I would like to apologize again but it's nothing you haven't heard before. This is the newest completed chapter of Bright Side. This is a crazy story to write and very difficult to do. It's draining enough when I don't have all the drama over here at the homestead. But chapter five is in the works and so is chapter six. Here's a forewarning, though: the next chapter will be a DEFINITE M rating. I even have to tone it down a bit so it doesn't go too over the top. When that one is released you can request a lighter chapter that doesn't have the scene in question within it. (Non-consensual sex. Or a gang rape. Whichever termonology you prefer.) Just don't expect it too soon. Ugh.
Anyway, here it is. Chapter four. Not the greatest but definitely longer than usual. I combined two just for you guys.
Disclaimer: Clones on a loan. You know the drill. Don't sue or my rats Dana and Rosaline will starve. Then I'll be angry. You don't want that. Just ask B.
Rating: T for mild to medium language. Can't remember how bad it gets. Hehe.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Apologies out to Ava. Sorry I didn't send this to you, hun. It too much motivation to even get it up here on the internet. I had to get it done now or it never would. Love to you. And I'll send you summaries in a bit.
"So I scheduled another appointment over at the safe house with Mr. Kenton. They're expecting us in forty minutes."
Brennan looked wearily at Agent Terry and took another sip of her milkshake that she had splurged for on her way to work. "Can't we just meet him here?" She'd meant for the comment to sound like annoyance at having to leave the lab instead of a final plea. She knew that she would feel a hundred times more comfortable with her execution if it was in a place that was like a second home instead of a dark, dreary house in the middle of a subdivision. Why the hell did they keep him in a place like that, anyway? It was depressing….
Agent Terry shook his head and continued to keep his eyes trained on the wall just to the left of her face. He hadn't looked her in the eyes all morning. In fact, no one had.
That just confirms that they all knew about it, she thought ruefully. Even Zack and Cam hadn't looked at her or spoken to her without stuttering. Oh well, she sighed. There was nothing to be done about that. She would just have to accept it.
"So when do we have to leave?" she sighed, resigned to her fate.
Terry cleared his throat and looked briefly at her face before looking away again. "Well, I think that we should leave now and beat any kind of lunch traffic."
Brennan nodded before standing up from the large leather chair and grabbing the file on the John Doe. "All I have to do is get him to ID the picture, right?"
"Yeah, that's right."
"Good. Then we're getting out of there and I," she lifted her empty milkshake, "am getting a refill." They were her new addiction; something else that she had picked up on her "sabbatical" in California. Thankfully, this habit was much healthier than the near-perpetual drunkenness.
Brennan looked up to her office door to lock eyes with Angela. It was the first she had seen of the woman all morning. She looked terrible and Brennan had the distinct impression that her friend hadn't slept at all the night before. "What's up, Ange?" she asked warily. She was feeling better than she had been at the time of Angela's call but she was still slightly shaken by both the call and the betrayal the day before.
"I was wondering if you wanted me to tag along. You know…for emotional support?" Angela seemed to fear saying it out loud and she seemed to be ready to either burst into tears or defend herself if Brennan decided to yell at her again.
The suggestion didn't send Brennan into an angry frenzy as Angela seemed to expect but, instead, started a swelled lump growing in the back of her throat. This was certainly not easy for Angela, she knew. And it would be a lot easier if she had a familiar face other than Terry's to be with her before and after she spoke to…Michael.
"I'd like that," she said softly. Angela's face brightened and she tucked her hair behind her ears.
"Great," Terry said with an embarrassed expression. "We should get going, now. The traffic is going to get nasty really quick and I don't know about you but I think that I'd rather face George Mendoza himself than face D.C. traffic. Especially in the summer time when all the tourists are in."
The women nodded in unison as Brennan stood and walked out of the room with arms linked and fingers entwined. As they walked out to the car garage together, Terry caught Hodgins's eyes and shrugged as they both looked at the women. Hodgins smiled slightly before turning back to the microscope with the smile remaining.
…R.I.P. CHRIS MARCUM…
Brennan stared at the door to the old house and listened to the opening and closing of another door just a few hundred feet away. She wanted to turn and run. She wanted to kick off her heeled boots and run as fast as she could away from what waited behind two inches of wood. But where would she go?
This was the inevitable moment. She could hear movements behind the door—the sound of a faucet in what she deemed to be the kitchen, the clinking of dishes, the sound of a cat meowing—and they were all testaments to what she was about to walk into.
She was about to walk head-on into her nightmares.
And if she kept thinking about it she was going to do what the blood in her veins screamed for her to do.
She was going to go back to California. And that was something that she had sworn to herself that she would never do.
So, with her mind screaming right along with her body for her to turn around, she moved her shaking hand to the doorknob and turned it. The metal latch moved and the door swung open.
