a/n: It's kind of long and kind of horrible. Sorry for taking so long to update. I have plenty of excuses but I don't think you want to hear them. This chapter's from Booth's pov. Thanks to all the people that alerted, favorited, and reviewed! Enjoy. c:
I'm practically in my car before our conversation is over. I mean, yeah, the kid's sometimes annoying as hell - the way he just picks at you until he gets what he wants out of you. It's annoying, but he's a good kid. And he's a shrink, so I guess that's to be expected of. He's been trained to pick at people's heads. I just - I don't know. I like him. After Gordon Gordon and Bones had the idea to compare scars, so to speak, he's been around a lot more. I wasn't all into that, because I'm not one of those touchy-feely guys, not like Sweets. But I guess it's sort of nice having someone look up to you like that. And he's just a kid, so he shouldn't have to be alone.
And yeah, Sweets turned out to be an essential part of our team. I mean, I can't even count the number of cases we solved with his help. He's a bright kid, that's for sure. And since he's one of my people, he should not be calling me. Not like this, anyway. He should be calling, asking to meet up for lunch at the diner tomorrow or maybe to ask for some girl advice. Not that I particularly like helping him with his girlfriends and their problems because there's always this kind of kicked-puppy-esque flair to him and I hate it. Twelve year olds should not be allowed to look unhappy. But still, I'd rather deal with a broken heart than this...whatever this is. Nobody messes with my people. That asshole better not be bothering him again, 'cause if he is, I'm going to teach him a lesson or two. No doubt about that.
I'm not sure what exactly has happened to him, but geeze, I've never heard Sweets sound so...I don't know...vulnerable before. How can someone just hurt somebody like that and then go on with their day? It's disgusting. Sounds to me like he's been mugged. And honestly, if he's where I think he is, he's not in a great part of town. It's a pretty common thing over there, but still. He's just a kid, damnit. Just thinking about it makes me a thousand times angrier.
I don't buckle my seatbelt until my keys are in the ignition and I'm already pulled out of my parking spot. He's probably hurt. I mean, obviously he's gonna be a little shaken up after all this. Being mugged is certainly not fun, and Sweets isn't exactly a macho man. He's tall, but he's scrawny and he's kind of a nerd. People like him get used to being bullied in school growing up, but that's not really the point. In a real fight, I don't think he's got too much of a chance.
He's out there, all by himself and he doesn't have anyone else to call. Obviously he doesn't want to call Daisy. I mean, nothing worse than your girlfriend having to pick you up after you've just been assaulted, right? God, I really hope I'm right about where he is. I don't know what I would do if I was wrong.
I toss my cellphone onto the passenger seat as I speed down the DC streets, as quickly as I can without killing anyone or being pulled over. I'll be damned if that kid dies right there. My people do not die. My people do not get messed with, so I'm wondering why this even happened in the first place. Anyone in their right mind would know not to mess with my people. I'm thinking maybe this person wasn't in their right mind, afterall. Lotsa crazies around there. I'm so thankful I've got this job, putting people like that in the place where they belong. In prison.
"All right, Mac's Donuts..." I think aloud. I remember passing by that place before. It's been a while but I do have a pretty good memory. So, if I follow this street, it should lead me there...
God, what am I going to do if he's got some part of his body dangling by a thread? What if he's been stabbed or shot or something? Or worse, what if he's crying? I mean, not that I could really blame him or anything but seriously, I'm not one of those guys that can just watch someone break down. If that kid loses it in front of me, what am I supposed to do? I don't want to make things awkward, but I just don't think I can handle it. I couldn't handle anyone crying, let alone a twelve year old.
By the time I'm approaching the suspected street, my adrenaline is pumping through my veins and my heart is imitating SpeedRacer. I'm worried, and I admit I'm nervous about what I'm going to find. If I find him dead or something it's gonna be all my fault. I caught a bunch of red lights. And if I don't find the kid at all, well, that's even worse because I've got no way of reaching him and he really didn't sound too good when I talked to him on the phone.
Oh, I think this is the place. Yeah, Mac's Donuts. He said he was down the street by an alley, right...?
It's so dark when I drive by that it's almost impossible to tell if there's anyone there at all. The headlights from my car give me enough light to deduct that there's nothing of interest and drive towards the next alley. God, where is he? He's supposed to be - there! I think that's him. I squint my eyes at the figure and wonder if it's just a bum. But no, I could recognize that twelve year face anywhere. Even if he doesn't look much like himself right now.
