The only clouds in the sky hung low on the horizon, barely obscuring the azure blue. There was the hint of a breeze but otherwise all was still.
Brennan was running on adrenaline. She hadn't slept in over 24 hours and she knew she was over-tired and slightly hyped, the organic chemicals in her system letting her stay awake but not function completely.
She did know what she was doing was wrong, but it was also right. As right as Carlos thought he was when he was protecting her. That's why she had to protect him now; she owed him so much more than this but it was a start.
She accelerated around the last curve and pulled into Carlos' hidden driveway. The gates opened and she was allowed through, knowing he would have let whomever his gatekeepers were that her car should always be admitted. The front yard of his house was empty and quiet; the men who were keeping guard remained unseen.
Brennan left her car in front of the house and walked inside, her steps stilted. Where she had been in a rush now she was reluctant, too aware that what she was doing would hurt the career she had, would hurt Booth, wounding his ideals of justice and honour and his simple belief in the law. But, as she knew too well from identifying honour killing victims for whom the law held no right, only wrong, that laws were not made to fit every situation.
"Carlos?" Her voice echoed through the house. She'd felt settled last time she was here, at peace, surrounded by Carlos' presence. His house was never homely before, but now it felt more sterile, an interior designer's work of art; all angles, and light but no substance or personality. The view outside was too open, spoke of too many possibilities for other people while she was here, trying to settle a debt she'd had since a man she was meant to be able to trust entered her bedroom after midnight with unbuckled pants and beer on his breath. She no longer felt settled, only trapped by time and circumstances.
"Carlos?" She called out again, advancing towards the bedroom. Her team at the Jeffersonian was too good not to have followed her instructions and arrived at the same conclusion she had; and she knew Angela would recognise the name and find the notated paragraph she had sent through. Sully was due to meet her that morning and he'd probably already talked to Zach and Angela and come to his own conclusions; Carlos was guilty. And this time prosecution was possible.
She'd done all she could for them and she was now playing for the other side, bringing a warning she should not be delivering. For once she was hoping the bad guy, the man who had killed for her, would get away. Her father she'd helped after he was imprisoned, when justice had been given a chance to prevail. But Carlos could never be locked up. He had been fettered for most of his childhood and his freedom was something she knew he valued above everything else.
"Carlos!" A third call as she entered his bedroom. She knew the pounding of her heart in her chest was the beginnings of panic, of being unable to get to him before the FBI did, before cuffs were locked around his velvet chocolate wrists and he looked at her with betrayal in his eyes. She needed him to answer her.
"Temperance." Then he was behind her in the doorway, mouth serious, eyes softened by her presence, never questioning why she was there.
There was so much she needed to tell him about, to warn him about. She knew Sully would be gathering FBI momentum in the form of a SWAT team, an armed force ready and willing to take out another harbinger of crime. The words wouldn't come and she was speechless, wanting to drink in his existence in front of her before he would run, finally leaving her forever. He seemed to sense it, to know she needed a minute before the purpose of her visit was revealed and he took the few steps between them until their breaths intermingled and he could fold her into his arms.
She breathed deeply, inhaling, memorising his scent, the feel of his arms around her sides, his hands against her back, drawing her close to fill the space between them.
"I'm sorry," she whispered against his neck, needing to lay preliminary groundwork, let him know she wasn't blameless in bringing the FBI to his door.
"I know," his words were gravel, tipped straight to her soul, and she knew he was doing more than accepting her apology. Of course he knew they were coming; he had eyes and ears everywhere. Why hadn't she remembered that?
"Why..." A pause as she pulled back slightly, disentangling her upper body so she could look at him.
"Why haven't you left yet?" He ran a gentle hand along her cheekbone and down her neck, tracing the line his scar would take if their roles were reversed. His next words disregarded her question.
"I knew you'd come."
xXx xXx xXx
"Sully, it's Booth. Where are you?"
"Getting a team in place. We've already got the go ahead thanks to the work the Jeffersonian did. With the exception of-." Sully was cut off and he knew it was so Booth wouldn't have to hear him say her name, wouldn't have to be reminded of her betrayal.
"That's what I wanted to talk to you about. I need in."
