A/N: Welcome to my new fic! The format was inspired by Bertie456's story, "You're Lovely to Me". It's a really fantastic fic. Go read it.
I'm not joking- do it right now.
Did you go yet?
That was quick!
Anyway, I figured that this would be a good way for me to write oneshots that wouldn't necessitate a really big chunk of time I don't have, but at the same time write a longer story. So, here's how the game is played: each chapter is prompted by a consecutive line from Melissa Etheridge's song Heal Me (which, along with Bones, I don't own. Just getting that straight). Repeated lines and choruses will not get their own chapter. The stories will range in POVs, settings, genres and lengths. This one's third person, kinda Booth-y, set somewhere between Woman in Limbo and Titan on the Tracks, just because of the lack of Cam. I hope you're ready. Let's roll!!
"Ain't it crazy."
"We get to observe a subculture practically unnoticed by society without leaving the city."
"It's just a little "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" for me."
"You're so close-minded, Booth. Your judgment is clouded by your refusal to see and appreciate alternate points of view."
"Oh, because you're so open to other people's thinking."
"I am...Don't give me that look! I might not agree with them, but I listen and if I disagree, I offer a rational counterargument."
"I listen. I'm an excellent listener; it's part of my job."
"But you're still close-minded."
"Okay, fine, you want to know why I find it creepy? It's just a little weird for me that the whole squint squad has a match to somebody in the loony bin. It's like you're twins!"
"What? No they're not. That's ridiculous. We are not their literal twins, nor are we related to them, and if you're being metaphorical, we don't resemble them in any way."
"We're going back there today, and when we do, I want you to really observe and then make a logical comparison."
_______ Psychiatric Center
Booth wasn't sure whether he felt more or less safe knowing that Merilee Watkins was guarding the crazy people of the District of Columbia. On the one hand, it seemed completely plausible that she would deal with an escaping inmate through a stern talking-to followed by cookies and pictures of her undoubtedly numerous grandchildren. On the other hand, she had a way of raising one eyebrow while staring right at him that made him feel guilty despite his complete innocence.
"That's the third time you've asked him for his badge!" Obviously his partner was not feeling twitchy under Merilee's stare.
"We just had a patient run away and get murdered, Dr. Brennan, so forgive me for being cautious."
"We only need to talk to people with who Mr. Strill interacted. From what we understand, he was a very low risk patient who did not even stay here all the time, so these people could presumably function in an almost normal capacity in society. There is very little reason to believe that something traumatic will occur."
She doesn't care what kind of nuts they are, Bones! Booth thought, clenching his teeth. Aloud he said, "What Dr. Brennan means is that we understand your concerns and will do our best to make these interviews as comfortable as possible for everyone."
Merilee slid his badge across the security desk and buzzed them in. "Go on in, sugar," she beamed at him in her most grandmotherly manner, totally ignoring Brennan.
"Thank you," he said politely, unconsciously returning her grin with a charm smile of his own.
"You are such a stick up," his partner muttered out of the corner of her mouth as they entered the common room.
"You mean suck up, Bones. And I got us in, didn't I? Now you have to keep your end of the bargain. Watch the people while I interview them.
"How well did you know Robert Strill, uh, Maurice?" Booth found it rather disorienting to have to crane his neck so far back to look into the African-American man's face.
"Call me Gibbs," Maurice told him stiffly, "And I don't really pal around with the folks here when I check in."
"How often do you check in?"
"Every few months. The last time was in March."
"Do you mind me asking why you need to come here?"
"Yes, I do mind," Gibbs returned, "But I'll tell you anyway."
He didn't have a chance, because at that moment, a woman who Booth knew from the case file as Nora Cummings bumped into Gibbs' chair. Booth winced inwardly at her name, knowing that Nervous Nora would have immediately become her nickname. Miss Cummings, the youngest in the ward, had been a famous child cellist until she experienced a nervous breakdown at 19.
"Sorry, sorry, sorry," she apologized breathlessly, backpedaling hurridly.
"You're sorry?" Gibbs snarled, "You're sorry you PUT YOUR FILTHY HANDS ON MY CHAIR?! GOOD! You damn well should be." He took a breath and turned slowly back to the startled investigators. "I have territory issues," he explained as if nothing had happened.