"Sweets?" I call out the window. I see him turn to look at me, and I park the car right there on the side of the street in a hurry. I undo my seat belt, hop out of the vehicle, and make my way over to him. He's sitting on top of a bunch of garbage bags. From what little I can gather, I know he could definately be in better shape. "Sweets?" I ask again.
"A-agent Booth..." He sounds shocked that I'm here, that I actually came for him, but he sounds relieved.
"Jesus, Sweets. What happened to you?"
He doesn't say anything, so I assume he doesn't have a real answer. I look him over, noting the damage done. His hand is cradling his side and I wince at the trail of blood falling from his hairline. I need to know the extent of his injuries but it's too dark over here to actually see everything. I have an inkling he's worse than I think.
I give him a look that reads 'You don't have to say anything', mostly because I'm not sure he can and move to help him up. "All right, c'mon. Let's get you up. Let's get you out of here." As soon as he's standing, he's in much more pain and groaning through his teeth. "Easy, easy. All right? You're all right."
He struggles to stay on his feet and he's practically a dead weight in my arms. I support him as I slowly help him over to my car, hoping to God that he's still with me. I peel the door open and deposit him into the passenger seat as carefully as I can. His eyes widen in pain but all I can do is give him a sympathetic look and a quick, "Easy, all right? You're gonna be fine."
But then he turns and looks at me with this horrible look. It's not nearly as appreciative as the one I'd gotten when I first arrived. It's more dark, more ashamed, more ridiculous looking to me because he's not the one that should be feeling guilty about anything. "Sorry," is what he says. I swear to God, if this kid is blaming himself for this...I might just have to kill him myself. "I didn't know who else to call."
I want to smack him and tell him to shut up and stop being stupid, but I don't. I just shake my head and reply so quickly and firmly that it startles him. "Dont-don't do that, all right? You've got no reason to be sorry." I animate my hands for emphasis. "You did the right thing calling me, you got that? You did the right thing." And with that said, I promptly shut the door without giving him a chance to think of a response.
What, does he think I don't care or something? Did he actually think I wasn't going to show? Because if he didn't think I'd show then he wouldn't have called me. But I guess he's just embarassed or ashamed or something, which I understand. It makes me feel all weird inside because this is not how things should be. He should not be feeling this way. He shouldn't think of himself being pathetic or a burden or anything like that. He's just been mugged, I mean, that happens to the best of us. It's not his fault. Hearing his words seem to physically hurt my ears. They anger me.
I climb into the car, and awkwardly help him with his seatbelt. I know it's going to be uncomfortable for him but if I'm gonna be trying to get him to the nearest hospital, I'm gonna be driving like a maniac. If we crash, the last thing I need is for him to fly out the window. "Sorry," I mumble as I sink back into my own seat and slip my own seatbelt on. "I know it hurts, but you've gotta wear it."
He doesn't look happy but he doesn't complain. He's just too quiet for my liking. "All right, let me see." I demand as soon as I'm buckled in, pulling on his seatbelt strap and pressing lightly against the side of his chest. He seethes through the pain, and I announce, "Looks like you've got a few broken ribs. It's nothing we can't get fixed up, all right?" I slip a hand in between his back and the car seat and push him forwards just enough to slip the strap behind his back. At least this way he won't be in too much pain and I'll be satisfied with him strapped in safely over his lap. "Okay, you good? We ready to go?"
He nods and leans his head back against the headrest. I waste no time starting the car. I might be more ready to go than he is.
The car ride over to the hospital proves to be very quiet. It's not really like one of those awkward silences, though. Well, it's kind of awkward for me, but I'm not sure if he's lucid enough to notice it. He seems to be taking comfort in having a familiar face around. I definately would too, after what he's been through. Even though I'm supposed to be watching the road, my eyes seem more preoccupied with the young man slouched beside me. His eyes are shut, his breaths are coming in short gasp-like-things, and I'm worried that he's passed out.
He doesn't respond. My heartrate quickens instantly, and I reach a hand over to jostle his shoulder. His haunted chocolate eyes open, startled, and land on me. I don't even have to force a smile. I thank the Lord that he's still alive.
"Hey, you gotta stay awake, all right? Eyes open."
I get the tiniest of nods from him and reposition my hand on the steering wheel. I'm no expert but I do know a thing or two about head injuries. I play hockey. I've encountered my fair share of concussions, and my fair share of watching over people with concussions of their own. If there's one thing I know very well, it's that you do not fall asleep with one. We pass a few moments in silence. I can tell he's struggling to keep his eyes open. He needs a distraction. I say the first thing that comes to mind.
