Happy Face Killer – Chapter Three

NOT EDITED

Chapter Three

Wednesday: January 2, 2030
5:00 AM; LOS ANGELES, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, MASTER BEDROOM

“It’s five in the morning,” Jensen grumbled. “No one’s gonna call you yet, Eli.”

“Well, it’s seven in Clinstone. There’s a chance someone will call.”

Jensen shook his head. “You’ve got another hour before anyone you wanna talk to is at the station.”

“Not a terrible point,” Bo agreed. With a sigh, he reached back and set his phone on the nightstand. “Is it wrong that I want to do nothing more than just… sit here all day?”

“Nah. You’re nervous, Eli. Gotta give yourself a while to adjust, and it’s okay to feel that nervousness while you adjust.” Jensen pushed himself up to a sitting position, raking a hand through his dark hair. “Gotta work out all the nerves and anxiety before you can just roll on out of bed like you get donned Chief of Police every day.”

Bo snorted. “I suppose.” He leaned to the side and pressed a kiss to Jensen’s jaw. “You need to shave,” he said, patting the younger man’s cheek.”

“Yeah. I’ll do it after we shower.”

Bo nodded. “Okay. I’m going to go ahead and start coffee, then. Get the water warm and I’ll be with you in, say… five?”

A smile tugged at one corner of Jensen’s mouth. “Sure thing, Eli.”

5:40 AM; LOS ANGELES, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, FOYER

“The kids are still asleep. Most likely, they’ll stay that way for another hour or two,” Bo said, slipping his feet into his shoes. “Thank you for watching them again.”

“No problem, sweetheart,” Renee said softly. “Good luck at work.”

“Thank you, Momma.”

Denzel Austen, Bo’s father, squeezed the blonde’s shoulder. “Have a good way, squirt. Keep your head up.”

Bo couldn’t help but smile. “I’ll do my best, Dad. Thank you.” He stepped outside, closing the door behind him. He headed down the walkway and to the street, where Jensen waited for him in the car. The younger man leaned across the center console and pushed open the passenger side door before Bo reached it. “Thank you, love,” he murmured, sliding into the seat.

“No problem, Eli.” Jensen waited until Bo closed the door before he shifted into gear and pulled away from the curb.

Bo fitted his coffee cup into one of the cup holders before clearing his throat. “Remember how I asked Mekhi to keep an ear out for any homicides that looked suspiciously close to the handiwork of our vigilante?”

“Uh, vaguely, I think.”

Bo nodded once, pulling his satchel over his head and setting it at his feet. “Well, he kept an ear out, and a little birdie told him our dear vigilante struck in Georgia twice in the last four days,” he said, clicking his seat belt into place.

Jensen let out a low whistle. “Boy’s been busy. Who’d he kill?”

“Mekhi’s busy preparing a folder for me, but he mentioned something about burglars. He doesn’t know a hell of a lot about it, but he’ll at least be able to give me a basic rundown of it soon… ish.”

“This vigilante asshole’s got a large range of victims,” Jensen said after a moment. “Homicidal psycho, rapist, prostitute, burglars. Some of those are certainly more serious crimes than the others.”

Bo lifted his shoulders. “Hangman had a wide range of victims, as well,” he reminded. Although Bo knew Hangman–the first vigilante case he had ever worked–by his first name, he usually did his best to pretend it wasn’t Dallas.

Life tended to be just a little easier when you didn’t constantly admit you were best friends with a serial killer, vigilante or otherwise. Bo even did his best to pretend he hadn’t once offered to let Dallas take him as a hostage in order to bargain with the LAPD.

Pretend, of course, being the keyword to the thought.

“Some of these vigilantes like to stick to the hard-hitting criminals,” Bo said, forcing himself away from any Hangman-related thoughts. “Some of them can go months or years upon years without killing because they only want to take out the criminals who are dealing big time damage, like mass killers or serial killers. But there are others who can’t handle themselves, who can’t control themselves. They want to kill as often as they can, no matter who they have to take out to get there. Hell, if they’re out driving around, and they happen to see someone toss a gum wrapper on the ground, they might snap and kill them.

“After all, it’s still technically a crime. They don’t care how much of a crime it is. They don’t care that the person in question would get nothing than a damn fine for it, if even. They’re out of control. They can’t control whatever urge they feel, whether it be for power or for murder or anything else. It doesn’t matter what the urge is for. Whatever it is, they aren’t the one in control, and they’ll kill anyone for any crime just to tide that hungry urge over for a while.”

“Jesus,” Jensen muttered. He drummed his fingers against the steering wheel. “So… why not sic some of Jamal’s guys on the vigilante?”

“Because that’s not how I want to solve crime. I’m a lab geek at heart, Jens. I still want to do things the right way as often as I can. I don’t want to cut corners if I don’t have to, ever. If it comes down to it, if it all gets too out of hand, or if I ever get to a point again where this vigilante case makes me want to die, I’ll call in Jamal’s men, and I’ll let them track the killer down. But until we hit that point, it’s our job to handle this to the best of our abilities.”

Jensen smiled softly, dropping a hand to Bo’s thigh. “I knew you wouldn’t let Jamal’s power go to your head.” He cocked his head to the side briefly. “Well, I mean, I hoped you wouldn’t. But now I know for sure.”

