12:00 PM; LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT, WEST BUREAU, CHIEF OF POLICE BO AUSTEN-TAYLOR’S OFFICE
Bo’s blue eyes skimmed over the paper before him one last time before he signed it and handed it over to Lieutenant Dallas Silver.
Dallas raised an eyebrow. “You know I’ll never bring anything in here that you need to read a thousand times, right? It’s all, you know, legal.”
Bo snorted. “I know, Dal. I just like to know what I’m signing before I put my name on it.” He pushed himself to his feet. “Better to be safe than sorry.”
“Fair.” Dallas looked down at his watch as Bo stuck a folder in one of the filing cabinets. “You should head out for lunch, Chief.”
Bo groaned, coming back to his desk. “You’re a bastard. Don’t call me that.”
Dallas smiled broadly, chuckling. “Sure thing, Bo.” He nodded toward the door. “Head on out, grab a bite to eat. Get out of the station and, you know, breathe for a little while. I’ll hold down the fort.”
Bo’s shoulders relaxed. “Thank you.” Dallas nodded. “Would… it be weird if I hung out in my office when I come back?”
“This is your office.”
“You know what I mean, Dal. Mine. The one with forensic analyst written on the door.”
Dallas lifted his shoulders. “Don’t see why not. People will still go in there if they need help from you, so… Just do whatever you wanna do. But, uh, you should be prepared to hang out in here too. Kinda looks like you don’t wanna be in charge if you wander off elsewhere all the time.”
“All valid points,” Bo said quietly. He nodded. “Okay. Thank you.”
“Sure thing, lab geek.” Dallas offered his usual charming half-smile before turning and walking out of the office.
Bo let out a quiet sigh. “Would you like to come with for lunch, Frank?”
“No, no, that’s all right. I’ll grab something from the break room. You should enjoy an hour with Mister Taylor. You need that, I think.” Frank lifted his head, a soft smile on his face. “You go on ahead. I’ll be here.” Bo patted the older man on the shoulder as he walked past. He stepped out of his office–although he still had the urge to refer to it as Jamal’s office–and headed down the hallway.
In the detective desks bay of the station, Bo walked up to his husband’s desk, hands tucked behind his back. “Jens?”
Jensen Austen-Taylor lifted his head, a smile coming to his face. “Hey, Eli. Everything okay?”
Bo nodded. “It’s… been okay so far. A bit nerve wracking, but okay.” He cleared his throat, jerking a thumb over his shoulder. “I was thinking we could grab lunch?”
“Sure, babe.” Jensen pushed his chair back and stood up. Grabbing his phone from the desk, he grabbed Bo’s outstretched hand. “Good news? You don’t look as pale as you did when they were swearing in.”
“Yes, I felt like I couldn’t breathe.” Bo snorted. “Kindly remind me to never accept one of Jamal’s offers ever again?”
Jensen chuckled. “Yeah, will do, Eli.” He pressed a kiss to the top of the blonde’s head as they walked through the station. “Ryan called me, said there was a homicide in Clinstone. I assume you knew that?”
“Yes, I called Jake about it. What did Ryan have to say about it?”
“He said Gwen found three sets of fingerprints. One set belonged to the victim. The other two aren’t in the system.”
“What were they on? One unknown set on the wallet and the other on the knife?” Bo asked.
“Yep.” Jensen turned, backing into the door of the station, allowing Bo to walk outside first. “Whatcha thinking?”
“I’m thinking about…. assumptions.”
“You wanna share one with me?” Lightly, Jensen elbowed him in the side before grabbing his hand again. “You can always share them with me. You and me are partners for life, Eli. We can theorize and hypothesize together, yeah?”
After a moment, Bo nodded. “Yes. I suppose it’s good for me anyway, huh?”
“I’d think so.”
Again, the blonde nodded. “The prints lead me to one assumption in particular. Either two people killed this young woman, or someone else came along after she had died and stole the wallet, ditching it afterward. Was the money inside missing?”
“Mmhmm. Ryan says the wallet was pretty cheap, so that’s probably why the didn’t bother taking it.”
“Could be,” Bo said quietly. “How long was she in the alley before someone found her?”
“Three hours or so, best Gwen could tell.”
“Had she been moved? Jake didn’t know much, and I didn’t see any pictures of the wall she was leaned up against.” At the car, he pulled his hand from Jensen’s and turned to face the younger man.
“I don’t think so. Ryan made it sound like one of the garbage bins was obstructing her body from the view of anyone just walking by. The bartender called it in when he took the trash out this morning.” Jensen laid a hand on the roof of the car. “Misty put in her two weeks.”
“Jake said she might. Do you know why?”
“Ryan says she’s pregnant again. She’s worried that going to work every day risks her putting the baby in danger, and since she’s in her forties… You know?”
