Change of Time
When Booth made it back to the Hoover the next morning, Sweets was still standing in front of the one-way mirror.
"Hey man, did you leave at all?"
"No." There didn't seem to be much to say to that, so he didn't. Sweets was unshaven and rumpled, his eyes rimmed in pink. He looked a little pathetic, and Booth felt a swell of affection for the guy.
"I stayed at Bones' place last night," he said, just because it seemed right. Sweets looked at him, then he smiled. A grin that was, well, it was sweet. Booth cleared his throat.
"So, you want to go get some breakfast?"
"Yeah," Sweets said, "that sounds good." He didn't move, though Just stood there smiling like a moron.
"Jesus, Sweets. Don't turn into a twelve-year-old girl on me, okay?"
"Yeah," Sweets said. "Yeah, okay. Lets go eat." He gestured towards the door, and Booth strode out, but he could feel the pressure of that grin pushing between his shoulder blades. It was probably dumb to forgive the kid. Phenomenally stupid, but he couldn't seem to stop.
Once they had eggs, and bacon, and toast, he dug in. "Why did you stay?"
"Oh," Sweets sighed. "You're going to make fun of me."
"Yeah, probably." Booth loaded some egg onto his toast, and took a bite. Sweets snorted a little.
"You do know what positive reinforcement is, right?"
"Sure, it's when I don't beat the information out of you."
"Right," Sweets said, but he didn't sound all that upset. In fact, he sounded kind of happy. "I was trying to think of Alexanders' motivation."
Sweets shrugged. Booth sighed. "He's a psycho, Sweets. That's his motivation."
"But he's not," the psychologist insisted. Booth stopped chewing his toast. "Even if you don't believe the checklists on psychosis, he still doesn't match. He isn't de-compensating. His killings aren't accelerating, or becoming more brutal."
"He drained a kids blood into a bucket. Seems pretty brutal to me."
"Maximum trauma," Sweets said, "not maximum brutality. Samuel Klemm, Dana Marquez, six others. All killed quickly, almost mercifully. It doesn't make any sense."
"Maybe he just gets off on the power. Like you said; maximum trauma. None of those women will ever be the same. Seeing shrinks, taking drugs just to get by. Maybe he likes knowing he left a mark."
"If it was power, he would have draw the whole process out, make it last as long as possible, but Dana and Sam both died in minutes."
"Whatever," Booth threw a few bills onto the table. "You come up with it, you let me know."
"Yeah, sure," Sweets agreed, sounding distracted. "Hey!" the other guy made him turn back. "Congratulations, Booth."
"For what?" Booth asked. Sweets little smile was back, but for the first time in a while, it didn't make him want to punch the guy in the nose.
"Thanks, Sweets," he said, and pushed on out the door. He needed to get busy, to find something, anything, to hook into Alexanders.
In the afternoon, he went to the Jeffersonian, bearing coffee. When she saw him, Bones smiled and her eyes didn't waver. It made something he hadn't really realized was tense unclench.
"Hey," he left the coffee waiting below the platform, beeping himself onto the stairs.
"Hi," she said back, the brightness in her eyes making his own smile a little broader. They could do this, he believed.
"Hey Booth," Angela greeted him as well. Standing next to Bones with a sketch pad and pencil in her hands. "Brennan told me you were holding David Alexanders."
"Yeah, holding, but the twenty-four hours are almost up. I'm going to have to charge him, or release him."
That made a glum little silence descend. "What are you guys up to?" Booth asked, trying to dispel it. "Why do you have Dana Marquez back out on the platform?"
"Angela had an idea," Bones told him, pointing towards the sketch pad.
"I'm drawing a picture of what Dana might have looked like as an adult, for her mom. Brennan's helping me with the markers"
"Hey, that's nice," Booth told her. Angela's face transformed when she worked, loosing some kind of self awareness, and Booth always liked getting a glimpse of that kind of concentration. He also very happy over how close Bones was standing. Almost leaning into him, their pinkies brushing.
They all jumped when the lab doors crashed open. Propelled by Sweets skidding in.
"Booth! You were right! You were totally right. They're all seeing shrinks, every single one of them." The always invigorating Sweets did a crash stop in front of their little group. Vibrating like he'd just downed an entire vat of coffee, or maybe some PCP.
Booth reluctantly gave up on his tactical ops to get a hold of Bones' hand without Angela noticing. "Slower, Sweets, with many more details."
