A Cry In The Night
Disclaimer: "BONES" and other related entities are owned, (TM) and © by 20th CENTURY FOX TELEVISION.
Temperance growled angrily as, once more, the squalling of the neighbour's baby intruded on her consciousness. It had been three hours since it started, and despite her good relationship with her neighbour, her obvious inability to make the child stop crying was grating on her last nerve.
Finally, fed up with the annoying sound, she rose from her desk and grabbed her keys from the small dish on her counter top as she passed. Her faithful, sturdy door was jerked open harshly and she stomped over to the neighbour in question and began banging with the meaty ball of her fist.
"Anita!" she called. The crying – muffled now by the door and several rooms – continued unabated. "Anita! Answer the door!" Silence except for the wailing of an infant. Temperance frowned, concern beginning to grow. She pressed her ear to the door and listened. Aside from the baby's cries, there was no other sound. She banged again just in case before pulling out her cell phone and hitting the speed dial.
"Booth," the familiar voice responded on the third ring.
"Booth, it's me," Temperance said.
"Bones? What's wrong?" he said, picking up on the concern in her tone.
"My neighbour has a baby. It's not stopped crying for three hours and she won't answer her door." There was a lengthy pause as he digested her statement.
"I'll be there in ten minutes. Don't bust in, Bones, you don't have authority. If something's wrong…" he trailed off and she could hear the jangle of keys as he rushed around.
"Hurry," she urged before ringing off.
The ten minutes it took for Booth to arrive was filled with a nervous tension that settled like a lead ball in her stomach. She could hear the wailing continuing and desperately hoped there was nothing wrong, even as logic dictated that no mother would leave her child so vulnerable for a length of time.
When Booth finally arrived, her face was pale and drawn, her blue eyes filled with worry. He silently drew his gun and knocked on the door with the butt of the handle.
"Ma'am? This is Agent Seeley Booth of the FBI. Please open the door, ma'am!" As before, there was no answer. He nodded to Temperance and lashed out with a kick, the door splintering around the lock and chain latch. Immediately he moved inside, leading with his gun as he checked each room for danger, his partner following close behind. When they came to the child's bedroom, she rushed inside and began fussing over the child.
"Hey, it's okay," she cooed, "we're here. We're going to find your mother, don't worry." Seeley allowed his eyes to rest on his partner before protocol re-asserted itself and he began searching the two remaining rooms. In the bathroom, he found what he was looking for.
"Damn. Bones, in here," he said. She came in, holding the fussing infant in her arms and looked down at the sprawled form of her neighbour, her skin the chalky colour of death. A large bottle of pills were clutched in her hand, its contents empty. Seeley leant down and peered at the bottle. "The prescription was filled yesterday," he said. "Looks like she might have taken it all. There would have been enough for two weeks." Temperance looked sad.
"She was nice," she said. "A little quiet, but I thought that was just how she was." Booth patted her on the shoulder gently and pulled out his cell.
"I'll call it in," he said.
It took a further twenty minutes for the coroner to arrive and take the body, and in the meantime Temperance had returned to her apartment and located the supplies she used to take care of Andy several weeks prior. Seeley looked surprised when she withdrew the items from a cupboard under the sink and began changing the infant's soiled diaper clumsily. He chuckled at her increasing frustration when the baby refused to stay still and stepped forward to intervene.
"Easy there, Bones. Let me do it. I have practice, remember?" he said. She huffed, but conceded. "What's his name?" he asked absently as she used the baby wipes to clean the baby's bottom. She bit her lip, her brow creasing in thought.
"I think she said his name was Michael," she said. Seeley chuckled at the irony and grabbed the baby powder.
"Mikey, huh?" he said, tickling the child's belly. Mikey giggled at his new nickname, his bright blue eyes wide and happy. "Hey Mikey! My name's Seeley. Can you say Seeley? Seeeeley," he burbled, a grin stretching his face. Temperance watched with an unimpressed look.
"Don't speak to him like he's stupid, Booth," she insisted. "Studies show that if you-"
"Bones, we went over this with Andy," he interrupted. She sighed and nudged him over, looking down at Mikey sadly.