She was shaking all over as she took a few steps inside and shut the door behind her. The Garfield-like cat trotted into the living room from what was definitely the kitchen—and the source of the noises—and appraised her with large eyes before turning back around with its tail raised and walking into the kitchen where it meowed loudly.
"Dammit, Leech, I'm not going to feed you again." Something in Brennan's torso lurched and she felt like throwing the three milkshakes that she had consumed up and out of her system. His voice was the same and yet…different. "If you really want to eat," he continued, seemingly unaware of her presence, "then go get some of the rats that I swear are running around here. Go on. Go fetch." Brennan heard a splash of water and a yowl of disapproval before a sopping-wet feline trotted out of the kitchen once again. He eyed her with disdain as if saying Stupid sonofabitch before turning and moving in the direction of the bedroom.
Then the faucet turned off and, without more than a scant two or three seconds of warning footsteps, Brennan found herself face-to-face with him.
Suddenly, Brennan knew what people meant when they talked about a deer in headlights because, as she locked eyes with Booth, she felt the terror that a deer must feel with the knowledge that some large being as hurtling towards her at an unstoppable rate. In fact, her reaction was fitting perfectly with the realization that she had recently made about being a walking corkboard covered with the most-used clichés, ones that even she knew. But that didn't matter.
Right now, all that mattered was that she was staring into the brown eyes of the man that she had once loved…and had left for another.
How does one react in a situation like that? She had contemplated this question the entire car ride with Angel sitting huddled up beside her in the back seat. Does one burst into tears? Do they fling themselves at each other, each proclaiming how much they missed one another? Should the meeting be cordial, like two old friends meeting each other once again at a high school reunion? Or should it be a cold meeting, one filled with silences that spoke of betrayals and heartaches and confessions? What should be said? What should she do? There was nothing that she could find that seemed acceptable so she did the first thing that popped into her head. She thrust out her hand that held the file containing the picture of John Doe and she spoke quickly.
"There's a picture in here that….that Angela drew. We were wondering if you could take a look at him and identify him." She kept her eyes lowered and waited for the file to be taken from her fingers. When it was not, she looked up cautiously and peeked at him. He was standing there, looking at her with an astonished expression on his face. She also noticed at there was a long scar from his left temple to his chin where it doubled back briefly to skim along his jaw. It looked like a knife wound.
Catching her eyes for a moment before flicking them swiftly back to the folder, Booth pursed his lips into a thin line. Then he reached out and took the file from her. Their fingers came nowhere close to touching, she noted. Something that helped mark the passage of time between their last meeting.
Booth didn't even flip the folder open as he spoke. "I hear you came by yesterday."
"You were asleep," Brennan answered softly. She moved her head slightly so that her hair fell to shield her face: an old trick that she hadn't used in a long time.
"Mmh," Booth made the sound in the back of his throat. "And you didn't bother to wake me?"
Brennan chuckled airily as she turned her head away from him to scan the nondescript white wall. "I wouldn't have come here," she said softly, "if you hadn't made it so difficult for Terry to visit."
"Terry." Booth said the name as if he was rolling it around in his mouth. Brennan caught the sound of disdain in his tone. She heard the sound of his feet and she looked back to where he had been standing just in time to catch his form slipping back into the kitchen. Quickly, she followed. When she was in the room, she immediately located the file on the tabletop. Booth himself was positioned at the sink where a pile of dirty dishes sat.
"Booth—" she began, hoping that she wouldn't have to beg for him to look at the picture but before she could go any further, he turned away from the sink and looked her straight in the eye.
"When did you get back?" It was a simple question; one that should have been easy to answer but there was something in his tone. Something that reminded her of how he was long ago and they were still friends and partners. He had always been like her: put up a rough exterior and maybe you'll get away unscathed. But she could still see beyond that shell that he put up and heard the shadow of pain in his voice. And this fact sent a stabbing pain through her chest and her heart. She was the cause of some of that pain. She knew it and she hated herself for it.
Brennan cleared her throat, swallowing the lump that had formed. "Two weeks ago," she said. Her voice was raspy against her lips, chafing them as they passed.
Booth nodded. Then part of his defenses slipped and his gaze hardened to a cold ice. "Did California not meet your expectations?"
A sob almost escaped Brennan's lips as she understood the implication of his words. "Booth—"
"Oh, shut up," he muttered as he strode closer until he was standing mere inches from her. He seemed to tower above her, even though he wasn't much taller. Brennan shivered as she stared at the hard lines of his face. She had seen him angry before but she had never been afraid, at least not for herself. But now she was. "Just," Booth took a breath, "shut the hell up!"
Brennan flinched back and took in a sharp breath but he didn't relent and reached out, grabbing her wrist with his hand.
