A Boy From Philly
He knocked lightly on the door frame. The woman didn't turn around. She hardly noticed the noise. She was too focused on the steady whoosh of oxygen through the nasal cannula.
At sixty-seven she looked so frail. So tired and wasted and it tore his heart out to see his mother like that. Of course, if truth be told, he was used to seeing his mother like that. Strong when her husband was away, but weak when he was near.
He blinked. A distant memory bubbled to light. A memory so full of pain and hurt that it took every bit of his strength not to be fall to his knees from it.
Her hands plunged into soapy water. Bits of food clung to the dish. She scrubbed it off with her thumb nail, gave it a rinse under steaming hot water and placed it on the rack with the others.
A boy of ten sat at the kitchen table coloring a Superman color book with deep concentration that caused his lips to purse.
His mother dried her hands and sighed. She turned to her son and smiled, a hand resting on her skirted hip, "Did you get your homework done, Seeley?"
"Yeah," he replied absently, not raising his head or crayon.
"How about your chores?" The phone rang and she walked across the kitchen and answered the phone. "Yeah. Hold on." She covered the mouthpiece. "Your dad's gonna be home any second. You should get a move on." She uncovered the mouthpiece, "Hi, Beatrice. Just about to start supper. You?"
The door swung open. The boy watched his father cross the kitchen, set his stained white-turned-gray plastic cooler on the table. He ruffled his son's hair. "Hey, boy." His breath was heavy with a certain familiar odor. His next destination was the Frigidaire. Jars and containers jingled as the door jerked open. "Where's dinner, Nan?"
"Just a minute, hun." She then whispered quickly to her friend, "I should probably go."
"Hell yes, you should go." He reached out and took the phone from his wife and hung it on the receiver.
A pink blush grew on Anne's neck. "You didn't need to do that, Mike. I was going to hang up."
"Yeah. After you talked shop with the girls and started telling Barb all about how I smack you around. That's what it is, isn't it? You tell her I hit you, don't you? F-ck!"
"Alright, now you're just being paranoi--" She didn't finish the sentence. Her eyes grew slightly wider when she realized she had crossed that line. That indefinable line. The line that was so thin that it was often penetrated before she had a chance to stop herself.
He simply gritted his teeth.
The boy in the corner quietly pushed back his chair and slid under the table. He made himself as small as possible and hoped that everything would blow over. He squeezed his eyes shut.
"So you think you're Queen of the Whole Damn World, now, don't you?!" Mike Booth never hesitated to his his wife. His hand was swift. It shot out and made perfect contact with the porcelain white skin of Anne's right cheek. She covered it with a shaking hand.
"Ow! Th-That's not what a meant!" She fought back tears.
"That's a bunch of cock-sucking bull-shit, Nan!" He stalked away from her and went back to the refrigerator. "F-ck my balls. I told you to pick up some Bud, right?"
His eyes shot to the woman who now shook head to toe in the corner of the kitchen.
"F-cking cunt sack of shit."
"I'm sorry. I just got busy. The boys needed to get to baseball earlier today and you wanted the dishes done. I- I didn't have time to swing by the store. I can do it now if you want."
"I can do it now if you want," he mocked.
"There's no need to degrade me," she muttered.
"Degrade you? Is that what you tell Beatrice? I degrade you? F-ck me, Nan! Go burn a f-cking bra!"
"I-I'm just saying that--" Her bottom lip trembled, unsure of how she should go about the whole thing.
He whipped the phone off the receiver and backhanded her with the phone, splitting her cheek open.
Seeley sunk lower and held onto the leg of the table. Some day, he told himself. Some day he would be bigger than his dad.
"Ah!" Her trembling fingers touched the bloody tissue on her cheek. It was only a fraction of a second before Mike wrapped the yellow cord around her neck and shoved her roughly against the wall.
"Please--" She sputtered, hot tears slipping down her cheeks.
"Dad?" Three sets of eyes went to the doorway. Six year old Jared stood there, eyes brimming with tears. "Just leave mom alone, OK?!"
The phone dropped to the ground. Mike began to move toward his youngest son, eyes trained, a deep crevice digging between his eyes.
"No! Mike, no! He's just six!" His wife begged.
Seeley knew his mom was right. Jared was just six. Hardly old enough or big enough to protect himself. He scrambled from beneath the table and grabbed the nearest thing. A half-full glass of milk, which, thanks to baseball practice, he quite accurately chucked at his father's head.
Blazing eyes settled on the elder Booth brother.
Now a man, he stood at his father's hospital room door. He rapped again softly so as to not frighten his mother. Several silent seconds passed before he finally spoke. "Mom?"
She turned and smiled genuinely at Booth. She stood. Her once red hair was now white. Her hazel eyes were as bright and alive as ever. Spirit. Anne Booth had spirit. And spunk. What kind of woman would she have been if she had never married Michael Booth? Probably the same kind of woman that was on her son's #1 speed dial. Fiery and precocious. To her sisters and mother, that was the saddest thing of their 15 year marriage. The fact that she had gone from wild and fun teenager to guilt-ridden and broken woman within a matter of years.
"How's dad?" He asked as he embraced his mother.
"Breathing," she replied seriously, but her eyes glinted slightly. Maybe there was a little fire in there, yet. "The oncologist should be in any minute." She smiled at her son. And she felt the usual swell of pride. Her son. The boy she birthed was now a grown, handsome, successful FBI agent. And better yet, he was caring and intelligent, sweet and faithful. What a blessing! Despite the pain she'd endured to raise her sons right, she was confident that she had done something right with Seeley Booth. "How's my FBI agent son doing?"