Bo nodded. “I don’t blame her. I’ll help Jake and David find someone apt enough to replace her once we get back to Clinstone.” He pulled the car keys from his pocket and held them out to Jensen. “Gentle, please.”
Jensen grinned, swiping the keys from his husband. “Of course.” Bo rolled his eyes, pulling open the passenger seat and climbing into the car. Jensen rounded the car and slid into the driver’s seat. He turned the key in the ignition, shaking his head. “How did Jamal manage to get you a car with an actual key?”
“I… have absolutely no idea. You know the man has a way of working miracles.” Bo, despite having money for the majority of his life, hadn’t gotten a ‘new’ car in a long time. Although he loved technology and the advancement of it, he liked certain things to stay the same, to stay consistent and predictable. Adapting to the ‘push to start’ cars wasn’t something he particularly wanted to do, and he had stuck to used cars because of it.
That morning, however, Jamal Pitman had arrived at his house with the new, expensive car and passed it off as a gift for the brand new chief of police.
“Now I want a new car,” Jensen muttered as he backed out of the parking space.
“I’d wait until we’re back in Clinstone. I’d have to make the twenty-six-hour drive to Minnesota if I wanted this car there, so I’d hold off for a bit.”
Jensen snorted. “Actually, uh, secret time. Jamal’s got another one of these sitting in our garage in Clinstone.”
Bo groaned, throwing his head back against the seat. “Jupiter, he’s such a pain in the ass.”
The younger man chuckled. “I don’t know why you’re surprised. You’ve met Jamal, babe.” He laid a hand on Bo’s thigh, his free hand wrapped around the steering wheel. “I’m real damn proud of you, Eli.”
“For taking such a big jump to take over for Jamal. I-I know it’s pretty damn far out of your comfort zone, but I… I am so proud of you.”
Bo smiled softly, covering Jensen’s hand with his own. “Thank you, love. That… means the world to me.”
Jensen smiled over at the blonde before his eyes shifted back to the road. “My pleasure, baby.”
5:17 PM; LOS ANGELES, THE AUSTEN HOUSEHOLD, LIVING ROOM
Renee Austen lifted her head as her son and Jensen walked into the room. She smiled. “Hey, baby. How’re you doing?”
“Feeling… a bit overwhelmed,” Bo said. “But I think that’s to be expected.”
She nodded, pushing herself to her feet. “I don’t think you saw us, but your dad and I went to your swearing in ceremony. You did really well, sweetheart.”
Bo smiled, reaching up to brush his hair from his forehead. “Thanks, Momma.” He closed his eyes as she pulled him into a hug. Though Bo had never been much for hugs, especially as a kid, he had always had a soft spot for hugs with his adoptive parents. So, without complaint, he wrapped his arms around her. “Where are the kids?”
“Basement with you dad. I think the girls are playing pool, and the boys were playing with the dollhouse when I was down there last.”
“Awesome.” Bo pulled away from her as his phone rang. He lifted his eyes to Jensen’s face. “Make sure they’re all okay?”
“Sure, babe.” Jensen smacked a hand against Bo’s backside and headed out of the room.
Bo shook his head and accepted the call, pressing his phone to his ear. “Evening, Pitman.”
“Hey, kiddo,” Jamal greeted. “How was day one?”
“Long. Strange. I’m admittedly rather out of my element on this one, Jamal,” Bo said, shoving his free hand uncomfortable into the pocket of his dress pants. His mother patted him on the chest before walking out of the room. “Am I able to go back to flannels and jeans?”
“Of course you can. Just make sure you have your uniform on standby in your office, just in case of an impromptu press conference.”
Bo nodded. “I will, thank you.” He bowed his head, clearing his throat. “How… was day one of retirement?”
“Lovely. Also strange, but lovely.” A pause. “You have a meeting with Michael tomorrow.”
“Kiddo, if I had all the answers, you wouldn’t need to have a meeting with him.”
“Oh. Yes, right.” Bo closed his eyes. “This is terrifying, Jamal,” he whispered.
“You’ll be okay. Give yourself a bit of time to adjust to it all,” Jamal said. “It’ll be hard to get used to, but you adapt rather quickly, kidd. I’ve seen that a million times with you. You’ll be just fine.”
Much like he had done with Frank, Bo bit back how he truly felt about adaptation, how he felt about change. “Okay.”
“Keep yourself sane, Bo.”
“I’ll do my best. You’ll… stay safe?”
“Always,” Jamal assured.
Bo considered reminding Jamal that he had been shot three different times in the last year alone, and stabbed at least once, but he chose to settle for, “I love you.”
“I love you too, kiddo. I’m always just a phone call away, okay?”
“Get yourself something to eat, kid. Supper, gym in a few hours, and then grab some much-needed rest. We’ll talk tomorrow.”
“Okay. Thank you, Jamal. For everything.”
Jamal chuckled softly. “My pleasure, kiddo. Thank you for the same.”
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