Summary: Booth is haunted by day. And haunted by night.
Notes: I like Booth angst. So strong and manly yet fragile, too.
He knew the weapon like the back of his hand.
Heavy, designed with optimum success in mind, the M24 rifle could hit a target at seven hundred and fifty yards. It was a semi-automatic with a powerful telescope that afforded him distance and secrecy; if he pulled the trigger from maximum distance, he could disappear before anyone would determine where the bullet even came from.
It was the ultimate sniper rifle and he'd carried it, slung across his chest, for too long. He was a sharpshooter. He was good at aiming, good at pulling the trigger and good at hitting the target.
He saw the target now and he knew he had to take it out. He was a threat. A danger. A known terrorist with links to Columbian paramilitaries. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that, if he didn't pull the trigger, many people, innocent people, would die.
Through the telescope, he knew the gun was aimed perfectly. He stood in the centre of the locked courtyard, his hostages backed against the western wall. It was safe to shoot and no one else was in danger.
His finger faltered on the trigger.
The man had a wife. A lovely woman who looked after children. He had two children of his own and no one in his family knew what he had done. The drugs, the terrorism, the murder. To them, he was a kind hearted family man who made honest money fixing cars.
He thought of the children, Rosa and Ella, four and six. He thought of the man's wife, who had been hanging their laundry out to dry earlier, unaware that her husband was a marked man. Unaware that, if everything went according to plan, which it always did when Seeley Booth was in charge, her husband would be dead by night fall.
She'd be a widow.
Terrorist or not, he found it difficult to take a man's life. He always had. It never got easier. He dreamt of them, every night, the faces of his 'victims' as the bullet discharged from his weapon ended their life. Maybe they were all evil men, but the knowledge that he was performing a duty did not make it easier on his conscience.
Today, he crouched in fatigues, his weapon pointed at a man who held American diplomats hostage with the promise that he would kill them all. He carried with him a bomb that would blow the courtyard apart, He believed he had the right to inflict atrocities on these people because they had no right to be interfering in his country.
He had to be quick. Efficient.
The target shifted, twitchy and nervous, his dark, bleak eyes scanning the high stone walls, watching for the very person who aimed a gun at his head. There was a moment were suspicion flittered across the his features and Booth felt his chest seize.
In his ear, he heard orders, asking if he had the target in sight.
He saw himself, from outside his body, as his finger squeezed the trigger and the bullet discharged. In a millisecond the man's body hit the courtyard and a chorus of screams erupted from the people whose lives have been irreversibly changed by the events of the day.
The people who witnessed a murder, albeit not their own.
He heard his name.
"Booth." But he ignored it. The bloody images flashed inside his mind, persistent and unforgiving. He murdered a man. Another one. It wasn't right. How could it be? There were two little girls without a father. A woman without a husband.
In a second he'd torn a family apart.
"Booth." He peeked over the stone, a pool of blood streaming steadily towards a row of frightened spectators. His heart pounded and his legs felt weak.
The images shattered and he jolted, staring into the empty darkness, his body trembling and soaked. He swallowed, his breath raspy as he tried to focus on his surroundings. The courtyard had disappeared.
"Booth?" His head snapped right and his eyes searched blindly in the darkness.
"Bones? Is that you?" Her cool, dry palm stroked his cheek and he flinched. He did not deserve such kindness or understanding. He deserved the images that bombarded him, night after night. It was his punishment for the people who would never see another image again.
"It's alright," she whispered, passing her fingers across his jaw, moving her thumb over his lips as they trembled with each breath. "It wasn't real," she promised and he shook his head.
It was real. Once it had been real.
There had been a time in real life when he'd watched over that courtyard, passing judgment over Javier Loaeza, pulling the trigger and concluding his life. He had no right to pass judgement because he was not God.
"I killed him, Bones," he whispered, turning his head, shying away from her touch. She offered him compassion and understanding that he did not merit. She shifted closer, her little body holding his, half the size but stronger than he could ever imagine. She took his burden, whispering words that conveyed her belief in his honour. Those words meant so much. Especially now.
Even though she didn't know who the victim was that day, she told him that pulling the trigger was the right thing to do. She ran her slim fingers through his hair, pressing her lips to his temple, her breath hot and comforting.
"You wouldn't have done it unless you had to," she said, cradling his head against her chest. "You're an astonishingly brave man." He leaned into her, craving and needing her more than he could ever have imagined he'd need a woman, ever. She was loving and accepting and asked nothing in return.
"He had children," Booth whispered into the dark, the memories of Rosa and Ella burned into his thoughts.
"He killed innocent people," she reasoned.
"You don't know that," he countered, unwilling to realise the demons that tormented him. She nodded against him, rocking, protective.
"Yes I do," she promised, her breath soft. He never wanted to be alone again. There had never been anyone who ease the nightmares away before. Temperance had been the only woman foolish enough to venture into his mind, into his life. She'd accepted without judgment and listened without reprimand. "I love you," she said, "and I would kill them all myself, if I thought it would erase the pain." He turned in her arms, inhaling the very presence of her.
She'd never scorned him.
"What I've done will stay with me for as long as I live," he said. "But for every day you are here, it gets easier to accept." Brennan smiled against his skin.
"If my presence eases your pain, I'd stay here forever." She said.
"I believe you," Booth replied, pulling her against him.
And he really did.
I want to thank everyone who has taken an interest in my writing and encouraged me. I wouldn't do this, if it weren't for you guys telling me you like it.
Thank you again.