12:20 PM; LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT, WEST BUREAU, PARKING LOT
Bo slid into the passenger seat of his car, closing the door behind him. He set a folder on his lap and locked his seat belt into place.
Jensen cleared his throat. “You okay?”
Bo turned toward him, offering a smile. “Yes. Just a little… worn out, I suppose.”
The younger man reached over and squeezed his thigh. “So,” he started as he backed out of his parking space, “how’d your talk with Gabriel go?”
“We’re slowly getting somewhere, I believe. ‘Slowly’ being the operative word, of course,” Bo said.
“That’s okay. Progress doesn’t happen overnight, baby.”
“Feel free to tell me to shut up if it’s none of my business, but, uh, what are you guys working on now?”
“Currently, a lot of our focus is set on making me want to get better for me instead of only for you, the kids, and the other people around me. I can’t get any better if it’s something I genuinely refuse to do for myself,” Bo said.
“ ‘Cause then it feels like a chore, right? Like… just another part of your job you ‘have to do’, I guess?” Jensen asked.
“Yes, something like that, I believe.” Bo flipped open the folder he had brought with him, immediately greeted with pictures he had printed off from Jensen’s email. There was always something mildly surprising about the utter obliteration of another human being’s face.
Their vigilante specialized in heavy duty wrenches, busted jaws, crushed orbital cavities, caved in skulls, and missing eyes. He was equally aggressive with every person he had killed thus far, no matter how severe the victim’s crime had been.
“In the back of my mind, I’ve been calling our vigilante TBBK,” Bo said.
Jensen glanced over at the picture at the top of the pile, grimacing as he turned his attention back to the road. “What do the letters stand for in that, uh, variation?”
“Take, bind, beat, kill. I don’t have anything better for them right now.”
Jensen lifted his shoulders. “Nothing wrong with it. It’s like CGK or that dude from Kansas.”
“Dennis Rader, BTK?”
The younger man snapped his fingers, pointing to Bo. “There you go. That’s why you’ve got the good memory, baby. I’m just here to, like, look pretty and stuff.”
Bo smiled faintly, rolling his eyes. “Of course, love. Whatever works best for you.” He flipped through the papers within the folder, blue eyes scanning the words on each page. “Security cameras caught what appeared to be a man in an oversized hoodie and dark sweats displaying the bodies and nailing the sides to them. They estimated him to be somewhere between six-foot-five and six-foot-eight.” Bo sighed. “That’s all we’ve been able to work up on the guy too.”
“Still no shots of his face?”
“No. The analysis report of the security footage just says that his back was to one of the cameras the entire time. There is a camera that would’ve had a good angle on his face, but he keeps his head bowed the whole time, so…” Bo shook his head. “None of the cameras are in a good place to see his face.”
“We should start installing cameras in the road,” Jensen joked.
Bo snorted. “Yes, let’s start there.”
Jensen reached out and closed the folder, resting his hand on Bo’s thigh. I know it’s not easy, baby, but don’t let this vigilante guy take over the rest of your life. This isn’t Hangman or GBK. This guy’s not gonna be a cop. This guy’s not gonna be someone you aren’t allowed to catch ‘cause they’re in some bullshit support group for killers. We get to catch this one. This one will end up behind bars. I promise.”
“It’s a pretty hefty promise,” Bo said, curling his fingers beneath Jensen’s palm. “Think you can handle that big of a promise?”
4:39 PM; SAN DIEGO, THE PITMAN ESTATE, FOYER
“Go take your things to the guest rooms you normally stay in. And then you guys can all go on out and see the horses.” Bo watched all four of his children hurry out of the foyer before letting out a heavy sigh. He leaned back against Jensen as the younger man wrapped his arms around his torso. “It’s… unbelievably odd to be here without Jamal here.”
“I know, baby.” Jensen pressed a kiss to his temple. “Why don’t you go take all your files on up to Jamal’s office? I’ll be with the kids in the stables.”
“Okay.” Bo pulled away from him and turned around, leaning up to kiss him. “I love you.”
Jensen smiled. “I love you too, Eli.” He brushed Bo’s blonde hair away from his forehead. “Don’t take too long, okay?”
“I’ll do my best.” Bo patted Jensen’s chest and headed out of the foyer. He took one of the staircases up to the second floor, his Boxer–Hati–trailing happily behind him. He headed down the hallway and pushed open the door to Jamal’s office. With a soft sigh, he flipped off the light and headed inside.
