Inside and Out
A/N: Part 2.
Had to up the rating to M because of some of the language in this part. And it's twenty things because Aching Bones so nicely questioned why Seeley Booth only gets seventeen things written about him just for the sake of alliteration. :)
Twenty Things About Seeley Booth.
Odom passes to Kobe, who does one of those crazy 360 degree layups that earns him twenty million dollars a year. Booth knows he would never have been able to do that, good shoulder or no. Still, he tries it out from time to time when he's alone, on a court, with a basketball in his hand.
Brennan promises that if he doesn't get in that taxi she'll align his back, give him a massage, whatever he wants.
"Whatever I want?"
"Within reason." She waves her magic knuckles in front of his face and he caves like he would have whether she promised him a back massage or not.
But apparently a back massage is not within reason at eleven o'clock on a Wednesday night—there's simply not enough time for her give a sufficient one. So instead, she perches on his lap, rubs his temples to get his blood flowing, to get him thinking more clearly.
"It's a very effective technique I learned in Thailand," she breathes against his face, sliding her fingers into his hair. He can feel his blood flowing away from his head, his thoughts becoming more clouded with every slow circle she draws.
"Uh huh, right there," he says sleepily before, as she later recounts to him, he falls asleep. He falls asleep while she's sitting in his lap, running her fingers through his hair. He's gotta shake his head at that one.
He remembers waking on his couch to the sound of an alarm he didn't set, finding himself under a blanket, and calling to ask her where she put his tie ("I'm almost certain it's lying right next to you on the coffee table.").
There was that Saturday morning when he realized his mother was never coming back, that she wasn't away on vacation like everyone said. He threw his radio, watched it break against the wall after he heard that stupid Wipe-all window washing solution jingle she spent a whole afternoon at the piano writing.
Years went by where at least dad stayed seemed to be justification enough for a whole lot of shit that wasn't justified at all.
He doesn't balk when Rebecca signs Parker up to perform in a local musical theater production. At the performance, he claps and whistles louder than any other parent until his son waves while singing "Food, Glorious Food". And Booth can't help the grin that spreads across his face when Parker asks him never to let mom put him in a production of Oliver! ever again.
In the army, after finding his aim was so sure, he felt there was something fluid and reassuring about the rapid succession of bullets from his M24.
There were no religious experiences to be found in that desert, where he couldn't walk without kicking sand into his face. He went months finding more satisfaction in hitting living, breathing, moving targets than any practice ones the government could provide, months feeling remorse for not feeling remorse. Gaze steady, fingers callused in all the right places, stomach coiled as tightly as those bullets clenched in the barrel of his gun, he found divine inspiration enough to hit right where he aimed. Every single time.
Now, there's a trigger and he pulls it; there's no poetry in it at all. But there's precision, always that precision that kept him a sniper, that keeps his fingers callused, that garners him a clap on the back anytime there's someone there to watch him shoot. It keeps him awake on nights when all he can do is pace his bedroom, remembering the dust in his mouth and the feeling that there were good reasons why he was shooting men when their backs were turned.
Eight months ago he dated a dermatologist named Katherine.
He remembers waking to see her hair strewn across his pillow. The sun through his blinds turned it that honey color he'd liked on so many women before her. "Stop watching me sleep," she commanded with a laugh.
He smiled, liking her eyes, and her hair, and the shape of her body under his sheet. He liked that she didn't spend every other sentence correcting him, liked that she laughed when he made a joke.
But the prospect of spending forever in like with someone has never really appealed. It still doesn't, though he can admit waking up alone isn't so great either.
Saying he does fine is probably, maybe, definitely an overstatement.
Eight months isn't fine. Eight months is a very long time.
It had become a distracting inevitably that he'd end up in that bed with her, in only the most literal way imaginable, at the end of the day. Tasting cool stale air not her warm pliant mouth, under sheets not tangled in them: in bed not in bed. How else could it possibly be with his literal, logical partner?
Only, he knows how it could possibly be—that there'd be something in kissing that shocking red off of her lips. Something different and all too similar to lying next to her on a pillow, in a bed, with the sound of her slow, measured breathing lulling him to sleep. And maybe the difference is that the red is still there (faded but there) when she curls into herself then into his chest.
