Author's Note: Thanks to all of you who are reading, watching, marking as favorites and especially for reviews. :) I'm still working on how to get Booth out of jail, but before that I've got to get Brennan out of trouble.
A complicated decorative design made with many lines that curve and cross each other.
She was sitting on the wrong side of the table, back to the wall and facing the door.
"We just have a few questions."
After spending the night locked away in the psychiatric ward, Brennan found herself being released but not into her father's care, nor into the care of her friends. Two FBI Agents appeared at her hospital room door and escorted her in an official vehicle back to the building where Booth used to work. She sat in the back, finding that the doors were locked and even though she was not handcuffed, she also was not free to leave.
"When can I see my husband?"
The two agents sat between her and the door of the interrogation room, partners just as she and Booth had long been partners. They glanced at each other, sharing the same kind of symbiotic non-verbal communication that she and Booth shared, the sign and signature of a long and fruitful partnership.
"Agent Booth is accused of murdering three FBI Agents."
Glancing between them, staring between the vertical bars of their arms and straight on through to the door they would not allow her to pass through, she remembered her father's advice. 'Cooperate but don't say anything.'
"You can not compel me to testify against my husband."
"Doctor Brennan, we just need you to fill us in on what happened at your house." Softly spoken. Oh, so reasonable. How many times had Special Agent Seeley Booth and his partner lured unsuspecting suspects into a false sense of ease using a similar tactic. She knew the method, knew they would mine through everything she said in search of snippets that might incriminate. Errors she might make, traps she might fail to see in time to avoid them.
She glanced over at the 'mirror' that was actually a window; glanced up at the ceiling where she knew a microphone and camera were hidden behind a smoky bubble of glass. Part of the Miranda warning that Booth always recited upon an arrest drifted through her mind. Anything you say can and will be used against you... and her father's words: 'don't say anything.' Anything she said might be used against Booth.
It didn't help that her head was throbbing and a lingering sense of anxiety painted her every thought with paranoia. Both discomforts could either be blamed on the Haldol from yesterday, or the hell she found herself enmeshed within still, today. Either way, Brennan decided she wasn't up for questioning.
"I request an attorney."
"You aren't under arrest." The younger one, laughing a little at her foolish distrust. "We just have some questions."
"Then I'm sure you won't mind waiting until my attorney arrives." She forced a saccharine social smile, insincere.
"This isn't necessary," the older agent insisted.
Oh no, this was absolutely necessary. Brennan shifted her gaze toward him, unable to avoid giving her own unease away even though for the moment her resistance was reduced to a politely worded request. "May I call my attorney?"
"Doctor Brennan, refusing to answer these questions can be construed as impediment of an ongoing investigation."
"I have refused nothing," she pointed out. Reasonably, she hoped. "I have the right to legal counsel during questioning and I intend to exercise my right before we proceed."
"But you aren't under arrest."
"My husband is. As far as I am concerned, that means I am as well."
The partners shared a frustrated glance, then the older one turned and made no effort to hide his questioning glance towards the mirror. He must have received instruction through his ear piece, because he grimaced and nodded. "We'll allow you to make one phone call."
Brennan leaned forward, her steeled gaze slicing through his deception. "If I am not under arrest, then my phone privileges should be unlimited."
"We just want to get this over with, and I'm sure you would like to get home to your daughter."
The threat hung between them, unmistakable.
Her eyes held his pinned, unyielding. Finally he lifted a hand and waved her off. "You can use the phone in Agent Booth's former office."
One that was probably tapped...
Climbing wearily to her feet, Brennan skirted the table and glared blindly through the mirror concealing whoever was really in charge. Wondering if she should try Caroline Julian first or call her father for advice, Brennan made it to the exit in a semi-exhausted daze. Though the last dose of Haldol was now nearly twenty hours past its expiration date, a residual grogginess clung to her.