"It's like Andy all over again," she murmured. Seeley nodded, a sad smile edging his face when the baby firmly grasped his finger.
"Social services are on their way," he said. "What are you gonna do, Bones?" he asked. She turned serious eyes to him.
"I can't let him go into the system, Booth. I wouldn't let it happen to Andy, I won't let it happen to Michael," she said. Seeley felt a grin grow on his face.
"You're gonna need help," he said. She scowled, angry at the insinuation she couldn't manage, but said nothing, well aware there were many things in parenting she was ignorant of. "So you gonna adopt him?" he asked. She pursed her lips and eyed the baby as she absently wiggled her fingers over his face.
"If he has no relatives…" she trailed off, and then shrugged. "I don't know, Booth. Maybe." His smile was warm and compassionate when her eyes slid back to his face.
"Well, you know me, Bones. With you all the way," he said. Temperance felt her face take on a pleased flush and turned her face back to Mikey.
"Thanks, Booth," she said softly.
"Anytime, Bones," he replied.
The Social Services representative arrived a few minutes later, a prim, unhappy looking woman with severe features and a tweed suit. As soon as Seeley saw her, he knew he would have his hands full with his partner. The woman glanced at the two of them, her eyes judgemental and cool.
"My name is Ms. Vanessa King, I am from the Department of Social Services. And you are?" she phrased her question like a demand, and he saw his partner bristle angrily.
"Agent Seeley Booth, FBI. This is my partner, Dr. Temperance Brennan," he introduced, trying his best to remain polite.
"I see. Well, I'll take the child and be on my way," she said flatly. Temperance glowered and held Michael closer to her chest.
"You most certainly will not!" she snapped quietly. "There are procedures you have to go through before you take a child!" Miss King remained unimpressed and narrowed her eyes.
"Don't tell me how to do my job," she replied, and Seeley felt he had to step forward before his partner somehow managed to get a hold of his gun and shoot someone.
"Ms. King," he began, "My partner is correct. We've actually gone through a similar situation a few weeks prior, and we were granted temporary custody as she is a registered foster parent. Check your records. All we want from you is to check if he has any living relatives and another grant of temporary custody." He eyed her mulish expression for a moment before continuing. "You are surely aware that any formal request from the Bureau over this issue will be met with approval from your superiors. Dr. Brennan and I have highly successful jobs. As her partner I would be lending assistance and protection to the child."
Ms. King's face remained carved from stone, but she nodded sharply once before spinning away and pulling her own cell to make a call. Seeley exchanged weary looks with his partner and scrubbed his face with his hand. "It's gonna be a long night," he muttered. She nodded in agreement, gently bouncing the baby, who remained fast asleep.
"He'll be hungry soon," she murmured. "I have some formula remaining in the bags," she said. Seeley nodded and moved into the kitchen to prepare something for Mikey, Temperance following carefully on his heels. She propped herself on her counter top as she watched him fish out the various bottles and teat lids before mixing the formula in the bottle and shaking it. he popped it in her microwave and set the timer, grinning softly at her whenever he glanced at the recumbent figure she held against her shoulder.
"He's a cute one, Bones," he said. She rolled her eyes, but a smile tugged at her lips despite her best efforts to the contrary.
"You say that about every baby, Booth," she said. His grin widened and he came to stand next to her, glancing between the baby and her eyes continuously. "What?" Temperance asked, somewhat unnerved at his proximity and the warm, affectionate look in his eyes.
"You look good with a baby, Bones," he said. Suddenly self-conscious, she looked away from his penetrating stare. Crisp footsteps announced the return of Ms. King and they both turned. Her expression was not pleased, as far as it differed from before.
"It seems everything checks out," she said. "My superiors confirmed you had successfully taken care of another minor and have approved temporary custody provided you fill out the forms that I have with me." She lifted her briefcase and removed a large sheaf of documents which she handed to Booth. "I will need them immediately," she said flatly at his incredulous stare.