It takes his head a little longer than I'd like for him to realize that I'm speaking to him. He turns to me and frowns. "What?"
"Potato. Yeah, I wanted to have a baked potato for dinner today." He looks at me and manages to pull off the whole what-the-hell-you-talking-about? face despite him being broken. The side of my mouth twitches, urging to smirk, and I continue, "But I didn't have time. I haven't eaten dinner yet. I'm starving."
He raises an eyebrow at me and mumbles a simple, "Okay", his voice betraying exhaustion.
"Would you...like to go eat a potato with me some day?"
"Eat a potato?"
"Yeah, eat a potato. You know...with some hot butter, some sour cream. Some cheese drizzled on top. That kind of thing." He gives me another little nod but says nothing. He might be out of it, but he still thinks I sound crazy. I take that as a good sign. I continue, "Yeah? Good. That's good. We'll invite Bones, too. How's that?"
He doesn't nod this time. He just exhales and leans his head back against the headrest. His expression, his look, everything about him makes my own body hurt. He's in so much pain, I can almost feel it myself. I think everyone can feel it. When he shuts his eyes, I know I've failed, and have to try even harder. He's not going to leave me, now.
I get nothing back.
"I don't feel so good," he answers, with his eyes still closed. I glance back between him and the road a few times.
"I know. But you gotta stay awake, all right? Don't fall asleep." All he does is groan a little. "Open your eyes, come on."
"I know, buddy. Just open your eyes for now, okay? We're almost to the hospital."
He does so, but I can tell it's not easy for him. "Am I dying?"
"What? No! No, no. You're not dying."
"It feels like I'm dying."
"No. Sweets, you're not dying, okay? Don't talk like that. You listen to me. You're gonna be fine." Jesus, where is this coming from? He's in that much pain? "All right? Just fine."
I'm tempted to make it a promise, because I know he's not going to die. I don't think he even thinks he's going to die, really. Not when he's about to get some serious help. I know he doesn't believe that. It's just something he's saying because he doesn't know what else to say. He's scared, his brain isn't working right. I don't blame him for saying something like that, because to be honest, he doesn't look much better off than the dead. He looks like a zombie or something. But still, him saying things like that just freaks me out.
He closes his eyes again. I'm afraid he's going to almost fall asleep again, but before I can nudge him awake, he re-opens them. It happens again. A long, slow blink. He's fighting it, and that's enough to keep me satisfied.
Attaboy, Sweets. "Hey, we're almost there. All right? Almost."
Yeah, his nod tells me. We better be. I know he won't last any longer than a minute or two, if even that. I'm praying that he does, but his chances seriously don't look too good. Everytime he blinks, it takes longer for his eyes to open again. And when they do, I can see them sort of glazed over. He's awake, but he's not really with me. I don't think he's been with me at any point in time since I found him. But part of him is there, and I'm going to save that part of him as long as I have to.
The next time I see those drowzy brown eyes open, it's almost an hour later. He lost the battle with sleep as soon as we arrived to the hospital. At least then, I didn't have to worry about it too much. Not that I didn't worry, because it drove me up the wall when he finally stopped answering my pointless questions with a nod yes or no. But at least he was in the hands of trained medical professionals, who knew exactly what to do. While the staff tended to Sweets, I was chosen to fill out the necessary paperwork. I couldn't fill in every answer, because to be honest, I don't know all that much about Sweets. I mean, I know him well enough but not much about his family, or medical history or things like that. I did what I could do and knew that I could do nothing more. Except be there for him, when he finally came to.
So that leaves us, here - in his own little reserved area, with a bed, and a curtain surrounding it for privacy. He's got wrappings around his bare chest, a patch over the gash on his forehead, which ended up needing a few stitches. The rest of his body is bruised, and scraped but otherwise he's doing fine. They've got him cleaned up, hooked up to machines to monitor him, to relieve him from the pain. When he looks at me, I can tell he's confused, but his appearance alone allows me to release a breath I never knew I was holding. He doesn't look great, but he's not hurting like he was before. We're both content with that.
"Hi," he blinks at me. I smile.
"Hey, Sweets. How you feelin'?"
"Like I just been mugged..."
I almost want to laugh at that, but I stop myself. It's not a laughing matter, and I know that very well, because he's here lying in a hospital bed. But there's no way to express just how relieved I feel. I give him a sympathetic smile, but I don't say anything. He waits a moment, until he feels lucid enough, then looks over his injured body.