He sat down in the desk chair, lifting his satchel over his head. Hati sat down on the floor beside the chair, staring up at her owner. Bo offered a smile, reaching out to scratch her head. He set his satchel on his lap and pulled out several folders.
“Can you move, sweetheart?” Bo asked, fingers wrapped loosely around one of the drawer’s handles. Hati rose to her feet, stepping closer to his chair, eyes on the drawer. Bo chuckled. “Well, that technically counts. Thank you.” He skimmed through the folders already in the drawer, fitting the new ones in where they belonged alphabetically.
He closed the drawer and set his satchel on the floor. Ready to stand up, he caught sight of an envelope sitting on the right side of the desk. He cocked his head to the side, grabbing the envelope. His name was written in Jamal’s neat cursive handwriting.
I apologize for being too much of a coward to tell you any of this in person, but it’s time to come clean. There are a lot of things I’ve hidden from you since we met, things I’ve hidden from you even after we became what I consider family.
I’m not sure where to start with it all. I sat down tonight with the intention of diving into it all in some neat, organized manner, but that all went away as soon as I picked up the damn pen.
I guess we’ll start with where I am because if you’re reading this, I’ve retired and you’ve taken over for me as Chief. It’s probably Friday or Saturday, and you came here to unload a few work-related things before you guys head back to Clinstone. Right?
I told you I had a wife and that she died. That’s very true. She was the love of my life, and I lost her and two of my children while I wasn’t home. One child born, one unborn. For a very long time, I didn’t allow myself to move on from her. She was everything to me, and I had failed her. This phase continued for a little over… Well, let’s say fifteen years before I was willing to give myself to another woman.
Her name is Gabriella.
When I told you my wife was dead, I wasn’t lying to you. My first wife, the love of my life, is dead. Gabriella, however, my second wife, is… very much alive. We have several children together, and for the most part, they don’t live in California. It’s not safe for them there. Except for my little girl. She’s strong.
Hopefully, I’ll have Frank give you another letter at a later date. I don’t think I’m ready for anything else just yet. This has been hard enough as is.
Keep working hard, kiddo. You’ll do great as Chief. And… take care of Katalina for me. She knows where I am, but she gets a little lost when I’m not sitting behind that desk. She’s my world, Bo. Give her whatever she needs.
– Jamal P.
Bo set the paper down on the desk, elbow digging into the armrest of the chair as he covered his mouth with his hand. Katalina Lopez was Jamal’s daughter? Katalina, the rookie detective that wasn’t afraid to give him hell or show her doubt in him?
“Makes sense,” Bo muttered. “Girl takes after you, Pitman.” He folded the letter and tucked it back into its envelope. He leaned to the side and put it in his satchel. Bo pushed himself to his feet, patting his thigh. “Come on, Hati. Let’s go see Daddy and the kids.”
Hati barked excitedly and led the way out of the room. A smile tugged at one corner of Bo’s mouth as he followed her out, flipping off the light behind him. He headed downstairs, leaning down to pet Acamas. The cat lifted her head, focusing her one eye on him. She purred before dropping her head back to the space between two of the stair railing bars.
Bo headed outside, waiting for Hati to come out before closing the door. He tucked his hands behind his back and made his way to the stables. He walked up beside Jensen, wrapping an arm around the younger man’s waist.
Jensen pressed a kiss to the top of Bo’s head, shoving a hand into the back pocket of Bo’s jeans. “Doesn’t matter how many times we see it, I’m always gonna be mind blown that you talked Jamal into building a stable for the kids.”
Bo chuckled softly. “Yes, I have a hard time wrapping my mind around it sometimes, as well.” He wanted to tell Jensen about the note Jamal had left him, but he figured it was something meant to stay just between him and the older man, so he kept quiet. Instead, he leaned into Jensen’s side, watching Kayla and Amber with their horses, the boys excited just to touch their noses.
“We’ve done a good job with them, haven’t we?”
“With the kids?” Bo asked. Jensen nodded. “We’ve done as well as we can. Which, I may be biased, but I believe it’s pretty damn good.”
Jensen smiled. “Good,” he mumbled. “Don’t know when, Eli, but I think I still want another little girl.”
Bo laughed softly. “Let me settle into Chief of Police first, okay? Then we can talk a little more on that.”
“Sounds good to me, babe. Sounds good to me.”
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