|Hands at Ten and Two
Author: Lindsey Grissom PM
A look at key moments in Booth's life, told through the medium of cars, while he looks for a way to save Brennan and Hodgins from the Gravedigger. 'Home was safety. Home was a truck that bounced so much he actually felt another rib snap.'Rated: Fiction M - English - Angst - S. Booth - Words: 4,267 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 2 - Published: 03-17-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5822454
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: The characters and show aren't mine, and I earn nothing from playing with them.
A/N: Spoilers through season 4.
Hands at Ten and Two
The car takes the corner on two wheels, Cam grips the door with one hand, her phone in the other. He keeps both hands on the wheel and pushes his foot harder against the accelerator.
The other drivers are just obstacles on the road and he avoids them the way he would a pot-hole.
Cam's voice is white noise against the pounding of his heart and the whoosh of the blood in his ears. The whine of the siren and the honk of the horns outside the windows.
The road opens up ahead and he would be breaking every speed law this side of the state line if he didn't have a badge and a gun and the flashing red light above his head.
Cam says words like 'Gravedigger' and 'Brennan' that come through loud and clear and he clenches his hands until the leather of the wheel creaks and his knuckles turn white.
He'd be speeding back to the lab whether this was sanctioned or not. Some things are worth breaking the law for.
Seeley borrowed his first car when he was twelve. Swiped the keys right out of the old man's jacket when he passed out in front of the TV.
He held the keys so tight in his fist to stop them clanging, he had red marks across his palm for days.
Once Jared's blue backpack was full of toys and pyjamas and the little worn penguin that used to be his, he took his brother by the hand and crept out of the house. They walked to Tommy's and he smiled as bright as he could when he asked Mrs Tanner if Jared could stay the night.
He waited until the door was closed and he could hear the laughter move further into the house before he took off back up the road. His door was peeling white paint and he could still feel the soft curls of his brother's hair between his fingers as he pushed it open.
Dad was out cold in his chair, more passed out than sleeping and he didn't feel the least bit of guilt when he closed the door and unlocked the car. Sliding into the seat felt a bit like slipping Jared an extra cookie before dinner because Mum wasn't there to do it any more.
He adjusted the seat, counting the clicks as he moved it forward and the turn of the cog as he straightened the back. He tipped the mirror and measured the difference in the space between the frame and the roof. The wing mirrors moved by three taps of his fingers to the knob and when the handbrake was off and the car out of 'park' he stretched his legs as far as he could and was finally glad for the growth spurt that had kept him out of trousers that fit for weeks.
He didn't have to worry about Cops, not when the town pretty much took care of itself and the local police was really just old Joe with his scratched white car and the gun that was never loaded.
Still he kept it steady and slow until he was out of the neighbourhood and out at the edge of town where the back roads lead to empty land; flat, dried up and painted with tire tracks.
He had gotten that far with the little he caught from watching Dad but he needed to learn to drive like a man on the roads. The sinking sun shone through the window and he pushed the old man's shades up onto his face before revving the engine and starting off for the first sharp turn.
The engine roared and the dirt crunched beneath the tires. The car groaned as he spun the wheel and took the imaginary corner at the highest speed he would let himself go. He spun out a little too far and that would have taken him into oncoming traffic if there had been more than just space and dust and him. He cursed to himself and tried harder on the next one.
Mum was gone and Dad was drinking too much to drive straight. Jared was only little and he still stumbled sometimes when he ran so fast he couldn't stop. One day Jared was going to need someone to drive him to the hospital when he broke his arm falling out of the tree in the garden, or cut his leg on the slide at the park because the boys seemed to find it more exciting to play around the jungle-gym than on it.
And he just knew that day Dad would start drinking before he and Jared got home and wouldn't even wake up when Jared screamed or cried from the pain and the shock of that much blood coming out of him.
He slammed the car to a sudden stop, pulling up just before the invisible line he had drawn in the dirt. He didn't have time to think about how good that was; too busy trying to park straight and turn right around with only three stops. He was going to get it right, all of it, before that day came. He was going to help Dad the only way he knew how.
He didn't know it yet, but he would be thirteen the second time he borrowed the car.
(Jared was buckled up tight in the front seat, his hair messed up and his eyes red from broken sleep and tears.