"I called around, and I found that all eight of the murder victim's mothers are under psychiatric care." He waved a piece of paper around.
"You can do that?" Booth asked, snatching it away. Sweets shrugged.
"Gah!" Booth yelped, trying to shove the paper back. "Are you trying to get me killed? Caroline's already pissed at me. What do you think she's gonna do when she finds out I touched impermissible evidence?"
"Dude, that's so not the point," Sweets said, his reproach face on. "You didn't let me finish."
"Oh, by all means." Booth stopped poking the paper into his chest. "Please, finish. Then we can all attend my funeral."
"You're over-reaction to Ms. Julien is very interesting, Agent Booth." Sweets eyed him with a shrink-y look. Booth glowered.
"The way you still wet the bed is interesting, Dr. Sweets. My reaction to Caroline is self-preservation."
"Sure," Sweets agreed way to easily. "The point is; all the psychiatrists treating the mothers received a request to share demographics with the neurology department of the NIH."
"Uh, what's that mean," Angela asked, her uncertainty echoed by Booth and Brennan.
"It means Alexanders was interested in the mother's mental status and state."
"We always knew he was really after the moms. You told us that several days ago. You still haven't told us why." Brennan chimed in, always ready to squash Sweets inferior discipline. Booth might have laughed at the sour look Sweets shot her, but he was busy.
The mothers were all seeing psychologists. Their kids had been snatched, killed, sometimes in front of them.
"Sweets," he shot in before he and Bones could really get into it, "what were they diagnosed with?"
"The mother's? Uh, they were all diagnosed with some variety of PTSD. Does it matter."
"It matters," Booth said, because things were finally starting to make sense. All three of them turned to look at him.
"Are you maybe going to share with the class?" Angela asked. Booth grinned, but not at her; at Bones.
"You want to come?" he asked, and caught that flare in her eyes. The bright flash of happiness and animation. Even in the middle of a serial killer case, it made something in his chest catch.
"Yes," she said, and they walked away from Sweets' reluctant smile, and Angela's gaped mouth sluice of understanding. They'd catch hell later, but right now they'd just catch a murder.
Booth had called ahead, and told Charlie to get Alexanders back into the interrogation room. He looked up when Booth came in.
"Dr. Alexanders," Booth said, leaning back against the wall and crossing his arms, looking down at the seated man. The brief car ride over with Bones had felt almost carefree. His hand on her knee, letting the mercury of nascent understand settle, so it didn't wisp away. Now she was on the other side of the glass, and he felt something harder smooth over him.
"Hello, Agent Booth," Alexanders said with his strangely uninflected voice, eyes glancing off his sternum to hold steady on the corner. Booth pursed his lips, drug in a breath, cocked a foot in front of the other. Keeping the atmosphere high. On the table, Alexanders folded hands clenched a little tighter.
"I have enough now, Davie. I'm going to put you in jail for a long, long time."
"The state has the power to compel," Alexanders said softly. "It can put people in jail, it can keep them there, but it can't dictate morality. Jail doesn't fully correlate with guilt."
It wasn't the direction Booth expected, but he could go with it. "We found your suit David, and your fancy little sailor's knife. Eventually we'll get a warrant to test your DNA against the samples we collected. The best thing you can do right now is tell us your side before it gets to that point."
Alexanders sat, mute, staring into his corner. Booth stood, and let the danger seep through him. The success that could come out of this, and the failure. All hinged on what he did next. The breath and blood and brain of him sweet and smooth.
"Hakim," he said broke the silence. Alexanders jerked.
"He shouldn't have died," he said. "He was a good man. He was my friend, there was no reason for him to die."
"No," Booth agreed, but his dead stirred anyway. A young man he'd tried to save. Another young man he'd shot. Behind The chevrons on the wall dug into his shoulders. "A solider should never had to die at his own hand. Never."
"Master Sergeant Booth, United States Army," Alexanders recited in a flat voice. "Recipient of the Bronze Star; recipient of the meritorious Service Medal; recipient of the Purple Heart." Booth felt it creep over his skin, but the other man gave a tiny shrug. "I know how to do research."
"Were talking about Hakim," Booth said again. This time Alexanders hunched in on himself a little.
"Stop saying his name."
"He was better than you, standing there in your little FBI suit, spouting the party line. Hakim was nothing like you. He stood on his own; he was a man."