This floor was Booth's floor. She slipped around the corner, intending to walk down the hall to Booth's empty office and was surprised to feel fingers wrapping around her arm and a quick tug into the break-room. The door shut and she spun, hands coming up to ward off an attack but then she stalled. It was a friendly face peering back at hers.
"Charlie. I only have a second."
"I thought you were transferred to—"
"I was. Look, Doctor Brennan, I know Booth didn't kill FBI agents."
Though she knew it was impossible for him to assert Booth's innocence as a fact, the sentiment behind his irrational statement was a welcome source of warmth. It sounded so much like something Booth would say that tears came out involuntarily to blur her vision even further. "You can't know that empirically. You weren't there."
His earnest gaze took a nosedive but he shook his head and repeated, "I know Booth. A lot of us, we don't believe it ... we're just not sure how to help."
"Booth would want you to tell the truth."
At that, his hesitance continued but his gaze lifted and he spoke distinctly. "The truth is dangerous right now."
Sensing a warning in his sudden and very unexpected appearance as well as in what he'd said, Brennan stepped back and considered her own plight. If she told the truth, it might be used against Booth, and if she lied it would surely be used against her. Her father's warning was essentially the same as Charlie Burns' warning. 'Cooperate but don't say anything.' Frustrated, desperate enough to trust Booth's former colleague, she huffed a helpless declaration of entrapment. "They're asking questions."
"You don't have to answer them."
It surprised her, being reminded of that fundamental right by someone who was ostensibly on the other side of the law as of today. Perhaps this was a demonstration of Booth's rapport and reputation with his own men, that at least a few of them would aid her in slowing the juggernaut of a Justice Department intent on the crucifixion of one of its own.
"They can summon you before a grand jury," Charlie Burns went on, "even arrest you for contempt if you refuse to speak, but they can't force you to answer. It takes time to draw up a summons."
"At least a day. They'll have to assemble evidence showing why your testimony is required."
"What can I do in a day." Thinking out loud wasn't her norm, nor was lamenting a lack of options. Brennan eyed the coffee urns longingly, wondering if a dose of caffeinated stimulant would ward off the Haldol halo that still seemed to circle everything in a haze. "Can I have some coffee?"
At the abrupt and quite unexpected request her ally looked startled, glancing uneasily at the silver-sided pots containing the FBI's dangerous decoction. He couldn't help but offer another warning. "Doctor Brennan, you're probably used to better coffee than this."
"Desperate times, desperate measures," she quipped uncharacteristically. "I believe I'm not feeling well. Caffeine treats headaches."
Charlie Burns smiled faintly. He poured her a cup of the black and syrupy brew, passing it with an apology. "Sorry if it's rancid."
Having trouped through the mountains of Tibet surviving on "campfire coffee" boiled straight with coarsely mashed beans and then settled with eggshells and cold water, Temperance Brennan figured she could handle anything the FBI poured into her cup. Figuratively speaking. Literally also, in this case. She braved a sip, her nose wrinkling involuntarily at the acrid taste (because the FBI urns percolated, boiling the coffee and releasing acids without the alkaline neutralization of clean, crushed eggshells) and when it didn't kill her she swallowed again more heartily.
Even acidic coffee was no help against the Haldol but it might provide another benefit. If her head didn't clear, well ... other means of escape might present themselves. Illness, for example.
She shuddered, draining the cup too fast to really taste it and then stood contemplating her options. She'd never called in sick before, not even when she was quite ill, and wasn't quite sure how to go about it. Fortunately, the Haldol still held her in a slightly shaky state and Brennan found it was not difficult to tense her muscles just a bit more, just a bit tighter so her gait would appear unsteady.
"Thank you," she said to Charlie Burns, who was moving to take the cup.
"You want me to walk you back?"
He was doing this for Booth, she guessed. The quite unwelcome and unnecessary chivalry was precisely what Booth would want and it caused in her another unwelcome emotional lapse. For a moment she almost cringed at the thought of letting Agent Burns or any of her adversaries seeing her awash in weak, feminine tears, but then again ... she remembered Angela saying something quite a long time ago.
