A/N: Happy birthday to Bo! If you haven’t read through book six of the Bo Austen series (The Acid Bath Killer), it’s suggested you skip this for now to avoid spoilers.
Otherwise, I hope you enjoy!
Tuesday: April 18, 2023
The day had been relatively quiet, save for the homicide earlier in the morning. It hadn’t been anything special–though even Bo knew that sounded horrible. Nothing but an apparent mugging gone wrong. He’d seen hundreds of them in his years with the LAPD. Catching the killer was always a hit or miss situation, but as he usually did, he’d do his best to aim more for the ‘hit’ side of the spectrum.
‘Special’ or not, the case served as a great relief for Bo. After the triple homicide in Clinstone–a case wrapped in the mob, duty to flee laws, acid baths, and a horribly disgusting car accident of human sludge–Bo needed something not ‘special’. In many ways, it was a good palate cleanser. Getting back to the basics, so to speak, was a good way to make sure his mind was ready for the next serial killer or ‘artist’ that threw themselves into the limelight in Clinstone or Los Angeles.
Not for the first time that day, Bo heard Jensen’s footsteps in the hall. There was something he found incredibly distinctive about the man’s gait, though he didn’t know if that was because there was something distinctive, or if the perception of distinction was simply because Bo was absolutely head over heels in love with the man.
“I feel as though you’re stalking me this morning,” Bo said without lifting his head from his notes. He had finished his autopsy report since the last time Jensen had come down to check on him, but he still had information to transfer into his notebooks before preparing a shorter, more concise version of his notes for the detectives.
“This afternoon,” Jensen said.
Bo lifted his eyes just long enough to scan over Jensen’s figure in the doorway. Dressed in his dark blue officer’s uniform, Jensen stood tall in the doorway. Arms crossed over his chest, a shoulder and his head leaned against the door frame, his legs crossed at the ankles. Bo still hadn’t quite gotten used to seeing him in officer blues rather than a suit.
He cleared his throat. “Afternoon?”
Jensen smiled that heart-stopping smile of his. “Yeah, afternoon. About three minutes after. But I was promised lunch with my boyfriend, so…”
Bo couldn’t help the soft smile that came to his face. Jensen had a way of always working one out of him, even when he was tired or worn out. “Yes, I suppose you were.” Bo clicked his pen thrice and closed his notebook, tucking the pen between the pages to keep his place.
“Don’t bring any work along. Just you,” Jensen said.
Bo raised a brow. “Why?”
Jensen shrugged. “Humor me.”
Bo hated the mild tug at his anxiety, the increase in his heart rate. Jensen was his boyfriend, his bodyguard, his protector. Out of everyone in the world, Jensen was presumably one of the last who would ever intentionally set out to harm Bo.
And yet, there it was. Anxiety. Illogical fear and worry, driven by an overactive production of the stress hormone–potentially. Anxiety, like many things, had quite the list of suspected causes. Regardless of its cause, Bo hated it, especially when it reacted to people he loved, people that loved him.
“Jensen, I can’t handle anymore surprises right now,” Bo said, his voice quiet.
“That’s actually what this is about.” Jensen pushed away from the doorframe, shoving his hands into his pockets as he cleared his throat. “Even though yesterday turned out okay, I shouldn’t have sprung a surprise birthday party on you. Surprise parties work for some people, but I know you better than that. I had this urge to make your first birthday with me special, but an actual ‘special’ birthday with the two of us would’ve been, well… the two of us. So I thought we’d go to lunch, you can look over the several plans I have for tonight, and you can choose the one you like best. And then that’ll be my do-over for making your birthday special.”
“You already made it special, Jensen. I’ve never had that many people who cared about me in one room before.”
“And I’m glad I could give that to you. But I want to give you a birthday event where you aren’t on edge or anxious, where you don’t have to worry about there being more guests or people for you to work up the energy to greet and chat with. I want to give you an event where you can just be you. That’s what today is about.”
“Well, how can I say no to that face?” Bo asked. Jensen’s smile came back as he pulled his hands from his pockets and held one of them out to Bo. Bo tucked his phone into his pocket and rounded the table to grab Jensen’s hand. “What kind of grand plans have you laid ahead of us, then?”
“Technically, I have grand plan ideas. You get to choose the official grand plan.”
“Ah, of course. My mistake.”
Jensen smiled, giving Bo’s hand a gentle tug. “Come on. I’ll walk you through the ideas on the way to the diner.”
“Sounds like a plan. Lead the way, Jens.”
