Summary: Have you ever wondered why Brennan is always in the passenger seat?
Rating: No drama this time so I'm going to go with a K+ here.
Author's note: So this is no Animal, but it's Booth-centered as well. Parts of it are actually based on real life experiences. I recently learned how to drive myself (I even passed my driver's exam) so I figured I'd use that knowledge to write a story about how Booth's first driving lesson possibly could have gone.
Thanks M for correcting my grammar.
Excitement, anticipation, fear---they were all coursing through his veins as he looked at his father's shiny red pick-up truck. Slowly reaching out, as if afraid the car would evaporate if he dared to be too brash, he ran his fingertips over the cool metal of the hood. He shivered at the contact. In just a couple of minutes, whatever was hidden under the hood would be awakened by a single flick of his hand. His fingers caressed the curves of the grill, rubbed over the headlights, and ran up the windshield. From there he lightly traced his way to the back of the car, all the while reveling in the power he felt radiating from the slick surface through his fingertips. He had just rounded the car when a voice called his name.
"What're you doing, Seeley? Feeling her up like she's your girlfriend?" Jared smirked at his own joke. His smirk faded when he felt a large hand being placed on his shoulder.
"Easy there, Jared. He's just excited about his first driving lesson." Jared looked up to find his father Mike standing next to him. "If I remember correctly, you were just as hyped up."
"I'm not hyped up," Seeley butted in, putting the collar of his black shirt up to emphasize the toughness of his words.
"Of course you aren't," Mike smiled. A few moments long he took in the sight of Seeley standing wide-legged and arms crossed next to the car. His son had taken his first steps on this driveway. He had learned how to ride his bike here. Even his first tries at basketball had taken place right in front of their garage. Mike shook his head, smiling. Now his son would learn how to drive on their driveway. "Catch."
Seeley jumped forward to catch the car keys his father threw at him. Mike shook his head smiling at seeing a blur of worn jeans, black shirt, and ruffled brown hair hurry to the driver's seat. His youngest son could be a handful sometimes. He had always been and still was even though he was already sixteen. The idea of letting Seeley behind the wheel of his new truck was slightly unnerving. His son was well known for getting into all kinds of trouble---who knew what he'd do once he had his license. But Mike couldn't refuse giving his boy driving lessons. He had taught Jared how to drive; he'd do the same for Seeley. He'd just have to trust the sixteen-year-old youngster to listen carefully and store all the offered information safely away.
"Be careful, will you? I have to pick up Caroline tonight and I'd hate to do that with a wrecked car," Jared warned his brother.
"Jared," Mike chided him. "Last time I checked, this is still my truck. Now scram. Go help your mother or something." He nudged Jared away from the car. It was best for all concerned that Jared not be present for Seeley's first attempt at driving. The tension between them was sometimes so thick and heavy it could be cut with a knife. The contrast between his sons constantly astounded him. While Jared was the perfect student, always had the most popular girls as his girlfriends, and was the school's best quarterback, Seeley was the complete opposite. Unlike Jared, he regularly ditched math class, hung out with kids considered "trouble" by school administrators, and seemed to have no intention what so ever of growing up anytime soon. Why Jared and Seeley were so different even though they had the same parents would always remain a mystery to Mike. He calmly made his way to the other side of the car and hoisted himself into the passenger seat---just in time to catch Seeley's hand before he shoved the key into the ignition. "Not so fast, son. First things first. You have to know a thing or two about this baby before I let you drive away with her."
Disappointment was written all over Seeley's face, but he nodded anyway. He quietly sat through his father's endless explanation of what each button and light on the dashboard was for. When Mike started to demonstrate how to roll down the windows, Seeley decided it was time to put a stop to his torture. "Dad…I'd like to learn how to drive today…"
The impatience in his voice made Mike smile. He handed the keys over and said, "Alright then, let's give it a try."
After carefully explaining how to start the car, he signaled for Seeley to do as he had been instructed. The minute the younger Booth turned the ignition key, a loud roar sounded over the driveway. Seeley couldn't keep a sigh of satisfaction in. The purr of the engine sounded like freedom to him. He got goose bumps when he felt the wheel vibrate under his hands. He shifted around in his seat, feeling the leather crack every time he moved. Straightening up so he could take a decent look at what was before him, he had to suppress a sigh of content. Their long driveway leading to the main street of their neighborhood was calling to him. It was just begging him to follow it and drive away---away from home, from his perfect brother, and from his every day worries. He longed to feel the wind in his hair and sing in his ears as he sped down the highway. It would be the closest he'd ever come to freedom, contentment, and a different life.
His grin nearly reached his ears when he turned to face his father. "What do I do now?"
"You turn off the engine."
"I do what?" Upon seeing his dad's serious expression, he sighed and killed the engine. The highway would have to wait a wee bit longer.
Mike nodded approvingly and began explaining how to drive stick step by step. "When you start the car, it's in neutral. To go from neutral to first gear, you have to press the clutch all the way down and then move the shifter around until it's in first gear. Then you gently let go of the clutch while you push the accelerator equally gentle down with your other foot. Come on, try it out without the engine running." Once Seeley had given it enough successful tries, Mike allowed him to turn the ignition key again. "Now remember, Seeley---clutch down, shift, then clutch up. Be prepared. It's different when the engine's running."
Seeley turned the ignition key, depressed the clutch, shifted to first gear and slowly released the clutch as he pressed the accelerator down. Nothing happened. The engine's roar became louder, but the car didn't budge. "Dad, we're not moving."
