Author's Note: Final chapter. I am still working on the sequel right now, and with any luck the first chapter will be up within a week or two. The title is The Recovery in the Nocturne, and I am hoping that it won't take as long to write as this fic did. :)
I do not own Bones or any of its characters.
Thank you to everyone who had read/followed/reviewed this. I appreciate all of your support.
Lives in the now: Thank you for your review, as always. I don't picture it being an easy road for Sweets, but I imagine that he will continue to pull strength from them as this chapter will point out. Again, that you for all of your consistent support.
ASummer: Well sadly, I think this chapter will leave more questions than answers, but I hope you will enjoy it nonetheless.
Super Ario: I completely agree with you. On one hand theirs is a friendship, on another it's an older/younger brother thing with it's expected inequalities at times. That along with the way Booth and Sweets come to each other for advice does make for a complex relationship...Despite what he's been through, I still see Sweets as stronger than he might appear on the surface and thus, has a greater "spirit" than what Andrew could have anticipated. I hope you enjoy this and the sequel coming up. :)
Rex01: Again, sorry but no spoilers from me. But take heart in knowing that I don't have studies to get in the way of writing these days. :)
Rankor01: First off, thanks again for discussing things with me in that PM. Again, I do think you would have figured it out had you kept speculating the way you were, so kudos for helping me to build my suspense for my sequel. :) I agree that Brennan is a logical choice for him to stay with and believe you're right in thinking that B&B will grow closer during this, but also think that will apply to the rest of them as well...But yeah, the romantic side of it won't be the focus of either fic...For Booth and Sweets, it will be a process, but you're right in saying that Sweets will start making some attempts to get better...even if there will be bumps along the way.
Charlotte Thornton: They needed to start talking, that's for sure. And a key issue will be their ability to keep this momentum going as recovery continues...I'm thrilled that you enjoyed this fic, and I hope you will enjoy the sequel as well.
Peanutmeg: Thank you for the review. No surprise there, you're right, but then again I know you know about my fondness for scenes between those two. :) I see the time he spends with them as a chance for all of them to get to know each other in a way they haven't been able to do in canon...As we will see in the sequel, it will make for an interesting recovery.
Ipizzlewizzle: Thank you, but this one is coming to an end. But the sequel will come soon, so until then...
Softballgirl05:Oh no problem. I'm glad you enjoyed both chapters though. As far as the thing Wyatt and Werner discussed...that will have to wait until the sequel. And I agree that he's going to need all of them and especially Booth due to events in this chapter...I hope you will enjoy the end of this fic.
D: I agree with you about it taking longer to recover than to lose what was built up and the idea that Booth will need to eventually share some of his insight into the kinds of things Sweets went through in order for Sweets to get past some of his own warped ideas about the "right" or "correct" way to deal or feel about what happened to him...And I agree that Peter is not yet at Booth's level of worldliness and maturity and that he will act as an "older brother" type to the both of them at times...As for the shout-out, let's just say I never forgot about your musings about how good of an agent Peter might make in the future. I had been thinking about having him leave the army at some point, and your thoughts about what he might do felt very...apt considering his character. :) So thanks for the inspiration and all the great reviews.
Lunarweather: Yeah, I'm a bit of a sucker for scenes between Booth and Sweets so I'm glad you liked the one they had last chapter. As for the thing Wyatt and Werner were talking about...you may have a point that I might not have shown everything that happened while Jensen had Sweets...As for whether or not it means what you think or even what Wyatt and Werner might think it means...that is a matter that will be addressed in the sequel. I hope you enjoy the rest of this fic until then.
The Measure of the Spirit—Chapter 40
Two days after leaving the hospital, Sweets was attending a funeral.
After Werner had given him one last thorough examination, she released the psychologist from the hospital, and on the way out, Sweets set up a couple of follow-up appointments. Everyone had been there to meet him as he left, and they took him to the Royal Diner for a celebratory round of desserts. While he was nibbling at his slice of pie, Sweets heard Brennan talk about the remains of some recent victims, and began to stare at her. Eventually noticing his stare, Brennan tilted her head toward him.
"What is it, Sweets?" The therapist cleared his throat a little and fidgeted with his fork.
"Um, Lillian's remains….Uh, Ms. Place's remains," he said. "What did you do with them?"