"Each according to his ability," Booth said slowly, groping towards something that was still a long way off, down a deep tunnel. It was fighting to be born, though. Thrashing in the darkness. At the table, Alexander's head twisted a little further away.
"Man is disturbed not by things, but the views he takes on them," Alexanders quoted softly. "The world is disturbed by monsters, Agent Booth. Vilifies their actions, condemns their bodies, consigns their souls to the darkness. Sometimes, though, the world needs monsters."
"Dana Marquez," Booth said slowly, letting each syllable round off his tongue. He was so close. It ached inside him. "Samuel Klemm."
"No," Alexanders shook his head sharply. "Luz Marquez, Alexis Klemm. I provided the stressor, studied the results. No random variables, no noise in the system. Just pure data. I have no empathy, I'm incapable of forming a bond or feeling the horror. It was my responsibility."
"You were doing human experimentation." Booth said. "Using them without their consent, just like the Nazi's."
"Yes, the Nazi's. Also the Japanese, Russians, Americans. Modern knowledge of how the human body reacts to freezing comes almost exclusively from Dr. Rachers' experiments during World War II. The United States' data on biological warfare came from the pardoning of the Japanese physicians of Unit 731. Our own sweet U.S. Public Health Service ran their famous syphilis study in Tuskegee.
"They'll spend decades arguing about the ethicacy, but in the end they'll use the data. Because they are good people, who want to ease the suffering of their patients. I used my special talent to serve the world, Agent Booth. Hakim taught me; now there'll never be another Hakim."
It was a confession. The killer caught, justice eminent, but he couldn't stop. He couldn't. He couldn't.
"Why did you made the donations?"
"Solider's get their name carved into a wall, for their sacrifice. Do you think the children deserve anything less?"
A name carved in a wall, in exchange for all the things that were taken away. A future, a family, a life. Not fair for a child. Not fair for anyone. Booth felt that spread across his brain. He breathed in. Breathed out.
"Alexanders," he put his palms on the table, leaned closer. Alexanders looked towards him expectantly. Booth fixed the words, flung them as hard as he'd ever propelled a fixed bayonet. "They'll never use your data. Never.
"It's flawed. Total crap. The sample size is too small, the procedures sloppy, the results un-reproducible. There's no conclusion. No help. You tortured, and you killed, and nothing has come from it. You're name isn't going on a wall, David. It's not going down in the history books. It's dying with a needle in it's arm."
Across from him, Alexanders was suddenly breathing heavily. Chest heaving as his knuckles went white against the table edge. His face, no longer smooth was twisted into an animal snarl.
"No," he said, but his voice shook. His head jerked back and forth. "No!"
Booth took his hands off the table. Stood up. Walked across the room. He was gentle with the door, shutting it with a tiny click. When he looked up, Bones was standing in front of him.
He looked at her, and felt it all pressing down. Her rejection, and her acceptance. David Alexanders, and Luz Marquez, and October Hadley. Teddy Parker who he had tried to save, the nameless targets that he had killed. He felt them, and he didn't try to hide it from her.
"Booth," she said, holding her hand out to him. Her gaze didn't waver, and inside her eyes he could see oceans. He looked down at her hand. The distal, middle, and proximal phalanges. Attached to the metacarpals, then the carpals. The arm bones attached to the shoulder bones attached to the brain.
It might be years before she told him she loved him, but that didn't mean the condition didn't exist. Didn't mean she wouldn't show him. He took her hand.
"Are you okay?" She asked. There was a line working into her forehead. Akin to the worry line, but not one he had seen before. It was new, and it was for him. Her worry for a lover.
"Yeah, Bones," he squeezed the hand she had offered him, "I'm good."
It was true.
A/N: Here ends the story, imagine reader. My goal was to get it finished before the premier of season six. So, I'm only a year late. Thank you to anyone who gave this story a second chance, and to anyone who reviewed, or put this on their favorites list.
Second Disclaimer: I gave the bad guy Aspergers. Yup, I did. The show's creators have often hinted that Brennan is on the spectrum of autism, and the idea really caught my imagination. I wanted to explore the idea, so I created a story where lack of acceptance created a monster. I hope I did it with sensitivity, and not brutality. Absolutely no offense was intended.
Where in the world? 38º 20' 14"N, 076º 26' 27"W