Mike chuckled. "One word---handbrake."
His son rolled his eyes and released the handbrake. He gingerly let go of the clutch and pushed the accelerator down again. Not gingerly enough so it appeared because seconds later the car violently shot forward and fell silent. Its two occupants were thrown to the front and back into their seats. Seeley first gave the steering wheel and then his father a bewildered look. "What did I do wrong?"
"You released the clutch too fast. You have to do it more gently, like…" Mike paused, searching for the right words. "It's like when you're talking to a girl. You have to be kind, gentle, and smooth to get her number. If you go too fast, chances are she'll laugh at you. There's this balance between the clutch and the accelerator---a very delicate balance. When you release one, you press down the other. It's give and take."
"Right, girls," Seeley sighed. "I know girls. I'm good with girls." He wiped his clammy hands on his jeans and turned the ignition key for the third time in twenty minutes. His face contorted in concentration, he went over all the steps of shifting from neutral to first gear. To his surprise the truck began to roll forward. Concentration was quickly replaced with joy as he maneuvered the car down the driveway. But as the street came closer, his eyes became as big as saucers. "Uh, Dad…How do you stop this thing?"
"You use the brakes, of course." No sooner had the words left his father's mouth when Seeley's foot shot out to the pedal he believed were the brakes. The car came to an abrupt stop, sputtered for a second, and fell silent. All air was knocked from their lungs as they were once again thrown forward. Rubbing the sore spot where his seatbelt cut in, Mike muttered, "Give and take, Seeley. You have to be gentle. Start the car again, will you?"
"Third time's a charm," Seeley mumbled, awakening the engine for the fourth time. Once the car was moving forward again, he glanced at his father who was gazing out of the side window. "Dad, what should I do now?" Mike turned around to find his son pointing at where their driveway ended and the street began.
"You make a left turn."
"I do a what?"
"A left turn. You know, you turn the wheel to the left so that the car will go that way?"
Seeley nervously licked his lips. "A turn---a left turn actually. I can do that, can't I? Of course I can, it's only a left turn, not math." His father chuckled at hearing his son compare driving to what he hated the most in the entire world---math and everything scientific. But the laughter quickly died away when Seeley accidentally pressed the accelerator to the floor in the middle of going left. The car made an unexpected sharp turn, throwing the two Booth men to the side. Thankfully Seeley quickly recovered and directed the vehicle back onto the road.
Mike sat upright, rubbing the back of his head that had hit the car window. "Boy, you're going to be the death of me. If you're not careful, you're going to end up against a tree, just like your brother."
"Jared hit a tree?" his son asked disbelieving.
"Yeah, during his first driving lesson, he decided to say hello to the Jensen's oak tree. Left a nasty dent on the right side of the truck we sold last year. You never noticed it?" Seeley shook his head. "Anyway, that's what he did. I'm surprised you didn't know."
"Jared doesn't share a lot," Seeley mumbled. He wanted to add that wasn't exactly true---his brother did share with him, just not about his failures. For some unknown reason he wanted to best Seeley---always be the son that knew how to do everything exactly how everyone wanted it to be done.
Mike went back to staring out of the window. When he had taught his other son how to drive, Jared had given him grief about constantly studying his every move. Mike wanted to avoid another heated discussion so he instead focused on the houses they were slowly passing. When they drove by the third house, the car began to move faster. Frowning, Mike noted that his eyes weren't playing tricks on him and that his truck was indeed picking up speed. He quickly turned around to find his youngest son staring at the road in deep concentration while his right foot slowly but surely depressed the accelerator. "Seeley," Mike began.
"Just let me do this, Dad," Seeley interrupted him. His father abruptly closed his mouth and decided to give his son the benefit of the doubt. As long as they didn't hit any trees or other cars, what was the worst that could happen? Wide-eyed, he watched Seeley push the accelerator down some more, release it, depress the clutch, shift fluently to second, release the clutch and depress the accelerator again.
"Son, that was..." He shook his head, an ear-to-ear grin plastered on his face. "You shifted like a pro!" Even though Seeley kept his eyes fixed on the road, Mike could see the spark in his eyes and the satisfied smile playing around his lips. His son clearly appreciated the compliment. With a satisfied smile of his own, Mike settled back in his seat. "You think you can make it to third gear?" Seeley's smile widened. Moments later they were smoothly humming down the street in third. Seeley's father nearly rolled down his window to proclaim to the world that he had a professional driver for a son. Instead he affectionately patted Seeley's shoulder. "You've got potential, son. Keep this up and you'll be the best driver of the entire family---even better than Jared."
Unbeknownst to Mike, his words had flicked an internal switch in young Seeley's head. For as long as Seeley could remember he had admired his older brother, but had envied him at the same time. He desperately wanted to be as successful…as cool. Several times he had tried to stand out and prove to his parents that he wasn't a failure---a disappointment like they often thought he was. Or at least that's what he suspected they thought. But every time Jared bested him. What Seeley felt for his brother---brotherly love mixed with jealously---often drove him out of the house to places where he could be his own mischievous self. And now he had finally found something he was better at than his brother---driving. As he calmly drove down the empty street of their neighborhood, he vowed to become even better. The sense of control he felt when he was behind the wheel would be forever part of him. He'd always be in control behind the wheel of a car. Driving provided him with a way to escape the shadows his brother's perfection cast upon him. He'd never give up that control, no matter what happened and no matter who was with him.