"Right," he muttered, remembering that last time the forms had taken them two hours to fill out. Hopefully familiarity would help them here. At that point, Michael awoke and began to wail, obviously hungry. Temperance looked panicked, but collected the formula from the microwave and lifted it up. Aware of the terrible repercussions should she complete her intended action before the Social Services rep, Seeley stepped forward with a smile and took the bottle from her unprotesting fingers, his eyes pleading.
"I'll test that for you, Bones. You've got your hands full," he said. Her eyes looked questioning, but she nodded and continued to gently bounce Michael in her arms. Breathing a sigh of relief, Seeley gently upended the bottle on the inside of his wrist to test the heat of the formula. Thankfully it was just warm enough, so he handed it over with a reassuring smile. He turned to find Ms. King watching them like a hawk and smiled genially.
"Ms. King, how old is he?" he asked. She glanced at a small pad she held in her hands briefly.
"According to our records he is six months, born February fifteenth," she said. Seeley glanced back to find Michael ravenously sucking on the bottle, his partner's face still reflecting her shock at holding a baby. He doubted she would ever lose the look and wrestled a grin off of his face.
"Thank you," he said. She narrowed her eyes at him suspiciously, and then smiled. Seeley swallowed, recognising it for the evil portents it brought.
"Our records also state that you are the only one with experience in raising a child. And that this is not your address. The child must remain with a registered foster parent," she said. "I hope you understand my concerns when I say that you will be required to be present," she added. At this, Brennan's head snapped up, pinning Seeley with a look that in no uncertain terms said he was not going to be staying.
"Don't worry about it," Seeley said dismissively. "Dr. Brennan has already requested that I stay to assist," he lied. Temperance's glare ratcheted up to epic levels of lethality and he felt his throat bob nervously. He offered her a shaky smile, praying she kept her mouth shut and didn't object. Either she was wearing her logic hat or God was listening, as she returned her attention back to Michael, who had finished his bottle and was beginning to fuss.
"I see," Ms. King said. "Then perhaps I shall give you some time to fill out those forms. I will expect them to be delivered to my office by no later than ten a.m. Are we clear?" she asked. Seeley gave a grateful nod and smile which was frostily returned. "Then goodnight," she said, stiffly marching from the apartment. He ran a hand through his hair and looked at his partner.
"He needs burping," he advised at her perplexed expression. "Remember? Just put a towel on your shoulder before you do it, unless you want puke on your top," he added jokingly. She shot him a frigid glare, but did as instructed. "I have to give a report to the cops," he said, indicating the officer standing patiently in the hall. She nodded and continued attempting to get Michael to burp. By the shining glee on his face, it would take a while.
The officer was efficient and easy-going, taking the information Seeley provided with only a few clarifying questions before thanking him and departing to write up the report on the death of Anita Jane Hansen. When Seeley returned, he found his partner sitting on the couch, her face a mixture of horrified and amused as Michael sucked happily on the front of her top, right over her left breast.
I hear ya, man, Seeley thought with a grin. He cleared his throat and her eyes flickered up to freeze him with a nasty glare.
"So, you're staying, are you, Booth?" she said.
"I know you're upset, Bones," he began. She cut him off swiftly.
"Upset? Upset? Why would I be upset that you assumed I would need your help, again and invited yourself into my home to stay for the foreseeable future?" Seeley swallowed and ran a hand through his hair.
"Look, Bones, you need my help whether you want to admit it to yourself or not. At least until you learn some more about taking care of a kid. You let Andy have keys, for crying out loud!" he paused and took a breath. "We can buy you some books," he explained. "But until everything's sorted out, you need me, okay?" He watched her carefully, seeing her lips compress into a thin line as her logical mind calculated all the information she had at her disposal.
"Fine," she ground out. "You can take my couch," she said. Booth grinned.
"Where else was I gonna sleep? You only have one bedroom," he said. She glowered then her eyes widened in realisation.
"Where is he going to sleep? He can't sleep with me, I toss and turn in bed!" she said. Booth filed that information away and offered her another smile.