"Do you have any damn idea how hard my life has been lately; how many things I've gone through? No. You were too damn busy going off to screw around with some bastard and now…and now you just show up, expecting me to act civil to me and somehow expecting me to do the same?! Yeah, right, Bones!"
That's when the dam broke down. Brennan tore her arm away from his grasp and stormed back up to face him, the tears streaming down her face. "You arrogant son of a BITCH!" she yelled in his face. He took a step back, obviously shocked by her outburst but it didn't soften him. If anything, his face only hardened. "You aren't the only damn person in this world. You aren't the only one that's gone through hell. Don't you dare talk about Andrew that way! Don't you DARE." She took in another breath before closing her eyes. She was suddenly very light-headed. Her breath was coming in short, sharp bursts and she realized frantically that she was hyperventilating. "Don't," she panted, "ever talk about him like you knew him." She paused for a moment to calm herself down before continuing. "I don't expect you to talk to me much. I just—I just want you to look at Angela's drawing and tell me who it is." She swallowed hard and, now that she was breathing at a somewhat-normal rate, she tried to stop the tears from flowing. It proved a futile effort, however, so she turned her face away and thrust the file into his chest.
"Please," she said softly, almost pleadingly. "If you don't want to talk to me…just look at the file." She choked back a sob. When had she gotten so emotional? She couldn't remember the last time she cried in front of anybody other than Andrew. Then again, she'd always had a hard time hiding her feelings around him. But it wasn't like he cared anymore. No. He hated her. And she couldn't thrust the blame for that on anybody but herself. Even then, though, she was slightly glad that she had made it that way. It sure as hell made things a lot easier.
At least, that's what she had to keep telling herself to keep from drowning.
…Booth and Brennan…
Bones was crying.
Damn it, why did he even care?
Why did each tear falling down that angelic face tear at his heart?
He hated her.
So why the hell couldn't he force himself to take the file and turn away?
"Take it," she pleaded. Her voice sounded so lost…so broken. "Take it so I can leave you alone."
But did he want her to leave him alone? He didn't think so, even though he had every reason to.
The truth was that he still loved her. The painful, God's Honest Truth was that he still woke up every morning thinking about her face; her voice; the way that she made him feel safe.
Every morning, though, he still pulled out that letter that she'd written him nine months ago at his apartment. And then the pain and the fury came back with just the same momentum as it had that morning.
By now he could quote it word for word.
He could recite every scalding word telling him how what had happened was just a way to satisfy biological urges. He saw every written phrase that described the man that she had met. He heard every sentence that told him that she was leaving him for this other man. Ever word. It was all etched into his memory and every night as he went to bed he could hear the letter as if she had read it to him instead of written it.
Booth remembered the first couple weeks after and how he had tried to convince himself that it was just a nasty joke that she was playing. It was so unlike her to go off to live with any guy—let alone a near stranger—but as time went by, he found himself growing to accept the letter as a fact and a truth. Soon he'd grown to hate her.
But she'd stayed with him. Every woman that he'd been with since that night—regardless of the situation—he had seen her and felt her body. When he was cruel to them, he imagined it being her and he was punishing her for what she'd done. When he was pretending to be genuine and touched her gently, he'd found himself pretending that she had come to him to say that it had all been a lie and that she really did love him.
He'd dreamed about her, too. Every night that he didn't have a nightmare, there she was. And, even if he did find himself having unspeakably horrible dreams, she often showed up to save him.
But here she was. She was standing in his kitchen—or at least, his temporary kitchen—pleading with him and he had the perfect chance to take everything out on her. And he wanted to. God knew that he wanted to grab her by the neck, slam her against the wall and have his way with her, whether or not she was a willing participant. But that was the part of him that was still Michael Kenton; the part that was still in the gang, waking up every moment in fear that he would be caught and tortured.
Still…the other part of him—the Seeley Booth part that had somehow survived—was split in his decision. He wanted to scream at her and sob in her arms; letting her comfort him, even if just for the moment. He wanted to touch her hair and her lips and her milky stomach again. He wanted to make her suffer emotionally the way that he had and yet he wanted to forgive her and he wanted her to forgive him. Above all, he wanted forgiveness.
"Bones—" he whispered softly, allowing his voice to sound soothing as he slowly moved his hand to her wrist. She gasped and flinched back, moving away from him. He closed his eyes in frustration and sadness and the moment in which he had been vulnerable was gone and Michael Kenton was back at the wheel. He snatched the file from her grasp and flipped it open to the drawing.
Booth stared in shocked horror down at the picture in his hands for a long minute.
That is just damn great, isn't it? He thought to himself as he looked down at Ian McClain. Of course he's going to show up at the worst damned time possible. Isn't that always the way?
Brennan cleared his throat and he looked up at her with annoyance. She was regaining her composure: there wasn't a trace of tears on her face, although her eyes were still puffy.