"They are no longer part of an active investigation," the anthropologist answered. "I turned them over for a burial from the state since there was no one else to take care of it. Why?"
"Could you help me get in contact with them?" Sweets asked. "So I could speak to them?"
"Of course," Brennan nodded. Sweets nodded in reply and then remained silent for the rest of the meal.
This led to where Sweets was now, riding in Booth's SUV with Booth driving, Brennan in the front seat, and him sitting in the back next to Peter, on the way to the cemetery. He had gotten a hold of the funeral director who had been in charge of Lillian's burial that afternoon and told him that he would pay for another funeral, and for a new headstone to be put on her grave. Arrangements had been made quickly, and the therapist had been able to set up for a memorial service for the day after tomorrow.
Everyone had been surprised at it, but asked very few questions, knowing that they probably would get little in the way of answers.
This was just another example of the increasingly opaque workings of the psychologist's brain of late.
All throughout the ride over there, Sweets remained silent, but his thoughts were noisy and discordant.
'Lillian is dead and I am not…but did either of us really escape, Andrew?' he wondered. 'Maybe neither one of us was meant to survive him in the end. He hurt so many people just to get to us. Maybe this is the price that we must pay for that. Lillian…she paid in full with her life.'
'What will my price be?'
'And how long will I be paying? Until I'm dead?'
'You'll never escape me, Lance,' Andrew's voice rang out in his head, mocking him.
'Still feel like "helping people"?'
'This is your fault.'
'You wanted this.'
'It's your fault.'
Sweets shivered, despite the fact that he was in a warm car and was wearing a long, black overcoat. There was no way he could tell the others this, but as he got ready to leave the confines of his hospital room, he had begun to hear Andrew's voice in his head more frequently and sometimes, for a brief periods, he flashed back to the things Andrew had done to him. Even worse, these flashbacks had become increasingly vivid, and he had started to remember things that his brain had blocked out before. Things too horrifying and shameful to talk about.
Things he could not get out of his mind, no matter how hard he tried.
Desperate for a distraction, Sweets tried to focus his attention to the scenery that zoomed by his car window. The day was turning out to be a cool, grey one with only glimpses of pale sunlight peeking behind flat clouds. It was not raining, however, and Sweets tried to be grateful for that small bit of fortune.
He had managed to hide many, if not most, of his flashbacks from the others, and the therapist had every intention of keeping it that way. He loved his friends and family for who they were and how they were taking care of him, and he did not want to do anything that could change their perception of him.
'Better to keep quiet and lock this away,' he thought. 'I'm a trained psychologist. I can figure out on my own how to deal with all this. No need to involve them. Besides, I need to stop being so weak and helpless. They've already done so much for me. I can't keep asking for more and more.'
Peter frowned when he looked over and saw his cousin shaking. He reached over and placed a arm around the therapist's shoulders and started to rub his back.
"Hey Whiz Kid, how are you doing?" he asked. "Are you up for all this?"
"I'm ok," Sweets nearly whispered. "Thank you."
"That's good," Peter said, patting his back a couple times. "You know that if you need anything though, that we're all here for you, right?"
"I know," Sweets said a trace of a smile on his lips. He then lapsed back into brooding silence, and the soldier frowned again.
The way Sweets was acting was becoming part of a pattern, a pattern that neither Peter nor the others felt very comforted by.
Sweets had settled into the spare room of Brennan's apartment easily. She had added a few things to the room to make it more comfortable for him like additional bedding and a couple stands so he could display some of his gifts and framed photographs, if he wanted to. Booth had brought over a suitcase of clothes for him, and Peter had fetched the trunk of mementos from Wyatt's place and brought them to his cousin.
"These are your things," Peter said as he sat the trunk in Sweets' room. "Maybe you should spend some time with them."
Sweets mutely agreed and had spent much of the first evening in Brennan's apartment silently looking over the contents of the trunk.
This solitary activity was symptomatic of new behaviors that had started to emerge. Everyone, including Peter, had been pleased with the progress Sweets had made recently, but they were also concerned with these new behaviors.
The psychologist often would stay silent for hours at a time, only speaking when spoken to. Even in relaxed group conversations, Sweets would sometimes open his mouth as if to say something only to stop himself and swiftly press his lips back together. The way he would then look down into his lap and bow his head could only be described as ashamed. Ashamed that he had even thought of speaking up.