"What? Booth, you know-." Again, he cut Sully off midsentence.
"If she's there... Sully, there's a lot of history and she's..." Sully waited him out, let him talk despite the time that was ticking, the hustle around him of men filling a SWAT van, doing last weapons' checks, re-velcroing their vests.
"I know you're going in to get this guy. But if..." Again, he waited Booth out, climbing into the front seat of an SUV driven by another agent. Two more agents in the back were pulling the clips out of their handguns to check their ammunition.
"I can't let her get hurt." Booth's words surprised Sully, not because of the caring behind them but because he wouldn't have envisioned Temperance Brennan as anyone who 'let' anyone do anything for them. A look across at the agent driving them towards the address was what sealed it; Sully still felt guilty he'd caught this case instead of Booth.
"You can come. But you don't come in until it's secure and we've got him, or..." Sully let his words trail off and knew they were both imagining a dead criminal, and where Temperance would be left in that picture.
"But-." Booth started and this time Sully felt satisfied being able to cut him off.
"No, Booth. You're still an agent but you're officially on leave. A defence attorney would be able to make your presence a reason for him to walk." From Booth's silence, Sully knew that point had hit home.
"We're already on the way, you can meet us there." Sully gave him the address then hung up. He checked his own gun, knowing it was fully loaded but needing the extra reassurance. As much as Temperance trusted this guy, he didn't have the same feeling. And he would be doing everything he could to make sure Manos was brought in – with or without bodily harm.
xXx xXx xXx
Booth had received Angela's call, listened wordlessly to her in growing shock and horror before cutting her off so he could hang up and call Sully. He didn't want to believe she was at Manos' house right now, somewhere an FBI team would be storming within the hour. But he knew she would go to the ends of the earth for someone, if she believed they deserved it. And from their conversation late yesterday on his couch he could guess at the depth of her feelings for Carlos Manos.
He was in his car already when Sully answered and he thanked God and all the saints he could think of when Sully had finally relented and given him the address, telling him he could be there.
Pulling out of his building parking lot, Booth could see the irony; he'd been put on paid evaluation leave because he'd been trying not to let Bones get hurt. Now he was doing the same thing again. Cam had told him once that the definition of stupidity was doing the same thing over again and expecting different results – and that had been the catalyst for his first meeting with Bones. That was something he wouldn't change for anything. He couldn't imagine his life, now, without her in it.
But this was different. This wasn't a serial killer lying in wait with a tire iron. This was a man who had saved her innocence once, long ago. Surely he would save her again by making sure she was out of the way of the FBI when they came in, guns drawn...
Booth couldn't convince himself and he turned on the lights, needing to be where she was, needing to know she was safe. The man she'd known as a boy had grown up to have a very successful career smuggling anything illegal to anyone who wanted it. He wasn't the person she'd known all those years ago; and as incredibly gifted Bones was intellectually, her people reading skills weren't as evolved.
"God, Bones..." Booth let her name escape his lips as he swerved around another car, hoping he would be there in time. She'd lived through so much already, there was no way she was going to be taken down by the very people Booth had pledged to fight alongside; the FBI who, he knew, would shoot first and avoid answering questions later.
xXx xXx xXx
Firstly, this fic is on hiatus for around three weeks. No, I'm not abandoning it again. I'll be in Sydney/Fiji sipping mojitos, sampling the night life and indulging my consumerist self by buying pretty things.
Hopefully the first part of this chapter read true – Brennan's POV. I didn't mean to write so heavily but in case you haven't noticed I do love some adjectives. And I wanted to get through how incredibly important this person is in her life and how she doesn't take her decision to tell him the FBI are coming lightly; there is no question that she will do it but it's going to hurt Booth because she's deliberately going against the ideals he lives his life by. And she recognises that, somehow, despite her general ineptness at inter-personal relationships. I think she knows way more than she lets on...
Important: The next chapter is actually going to be two chapters. One is a happy ending, the other is not so happy – kind of like a choose-your-own-adventure. Read the according one depending on your mood and how you were hoping this fic would end. I've had these two ideas kicking around and I just couldn't make a decision at all so I decided to write them both out. Hopefully you'll find an ending you like.