Seeley gripped the steering wheel with one hand and kept the other laying soft on the back of his brother's neck. He turned a corner and dodged around another car and rubbed back and forth with his thumb when Jared whimpered a little, the flannel ducks on his chest damp from all the crying.
He swerved to avoid another car and winced when the pot-hole jarred his ribs. He felt them grind together the next time the car bounced on the road and he bit clear through his lip to keep the moan inside his mouth. Most of the hits had landed on his ribs this time - they'd just studied this in school and what if he'd busted an organ or something? - and he couldn't just suck it up and keep away from playing sports for a few weeks.
He parked the car near the back of the lot and even though Jared cried and begged he took his hand and didn't carry him because as small as he was, the extra weight would make him pass out before they reached the E/R doors.
The nurse on the front desk wanted to know where their parents were and he used his best smile when he told her they were out for the night and couldn't be reached.
He told the Doctor he had been in a fight with someone that he knew and promised to never do that again even if he wasn't babysitting his little brother at the time.
Jared picked out a raspberry lollipop and sat in the corner with his knees pulled up to his chest.
The free clinic meant he didn't have to pay and after his ribs were taped - Dad didn't consent but there wasn't any way to reach him, honest - he only waited until he knew there was nothing seriously wrong before he grabbed Jared by the hand and snuck them out behind the Doctor's back.)
He left the dirt behind and drove back in the dark. The car sat back on the drive like he'd found it and Dad sat on the couch like he'd left him.
He fell asleep with a smile because he could do it now; when it was needed, he could drive.
The lights of the other vehicles blur around him, like the slow shuttered pictures that show traffic as lines of colour. Red, yellow, white.
His cell phone rings from the floor of the passenger seat where he threw it after being put on hold for the fourth time. He ignores it for now because he knows it's just Cam wanting answers he doesn't have yet.
He's going in person now, face-to-face, fists flying if he has to. Hodgins has the money they need to put an end to this nightmare and if he has to shoot his way into that top office he will. He narrows his eyes at the car slowing down in front and pulls into incoming traffic to get around it.
His jacket is crumpled somewhere in the back seat and his tie is loose against his slightly unbuttoned shirt. He can feel the sweat sliding cold down his back, pooling at the base of his spine. His hands slip against the wheel as he swerves up onto the walkway, the office building lit up even in the dark.
He grabs his phone and his jacket and takes a deep breath and flinches against the instinct to meet her on her side of the car.
Her hair was red. Dark and rich and natural, not like that ginger dye job the girls got from too much bleach and bad hairdressers. It was straight too and long and it slid like silk through Seeley's fingers when he twisted into it to pull her lips close.
They were red too and tasted like cherries and secrets and that hazy flavour of spring that stuck around well into June.
He dipped his tongue into her mouth to get a little more of that taste and she moaned against him, pulling him tight against her with her hands behind his back. It made him laugh and she giggled and he kissed the corner of her mouth as she smiled.
When he pulled back he had a question in his eyes - sometimes words just got in the way - and she answered with another smile and a nod.
He kissed her again, lips closed and hers so soft against his own that he sighed. He pushed her gently and wiggled back along the seats until she lay spread out beneath him, his body trapped between her legs, his weight resting on his forearms and knees.
She looked so beautiful there, her hair sprayed out like fine threads against the black leather, that he couldn't help but take another taste of her. His tongue swept across her open lips, down the line of her jaw and swirled at the dip of her neck. It was something like honey and salt and it was always, always new and exciting no matter how many times he did this and how many different girls it was.
He shifted and used a hand at her thigh to lift a leg up so the rough denim of her jeans rubbed against the skin of his side where her hands had rucked up his shirt.
Her hands were so small, he had noticed that first. The way her fingers curled around her pencil as she wrote, the wood and lead almost dwarfing them. He could circle her wrists with his pointer-finger and thumb, he knew, he'd tried. She was an artist and a poet and when she wasn't busy doing that she knotted flowers in her hair and danced to songs only she could hear.
The pale shell cardigan slipped from her shoulders and he brushed a kiss against each one, tracing a finger along the pale skin; flawless. He absently counted the freckles he kissed as he pushed the straps of her top the way of her cardigan.
Her chest heaved against him like one of those paperbacks Mom would read late at night, when she was around to do that and Dad would read the paper and he would wrestle with Jared on the rug.
Her legs tightened around him, pressing him down and onto her so his lips pressed against the cotton of her bra and he breathed out wetly against the hard peaks.
