Author's Note: Just a little oneshot that popped into my head last night (morning) around 2am. Just once, I'd like to not wake up at an ungodly hour to jot down story plots. Damn you, Bones.
Not really, though. *Snuggles*
It's only nine o'clock when I hear the knock on my door, but the time still throws me. Uncertain who's darkening my doorway this time of night, I head to investigate.
I half-expect my daughter to be looking back at me when I reach for the knob, knowing her sense of time is not correspondent with the rest of the world's. So there's a smile on my lips which quickly fades an inch when I see him filling the threshold.
"Booth," I greet, trying not to sound too confused. I didn't even think he knew where I lived. "To what do I owe the, uh… pleasure?"
I'm not unhappy to see him, but I am puzzled all the same.
He moves past me, uninvited. "Shut the door."
He's exuding stringent hostility, but I don't think it's directed at me for a change. Even more curious, I do as he says, turning around to watch his ramrod form looming in the middle of my living room. His back is to me, and after apparently choosing his position, he doesn't move after that.
The absolute stillness he's assumed unnerves me a bit. I'm not afraid of him, certainly not. But he doesn't look happy.
Before I can speak, he cuts me off, voice clipped. Tone flat.
"I need your help."
Now I know he isn't happy. Something must be terribly wrong. I don't think it's Temperance, but the inkling fear is present in me nonetheless.
"Someone's trying to buy me off."
I feel relief at the lack of my daughter's name in that sentence, but I feel the chill in the air. I can sense the waves of hostility rolling off of him like smoke.
"For what?" I ask. "Evasion charges? Internet pirating? Mob vice?"
He still isn't facing me, but his neck is turned just enough to where I can see the muscle tighten in his jaw. His knuckles pale as his grip tightens over his hips. There's a catch to his voice, almost indiscernible, but I spot it. We're both too good at reading people.
"…They want me to turncoat on Bones."
My heart slams into my throat and I feel an influx of protective fury cloud my eyes for a second before I forcefully tamp it back down. The temperature of my shanty apartment has dropped, I'm sure of this. I can feel it. I bet he does, too.
"Using what medium?" I ask finally.
His voice is dangerously low, almost graveled in intensity.
"Jesus," I breathe, shaking my head.
I wish I could have been so naïve as to never have expected this. One day, I knew it would happen. Someone would snap. Someone would cross the line.
His resolve fractures only slightly, and he begins to pace, reminding me of a caged lion.
"You got anything on the blackmailers?"
"Not yet," he says darkly.
I go over our conversation, words exchanged – although very little. Almost everything I know about this man is learned through my daughter, but I know a thing or two. He talks fast, rambles, when he's trying to smooth talk you or amend a wrongful comment on his part, often throwing out that damn smile. His voice sets an octave higher, and almost no one stands a chance against his charm.
When he's like this, though? Unnaturally quiet, incomplete sentences, stoic posture, brown eyes almost black with intensity… This signifies something different entirely. Now, he's resolute. He's come here with a specific purpose, and he's stubborn as hell like Tempe. This is his unwavering doggedness.
The quieter this man is, the more dangerous and creative with means of destruction he's become.
We're not so different.
I know why he's here.
"I assume you haven't gone to the local authorities or your own federal knight force?"
"Now when you say you've come here for my help specifically… there anything to that?"
The penetrating look he gives me – pinning me with those razor sharp eyes – is answer enough.
A silent understanding passes between us.
I'm quiet for a beat, waiting to see if he'll say anything. When he doesn't, I take the lead. "I'm going to need everything you've got so far."
He digs a tan envelope out of his leather jacket, tossing it to me.
I open it with thinly veiled interest and scan my eyes over what I'm holding. A single picture of his blond-haired little boy, a list of possible avenues, transcriptions of exchanged conversation, two traced phone numbers dead-ending, and a drop off address. Despite the evidence, there's not much here, like he's said.
I can get more.
I nod, and he seems satisfied for now.
"Before I go any further with this," I begin, and I see him tense impatiently, "there's something that needs to be discussed."
He doesn't say anything, so I form the assumption that he's waiting for me to elaborate.
"As a father myself, I can relate to what you're feeling. And might feel, down the line." He already knows what I'm going to say, I can see it in his shadowed expression. "Should this thing go south, Agent Booth…"
"Betraying Bones is unacceptable," he demolishes my line of speech, effectively cutting me off. "Losing my son is unacceptable. It's not going to happen."
That tenacious obstinacy is back in his biting tone, and I realize with great understanding that he'll get himself killed before allowing either alternative to fall short of priority.
"There's only one way this ends. If we run down on time, I'll say what I have to to make them think I'm on the team. Short of that, they're going to realize very soon the mistake they've made."
He drills this into me as if I might have doubted him. When this whole shitstorm is over, he'd better get his ass in gear with Tempe, or I'll lock them both in a bank vault 'til they're on the same page. I'm impatient like that, I guess. After everything, there's no one else she can find that I'll approve of. I know she'd kick me if I said that aloud, but a father has his responsibilities, too.
As this conversation has already proven.
"Well, alright then," I say, closing the envelope back up. "I'll phone you tomorrow and relay what I've got."
His reply is terse and he's already on the move to leave.
"Hey, kid…" I interrupt his departure with a hesitant word. I know he'll do anything for my daughter – anything for his son – but he's also a patriot. A truer hero I've yet to meet. He's always been by the book, balks at anything that smells of possible corruption. I like that in him, but I'd be lying if I thought it wouldn't get in the way. "You up for this?"
His expression is cynical, as if he's almost amused by my assumption. "Don't worry about me, Max," he says flatly, yanking open the door.
I smile mirthlessly, my own eyes clouding over at his departing words, punctuated by the slamming of the door.
"I've killed more people than you."
I'm a fool to not fear him.