. “The root problem is one of three things, Jacob.” A pause. “Scott, me, or family.” She shook her head. “I was never supposed to have one of my own. Scott forced a family on me, and the universe took it away. And now…”
“Family isn’t the root problem, Allie. And neither are you. You know just as well as I do that it’s Scott.”
“What if it’s not?” she asked in a whisper, lifting her gaze to his face.
“If it’s not, we’ll do whatever we have to to make you better,” Jacob said softly.
Alice nodded slightly, her arms tightening around her knees. “We talk a lot about how I feel useless. You know, because I can’t take care of the kids or you… or myself, most days.” She cleared her throat. “He says I have to find a way to make myself realize I’m not useless, but I don’t know how to make that happen.”
“We can figure that out, too.”
“What if we can’t?”
“We will.” Jacob shrugged, offering a warm smile. “We always do, baby. We’ll figure it out.”
6:15 PM; ELLEPATH POLICE DEPARTMENT, PARKING LOT
“It’s appreciated that you guys are so willing to help us on this,” Bo said as Jensen slid into the driver’s seat of the car. “I mean, I know Mrs. Bishop was a resident here, but the fact that you’re willing to send Rick to us instead of the other way around… It’s helpful, to say the least.”
Jeff smiled faintly, nodding. “Honestly, it’s our pleasure at this point. We’d be fucked without you, Bo. We’d still be waiting on the technician to come here and collect blood from the apartment. Helping in any way we can is the best decision we could make. We all solve our cases quickly and efficiently.”
“I know. Thank you.”
“Mmhmm.” Jeff clapped a hand down on Bo’s shoulder. “Take care of yourself, kid. I’ll see you around.”
“Of course, Jeff. You, too,” Bo said softly.
“I will. Drive safe,” Jeff said, leaning to the side.
Jensen held out a hand as he started the car. “Will do, Officer. Enjoy your evening.”
“You, too.” Jeff shoved his hands into his pockets as he walked back toward the station. Bo walked around the car and pulled open the passenger side door. He slid into his seat, closing the door and buckling his seat belt. He grabbed his phone, unlocking the screen and bringing up his text message thread with Jacob.
Bo: On our way back to Clinstone. I’ll have a report for you and Rick tomorrow.
Jacob’s response came several minutes later.
Jacob: Works for me, Blondie. Drive safe. See you tomorrow. Bo locked his phone, setting it on his lap. He reached over and laid a hand on Jensen’s thigh.
Jensen looked down briefly before looking back up at the road. “You beat me at my own game, babe,” he said, dropping a hand to cover Bo’s.
The blonde chuckled. “I’m good at that on occasion, you know,” he said.
“Mm, clearly.” Jensen cleared his throat, wrapping his fingers around Bo’s hand. “I thought we could go into a restaurant for food instead of just through the drivethrough. So, you know, we can be adults for a bit.”
Bo smiled. “Works for me, Jens.”
“Awesome.” Jensen squeezed Bo’s hand. “I love you, Eli,” he said softly.
“I love you, too, Jens.”
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