Friday: December 6, 2024
5:32 AM; CLINSTONE, UNKNOWN LOCATION
“Well, you trust me, don’t you?” Jamal questioned, his phone pinned between his shoulder and his ear.
“Always, yes,” Bo said.
“Then it’s going to be okay,” Jamal said softly. His brow furrowed as he held his right hand under the stream of cold water. He’d flexed his hand too much, ripped open one of the deeper splits on his knuckle. It’d been bleeding for several minutes now, long enough to be an annoyance.
“What if we don’t find him?”
Jamal chuckled. “Oh, kiddo, I am going to find him. You have my word on that one,” he said.
“What if he stops killing? What if he goes into hiding?” Bo said.
“It’s my job to find people when they’re in hiding,” Jamal said. He curled his fingers into a fist beneath the water.
“Really? When was the last time you found someone in hiding?” Bo asked.
Jamal cleared his throat. “If you must know, yesterday,” he said quietly. He shook his hand out, turning off the water.
“Really?” Bo questioned, sounding almost hopeful. For Jamal, it was a pleasant break from the previous broken tone of the blonde’s voice. “You… you actually caught someone that was in hiding?”
“What’d you do to him?”
Jamal’s dark brown eyes fell to his knuckles. “I taught him a lesson,” he said honestly. He grabbed a towel from the counter, gently patting his hand dry as he lifted his gaze to his reflection in the mirror. “And when I find this guy, I’m going to teach him a goddamn lesson, too.”
“Okay,” Bo said quietly. “Are in L.A.?”
“Yeah.” Jamal tossed the towel back onto the counter and grabbed his phone, stretching out the ache in his neck.
“I can’t tell you that, kiddo.”
“Oh. Okay.” Bo cleared his throat. “Can you come to the house?” he asked.
“I don’t know. Let me know you’re okay?”
“I’m fine, Bo.” Jamal let out a heavy sigh. “I would, but I have somebody here that I need to watch over. She’s hurt, and that’s my fault. So… so I have to stay where I am.”
“Oh. Is… she going to be okay?” Bo asked.
“That’s the hope,” Jamal murmured.” He leaned out of the bathroom, his gaze focusing on Nicole across the way. She was still sound asleep. “I don’t know how long it’ll take, Bo, but I’ll find this guy.”
Jamal shrugged. He saw no point in lying. Bo already knew he was a monster. “And then I’ll end the motherfucker.”
A moment of silence hung between the two men. “Is he going to suffer?” Bo questioned.
Another pause. “Good.”
7:00 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, KITCHEN
Bo flinched as a hand touched his lower back. Jensen offered a smile as the blonde whirled around to face him. “Sorry,” Jensen whispered. “You’re jumpier than I’m used to.”
“I know. I’m sorry.” Bo wrapped his arms around Jensen, resting his head on the taller man’s chest. He closed his eyes as Jensen hugged him back. “After this guy’s off the streets and… and whatnot, I’ll be better about the jumpy thing.”
“Hey, be jumpy all you want. I just need to adjust to not sneaking up on you,” Jensen said. Bo chuckled quietly. “Do you wanna go into work today? David said you could if you wanted to.”
“Maybe. I’m not sure yet.”
“That’s all right. You’ve still got about an hour to decide,” Jensen said. He pulled away from Bo, leaning down to kiss him. “Coffee?” he asked, gently combing his fingers through Bo’s hair.
“I was just going to make a fresh pot before my shower,” Bo said, jerking a thumb over his shoulder.
“You go take your shower. I’ll take care of the coffee. I’ll get the kids up and around, too,” Jensen said.
Bo smiled. “Thank you.”
“No problem, Eli.” Jensen pressed a kiss to the shorter man’s forehead. “I love you.”
“I love you, too. Umm… Charlotte believes that she can go to preschool without a shirt on, so… make sure you choose a shirt that she can’t easily pull over her head all by herself,” Bo said.
Jensen laughed. “Will do, Eli.” He cocked his head to the side. “Real quick question?”
“When did Jake say Alice gets out of the hospital?”
“Monday, I think. They want to keep her over the weekend so she won’t feel obligated to go home and clean or anything. I’m going over to the place tomorrow to tidy up any little messes so she doesn’t try to do it as soon as she gets home,” Bo said. “I imagine we’ll still have to take care the kids for at least a little while. Jake isn’t going to be able to sit at home and help take care of them. He’ll have to get back to work.”
Jensen nodded. “That’s okay. I don’t mind having them here. It gives the girls someone to play around with,” he said.
Bo smiled faintly. “I know,” he said softly. “I’m going to take my shower then. Be back in a few, Detective.”
Jensen snorted. “A’ight, lab geek.”
12:04 PM; CLINSTONE, UNKNOWN LOCATION
Nicole opened her eyes with a groan. Immediately, she tried to sit up.
“Don’t do that,” Jamal advised. She turned toward him. He sat in a chair at her bedside, one elbow on the armrest, his fist pressed to his temple. Her brow furrowed. His eyes were closed. Silently, she tried to sit up again. “Don’t do that. You’ll risk popping a stitch.”
“How do you know what I’m doing?” she asked.
“I’ve been listening to my surroundings for any oddities since I was sixteen. I’ve had practice,” Jamal said. “I heard the bedsheets move,” he added.
“Then how do you know I was trying to sit up?” Nicole questioned.
Jamal chuckled. “Because I’m not an idiot, Nicole. You’re stubborn, and you’re good at ignoring pain. The first thing you’ll ever try to do is sit up.” He opened his eyes, waving his free hand toward the nightstand. “Tylenol, water, and I brought you some jello, applesauce, and pudding. I wasn’t sure which one you liked. No solid foods for a while. Sorry.”
“Thank you,” she said softly. He nodded, closing his eyes again. “Are you tired?”
“Have you slept?”
“You should sleep, Jamal.”
“Why not?” she asked.
“Because if I fall asleep and something happens to you, I’ll never forgive myself,” Jamal said. He cleared his throat, shifting in his seat. “I have more than enough mistakes on my shoulders already. I won’t add your death to the list.”
“What kind of mistakes?” Nicole wondered.
Jamal opened his eyes again, his gaze quickly moving to her face. “If I told you that, I’d have to kill you.”
“Mm.” His gaze shifted to the foot of the bed before he closed his eyes. “Take the Tylenol and eat something. You need food in your system.”
“And you’re just going to continue to sit there? No matter how creepy that is?” she asked.
One corner of his mouth lifted ever so slightly. “That’s the plan, darling.”
“You’re not half bad, Pitman,” Nicole said.
Jamal shook his head imperceptibly. “They used to call me Death.”
“Because as soon as my boss thought it was your time to go, I was the one sent to make sure you stopped breathing our air,” Jamal said. “One hundred and twenty-seven.” A pause. “That’s how many people I killed by the time I turned nineteen. So I suppose… that you’re correct when you say I’m not ‘half bad’. But that’s because I am all bad.” He cleared his throat. “You may trust me with your life, Nicole. The only person who will ever get close enough to harm you is me. Trust me, yes, but don’t ever sit here and pretend that I’m a good guy. That’s the kind of thing that’ll kill you when your back’s turned.”
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