This is a very stream of consciousness piece, and an attempt to play with some literary devices I haven't much experimented with before. Violence and sexual situations.
You weren't like Bones, who could tell by the way someone moved at 1000 meters who they were, what their life had been like, what kind of injuries they had-- and could tell even more when the flesh was all gone. You weren't like Angela, who could take bones and make them flesh again, put a name and a face to the features and life events Bones described for her. But you had talents of your own, if 'talent' was the right word for it. You had an incredible gut instinct, an unbelievable trigger finger, and an unenviable ability to withstand more pain than anyone else you knew since anyone else put to that much pain died, and you didn't. You had a truly freakish ability to hit whatever you aimed at, to place the knife where it was needed, to exert the right force on the right bone for all the wrong reasons. Freakish-- all of it, and when your gut turned over or the hairs on the back of your neck started to crawl, you both blessed and cursed and blessed and cursed and pled for God to explain the fact that one of your other freakish abilities was going to come into play. And last but not least among them-- you never, ever, forgot a face.
It wasn't like Bones' near photographic memory for everything. Sure-- you had a better than average recall for details, a better than average ability to put them together, which made you a better than average agent, but the face thing? That was different. Anyone you'd ever spent more than thirty seconds talking to or staring at through the scope of your rifle, or memorizing their dossier photo for a mission, whether or not you completed it? You never forgot a face. And the faces never forgot you. It made for interesting dreams, to understate it so much that it was almost a lie. Never able to forget the ghosts who haunted you.
So as you came in the back door to the lab from the garage at the end of the day, taking that oft-crossed diagonal to your partner's glass-walled sanctuary, your gut flopped and all the hair on your neck and your arms stood up, screaming alert, when you saw her talking to some guy in a suit with his back to you-- you could see her face as you approached, and she looked angry and underneath it, almost frightened out of her mind. You wondered and dreaded which freakish ability was about to be called upon. No one makes Bones look like that.
You slowed your pace slightly, scanned the rest of the lab to make sure it was just the three of you, and made sure your steps didn't echo, so you could come up behind him, if not Bones, with some kind of surprise. As you approached, you could see that she saw you, and you dared it-- a finger to your lips as the guy's voice talking to her went on, interrupted. She continued to listen, seeming attentive. As you drew even nearer, you could see he was bothering her, seriously so. She looked actively distressed under that calm outward mask of hers. He was a spook-- your gut told you that much. Cops and spooks knew and hated each other-- and this guy was a spook of the first order. But you were a first order cop, a first order freak, a first order whatever it took to protect the people you loved if you could get a clear shot and sometimes not even that.
So you took your entry in the door at just enough of an angle to get a side view of his face-- then resisted the urge with everything in you to draw the knife even Bones didn't know you always carried and lunge those last four steps that would let you slit his throat instantly. You'd seen that face before, but hadn't had a name then-- and after, the officers claimed they didn't, either. It's him, Seeley, it's him, sand the buddies haunting your brain, and still you resisted the urge, the need, the lunge, the kill. You would see if Bones could give you one before you did anything else. Something of your thoughts must have passed over your face as you entered, because Bones said more loudly "Look, Mr. Ferguson, I'm simply not interested in CIA work, I'm sorry to have to say it again. Oh... Booth, hello," she said then, clearly shifting her focus and playing oblivious squint so well that you would kiss her as soon as you were done killing the spook. Ferguson. You had a name. Maybe even a real one.
The man turned to you then, not having registered your presence. Intel, then. Not an operative-- if he was, he'd have known you were there before Bones even noticed you, and face it, Bones was getting pretty good at this. Intel rats were like officers-- happy to boss you around, and too fucking cowardly to do anything but shift blame anywhere and everywhere else when something they were responsible for went wrong. Like it did with this intel rat. But stuff that memory down for the moment. You had an ID to make, information to gather, before you could bring your freakish killing skills to bear. Just hearing Bones insisting on telling him no with that look of anger and well-hidden terror was all the reason you needed, everything else notwithstanding. But the everything else notwithstanding made it all so much easier.
"Hey, Temperance" you said mildly, plastering that face that used to do you so well at the card tables-- and which still did, just in the interrogation room. The 'Temperance' was a warning, since Bones knew damned well you only called her that when you were serious about something.
You got a better look at his face as he turned, startled at the fact you were almost right on top of him. You listened with half an ear as Bones introduced you as her FBI partner, making mental notes all the while. Same face-- seventeen years older, yes, pudgier, more grey hair-- but him, unquestionably. Same flat, inhuman who would just walk away from something like that, not feel guilty? fishy eyes. You told all the other faces whose memories were inextricably linked with his to sit back and be quiet for now-- that you would deal with him in due time. And then reassured them-- yes, time was due, and past due. You would get him for them.
"Booth, this is Aaron Ferguson, he's over at CIA."
You stuck out your hand, mouthing something civil and appropriate as you tested his grip, watched as he extended his arm to see if he was carrying. He wasn't. That made it easier. If he carried at all, he'd be carrying now on quote-unquote official business.
Introductions and too-hard handshake on your part over, you shoved your hands into your pockets, seemingly relaxed as you secretly reassured yourself that your knife was still there. "What brings you to the hallowed halls of the Jeffersonian, then, Ferguson," you asked, affecting professional interest. "Not that Dr. Brennan's expertise isn't valued by anyone, of course."