"Oh, God. I look like a mummy." He manages to produce a weak smile, and I return it without hesitation.
"Yeah, you do." I begin to explain, "They had to wrap you up. You fractured two ribs. And you got a few stitches up there," I say, waving my index finger over his forehead. His eyes try to follow me, until he realizes that he can't really see all the way up there. I smirk for the moment, then try to look serious again. "Got yourself a nice bonk on the head, too." He won't be able to head-bang to death metal for a while. Bummer, because I think this counts as a bad day.
"But, I'm going to be ok?"
"Yeah. You're gonna be fine."
"I'm not missing any legs, am I?"
Fortunately, "All your limbs are intact, I promise."
"Good. That's good," He nods. He smiles again, and his eyes sneak closed. "When can I get out of here?"
"As soon as the doctor says it's all right. They said they wanted to keep you overnight for observation, but-"
"No," he interrupts.
"I don't want to stay here," he tells me. He firmly shakes his head no, then seemingly decides that the motion is not helping him at all. He winces for just a second as he forces his exhausted eyes open, to glance at me.
"Yeah, well, you don't got much of a choice..." I scoff.
"But you said yourself I'm going to be fine, didn't you?"
"Yeah. But you don't get to leave unless the doc gives you an ok. You understand?"
"But I'm all better now."
I laugh. Is he actually trying to argue with me? "You really need to look in a mirror, Sweets. You're not better. You're just alive."
"With all limbs intact, Agent Booth. I feel fine."
"No, you don't feel fine, Sweets. All right? That's just the drugs talkin'," I point out. He obviously doesn't like my answer. "Look, I want you out of here as much as you want yourself out of here, buddy, but until the doctor says that he thinks you should leave, you better make yourself comfy. 'Cause we are staying."
"Yeah, well, you didn't think I was gonna just leave you here alone, did you?" He better say no. He frowns, although I'm not entirely sure what the reason is. There's a few moments of silence, as he does some thinking.
And then, "I'm old enough to sign myself out."
"Of course you're not. You're twelve."
He rolls his eyes in annoyance, but by the way the corners of his mouth are twitching, I know he finds it amusing. I'm winning, and he hates it. This is a really good sign.
"Just settle in, all right?" I suggest, flipping through the channels on the muted television. "One of the nurses should be in here soon to check on your concussion, so you might as well get some rest in while you can." He stares at me as if he's waiting for me to continue. I exhale tiredly and add, "And, then I'll talk to her about letting you go. All right? Satisfied?"
"Yeah, I'm satisfied."
"Good. Now get some rest."
"Ok," he mumbles. His eyes close for a nano-second, then he calls for my attention again. "Agent Booth?"
"Yeah?" I ask, peeling my eyes away from the Tom and Jerry playing on the television.
I nod, because I don't want to tell him he's welcome. He is, and he knows that, but I just don't want to say it. I'm not done yet. I would have done this all even if he hadn't thanked me, anyway. He shouldn't even need to, because he's one of my people and it's just my job. I'm assuming he knows that, now. He continues to stare at me with a mixture of emotions etched on his tired face, so I motion for him to get some rest and turn back to the television, leaving no room for argument.
When I look back a minute later, his eyes are shut and he's resting peacefully. I take the moment to look him over. His chest is rising and falling consistently, and he appears to be at ease. He's far from okay, but he's doing better. Still, I don't want to tell him that he's welcome. Because that would mean my job was complete, and as far as I can tell, my job's just barely getting started.
"Has the interior of your car always been this color?" He asks me, when I help him into the passenger seat. I glance around the vehicle for a second and wonder just how delirious he's going to get. They gave him something to manage the pain, and while that really seems to be working fine, it also seems to be making him a bit loopy. It's kind of funny actually, but he's still just so tired that it makes it ten times worse.
"Yeah. Put your seatbelt on." I command him, before I shut the door and walk around to the driver's side. I take my seat, watch for a few moments as he struggles to get buckled in, then do it for him. He looks annoyed, like he wanted to prove that he could do something himself, but I ignore it. I simply do as I had done earlier, slip the strap behind his back, then move to get myself buckled in safely. He breathes a sigh and leans back in the car seat, exhausted. I do the same.
He's wearing my suit jacket, but to be honest, I'm not even sure he notices. His was covered in some blood and had a small tear in it. I couldn't let him leave the hospital looking trashy or anything, right? He looks bad enough as it is. The least I could do was save him some dignity. I start the car, and glance at him one more time. His head is leaned back but he's staring out the window, mesmerized by the way the moonlight is shining through the clouds. He's suddenly extremely quiet. I have no idea what he's thinking, but I give him his space, and start driving. I have a feeling he needs it.