Out of all of Jensen’s ideas and suggestions, Bo’s favorite had been the simplest among them. Nothing appealed to him more than the idea of cooking supper with Jensen and sitting on the couch to kill some virtual zombies while they ate. Home-cooked shrimp pasta primavera for themselves and a few cooked angel hair pasta noodles for Hati and Acamas.
Now, with some lemon cupcakes in the oven, Bo sat between Jensen’s legs on the couch, a plate balanced on his thigh and a gaming controller in his hand. Jensen’s food situation was much of the same, though his plate was precariously balanced on the arm of the couch Bo really didn’t want him to stain.
But… it would be hard to be mad at Jensen for something so simple anyway.
“Oh, shit. Fuck. Babe, I’m down.” Jensen pointed at the screen with his free hand. “Help me up!”
“We’re looking at the same screen, and I don’t see you.”
“Over there! Over there!”
“You pointing gives me no direction,” Bo said, rapidly tapping his thumb against the X button to free himself from a rabid corpse. “Give me words, love. Right, left, up, down?”
“To the right! Babe, I’m almost dead.”
Bo snorted. Rolling his character out of the reach of a zombie, he ran over to Jensen’s character. “Here you go, you big baby.”
“Fuck yeah. Thank you.” Jensen pressed a kiss to Bo’s cheek before darting away from Bo’s character. “The left gate’s open. Gonna make a run for it before more zombies get in. You should try to silence the alarm.”
“The further separated we are, the more likely it is one of us dies.”
“Pfft, you have no proof of that.”
Jensen nudged Bo’s knee with his own. “Live it up, nerd. If we die a couple times, we die. Sometimes going in like Rambo is the best method.”
“Even if you die?”
“Oh, especially if you die.”
Bo chuckled. “All right, you’ve won. I’ll go try to silence the alarm, even if we both die.”
“Hell, yeah. That’s the spirit, babe. You go kick that alarm’s ass, and I’ll see what I can do about the gate.”
They had both died thrice before Jensen determined their Rambo technique wasn’t working and allowed Bo to strategize before simply charging into a hoard of zombies. A few incapacitations and revives later, and they had completed the level.
Now, with supper eaten and the cupcakes frosted, Bo washed dishes while Jensen stood outside with Hati to make sure the boxer actually went to the bathroom. As of late, she enjoyed playing a ‘game’ where she went outside for no reason other than getting a treat when she came back inside. They were doing their best to nip it in the bud before it became too much of a problem.
“Should you really be doing dishes on your birthday?” Jensen asked.
“This is technically not my birthday. That was yesterday.”
Jensen snorted. He crossed the room and wrapped his arms around Bo, his chin coming to a rest on the blonde’s shoulder. “Hati actually peed, so I gave her a snack.”
“Such a good girl, doing things dogs are supposed to do.”
The younger man laughed. “God, right? Such a shithead.”
“But she’s our shithead,” Bo said.
“Damn straight.” Jensen pressed a kiss to Bo’s shoulder and fell silent for a moment. “Did I do okay, Eli?”
“Jensen, you did great. This is exactly what I want from a birthday, even if it doesn’t take place on the day. Belated or early or right on time… I don’t mind when it happens. I just always want a day that just you, me, and our fur babies.”
Jensen smiled against his shoulder. “I can definitely make that happen.” His arms tightened around Bo before he lifted his head and kissed Bo’s temple. “Happy belated birthday, Eli. Thanks for giving me a shot at a better one.”
“You didn’t need another shot, but you’re welcome. I’m glad we could do this today. I needed the decompressing from yesterday–and that isn’t a bad thing–and nothing is better for that than a day with you.” A pause. “Well… maybe a good book or two.”
Jensen chuckled. “Sounds about right.” He slid a hand just a little lower, fingers toying with the button of Bo’s jeans. “How about… we finish dishes later, like… after we shower and eat a cupcake or three.”
“I’ll probably stick to one, but otherwise, I can certainly get behind that.” Bo rinsed off the plate in his hand and set it in the dish drainer. He shut off the water and grabbed the towel from the counter. After drying off his hands, he turned around in Jensen’s loosened grip and draped his arms over the younger man’s shoulders. “I love you, Jensen. No amount of surprise parties will change that. Your desire to make sure I’m surrounded by love isn’t a bad thing. It’s something I’m honored to have.”
One corner of Jensen’s mouth lifted. “Thank you,” he whispered. A hand on Bo’s cheek, he leaned down and kissed him. “I love you too. Can I prove it in the shower?”
Bo snorted. “I suppose I can allow that.” He pulled away and gestured toward the opening in the kitchen. “Lead the way, love.”
I hope you enjoyed this little birthday short! If you did, consider dropping a comment or a like down below!!
Love what I do and want to help support me? You can ‘buy me a coffee’ on Ko-fi!