Her name was Faith and his Catholic sensibilities had found that just a little hard to resist. She sat next to him in English and twirled the strands of her hair around and around her fingers while the teacher talked. She made notes on everything and drew little flowers in the margins of every page.
She smelt of vanilla in the mornings and something closer to the Earth when they had a late class and she'd already had a lesson out on the field.
She'd smiled shyly when he'd asked her to the Winter Dance and they hadn't kissed on the lips until three weeks had passed and he had admitted for the first time that they were actually dating.
She had the wickedest tongue he'd ever felt and the most innocent look in her eyes like she had no idea where her talents came from.
She pressed up against him in the car and ground out his name, her hands clenching and releasing in his hair because somewhere between open mouth kisses on her breasts and nails scraping down his sides, he had opened the buttons on her jeans and caught her wet heat with his lips.
Her voice rose three tones higher when she came and every time it was his name she shouted out (except for that one time hidden behind the barrels and crates round the back of The Heron when he'd had to hold his hand against her mouth so they wouldn't be found and she'd bitten down on his palm as her body shook apart beneath his lips).
He slid inside her with the right protection between them, because he was going to make it in the Professionals and she was going to make waves in the Art world and neither of them needed a child to break that apart.
Mom had told him of the dangers of not thinking straight and Dad had slurred between bottles that no son of his would make a bastard in the world.
(Parker was conceived in the parking lot of the Arena Stage, and even now he can't remember what show was on that night. He only knows that Rebecca was impressed with the effort it took to get through the first half without falling asleep.
She dragged him out at the interval and showed him her appreciation in the back seat of the rental from work that he used until the Bureau got around to giving him his own SUV.
They agreed to tell Parker, if he ever asks, that he was conceived in their bed in the flat that they shared. It'll be very somber and boring and they won't mention theaters or cars or the way Becca's hand left a streak in the condensation on the rear window that showed up again two weeks later when he sat for hours on a stake-out in the cold winter air.)
Faith had big green eyes and her ankles locked at the small of his back even in the tight space of the borrowed car - borrowed from the local garage for the night because it was their anniversary, of a sorts, and she said she had loved watching him work on it - and he thrust into her hard and fast. She clenched around him in time with the shifting of his hips.
He pressed his mouth against hers and it wasn't really a kiss because he was coming, coming and he didn't really have the mind left to do more than touch their lips together.
He found out later that her name wasn't Faith at all, not on her birth certificate. But that was the name he whispered into her skin as she panted beneath him and he sucked in the smell of her, the taste of her and slowed the race of his heart.
(Bones asked him once what having faith felt like and he thought of soft hair and smooth skin and almost drove himself to Confession right there and then.)
He actually gets pulled over on the way back to the office. He forgot to switch on the siren or the lights and he wasn't even thinking of his speed as he drove.
He flashes his badge and tries to look chastised and not angry or panicked or any of the hundreds of real emotions that have been pushing against him since he got the call.
It's almost getting light out again now and although that means the roads are clear he hates it. Because that means that the time is running out. That they've passed the half-way mark and time is on everyone else's side but theirs.
The big yellow sign at the curb says there are road-works scheduled to start next week. If they all make it out of this alive that's going to cause him no end of grief from Bones when they have to take the back roads to get to and from the Lab.
The clock on the dashboard blinks a blue light in rhythm with the red one on the roof. One then the other. This one, that one. Red, blue, red, blue. Tick, tock, tick, tock. And all the time he's hearing the count down in the frightened tones of the Squints and like she's right there beside him, Bones tells him that the Gravedigger is smart and the twins never stood a chance.
He slams his hand down hard on the horn even though there's no one on this bit of road but him. It drowns out the voices in his head but the hands on the watch around his wrist still move closer to the end.
The truck bounced along on the uneven ground and Seeley felt every rise and fall of the sand beneath them. Each branch and leaf that crunched beneath the tires was another knife in his gut and his head and he just wanted them to stop. Except that was the last thing he wanted.
Someone had bandaged him up as best as they could and behind his eyelids he could see what he must look like, wrapped in white gauze stained everywhere with spreading red blood.
He thought about old history lessons and the shows on TV. About soldiers and veterans and other wars that went on for years.
He had sat and stood and hung in that building for weeks. He had spat and vomited and bled all over their sandy floors but he hadn't said a word. He won't ever know if he would have spoken in the end. He didn't think he was invincible anymore, they beat that out of him at least. With cold pipes and warm human fists.
