A/N: Alright, so I've written from Brennan's point of view before, about her background and family life, but I've never written about Booth that way. After last week's episode, where we learned more about his brother and his alcoholic father, I got inspired to. Alcoholism runs rampant in my family on both sides of the tree, so it's something that is very close to my heart. I don't suppose there is much more to say about it than that... enjoy.
Disclaimer: I don't own Bones, Fox, or anything even remotely related to the aforementioned.
Seeley Booth groaned lightly as he leaned back into the cushions of his bed, eyelids heavy. He'd been awake for twenty-six hours, and felt like he could sleep twenty-six more. Once they'd found a DNA match on their suspect—the concrete evidence they were looking for to seal the deal—adrenaline kicked in, and he didn't need sleep. The entire team celebrated at the diner afterward, and it was only when Brennan pointed out that he was falling asleep into his apple pie that he decided it was time to call it a night.
He took a black coffee for the road and listened to an old '80s station at eardrum-splitting volume in an effort to keep himself awake on the drive home; by the time his key turned in the front door lock, he was practically sleep walking. His shoes, socks, belt, and tie marked a careless trail from his front door to his bedroom, his shirt and pants discarded in a crumpled pile on the floor next to his bed. He pressed his face into the cold pillowcase, tense muscles relaxing, and he was gone.
"Ma, can I have one?" Seeley asked, stretching his hands out in front of him. His mother smiled down at the chubby six year old standing before her and nodded, picking a cool cookie off of the tray and handing it to him. He flashed her a terribly charming smile and shoved the entire cookie into his mouth, filling his cheeks like a chipmunk.
"Seeley!" she admonished, and he struggled to swallow the mouthful.
"Sorry," he said sheepishly. "Can I have another?"
"What do you say?" she asked. He smiled.
"Alright, but just one more. Dinner will be ready soon." As she handed Seeley another cookie, the back door swung open and a large-framed man strode into the kitchen, carrying a small boy on his shoulders.
"I'm tellin' you Annie, we got us a star pitcher, right here," he said proudly, pulling the small boy off of his broad shoulders and setting him on the edge of the counter.
"John, he's three," she said, handing both boy and man a cookie from the cooling tray.
"And he's already a natural, huh, Jared?" he said, nudging the slender-faced boy with his elbow. Seeley ran to his father's side, tugging on his pants leg.
"Dad, dad, dad," he said. "What am I gonna be?"
"You, Seeley," he said, getting down on a knee and bracing the boy's shoulders with his hands. "You're gonna be the best quarterback the Pittsburgh Steelers ever had!" Seeley beamed and his father ruffled his hair, rising back to his feet.
"We gonna have dinner soon or what?" he asked his wife as he pulled a glass out of the cupboard, cracking a few ice cubes out of the tray and dropping them into the glass—tink, tink, tink.
"It's comin' along," she replied, looking up at the analog clock hanging on the wall. "Maybe twenty minutes." He did not reply, but pulled a dark amber glass bottle off of the top of the refrigerator, uncapping it and filling the glass.
He took both glass and bottle into the living room, leaving Seeley and Jared to occupy themselves. They picked up a game of cowboy and Indian, where Seeley was invariably the cowboy and Jared the heathen Indian, who would eventually get hog tied, rolled up in a blanket like a burrito, and punched in the back until he submitted to providence. When Seeley bored with his little brother, he padded into the living room where his father nursed his drink in front of the television.
"Dad?" he asked hesitantly, unsure if his father was actually watching the news or just staring at the screen. Sometimes it was difficult to tell. His father turned his head and looked down at the boy, who peered up at him over the edge of the recliner arm.
"Yeah?" he asked. Seeley took his response as permission to climb up into his father's lap, leaning his head against his broad chest and feeling it rise and fall with each deep breath.
"What's it like?" he asked. His father took another sip of his drink and looked down at his son, eyebrows scrunched together.
"What's what like?" he asked. Seeley pointed up at the cup hovering in his father's hand above his head, touching the side and feeling the condensation grab his finger.
"That," he said. "What's it like?" His father did not answer immediately, but pressed the glass to his lips and swallowed the remainder of the drink in one gulp, closing his eyes as it burned its way down his throat.
"Like swallowing stars," was his reply. Seeley opened his mouth to ask another of the many questions he generally posed to his father in a day, but was cut short by his mother announcing that dinner was on the table.