"Do you know him?" she asked softly.
Booth nodded and thrust the file back at her. "Yeah, I knew him. His name was Ian McClain—or Dog for those that knew him. Died about six or seven months ago. Did they just find him?"
Brennan nodded. "Down at the old—"
"Old quarry. I know. Hey, this case is already wrapped up. Give the information to Agent Newman and he'll clear it up." He turned away from her and stepped back to stand in front of the sink so that he could stare at the wall and away from her.
"What?" Brennan sounded annoyed. "How do you know—"
"Because I killed the bastard, that's how." Booth turned his head and glared at her over his shoulder just in time to watcher her do a double take at this news. "I began the original poisoning and when the time came, I strangled him with my bare hands and hid his body. The FBI already knows about it so…I guess I can see why you didn't know, though." He turned back to the wall. "They probably don't have that in the system yet to keep the information contained." He sighed. "Is that all you wanted? I have things I have to do."
She was unable to budge. Only her mouth, fighting hard against the shock, could move. "What…" she began before the tumble of thoughts punched, kicked, scratched and bit their way to be first to make themselves known. She cleared her throat and began again. "What are you talking about?" Damn. That came out as almost a squeak.
"I'm saying," Booth turned around again to point at the file, "that six months and twenty days ago, I met Ian McClain at the quarry to discuss a matter of…business with him in behalf of Mendoza. He yelled, lunged at me with a knife, and I grabbed him by the throat and pressed him up against the rocks. Then I watched the light leave his eyes. I wrapped things up quite nicely by tying him up in a tree. Actually," he shifted his eyes to meet with hers as if challenging her. His voice now had a thoughtful quality to it. "I'm quite shocked that it took so long for anybody to find him."
He watched in quiet amusement as she seemed to visibly choke on her words. Bitch, he thought venomously to himself.
Finally, she closed her mouth and took in a deep breath. Then, after a few audible swallows, she nodded. "I see," she said. She cleared her throat. "Well then, I'm going to get going. If we need anything answered, someone will be back to talk to you."
"Someone? You mean, you're going to get someone else to talk to me so that you don't have to come back."
Brennan kept her eyes locked on his as she nodded. "Yeah, something like that. I can work better in an environment where I'm not being insulted by somebody with no grounds on which to do so."
He snorted in disbelief. "No grounds? How the hell can you say I have no grounds to insult you? I have every right to, you know. It's not like you were quite there for me when I left."
"Well maybe I couldn't be."
"Couldn't be? Then where the hell were you? I don't really think that sleeping with some guy is a very good excuse, do you?"
She was shaking all over. Her hands trembled as they clutched the file and her legs quivered from standing as if that simple act took more energy than she had available to her. She had to get out of there now, she realized. This time, the decision wasn't out of fear. It was out of a cold sadness that was seeping through her veins. No longer could she endure the hard stare of the man that had once been so gentle and so kind to her. It was her fault, she knew, but there was a silent desperation along with the chill for her to leave and hide in her apartment where she could drink her way to a place where she didn't have to look at the ruins of a life that she once took for granted.
"Fine." Her voice came out in a whisper as she looked away from the shadow of a man. "I guess you're right. Sleeping with a man is no excuse for not being there for you." She closed her eyes briefly before opening them and then turned and walked slowly out of the kitchen. He followed a few paces away and when she had the door open, she paused only briefly before squaring her shoulders and leaving him behind in the cold, dark living room.
"We've got it, Sir."
"This better be good."
"It is, sir. I've figured something out about your…Agent."
"Enlighten me, please."
"Well, apparently, there's a woman that he was involved with before he came to Chicago."
"Yes, well, she used to work with him. She's still in D.C., too, so she should be easy enough to get a hold of."
"Are we sure that he will bite, though? He never took an interest in any of our women. I can't see him doing anything stupid for some female agent, involved or not."
"Well, she's not really an agent, but apparently they worked together for a good two years or so before he left and my sources say that they were very, very close."
"Well…I guess there isn't much left to lose. When can you get to work?"
"Not yet, sir. We need to give him time to become attached again."
"Yes…Yes, you're right. We'll give it a few days. We've got plenty of time…so much time left to us…. Nice work, Jack. Very nice work, indeed."
"Thank you, sir."
If you have any predictions about Jack, please keep them between you and me and not on the comments. I don't want anything wasted and this was about as subtle as a guy wearing a scream mask in a mall filled with Santas. Couldn't find another way to do it, though. Feel free to send me your predictions. I love input.
Speaking of which. See that little button down at the bottom left corner of this page? It's a sort of blue-gray color. Push it. Send me a line. You know you want to. Those little seemingly inconsequential messages mean the world to me.
Lots of love for the patience you all show,