It's reflexive, unconscious, her movement closer to him. Should that mean anything at all? His mind feels as blank as the dark ceiling of the trailer.
After the two weeks Booth spent pretending to be dead, Parker clings to him in a way he never has before.
He returns to that phase of holding the hem of his father's shirt while they cross the street and cries when they kneel at the foot of his bed for nighttime prayers.
They get to 'If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take' before Parker starts sniffling, a tear leaking onto his folded hands.
"Hey, hey what's wrong?"
"I didn't-didn't like pretending you were dead, daddy. And I don't want to pray about dying while I'm 'sleep."
Parker wipes at one of his eyes and Booth pulls him into a tight embrace. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry Parker. I promise it won't happen ever again. Tomorrow, you and I are both gonna wake up. We're going to wake up, and we're going to make chocolate chip pancakes with whip cream faces and everything. That sound good to you?"
Parker nods his head yes but knocks on Booth's bedroom door in the middle of the night nevertheless.
And Booth knows that Dr. Spock advises not to let your kid get into the habit of sleeping in your bed, but screw Dr. Spock.
When he met Cam she was a hard-nosed cop who still looked like a snot-nosed kid.
Smarter than anyone he was used to, he found there wasn't anything hard about her at all (not even her nose). There wasn't a bit of her that wasn't smooth under his hands, and there was never a moment's hesitation when she told him she wouldn't be staying the night.
And always, always they were easy, comfortable, and lasting friends. Why was that never enough to make lines worth overstepping or assuredly great sex more palatable than Thai food and form-filling with his partner?
He's such an unnecessary, bureaucratic waste of her time, and she tells him this the moment Goodman tells her that her work on ancient skeleton blah blah blah is postponed so she can work on a federal case.
It almost guts him to think that four years down the line she might still feel exactly the same way.
There's this scene…
Kathy's livid with Andy for his being self-sacrificing for her sake. They're so close to shouting and his mouth is too close to offer apologies or admit that he's done anything wrong (because he hasn't). But his mouth is close enough to claim hers. Her fingers tear at the buttons on his shirt and she tells him to stop murmuring things in her ear. She pushes him every way she knows how until everything is hard and fast and urgent, just like she likes, and they have a nice cleansing fuck in the backseat of his car.
Of course he reads her books.
His hands used to itch when he knew he was that close to winning. It was always in that good, exhilarating way that made his throat run dry with the thought of all those chips piled in front of him. And sometimes there were a hell of a lot of them.
Those are the times he tries not to remember—all those cool discs under the palms of his hands, tangible things that meant everything in the moment. It was always screw confession, and the Rangers, and all the shitty desk work at the bureau until that moment was over. And it was never long before it was over.
He was always a winner until he was a loser, that doesn't just go away with the chips. Sometimes that itch is still there, his hands wanting something to hold onto.
He thinks of Rebecca and he remembers growing, and gambling, and jokes about their super with the funny accent.
He remembers her asking him to kiss her in the rain then telling him never to kiss her in the rain ever again ("Now that was just cheesy, Seeley.").
He remembers Atlantic City and all of the money he won to buy her that fan-fucking-tastic ring, and he remembers pawning the ring when the answer was no.
He remembers two blue lines and loving her still, loving his son before he even saw his heartbeat.
Time can heal almost anything, lessen how he loves her to almost not-at-all—but it never goes away, not entirely.
His grandfather was able to recall the names of all the men in his Air Force squadron, complained of being an old man while taking him on in a game of touch football, and memorized Abbot and Costello skits.
Now Booth tries to smile into the receiver when his grandfather asks when he's due back from the Gulf, when he will get serious with a girl, when he will finally learn how to drive a stick-shift. He murmurs thanks when his grandfather says he's stopping by tomorrow with a bike for his birthday—a boy his age deserves a good bike—and Booth hates the thought of ever having to be indulged like this. He wishes he knew how to talk to this man he used to know.