His ribs jarred when the truck hit a rock and he pulled himself together enough to bite down on the moan. It was nothing like he had suffered back in that shack but there was something to the sense of freedom, to the surge in hope that had come with the first pat-pat-pat of gunfire outside the door, that made him lower down defenses he had kept up against every cut and slice of a shining blade coming at him in the dark.
There were men who had cut the ropes binding him to the chair and men who had lifted him to his broken feet - he was not thinking about how he hadn't been able to move his toes for over a week, how he had to keep his feet off the ground even though it made the muscles in his thighs burn and cramp - and then lifted him almost into their arms when the pain had been too much and he had seen bright flashes like flares or fireworks across his vision.
There were men who had placed him in the truck and the men who drove like the fires of hell were still after them, lapping at the back wheels as they sped across the harsh terrain
Somewhere along the way he lost the battle with sanity or something like it and he fell into the pain and the memories. He knew, on some level, that they would only, could only drag him down. That he should be thinking of home, now, when the end was so very near. The right kind of end.
But the truck hit another rock and bounced up on two wheels then back down on all four and blood filled his mouth when he bit through his tongue with the pain of it.
Cheers licked at the far reaches of his hearing, when bumps in the road had only lifted his spirits.
(They sang on the way out from the landing strip. From there to the base it was open and well patrolled - so they said - and even though he was used to arriving in silence and leaving the same way, they assured him that anything less than this rowdy noise would appear suspicious to any scout that managed to get close enough to see. He had to blend in, look like he was just another soldier. Pretend he didn't have a target in his mind and one of the most accurate eyes in the Rangers.
So they sang on the way and he listened and grinned a little falsely but they couldn't possibly tell. Cheers rose up and down in time with the suspension of the van.
Without any effort he found that the light hearted banter, the anticipation of new blood eager for the fight, seeped into his body and forced out bursts of true laughter when Jameson bounced too high in his seat and cracked his head on the metal bar across the roof, when Snapper elbowed Chris and sent them both tumbling to the truck's floor.
They bounced along and he looked at every one of them in turn and used their faces to push out the one with the red target between its eyes.)
Twenty minutes later they woke him to tell him he was almost there. Almost safe. He wouldn't see a hospital until he reached Germany but he had survived this long without even the basic aid he had been given now.
It could be weeks before he got home. But home was a relative concept anyhow. Home was not being captive and beaten. Home was steady meals and clean water that didn't make you ill. Home was a truck that bounced so much he actually felt another rib snap.
He lead the ambulance to the hospital, swerving in and out of traffic to clear the way. He knew it wasn't necessary, not really. But he couldn't stay behind and it was almost like having some control in getting them somewhere safe at last.
When they released her, he offered her a lift, but she shuddered almost, but not quite, beneath his notice and he rushed on to comment on how nice a day it had turned out to be.
So they walk from the hospital and the cars pass by in coloured blurs. Somewhere up ahead a siren sounds and then five minutes later there is a second.
Bones is too quiet beside him and she bumps into him every now and again. It would be casual, on anyone else.
He fights the urge to reach out and hold her hand and then wonders why. A motorbike shoots past and the roar of the engine makes him jump. He hasn't slept in days and he's walking from the hospital to the church like they do this all the time.
He's glad for the rushed coffee before Bones discharged herself but getting back to his car is going to be a lot harder than this. Bones lives somewhere mid-way between the two sites so he makes the decision to call a cab from there when he knows she's locked in her apartment and not being buried alive again.
A car horn blares and this time it's Bones that jumps. He stops fighting and reaches out for her hand. Her fingers curl around his and her hand is so small he can almost wrap it all up in his. She's so delicate, his Bones. Not as a whole, but in parts.
She squeezes his hand as they reach the church and he squeezes right back.
Booth will be two years older when the Gravedigger returns. All dressed up with somewhere nice to go.
He won't see her get her well earned praise or hear Angela's reaction to him in a Tux.
(He pushes past the rising panic and forces his way out of the dark. When he stands with solid something beneath his feet and before he focuses on his ghost, he looks at the first layer of his prison and sends up a prayer of thanks that it isn't a car.)
He will get to see Bones in her dress, if a little worse for wear, and feel her press herself so tight to him he'll feel the tick-tock of her heart.