Four more times his father filled and emptied the glass by his plate; Seeley counted each one, watching as his father ceremoniously dropped his napkin by the side of his plate, rose from his seat, and retrieved the amber bottle from the top of the fridge. He noticed his mother's face grow increasingly drawn with each of these events, but she did not mention whatever was on her mind.
Seeley couldn't figure out what was upsetting his mother, personally; the longer they ate, the louder dad got, cracking jokes and laughing his enormous belly laugh, red-faced and bleary-eyed. He even said a few choice words he usually didn't say at the table, each one prompting Seeley and Jared—who was old enough to understand what words were okay and what ones weren't—to peer up from their plates in mild shock. Their father would wink at them, and break into another peal of laughter. When he stood for a fifth glass, their mother finally broke her silence.
"John, sit down," she said tartly. Their father turned his head slowly towards her, taking a moment to focus his gaze on her face. Like a bear, pinpointing the source of the noise.
"I'm thirsty," was his reply. She bit her bottom lip, and gave her head a slight shake.
"Let me get you a glass of water, then," she said, rising from her seat and taking a few steps towards the kitchen. Their father reached out and grabbed her upper forearm in his broad hand, easily wrapping his fingers around it.
"I don't want water," he said dangerously, pulling her back towards the table. Seeley and Jared watched, mesmerized by the scene playing out in front of them in the way a person cannot stop looking at a car accident.
"You need water," she said, attempting to take a step towards the kitchen. John pulled her arm, perhaps with a little more force than he had intended to, because she fell back against the table, rattling the plates and nearly knocking their cups over. Seeley reached out and steadied his glass of milk with his small hand, eyebrows drawing together anxiously as he watched his parents.
"I can get my own goddamn drink," John growled loudly, releasing Annie's arm with a shove and lumbering into the kitchen. Seeley's mother took in a few sharp breaths, smoothing the front of her dress and turning to the boys with a broad, false smile.
"You boys go on to your room," she instructed cheerily, beginning to stack the plates on the table.
"But I'm not done yet," Seeley said, looking down at the cubes of pork chop and small pile of potatoes still sitting on his plate.
"Yes you are," his mother replied quickly, snatching his plate up and adding it to the stack. "Now take Jared and go on. I'll bring you boys dessert in your room, how about that? Won't that be nice?"
"What's wrong with daddy?" Jared asked, keenly perceptive for three years old.
"Nothing!" their mother replied shrilly. "He's just a little grumpy, so you boys should probably go to your room and play quietly for the rest of the night. Okay?"
"C'mon," Seeley said, snatching his little brother up by the arm and pulling him off of the stack of old phone books he used as a booster seat. "You heard mom, let's go." The boys traipsed into their bedroom, and it was only a few moments after they closed the door behind them that they heard the arguing start back up in the other room. Jared upturned a shoebox full of Legos on the floor, blissfully unaware of the increasing volume in the kitchen. Seeley began building a house with his brother, but felt his stomach turn when a loud crash sounded from the other room.
"Where you going?" Jared asked as Seeley hopped to his feet, cracking the bedroom door open and peeking down the hall.
"Gettin' some water," Seeley said, entering the hallway and tiptoeing towards the living room.
"Me too," Jared said in loyal little-brother fashion, darting out the door behind Seeley. He turned and shook his head, grabbing Jared by the shoulders and spinning him back around.
"No, you stay," he said. "I'll be right back."
"But," Jared whined, but Seeley gave him a sharp push into the room and shut the door. He continued down the hallway, listening to his parents shout. He wasn't sure what they were yelling about, but whatever it was it was making mom really sad because she was crying. When he turned the corner into the living room, he was shocked to see his mother backed up against the far wall, his father towering over her and pounding his fist against the wall. The family pictures nailed to the wall rattled in their frames, and his mother seemed to shake just as violently.
"Stop!" Seeley heard the words escape his lips before he could think about the implications of his actions. All he knew was that his father was scaring his mother, and it was not nice. His mother's eyes grew wide when she spotted him, and her head shook so slightly back and forth that Seeley wasn't sure if she knew she was making the motion or not. His father's shoulders tightened—if he'd been a dog, Seeley thought his hair might stand up on the back of his neck—and he slowly turned his entire body to face the boy.
"What?" his father asked quietly—for the volume in the room had instantly gone from ten to zero, there was no need to speak loudly. Seeley shifted his weight between his feet, biting his lip. He did not know why, but he was very much afraid.
"You…" he began, but couldn't finish the sentence. The one word hung in the air between them, and his father's features darkened.
