Title: Psychological Manipulation

Summary: Booth has his second session with Dr Wyatt.

Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me.

Rating: Probably just K+, no sex and a little bad language.

Author's Note: This story is the result of a coffee break muse. Well, not really because I don't drink a lot of coffee unless I go to Starbucks. I was actually drinking tea, which is ironic given Booth's comments towards his psychiatrist in the last episode…

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Dr Wyatt wasn't so bad, really.

He had Psychological Manipulation down to an art. When I relayed this to him, he chuckled in a very dry and mirthless way that was synonymous with being British. He was sort of emotionless without being especially cold.

On our second official visit, after he had signed my paper, Dr Wyatt made coffee and this time it didn't taste so bad. It was too cold to sit outdoors, which I regretted because since building his barbeque, I enjoyed sitting in his yard. But inside his house revealed more about the man than his gardens did.

He had a collection of books from master psychologists such as Freud. He hadn't arranged them according to author, which surprised me. I suspected, somehow, that Wyatt would be quite retentive about things but in fact he was downright haphazard in almost everything he did.

I almost knocked a pile of reports off his coffee table as I sat on his sofa, keeping close to the edge in case he asked me to lie down, like in a proper therapy session.

"You have no certificates," I said, indicating the blank spaces on his walls. Wyatt followed my gesture, shrugging his shoulders.

"I have certificates," he assured me, "I just have no desire to display them. Dreadfully dull, really. I'm actually on the look out for some nice paintings… but I've never been a man to boast about education." I wondered at how many doctors offices I had been in while on an investigation. I couldn't recall a single one who didn't want to display their achievements on their own personal 'wall of fame'.

"Where did you study?" I asked, making polite conversation. Perhaps subconsciously I didn't want to start my session. After Wyatt signed my paper last time, I cooked steaks and he never mentioned Epps or my problems again. When I was leaving, he told me when to come and see him again.

"Cambridge," he said. The topic quickly shifted. "Have you been back to work, yet?" I nodded, fingers clenched around my mug. "How has that been?"

"Alright, I suppose," I replied. "Paperwork, mostly. I had a homicide two days ago, which was the fastest investigation in history since the guy's killer was too high on Meth to even think about cleaning evidence…" I was rambling – I knew it and Wyatt knew it. "I haven't had any reason to be working with the Squints." As soon as I said it, I knew I had walked straight into a conversation I didn't want to have.

"Why do you refer to them like this?" Wyatt asked. "Wasn't your last girlfriend a 'squint'?" I thought of Camille, loving and patient and I felt guilty. I had blown her off because of the whole Epps situation and it was cowardly, especially given her condition. I hadn't admitted to anyone that I had been wanting to break it off for awhile before she was poisoned.

"No," I said, shaking my head. "She's a pathologist… it's completely different."

"Whereby performing an autopsy doesn't require her to… squint at anything?" Gordon Wyatt had an ability to make everything sound crazy. He emphasised just the right words to be patronizing without being downright rude. "Or could it be that you don't feel as though you have to hide a genuine fondness for her from anyone else? These scientists, don't you like them?" I drained my cup.

"I do," I insisted. "They're great. Really, loads of FBI agents call scientists 'squints'. There's no hidden meaning behind it." Wyatt clicked his tongue, shaking his head. He looked pensive.

"There's hidden meaning behind everything, Agent Booth," he said. "Have you discussed your sessions with this partner of yours, Dr Brennan, isn't it?" I imagined what it would be like if Brennan came to meet Wyatt. She'd debunk all this theories in an instant. She'd tell him that psychology was just a pile of shit.

"No… she's too busy for that…" I caught the bristling in my tone and clamped my lips together. I didn't want to be annoyed that Brennan was getting cosy with Sully. He was a good guy and I had dated one of her colleagues, but it seemed that when I wanted Brennan, she had someone else and then I had someone and now it was back to the beginning again. I ground my molars together. "Brennan has a lot of work to be getting along with."

Wyatt hummed and I wondered what it was he wanted to say. I suspected he wanted me to ask, so I kept silent. "You've been working with this woman for awhile now, haven't you?" I nodded, my fingers flexing now that I had no cup to hold. "Get along well with her?"

"She's great at her job," I replied.

"She's the top anthropologist in the country, Agent Booth, I know that she's great at her job. But do you get along well with her?" Sighing, I half shrugged.

"I guess." Wyatt paced before the fireplace, contemplative.