"Easy, I can just get a few things from next door. I already asked the cop assigned and he said it was fine." She sagged, relieved.
"Okay," she said. He turned and headed for the door. "Booth?" she called. He glanced at her over his shoulder, seeing how the lights of her apartment highlighted the curls of her hair and blazed in the pure blue of her eyes. "Thanks," she said, gifting him with a small, genuine smile. He winked.
When he returned to her apartment, it was anything but tranquil. Michael had evidently decided that sucking on her top was no longer enough, and was howling at the top of his tiny lungs. Temperance looked no less upset, pacing and holding him at arms length as she tried to work out what was wrong. Seeley chuckled and settled the small crib down next to the couch.
"Try singing to him," he suggested. The panic in her eyes increased.
"Sing?" she asked, sounding strangled.
"Yes, Bones. Sing. You know, using your vocal chords to make sounds that follow a set melody?" she glared.
"I know what singing is, Booth," she growled. "I just…" she trailed off, glancing between him and the baby apprehensively.
"What, you can't sing, Bones?" he said. She sighed and closed her eyes.
"Yes, I can sing. I just…not done it for a long time. My mother used to say I was a very good singer." He grinned.
"All moms say that, Bones," he said. She glared at him as if insulted that he thought her mother was being anything but completely truthful.
"Fine, don't believe me," she said. She gazed at Michael for several moments as he continued to cry before resolve stole across her face and she settled him at her hip. "Fine," she mumbled to herself. And then she began to sing. Seeley felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise as her voice rose and fell like a beautiful symphony. It was soft and gentle, the words foreign to him entirely, but whatever she was singing was perfect and nearly made his heart stop.
Michael evidently liked it, and gazed up at her with an innocent, rapturous expression on his chubby face that slowly began to fade as his eyes drifted shut. Soon he slumbered, his face twitching every so often around the little thumb that sat in his mouth. Occasional sucking sounds punctuated his rest, but he remained asleep. Temperance continued to sing, a wide smile on her face that Seeley realised was the most beautiful thing in the world.
He remained staring for several minutes after she stopped singing, his mouth hanging slightly open in utter shock as he failed to process the fact that the incredible voice had issued forth from his partner of nearly three years.
"What?" she asked quietly, her brow creasing slightly as she darted uncomfortable looks at him.
"I just…I mean it was so…Bones, you can sing," he said reverently. She smirked, pleased with his compliment and his wordless capitulation on the issue.
"I told you so," she said. He nodded and remembered to close his mouth at last.
"Yeah, but you didn't say…" he gestured helplessly with his hand toward her, still stunned. She gave a throaty chuckle and fixed him with a look that seemed to make poor judgements of his intelligence.
"When I say I can do something, Booth," she began. He waved her off.
"Okay, okay. I get it. You can do stuff well. Fine. Let's just get him down, shall we?" he gestured at the cot and she nodded, carefully disengaging the sleeping baby from her hip and leaning over the cot.
"Which way?" she whispered.
"On his back is fine," he replied, leaning over to help draw back the blanket he had placed in the crib. Michael fussed slightly, but quickly settled down, obviously exhausted from his ordeal. Seeley and Temperance shared a fond smile before realising how close their noses were to touching and drawing apart. "You okay?" he asked. She nodded and flopped down upon the sofa wearily.
"She was nice," she murmured. "Maybe if I had paid more attention," she said.
"Bones, you couldn't have done anything. She was chronically depressed. I bet Hodgins will take one look at the bottle and tell me what it's usually prescribed for." A smile briefly flickered on her lips.
"Still," she said.
"Look, Temperance, could you have been with her twenty-four-seven?" he asked. She shook her head. "Then there was nothing you could have done. All you can do now is take care of Mikey," he said. She looked at the crib and swallowed, her face taking on a pale hue.
"I don't think I'm ready for this," she admitted. "At least with andy, we were fairly sure that someone would be found," she said. Seeley shook his head.
"No, we wanted to take care of him," he said. "C'mon, Bones, you know we would have adopted him if his mother hadn't willed him to her friends."