The nightmares also persisted and would only abate if someone stayed with Sweets all night the same way Hodgins did. Also there were more panic attacks like the one Booth witnessed, but for the most part, they did not seem include a total blackout and accompanying flashback. Still, it was scary enough for everyone to watch Sweets begin to hyperventilate, shiver, hold his hand to his chest as if his heart was giving him trouble, and break out into a cold sweat.
Even in areas where he had made progress Sweets still struggled with some problems. He had stopped forbidding the others from touching him, but they also noticed how he often cowered whenever anyone outside of Booth, Brennan, Cam, Angela, Hodgins, Peter, Wyatt or Werner tried to touch him and how he was sometimes skittish if anyone touched him without warning. When Booth or Peter took accompanied him for his daily exercise, they had noted how the psychologist seemed timid of his surroundings and would only interact with strangers in the most functional of ways.
They had all gone to Wyatt and told him about these concerns and he confirmed their suspicions that Sweets was probably suffering from depression and severe PTSD.
The chef had been heartened, however, at the news that Sweets had shared a memory of his experiences with Booth.
"That was a very important first step," Wyatt said. "In order for him to recover, Doctor Sweets must feel that he can trust his family to take care of him and not reject him because of anything you lot might learn about what happened to him. The fact that he felt secure enough to tell Agent Booth anything is an encouraging sign, and anything any of you can do to help him continue to feel that sense of security is vital."
While they had been pleased that Wyatt confirmed this as a positive sign, they soon faced another crisis when Sweets announced his renewed intentions to quit his job at the Bureau and psychology altogether.
It had taken a long talk with everyone, including Wyatt, to convince Sweets to delay any such permanent action for now and to instead take a sabbatical from his work and see how he felt in a few months. The therapist eventually relented, and Booth took him to a meeting with Hacker to make the necessary arrangements. In a rare show of complete compassion, Hacker encouraged Sweets to take as much time as he needed and assured him that his job would still be there if he chose to come back to it. After the meeting, Booth knew that he would probably end up owning Hacker for this gesture, but at the time, it had been difficult to care about things like that.
Peter ground his jaw while he thought about all of these events and revelations, but did his best to maintain a calmer, somewhat cheerful demeanor. Anger would not help right now, and the soldier was all too aware of how easily it could be misread by his cousin. So instead he continued to keep his arm around Sweets' shoulders and comfort him the best he could.
Peter might have wanted to do more, but he and all the others, knew that this was all he could do until Sweets was ready to let them do more.
Once they arrived at the cemetery, everyone got out of Booth's SUV while Angela parked her van behind him which held everyone else. Peter helped Sweets get out of the car and then Angela and Cam each took one of his arms and helped him navigate the uneven grassy terrain while he used his new cane to support himself. The psychologist shivered again in the breeze, his too-thin body having become susceptible to even the slightest semblance of cold weather. Sweets pulled his coat tighter around himself which had the added effect of concealing the way his suit hung off his skinnier frame.
Everyone gathered around Lillian's freshly renovated grave site and a minister came out to say a few words. After he was done with his prayer, Booth Brennan, Cam, Hodgins, Angela and Peter all laid white flowers down onto the grave while Sweets continued to stare down at the recently disturbed earth. He then asked for a moment alone, and the others complied by taking a few steps back away from him and watching him stand there silently.
"Do you think he loved her?" Angela asked. "Or felt some kind of connection to her?"
"I don't think it was exactly love," Peter replied. "Lance has said many times over the years that the only person in the world who he considers his mother is Aunt Carolyn."
"Then why the funeral?" Hodgins wondered aloud.
"I don't know," Peter said, shaking his head. "I've known Lance since he was a kid, but there are times when I'm not sure if I really know him that well after all."
Everyone nodded at the truth they shared with Peter's words and quietly watched Sweets for a couple minutes before Peter nodded toward Booth and they walked over to the side.
"I'm going to Fort McNair tomorrow and then I'll be shipping out a couple of days after that," Peter said. "My superiors have a couple of errands they need me to run overseas."
"Errands?" Booth said, sensing the meaning behind that word.
"Yeah, something like that," Peter said, certain that Booth understood his meaning. "I've already told Lance about it, and I planned on tell the rest of you after we leave here. But the point is that…Lance…he's doing better, but he's not well. Not by any stretch."