"Have you thought much more about Mr Epps?" he asked. I wasn't prepared for the shift in topic and my eyes flew from the floor to meet his. Had I thought about Epps? When had I not? The bastard was in my mind when I woke up and the last thought in my mind as I went to sleep. "Ah… yes…" Wyatt said, reading my silence. "You're still blaming yourself?" Since he had posed the question of whether Epps had slipped or I had let him go, any hope of burying my thoughts of him were shot to shit.

"It's never easy to watch someone die…" I told him.

"No, I imagine it's not. Let's pretend for a moment that you did let him go. Say you wanted him to die…" I blinked, my eyes stinging from the effort of trying not to look directly at him. "Does it bother you that, with the forty nine other people you killed, you had an excuse and with this man you do not?" I couldn't help but look at him now.

"Excuse?" I asked.

"Being a sniper," he elaborated with an easy shrug. "You were ordered to kill those people but not Epps…" I hated to admit it, but I had thought about this before. Was I just a mindless killer? Was I just like Epps? "You think too much, Agent Booth. That's your problem."

Frowning, I stared at him now. "I think too much and the FBI remedy that by sending me to someone who makes me think even more?" Wyatt chuckled; a deeply aristocratic sound.

"Well, yes. You see, as you said, I manipulate your thoughts. Force them along a different train track. Away from an impending wreckage…" I found myself thinking for the second time that the doctor wasn't so bad. "You're a protector," he said. "You like to know that those you care about are safe. Your son," he seemed to pause forever. "Dr Brennan…"

There was an infinite moment of meaningful silence, dramatic effect. "Why shouldn't I protect those I care about?" I asked at last.

"Precisely," Wyatt replied. "If you did let him go, it's probably no less than what anyone else would have done. But you didn't let him go, did you, Agent Booth?" I had asked myself this at least a hundred thousand times since Wyatt last posed the question to me. I could feel his hand, his skin, slipping over mine. My fingers weren't maintaining a grip and in the last instant, I lost my hold on him. My first thought, however, was not one of sorrow. I felt relieved that I hadn't been able to save him. Wyatt voiced my thoughts. "You are guilty only of mental murder…"

Rubbing my temples I wondered if this was an ideal thought. Was I trying to hide the truth with something altogether untrue? "I'm glad he's dead," I disclosed to the doctor. He shrugged.

"I am too," he said with wide eyes. "You're not a bad person for that." Wyatt sat down for the first time since our session began. "Tell me about Dr Brennan." I cleared my throat.

"Brennan is complicated," I said. "She's… just Brennan."

"Hmm…" This time I couldn't resist.

"What?" I asked.

"I'm curious," Wyatt said, "why you're so afraid to talk about her. We've touched upon your commitment problems before, haven't we? Apparently not enough." I shook my head.

"I'm here to discuss my problems with my job, not my women."

"Our personal lives and our professional lives are not so far apart, agent," the doctor said. "Especially when one aspect leans so close to the other. Dr Brennan is one of 'your women', is she?" I dropped my head back, hating that he was so good at trapping me. "Unreturned affections, maybe?" He offered an exaggerated gasp. "Oh dear… unrequited love?" I shook my head fiercely.

"No," I insisted, "no, no, no." I lifted my hand. "Absolutely not."

"I see."

"What do you see? What can you possibly see from that?" I hated that I was becoming irate, especially since the doctor was never rude. "Listen, Dr Wyatt," I said softly, "Brennan is my partner. She's my friend. When I need someone to talk to, she's always around to listen. But that's it. Besides, she's… dating someone."

"Ah," Wyatt said, as if this explained everything. "Well, maybe if you would stop being such a wuss," I had never heard him use such an American term before, "and asked her out yourself, she'd be dating you and not someone else." I shook my head.

"I don't want her to date me," I told him.

"Well aren't we just going around in circles here…"

"Apparently so," I bit back. "Alright, alright, I'll be honest with you. I find her attractive. She's very pretty and she's feisty and independent. But it's not good to be involved with someone you work with." Wyatt chuckled.

"I thought professional and personal weren't connected…" he said and I massaged my temples. Instead of helping me, the Shrink only seemed to give me a headache. "Listen, Agent Booth, those two worlds are always going to be one, whether you have a relationship with someone you work with or not. You are only one person with one life and it's impossible to separate it." I thought about this. "Of course nothing happens immediately, so we will arrange another session for say… Tuesday next week?" I hadn't realised that our time was already up. "Twelve thirty?" Standing, I nodded.

"Okay," I agreed.

As Dr Wyatt showed me to his front door, I gestured to his blank walls. "I think I might know someone who would have some paintings you'd be interested in," I told him. Wyatt smiled wildly, never quite a grin, which would have been totally not British.

"Marvellous!" he said.