"I what?" he asked dangerously, taking a step towards the boy.
"John, stop," his mother said loudly, her voice on edge. John immediately rounded on the woman.
"You shut the fuck up!" he yelled, and Seeley felt it again—the electric sensation that went up and down his arms and legs, buzzed in the pit of his stomach, and sent a hot tingle across his skin. Later in life he could pinpoint those feelings as fear and anger, the emotions that simultaneously overtook when he saw someone he loved in danger. He would often feel that way when he and Brennan found themselves in the line of fire. But now, at only six years old, the flash of emotion was too incomprehensible. It just hurt, in a way he couldn't describe.
"Stop it!" he yelled again. "Don't hurt her!"
"Are you… disrespecting me?" his father asked loudly, striding across the living room. Seeley suddenly felt like he was going to vomit.
"John," his mother called out, walking towards him. He turned around, grabbing her by the shoulders and shoving her backwards. She toppled, hitting the ground with a thud.
"I told you to shut the fuck up," he growled. "I won't be disrespected in my own goddamn house, it ain't gonna fucking happen! Not by you, and no fuckin' way by some little six year old bastard!" Seeley's eyes welled up; he didn't understand why his father was so angry, but he knew those harsh words were directed at him. What had he done?
"I'm sorry," he said weakly, feeling the hot tears spill over the sides of his chubby cheeks. "I'm sorry…"
"Sorry my fucking ass, you're sorry," John yelled, reaching out and snatching at Seeley. He missed and instead grabbed a handful of air. Seeley jumped back, suddenly terrified of the man he very much loved. "I'll make you sorry; you don't even know what sorry is!"
"He's just a baby, John!" his mother shrieked, shedding tears of her own. She had risen from the ground and had her hands wrapped around one of his father's biceps, futilely attempting to pull him away from the boy. "Leave him alone, please. He doesn't understand!"
"He's gonna understand here in a minute," his father growled, tearing her hands away from his arm and tossing her aside like a rag doll. Seeley had taken advantage of the moment when his father's attention was not fixed on him, running down the hall and into his bedroom. He slammed the door behind him, turning the lock with trembling fingers as he heard his father yell incomprehensibly in the other room. Jared looked up at his brother, startled.
"Seeley?" he asked, looking up to his brother for answers. Seeley did not respond, but snatched Jared up from the ground by the back of his shirt, dragging him into the closet the boys shared. Jared cried out, but Seeley wrapped his hand around his little brother's mouth, pushing him into the corner and shutting the closet door behind them.
There was no light in the small rectangular space; they could not even see each other a foot away, the darkness was so thick. Their hands found each other in the dark, however, when they heard a violent banging on the bedroom door. Seeley heard the knob turn, straining against the pin lock. His father yelled and continued to assault the wooden door.
"Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name…" Seeley prayed in a rapid whisper, hugging his little brother close to him. Jared sobbed loudly and Seeley smothered him against his chest, shushing him loudly.
"Be quiet, be quiet!" he whispered, tears streaming down his face and soaking the collar of his shirt. Jared stifled his howls, and Seeley felt for his brother's small hands in the dark, pushing his palms together and straightening his fingers. He held his hands over Jared's, their foreheads touching in the dark.
"Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name," Seeley began again, forcing the words out between thick sniffles. "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day—"
"John, stop!" they heard their mother yell outside of the door.
"—our daily bread, and forgive—"
"Seeley fucking Booth!" his father bellowed into the door.
"—forgive me, God," Seeley said, voice breaking as a fresh wave of tears overtook the small child. "I don't know what I did but please forgive me. Please forgive me."
Booth snapped suddenly back into consciousness, covered in a cold sweat. He sat straight up in his bed and looked around the room, eyes straining in the dark. Nothing. It was silent and cool, a waning moon making tree-limb shadows on his bedroom floor. His breaths slowly evened out, and he yanked the chain on the bedside lamp, dimly illuminating the room in a soft yellow glow.
He swung his legs over the side of the bed and let them take him out of his bedroom, into the living room, into the kitchen. The linoleum was cold on his bare feet as he searched through the cabinets, pulling down first a small round-edged glass, then a heavy glass bottle, half-filled with dark brown liquid. He filled the glass nearly to the brim and picked it up between his thumb and index finger, touching it to his lips and parting them. It sloshed around his mouth like liquid fire; burning up everything it touched. He swallowed, making a bitter face.
"Like swallowing stars," he croaked, pouring another shot and looking down at his reflection in the amber pool.