You're also mildly bipolar," came a woman's voice from behind Booth and Brennan. Directing her gaze at Gibbs, the newcomer lit into him. "I told you to stop tormenting Nora. She can play three sonatas in the time it takes your Neanderthal brain to figure out that cello doesn't have an 'h'."
"Hey! You're out of line, Donnelly," Gibbs growled, "I've been nothing but nice to you since you showed up here. I got you a dining card, I do extra sharing in group therapy so you don't have to because I know that it hurts your Vulcan mind to do that. And you have repaid me by being aggressive and rude. You need to get off my back, lady."
Another woman scurried over to the group as the two inmates continued arguing. "This is just a way of showing how much they care for each other," she whispered loudly to Brennan and Booth, "They're nuts about each other. The other day in the cafeteria someone touched Maurice's tray, and Alicia made sure he didn't kill anyone. It was the sweetest thing I've ever seen!"
Bones and Booth stared at her. Booth could see his partner taking in a breath to make one of her famously tactless suggestions, so he interrupted, hoping to get some actual information about the case from these interviews.
"What can you tell us about Robert Strill?"
"Oh, Robbie? He was a sweetheart," she cooed, "Checked in and out every so often."
"What for?" Brennan asked.
"The diagnosis was paranoia, but I couldn't see it. Sure he had all these patches that said stuff like "they're coming" and "fight the man" but they were just cute. He was totally harmless."
"Uh huh," Booth said, unconvinced, before getting up and extending a hand. "Thank you for your time...?"
"Lacey Catrell," she answered, ignoring his outstretched hand and giving him a hug. "It was so nice to meet you."
"You too," Brennan murmured over her shoulder as she strode towards the door, determined to avoid a hug of her own.
Booth waited until they were past Merilee, in the SUV and onto the highway before he asked his question. "Well?"
"Alright," Bones admitted grudgingly, "Maybe they are a little bit like us."
"A little?" Booth said incredulously, "That woman Lacey was a hyped up Angela sequel. And Nerv- I mean Nora was the jumpy prodigy. She's girl-Zack."
"I suppose that, assuming Lacey Catrell's account of the murder victim is correct, he and Hodgins share a love of conspiracies."
"Exactly! And you are just like tough yet rational Alicia Donnelly."
"I wouldn't take it that far," Brennan countered, "She's much more aggressive than I am." Booth wisely kept his mouth shut. "It seems like we have the whole team accounted for except for you, Booth."
"I guess I don't fit into the squint-crazy doppelganger pattern."
She looked at him with the tiny frown that caused that little furrow between her eyebrows. "I don't think so, Booth. You and Gibbs are very similar."
"Me and PMS Man? 'Touch my stuff and die and by the way would you like a cookie?'!"
"Yes, you are very territorial as well. Remember your reluctance to let us come to Sid's? You said it was your place."
"Well I was there first an-"
"And when you said that you and I had separate stuff."
"That's not territorial, that's true. We are, logically, good at different things."
"Yes, but you're unwilling to let me into 'your stuff'."
"Fine, maybe I am a little like Gibbs," Booth grumbled, "It doesn't mean anything." He trailed off, thinking of what their psychiatric ward counterparts had made him admit. Glancing over at his partner, he knew from the chilly look in her eyes that she was logically organizing the information in a manner much like a geometric proof: the psychiatric patients are parallel to my team- accepted. Booth and I are represented by Gibbs and Donnelly- accepted. Lacey Catrell said that their argument was "just a way of showing how much they care for each other"- accepted. Conclusion- arguments between Booth and me are a way of showing that we're "nuts about each other". She swallowed as she came to the inevitable end of her reasoning. Booth watched her face become impassive and waited for her to shut down completely. It was one thing to have Angela suggest that they should get together. It was okay for her to squeal when they bickered because they knew and trusted her. It was getting out of hand if a mental patient could see it, even if she was seeing it in their counterparts, not in the duo themselves. Booth kept his eyes firmly trained on the road, sure that things were going to get uncomfortable in the car. He was surprised when her tone was light.
"I'm sure it means nothing at all," she commented innocently before her voice became mocking, "Except that now I can call you PMS Man."
A/N: What did you think? Should I continue? I can't do this without your support. I'm looking at 30+ chapters and I need at least one review from each person who reads this to make it worthwhile. I specifically need comments on characterization. How'd I do with that? Thanks in advance!