"We?" she said, offering him a nervous smile. He sat down next to her gently and slung an arm around her shoulder.
"Yeah, we," he echoed. "You and me, Bones, against the world."
"I don't know what that means," she said, "but statistically-" Seeley cut her off with a chuckle.
"It's just a saying, Bones. It just means we stick together. Through thick and thin, y'know?" she blinked and gave him a small smile.
"Oh. Thanks Booth," she said.
"You're saying that a lot tonight," Seeley said with a grin. She rolled her eyes.
"Don't get used to it," she growled playfully. He poked her in the side and gave her a lop-sided grin.
"You need me," he sang. "Admit it," he said, "you need me." She grumbled something inaudibly under her breath and crossed her arms. "I'm sorry, what?" he asked, bringing his hand to his ear. She mumbled something again, slightly louder. "I can't hear you, Bones," he teased.
"Yes, I need your help," she growled, still barely audible.
"I didn't know you cared," Seeley joked, then gasped for breath when her elbow impacted his stomach. "Oh c'mon, Bones," he wheezed, "can't you take a joke?" She sniffed indignantly before gazing at Michael's sleeping form.
"Will he be okay out here? It's not too draughty?" she asked. Seeley shook his head.
"Nah should be fine. I need to pop back to my place, though to pick up my overnight bag." Temperance nodded as he stood up. "I'll have my cell, so call if you need anything," he said. She nodded again and he smiled comfortingly at her before leaving.
When he returned, he found her curled up on the couch, her head resting right next to the cot. He studied her for several minutes, taking in the gentle curve of her neck and the seductive pout of her lips, allowing his eyes to trail over her nose and long eyelashes. He wondered privately at her sheer complexity, and realised that even if they worked together for the rest of their lives, he might not plumb the depths of her completely.
Realising where his thoughts were straying, Seeley shook himself and moved closer, gently seating himself in the void left around her stomach. He moved a lock of hair from her face and she stirred.
"I thought I was taking the couch," he murmured. She swatted at him in annoyance, but wore a small smile as she levered herself to her feet. "See you in the morning, Bones," Seeley said. She covered her mouth as she yawned and nodded, resting a soft hand on his bicep.
"G'night, Booth," she whispered, her eyes lidded sleepily. He placed his hand atop her own for a moment before she left and continued down the hall. After watching her disappear, Seeley peered down at Michael and grinned.
"This is gonna be interesting, kiddo," he whispered. He wondered how, should Michael have no living relatives, they were going to handle the situation. Would little Mikey think of he and Bones as Mom and Dad? Would they be Seeley and Tempe? He chuckled at his unintentional internal rhyme, but slowly sobered. Raising a child changed people, he knew. How would they change? He swallowed, his mind touching upon issues that bubbled up from his subconscious in the depths of his dreams and allowed himself, however briefly, to wonder.
Down the hall, Temperance stared mindlessly at her ceiling, her thoughts strangely blank. Intellectually she knew that she would be able to provide everything baby Michael would need, especially with Booth's assistance, but emotionally she felt severely out of her depth.
Could she provide the kind of emotional support that a child needed through its early growth? She knew that Booth could, and briefly allowed herself to feel a bottomless well of gratitude that she felt would never be filled that he was providing his assistance, but the gnawing teeth of doubt continued to chip away at the confidence she so easily portrayed.
She realised with a growing sense of unease that she could shortly become the mother to a defenceless innocent that would rely on her for everything and felt the cold thrill of terror creep up her spine at the thought of failure. Her thoughts jumped to her partner, and she felt the terror recede. Anything she didn't know he could provide. He could help the child with its emotional needs and it would grow up to become a healthy, well adjusted human being.
Thoughts lingering on her partner as she drifted off to sleep, she found herself re-examining him again for all of those qualities that made him a perfect father figure. Strong, with a sense of justice and honesty. Loyal and trustworthy. Good genes and body structure…
Her dreams for the rest of the night were filled with images of her partner and the baby, and she never knew of the happy, contented grin that graced her face until morning.