"Of course," he said. "I was seeking Dr. Brennan's expertise, actually, on a matter that's come up in the last few days and for which we require her special skills."
Bones clenched her jaw behind him as the asshole spook declaimed pompously. You didn't like the word "require," not at all.
"Well, Dr. Brennan's so busy that sometimes even the Bureau and other agencies have to take a backseat. And ... speaking of work, Temperance, we're late for that trial preparation meeting with the prosecutor," you added, though there was no such thing. Bones blinked owlishly, then played clueless squint again.
"Oh, dear, I almost forgot. Well, I'm glad you came by, then, Booth. I'd forget my cranium if it wasn't attached to my cervical vertebrae." She quickly started gathering her things, making a show of being in a disorganized rush, and fumbling with her computer.
You gave the spook a "squints, can't take 'em anywhere" look, and he rolled his eyes, understanding.
As Bones got out of her chair, you went to the back of her door and pulled off her coat, clearly marking your alpha-male territory. Your Bones. Your Bones' office. Your Bones' coat. Your Bones-- as far away as humanly possible from this ... essence of selfishness, if not active evil. She let you help her on with her coat as she always did, but this time juggled her bags more than she usually did. Better to let the spook think the squint turned into a flake out in the field. Perhaps he didn't know her FBI track record.
One arm on Bones' back, you turned to the face you'd now carved in stone, with a name, in your memory. "Well, nice to meet you, Ferguson. Sorry to interrupt, but hey ... U.S. Attorneys get really cranky when you keep them waiting."
He smirked, nodding, then said, "Well, Dr. Brennan, we can finish this conversation some other time."
Bones stilled under your hand before saying quietly, "I'm sorry, I thought I made myself clear. There are no circumstances under which I would perform work for the CIA. I've already provided you with the names of several persons who you could consult, but in any event, it will not be me."
You stepped back a bit, and Bones stepped back with you, until it was clear that you expected the Ferguson spook to precede you both out the door. He affected some good-willed response, and stepped out into the lab, pulled out a business card to hand to Bones, and again asked her to reconsider. He was much bigger than Bones, and as his hand headed toward Bones with that card in his hand, you instinctively snapped the card away from him. Too close to my Bones, Spooky Boy. Back off.
"Got it," you said with a smile. "Nice to meet you. Good luck with the case," you continued, the followed Bones out and half-turned to lock up her office, blocking the view of the lock with your body. And set a tell tale that would at least tell you if someone else jimmied the door when you came back to check.
Your hand at Bones' back, and your gut screaming and every hair on your body still standing on end, you dared turn your back on him and steer her off toward the garage entrance you'd come in initially. As you heard his heavy steps recede in the opposite direction, your instinct backed off its alert just a bit, and once you made it all the way back to the truck and got her in her side and you in yours, doors locked and all lines of sight now in view, you let out an almost imperceptible breath. Safe for now, Seel, his fellow sentinels said. The sigh--almost imperceptible except to Bones-- she was getting good at this.
"You know him," she said flatly.
You nodded, deciding how best to answer, how not to involve her any more deeply than her own best guess already had.
As you thought, she still watched you. "But he doesn't know you... or remember you?"
You nodded again. "The latter."
She sat, waiting, watching you turn your thoughts over as you inwardly consulted all the other faces demanding attention on what to do next. Finally, she tipped her head and filled the silence, giving you time-- and a new reason for you to bring your freakish killing skills to bear, as she gave you a small explanation with that same look of anger and terror more clear now you two were alone.
"I won't do CIA work. And... I can't tell you why, it's classified. But I made it clear I won't have anything to do with them anymore, though he seems to think I can be ... persuaded to change my mind. But I've never met this man before."
She looked you straight in the eye as she said it, and every damned word meant a hundred others. You'd always wondered about those foreign digs-- whether there wasn't something more to at least some of them than sheer squinty curiosity. Apparently so.
"I know him," you said. "And ... I can't tell you why, same reason. But... it was a long time ago, and I never could find out his name. Never saw him again."
Her deep blue gaze unwavering, she listened to the hundred words under each of yours, then said "Until today."
"Until today," you confirmed.
She sat quiet, just measuring you with that look of hers-- then nodded, and said nothing. Asked nothing. Let you take the lead for once. She really was scared, if that was the case.
You thought long and hard over what she just hadn't told you, and the rest of the faces in your mind started to speak again. Her, too. He deserves it. We all do. But her, especially. At least we signed up for what actually happened. They were a veritable Greek Chorus of tortured, murdered buddies, all eighteen and nineteen years old-- they never came back from that first deployment. It was time to complete that mission, complete this new one just added onto it. The faces still fresh in your memory smiled, if such a thing was possible, and sat back a bit, watching and waiting to see you finish the job. Eliminate the targeted threat. And none of them minded, not a one, that the first slash across Ferguson's throat would be for whatever went down for Bones. Those faces, like you, understood that just getting it done was important, no matter the order of priorities. Just get it done, Seel, they said. Just get it done.
The two of you went to her place and you ordered delivery-- talking of nonsense and neither of you quite ready to be alone, though you didn't speak of the events at the lab any further. You drank one too many beers on purpose, knowing your metabolism would burn it off in an hour, but knowing, too, that it gave you an excuse to sleep on her couch-- to make sure no black-clad spooks in the night tried to follow up their thwarted meeting from earlier. Don't worry Seel, we'll make sure you wake up, his buddies said.