Bo snorted. “Of course, Jens. I’m still just the forensics guy. Wearing a damn police badge and having a uniform in one of my offices doesn’t change that. Forensics is still on the brain twenty-four-seven.”

Jensen chuckled. “Good to know, Eli.” He squeezed Bo’s thigh. “But you know, if you change your mind and sic Jamal’s guy on this dude? I’ve got your back, one hundred percent.”

“Thank you, Jens.”

“My pleasure, babe.”

7:30 AM; LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT, WEST BUREAU, CHIEF OF POLICE BO AUSTEN-TAYLOR’S OFFICE

Bo lifted his head as a slight knock sounded on the open door of Jamal’s–his–office. He offered a smile. “Good morning, Mister Dawson.”

Michael Dawson, a relatively short black man, nodded once. He had lost weight since the last time he and Bo had met face-to-face, and a lot of it. Bo wasn’t out of the loop on news related to the mafia world. This was a grieving man. This was a man that had run a crime family through five years of grief after the death of his significant other.

“Come on in, Mister Dawson,” Bo said softly.

“You can just call me Michael,” he said as he closed the door. “Or Momma. I don’t mind either. Mister Dawson’s a bit… formal.”

Bo nodded. “Of course, Michael.” He gestured to one of the chairs in front of his desk, the one on his right. “Have a set.”

Michael lowered himself into the chair, lightly crossing his arms over his chest. “My co-leader wanted to be here, but he’s a bit preoccupied today. Sorry about that.”

“That’s all right.” Bo folded his arms over the desk. “May I ask a question?” Michael nodded. “Why do you go by ‘Momma’?”

Michael chuckled. “It’s been my nickname with the family forever, back when it was still Grimm. I was their doctor and their caretaker. I took care of those men like a mother would. That hasn’t changed.”

Bo smiled faintly. “Got it. So… what’re we here for today?”

“Cocaine.” Michael uncrossed his arms and pulled a tablet out of the satchel at his side. He unlocked the screen and held it out to Bo. “It’s coming in from Colombia, but we need it on the streets in upper Cali. We couldn’t bring it in through anywhere that wasn’t LAX. I need a clean path out of there and to the warehouse we have here in Los Angeles. Then I need it out of the warehouse and transported north to the California-Oregon border.”

Bo’s blue eyes scanned the roads Michael had highlighted. “Why cocaine?” he questioned, reaching out to adjust one of the routes ever so slightly. He wasn’t sure what it was about leaders of the mob, but they seemed to think that a police chief could pull all of their officers off of the busiest, most dangerous streets in Los Angeles without any conflict.

He was just thankful that Michael Dawson was clearly more open to change than some of the other mobsters he’d had to deal with in his time knowing Jamal.

“There’s a high demand for it up north, specifically the good quality stuff. People will snort anything, sure, but they get bored of the cut, low-quality shit pretty easily. Good blow for drug addicts is damn good money for us.”

“Right,” Bo murmured. “None of this is coming into L.A., correct?”

“God, no. We don’t bring drugs into Los Angeles. The deal with Jamal was that he’d make sure we transported it safely as long as we kept it from being dealt in his damn city. That’s still true.”

“Good, good,” Bo said with a short nod. He cleared his throat. “When is this coming in, then?”

“Sunday.”

Bo frowned. “I’ll need to adjust this a bit more. Sundays still hold our highest gun-related homicide statistics. Far more boots need to be on the streets on Sundays to help counteract that as much as we can.”

“Sure. Change whatever you need to. We can go whatever route you need us to as long as it guarantees you aren’t having us arrested,” Michael said.

“You’re safe in my district,” Bo said. “I can even find out who’s patrolling where outside of my district, see if I can’t find a route that makes sure you avoid all of that.”

“Really?”

Bo offered a nearly embarrassed smile. “I am great at hacking into police servers.”

Michael chuckled. “Good to know… Bo?”

“Yes, Bo’s fine. My last name’s also far too formal for a meeting of any kind.”

The mob boss snorted. “Of course.”

Bo zoomed in on the map, making minor adjustments to the route as he moved the map around. “Are you in active contact with Venetia?”

“I speak with Carmine much more than I talk to her. He was a part of my family before he married her and transitioned over to Lucchese.” Michael shook his head. “Venetia can be a little… crass for someone who is supposed to be an ally. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the girl. She just doesn’t understand how to behave around certain people.”

Bo nodded. “I’ve noticed that. I had to threaten the safety and financial status of her family before she was willing to show me any sort of respect.” He let out a breath. “It’s a real shame, too. Jamal has only ever spoken highly of her father and grandfather.”

“Her father was a good man, very intelligent, very organized. He knew what he was doing.” A pause. “I think Venetia was forced into a position of leadership far too early. She took over as soon as her father died, and as far as I know, she never allowed herself to grieve the way a child should grieve over the loss of a parent. If you ask me, it shows in the way she chooses to lead her family, in the way she chooses to interact with those trying to help her.”

“You could say that again,” Bo said quietly.

The pair sat in silence for nearly five minutes before Bo scanned over the map one last time. “I think that’s as close as I can get it to perfect.” He pushed the tablet across the desk. “Send me a copy of the route in my district? I’ll make sure to clear it on Sunday.”

“Of course, Bo. Thank you.” Michael tucked the tablet into his satchel and pushed himself to his feet. “Thank you. Again.”

“My pleasure, Michael.”


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