Booth nodded in agreement. Sweets had not opened up again about his ordeal with Jensen since that day in the hospital, and he was worried that Sweets was, in some ways, suffering more instead of less these days.
"What I'm trying to say is that…I'm counting on all of you," the soldier continued. "I'm counting on all of you to take care of him while I'm away, and Booth…I'm asking you specifically: please keep an eye on him."
"I will, Peter," the agent said, reaching over to shake his hand.
"Thank you," Peter said his tone warm and more than a little relieved. "I know that things are still somewhat tense between you two, but believe me, Lance still respects and cares for you. He just needs time."
"I know," Booth replied, glancing over at Sweets and then at Brennan before looking back into Peter's eyes. "Don't worry. We are going to make sure he has all the time and care he needs."
Peter nodded and went back to join the others in their vigil over the psychologist. Brennan then walked over and stood next to Booth.
"What are you thinking about?" she asked him.
"I was just…" the agent sighed and then turned toward her. "I was thinking about Sweets and all this…you know? I…Sometimes I wonder if he's going to recover from all this. I know he's tougher than he looks but…is that going to be enough?"
"Maybe," Brennan said. "But perhaps we should look beyond strength. In the past, you've mentioned that there are many qualities that make up a person of true stature and worth. Things like a kind heart and a spirit that will rise up to meet every obstacle in life and that won't allow itself to be extinguished." The anthropologist moved closer to Booth and took his arm into hers.
"I believe that Sweets possesses this kind of spirit," she said. "And perhaps we are just starting to see its ability to surmount the challenges that it is given."
"I hope you're right Bones," Booth said. "Because right now…it's hard not to wonder if we were too late after all."
Brennan's face fell at his comment and she looked back over at Sweets, who still hadn't moved. She then let go of Booth's arm and to everyone's surprise, she walked over to where Sweets was standing and stood next to him. The therapist gave her a shy smile and she smiled back while reaching for his hand.
"Angela and Booth have told me that visiting my mother's grave is a way to stay in touch with her," Brennan said as she held his hand.
"Do you believe that?" Sweets asked her.
"Not entirely," the anthropologist said. "When people die, they are no longer able to communicate with anyone. Placing flowers next to a headstone or saying some words to a plot of ground does not change that. However, it is somewhat…comforting to be able to reflect on my memories of my mother, and I find that visiting her grave does give me a focus that is difficult to achieve elsewhere."
Brennan paused and tightened her grip on the therapist's hand before speaking again.
"Do you find it easier to focus on your mother here?" she asked.
"Lillian was not my mother," Sweets said, returning his gaze to the ground. "She might have been my mother in the strictest biological sense but….we were not meant to be together."
The psychologist took a deep breath and then faced Brennan, his expression unreadable.
"Lillian was far from perfect," he said. "But she did not deserve what happened to her. She was…she was Andrew's victim. Just like me. But she…she was willing to make sure that my parents could legally adopt me and that I would never be put back in Andrew's custody when I was a child. I think it was her way of trying to make up for abandoning me. I believe she had a good heart, deep down, but she allowed herself to become too jaded by life."
Sweets carefully bent down and placed another white rose onto Lillian's grave and returned his focus to her headstone.
"You know, she knew this would happen," he murmured. "When I tried to find her…she sent me a letter asking me to stop, and in it she mentioned that she saw her own death at Andrew's hand. It's why she ran away…But in the end, I guess she wasn't able to escape the fate she saw for herself."
Brennan found herself at a loss to know what to say in response to that and decided to envelop the psychologist's hand in both of hers. Sweets smiled a little again and squeezed her hands in appreciation.
He then looked down at the grave again, his eyes resting on the name carved into the headstone.
'I'm sorry Lillian. I hope your spirit was able to find the freedom in the next world that it couldn't find in this one.'
Sweets felt his eyes growing wet, but did his best to hold his tears in. He was glad that he had gone ahead with this funeral having felt a small sense of closure from the event, but he could not deny the feeling that he had also buried a part of himself when he helped to re-inter his birth mother's remains.
The sun finally intensified its light and warmth finally broke through the clouds. Sweets looked up at the sky and marveled at how beautiful it was despite its gloom.
Sweets then found that he was able to find a measure of peace out of the fact that he was still able to enjoy it, the knowledge that he was treasured by family and friends, and the hope that the future could still hold some prospect of transformation and happiness eventually.