That whole clown thing—it would make more sense if there were a story behind it, but there isn't. Bottom line: they're unnatural, they scare children. No one's nose is that big or that red; no one's that happy or sad.
Clowns are stupid, unnecessary; that doesn't mean he's scared of the damned things.
But he can understand why someone would be.
And maybe he shouldn't have sidestepped his issues with his father while Wyatt was his therapist. Because…
"There's no way I'm discussing that with Kid Klingon."
"I'm sitting right here, Agent Booth, you can address me directly. And dude, I would so not be a Klingon."
As a child, his silence and refusal to cry only provoked his father more and, until the day he fought back, his father's punches and rage only provoked his own stubborn silence. A part of him wishes he had a shrink who he'd want to make sense of that.
"What d'ya think 12.5% alcohol content really means?" Jared asks, reading the label of a wine bottle left out after mass.
Seeley shrugs, though sometimes he also wonders if that percentage would be enough to make him pick a fight or punch a wall.
Jared tips the bottle toward his mouth, filling his cheeks with the red liquid before his brother can snatch it away. "What are you doing? That's not allowed."
Jared gargles then swallows, coughing a little as it goes down. "Stuff's disgusting."
"I could've told you that. Now you're gonna have to confess to a father that you drank holy wine outside of mass."
"Why don't you just absolve me, Seel?"
"I'm not a priest, idiot."
"But you're a really good altar server."
Seeley sighs, making a giant sign of the cross in front of his brother. "You are forgiven, child." They both laugh a little. "Now say three Hail Marys and promise never to be gluttonous again."
"I promise!" Jared shouts, his echo muted in that small backroom of the church. "Wow, you even sound kinda like Father McKinnon."
Booth was almost sure that Jared liked being Seeley's kid brother.
He knows better now.
Her lips are a little swollen and fastened to the edge of her coffee cup when he answers the door. "I had a date," she says without missing a beat.
He moves to let her in, then shifts to block the doorway, gritting his teeth at the smell of cologne on her just over the coffee she hands him. "Must not have been very good if it's over already."
"You were complaining about all of the paperwork we wouldn't get done tonight, so I thought we should get it done."
He lets out a low, unnatural laugh that almost makes him cringe. Almost. "So, how many guys are you seeing this time around?"
"Just one." She frowns a little then shrugs her shoulders. "I suppose that means I've conformed to your priggish views on dating." He's silent, which makes her frown just a little bit more; he wonders if she's really as confused as she looks.
"Booth, I thought you'd be…"
And just that once he wishes he had the courage, the balls, to ask her to leave.
Quantico was a formality.
He walks into an interrogation room without a script, without tactics or gameplans, without any of that special training from the Academy. He doesn't read people, he learns them: their faces studies in emotion you can't pick up in a classroom. It's no special talent; he watches, he listens, he engages. People forget to really do that. And you've got to, whether it's a killer you're talking to or not.
He learns from experience, has learned fifty-one, fifty-two, fifty-three times over that all killers are eventually bound to crack. If he were any exception, well, then he wouldn't be so good at this, would he?
Bones quadruple triple double dog dares him ("Your son just said that's how the phrase goes, Booth.") not to eat meat at dinner; abstaining from animal fats at just one meal would make him realize that—
"There's a reason why I'm not a vegetarian?" He chuckles as her earnest expression sours. "Men eat meat, not rabbit food," he says, ruffling Parker's hair. "Right, bud?"
"I'm getting macaroni and cheese."
Parker gives Bones a sly sort of smile, and that little sight alone compels Booth to order pancakes for himself, hold the animal fats, and a nice, generous slice of lemon meringue for the lady who has shown him expanding one's diet is as easy as pie.
Bones kicks at his feet under the table, biting her lip until she feels him kick back. Parker laughs in that young, tinkling way that always makes him smile.
And the next time they're at the diner Booth double dog dares her ("Double is more than enough of a dare, Bones.") to eat a burger; he thinks that if she did she'd spend a lot less time frowning as he eats his.
A/N: I've also written a one-shot about #7. I sort of just fleshed it out…which is code for it will be Rated M. I will post it soon...