Title: Sins of the Father
Spoilers: Small for season 4. Set some time in the future.
Sunlight filtered in through the grimy windows and dusty air. The garage hadn't changed in thirty years. It still had the same oil stains on the floor, the same rack of tool boxes along one wall, the same cherry picker holding the same 351 Windsor that had been sitting like that since he'd been in high school. The Old Man had been complaining for years that he needed help fixing the thing even though it was seized and nothing short of a miracle would fix it.
He left the small entrance door open as he walked into the garage and pulled the worn gray cover off the muscle car stored there. He dropped the cover to the ground, letting it smear dust and grime down his black slacks before it rested on his shiny black shoes. The sleeves on his white dress shirt were turned up, his black tie was pulled loose and the top shirt button undone. He popped the latch on the driver's door and sat in the driver's seat, his right foot on the accelerator and his left stayed on the garage floor.
Sitting in the front seat of the old Mustang brought back memories. Being 16 and working on his first car—an old Malibu—and getting it running right. Parking out behind the football field with Jessica Mitchell. Getting caught while parked out behind the football field with Jessica Mitchell.
Seeley Booth ran his hand over the dash of the car, wiping a trail through the fine layer of dust there. He gripped the steering wheel for a moment and palmed the gearshift, the movement reminiscent of a lover's caress. He inhaled, the smell of old leather and aftershave filled his nose. He rattled the gear shift side to side in the neutral position, the memory of his father's voice reminding him to use the parking brake, not the transmission to hold the car in place. He brought his right hand up to join his left on the steering wheel. He closed his eyes and leaned forward, resting his forehead between his hands on the steering wheel.
This wasn't the epitaph he wanted for his father. Not how he wanted to remember him.
He wanted to remember him as a drunk. The guy with a temper. The guy who made his life Hell for so long. The guy for whom nothing was ever good enough. The guy who wouldn't come watch his football games. The guy who popped him in the mouth when he talked back. The guy who reminded him regularly that he was never going to college on an academic scholarship. The guy who informed him that he was royally screwed when his shoulder crapped out— as if he didn't realize that himself.
The guy who didn't know how to talk to his own kids.
But sitting here like this he could only remember the good things.
Three years old and staying up to hear Daddy come home from some late night out. Knowing Daddy was home so it was okay to go to sleep now.
Five years old and climbing up on the chair next to the work bench to watch his father tinker with some minutia of chrome for a GTO.
Eight years old and learning to read the sizes on the wrenches in the toolbox so he could help Daddy work on the cars.
Twelve years old and turning wrenches to change spark plugs for the first time.
Seventeen and replacing the transmission in some friend's Blazer to make a few extra bucks.
He didn't want to remember those things because then he'd have to feel right now.
The sun was nearly down and the damp smell of evening dew hung in the air. He lifted his head to the sound of shoes shuffling on the dusty concrete. He didn't bother wiping the tears away when Temperance Brennan walked over and rested her hand on his shoulder without speaking. He turned and placed both feet on the ground as he took her hand. She crouched between his knees and he leaned into her, wrapping his arms around her waist and burying his face in her shoulder. She wrapped her arms around him to give what comfort she could. She felt his muscles twitch from anger and from grief. She was silent, waiting for him to speak when he was ready.
"I hate him so much for what he did," he said. His voice was thick from the tears and muffled by her shoulder. "But I can't help but love him anyway."
Her hand slid up and down his back. His body shook from the sobs. Tears rolled down her own cheeks because she couldn't say anything to help him through this. The only thing she could do was be there for him.
"I loved him so much," he said. "But I couldn't do anything right. Wasn't ever good enough." His voice took on a bleak tone she'd never heard from him before. "I didn't know any better. Didn't know what it should have been like." He turned his head to rest his cheek on her shoulder. "And I loved him anyway."
He pulled away and wiped at his face with his shirt sleeve. He looked at Brennan with red rimmed eyes and offered a joyless smile. "We shouldn't be sitting like this. C'mere." He opened his arms wide and motioned for her to sit. She turned and sat in his lap. He wrapped his arms around her waist and rested his chin on her shoulder. He covered her hands with his own and stroked at her hands and arms.
"I can't help but feel like I missed out on something with him," he said. His shoulders dropped dejectedly.
Brennan turned to look Booth in the eye. "You didn't miss out. He did. He never saw what a great son he had." She touched her forehead to his and tapped his chest above his heart to emphasize her words.
"That is his loss. Not yours."
He considered her words and smiled again. It was weak, but genuine. "I guess you're right."
She grinned and he held her tight to his chest.
"I'm always right," she said. His smile widened and they both laughed.
"Yeah, you are."