"Booth is brilliant at pretending to be stupider than he actually is most of the time."
Could she pretend to be weaker than she was...? Most of the agents here didn't know her other than by reputation. Could she lull the opponent into a false sense of superiority, letting them think they were fully in control while she took full advantage of their inattention? She blinked slowly, decided it might go against the grain but this was indeed a desperate time. Charlie (being one of the few who did know her) clearly was not fooled, and yet he seemed quite willing to help her establish the charade. So she nodded. "I would find that ... beneficial."
It's like being undercover, Brennan informed herself.
They left the break room together and she found that increasing the tension in her muscles caused her to trip and stumble every few moments. It was physically taxing, all the better for the moment because it capitalized on her preexisting exhaustion. Acting ill wasn't terribly difficult when she felt so weak and dizzy to begin with.
They rounded the corner and ran into Sweets. Literally.
"Whoa! Doctor Brennan, there you are! Where did you go? I heard you were in for questioning. Are you okay?"
The rapid onslaught of comments and questions caught her off guard, so much so that she nearly forgot the not-quite-feigned illness. Charlie Burns tightened his fingers around her medial epicondyle, pinching it painfully and making her wince as discomfort shot from her elbow to her wrist. "I'm not—" the fingers twitched on her. "I'm not feeling well."
Stepping closer, Sweets reached for her. "I can take her, Agent Burns."
Charlie, oddly, did not release Brennan's elbow. A territorial clash loomed, causing Brennan to jerk her arm free instinctively. "I'm not a package to be passed back and forth!"
"That's not—" Sweets defended.
And Charlie Burns stepped towards her again, even while apologizing. "Sorry Doctor Brennan. You just seemed unsteady for a minute there. I was afraid you might fall."
Their eyes met, finally and truly. She realized she'd never really looked at Charlie Burns before. He was still slightly overweight with new brush strokes of grey at his temples and small lines creeping around his eyes. Those umber eyes looked at her like Booth's did, radiating warmth and concern. He was FBI. Sweets, too.
Booth had stopped trusting everyone at the FBI. She swallowed heavily, mindful of her own fear ... because she realized Charlie had effectively prevented her from making any phone calls and brought her back here, armed only with a defense of weakness that risked jail.
The trembling wasn't feigned any longer. A queasy uproar had begun in her belly, brought on no doubt by the coffee and stress, and when forced to decide who to trust, she was stalled in the middle of the hallway. Charlie was Booth's old friend but Sweets was like family.
Before she could manage any kind of proactive stance the door to the interrogation room opened, revealing the older agent who'd brought Brennan in for questioning and who now dove straight into the fray. Now it felt like three against one. "What's going on out here?"
To her consternation, Charlie spoke. "I was assisting Doctor Brennan, who isn't feeling well. Assuming she's not under arrest, it might be best to escort her home."
"She looks fine to me," the older agent refuted.
"I saw her nearly faint just outside the break room."
Brennan's white-faced shock at the bold lie only served to back up the claim, making even Sweets take notice. "Actually, she doesn't look so good..."
The nausea had increased substantially, pinching painfully within the confines of her mandible and pooling saliva in her mouth. Desperately, her hand slapped to her mouth as she lurched towards the women's toilets and feared she wouldn't make it in time.
As she pushed through the door she heard Sweets roaring on her behalf. "What are you thinking, questioning her like this? She's sick! Don't you realize the side effects of Haldol can last for weeks?"
Then the door shut and she was in a stall, heaving up the coffee. And choking on tears because she wondered how Sweets knew about the Haldol.
Scientific Note: It's true about the Haldol. The "minor" side effects include dizziness, headaches, anxiety, nausea and vomiting, and muscle tremors; these side effects can linger for a few days and up to a month, depending on dosage.
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