He smiled and sat beside her, pulling up a stool and rolling it next to his mother's seat. He shrugged. "It's going fine. Cullen keeps offering me promotions, so it must be going fine."
"Offering? You're not accepting?" She looked at him quizzically.
Booth smiled, "I'm happy where I am, mom."
She nodded knowingly. "It's that partner of yours."
This time she smiled at him. "Temperance is a wonderful young lady."
"Yeah, she is. But that's not why I haven't accepted. I really like my job, mom. Maybe I'll accept his offer when I'm too old to run." A cocky grin.
She smiled and chuckled lightly. Then her eyes fell on Mike. His skin was gray. He slept lightly. His bottom lip poked out unnaturally, it was the color of an eggplant. "I was wondering if you would help me go through my own Last Wishes and Final Arrangements."
Booth tipped his. His teeth gritted together, "Mom, you're sixty-five."
"Sixty-seven. And it's obviously not too young for your dad to die."
A measuring minute or two passed. Booth's eyes fell on his father. Gray. Ill. Dying. Then he looked at his mom again. "OK, mom," he replied softly.
She swallowed. She got that 'brave' look on her face that he was so acquainted with. "If it helps you any, I've already given it quite a bit of thought."
He looked over at his mom. He sighed and reached for her hand. Once chubby, now it seemed so much thinner. He ran his thumb across her knuckles.
"IV fluids and tube feeding only."
"I worked Hospice Care for twenty years, hun. Nothing's more painful than dehydrating to death." She sighed and looked at her ex-husband. A man who, despite her better judgment, was somebody she had always loved. Her hand stroked his gently. "Under no circumstances will I be on life support. Unless it's something curable like pneumonia or something. I just don't want to be a burden to anyone."
"You're not a burden, mom. You never have been. You never will be."
She smiled softly. The smile faded. "You deserved a better childhood, Seeley. You deserved a normal childhood."
He leaned forward, elbows on knees. His face close to hers. "I'm beginning to think there's no such thing, mom. Everybody has their issues. Sometimes it's just what you do with the hand you're dealt."
"You're awfully philosophical, sweetie. Been spending time with that genius partner of yours, huh?"
"She hates psychology. I'm sure philosophy isn't too far off."
She squeezed her son's hand, simultaneously releasing Mike's.
A soft rap at the door. Both sets of eyes raised and watched as a young doctor, mid-thirties, brown curly hair and brown eyes entered the hospital room.
"I'm Dr. Sweeney. I'll be looking after Mike's oncological needs." She held out a hand. Booth gripped it and smiled. Anne gripped it and smiled.
Dr. Sweeney looked around for her stool. Booth realized it was under his own bottom. "Sorry," he raised to a half stand.
"No. No, keep it. I'll just stand. This will just take a minute."
Booth sat and held his mom's hand.
"This is my son, Seeley," Anne spoke.
"Nice to meet you. Anne, Seeley, Mike. Dr. Sweeney. Or Rachel if you like. We might be getting to know one another pretty well." She stood by Mike and checked his vitals. "Has he woken up at all?"
"Um, just for a minute. He wanted a sip of water." Anne.
"Good, good. Has he complained about pain at all?"
"Earlier this morning. A nurse came in and gave him something."
"Hydromorphone and morphine. That'll sedate him pretty good," the doctor smirked.
"I'll say," Booth muttered.
She looked him a question.
"I've been shot. A lot. Blown up, stabbed, burned..." This time a look of a amused disbelief. "I'm an FBI agent."
"Well, then I guess you and morphine have an intimate relationship."
Booth chuckled. "Yeah. I tried to bring her home to meet the parents, but that's when I realized that our relationship was watery."
"You're funny," she smiled. Then she became serious and pulled out the tablet in her hands. "Are you up to speed on your dad's condition?"
Mother and son exchanged looks, "Not... not really. Just lay it on me, doc. Tell me everything."
"Everything? OK, I'll just give you the low-down. Alcoholism is linked to a number of cancers. Most notably the larynx, colon, esophagus, and liver. Apparently your dad doesn't like doctors or scientists. So," she scanned the folder. "When your dad was admitted in May, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colorectal Cancer. It wasn't long after that we discovered it had become Metastatic."
She hugged the folder to her chest. "Metastasis involves spread of cancer cells through the bloodstream, or the lymph system. Distant, or metastatic spread generally occurs when cancer cells break off from tumors and enter the bloodstream, travel to other organs, and continue to grow into new tumors"
"So he basically had cancer all over the place when he came in," he finished with a resigned air, running one hand through his hair.
"I am so very sorry," Dr. Sweeney said sincerely. Then after a beat, "If you have any more questions on your father's condition, please feel free to call me. I make sure I'm always available for my patients and their families." She took out a card and handed it to Booth. Anne was crying into her sleeve by that moment.
Booth reached over and rubbed his mother's back slowly, quietly letting her sob. Rachel rose and walked toward the door.
"Wait," Booth said, turning to Dr. Sweeney.
She turned and looked over her shoulder.
"How... how long?"
"Weeks. Days. Not very long at all. I'm sorry."
Booth bit his lip and pulled his mother closer into a hug.
I hope you enjoyed this. I've had the writing bug, so expect more chapters shortly. Expect more Booth/Brennan interactions and Booth/Anne, Booth/Mike interactions. But best of all, expect some very sweet and tender moments.