Two silent minutes later, he turns away from the window. I glance at him from the corner of my eyes, watching as his face produces a frown. Concerned, I ask him, "You all right, Sweets?"
"He took my things."
I look between him and the road, trying my best not to crash. "You said you only had like, forty dollars on you. That's not so bad," I encourage. Something's got him seriously upset. I'm not sure if it's the money or not. I mean, if it means that much to him, I'll reimburse him for it all. It's not that big of a deal.
"I don't care about the money."
Well, that clears it up. Unfortunately, I'm more confused than ever. "All right then, what is it? Is it your phone? Because all you gotta do is call the phone company, and they'll handle it." He shakes his head, but he still doesn't look at me. I furrow my eyebrows, racking my brain to give me ideas. "Well, then what? What is it?"
He doesn't answer. He just looks as spaced out as ever. I'm not sure what to blame for that: the concussion, the drugs, or this. Whatever this is. He's thinking about something, hard. Or at least he's trying to. I understand completely why he might not be able to focus, but the more time that goes by without an answer, the more distressed he looks.
He doesn't acknowledge me. He's lost in his thoughts, somewhere. It's starting to worry me.
"Hey, Sweets. What, what's going on? What are you doing?"
He blinks, "He took my wallet."
Okay, what? This kid doesn't make any sense. Didn't he just say he didn't care about the money? I look as confused as I sound, "I thought you didn't care about the money?"
"I don't," he assures me.
But it doesn't reassure me of anything. It sounds like he means it, but now I'm totally lost. Was it some kind of special edition Star Wars collectable wallet, or something of that valuable nature? Because that I will believe. I won't even ask any more questions, 'nuff said.
"You want to be any more mysterious, then? 'Cause I have no idea what you're talking about."
"I had things in my wallet."
"Okay, now we're getting somewhere. What kind of things?"
"Personal things," He finally decides to say, after I get no immediate answer. I can tell how carefully he's chosen his words. But why? What's so significant? Is there something I'm missing?
"And by personal things, you mean...?"
"I had a picture in there."
"Oh," Okay, interesting. But what exactly does that mean? "A picture, huh? What kind of picture?"
"It was a photo..."
"You know, changing the word doesn't give me any more of an answer." I share, pointedly. I honestly can't tell whether he's doing this to stall or not, but I'm getting kind of impatient. He's upset about a photo?
"It was a photo of my parents," he reluctantly explains. He avoids eye contact with me, he just stares forward out the windshield. "It was the last picture they gave me. It was the only picture I had left..."
I frown at his expression. I'm even starting to feel a little depressed myself. It's hard not to, when he looks like that. I never want to see that face again. Just like Fisher. That guy has some serious problems. You just can't help but be depressed around that guy.
I remember what Wyatt told me and Bones. Sweets' adoptive parents both died just before he started working at the Bureau. And within weeks of eachother, I think. That had to be unbearable. I personally know what it's like to have people care about you, to love you, when noone else did. Relationships with those kind of people are special, the bonds unbreakable. This kid had to go through losing them both, around the same time. Alone. I can't even begin to imagine...
I turn to face the road for a second, just to make sure I'm not about to kill us both, and exhale. Wow. Ok, what am I supposed to say to that? Did I not say that I can't handle people breaking down right next to me? I glance at him again and this time there are tears, barely hidden behind his eyes. Damn, he's going to cry. I don't want him to cry. "Hey..." I try. I can't just sit here and do nothing.
He doesn't respond. He doesn't even look at me. He turns his head the other way and stares out the window. He's embarassed. "Sweets. Look at me." He doesn't. None too hesitantly, I reach my hand over and place it on his shoulder, giving him a little squeeze. He actually flinches for a second, and I'm afraid I've done something wrong, but then he relaxes. I told you, I'm no good with things like this. I don't know what to do. "Look at me," I say, a little more firmly.
Finally, he does what he's told. He turns his head towards me but his eyes are cast down, more interested in the cupholders than in me. I give his shoulder a little shake, careful not to hurt him, and he knows what I mean. Slowly, his eyes move up to meet mines and I know I don't have much time. I begin to speak, even though I have absolutely no idea what to say. "I'm sorry about that. Ok? I really am." Ok, I'm not sure how comforting that is, but I really am trying. It's better than saying please don't cry, man, you're bringing me down. Right?
"But you're all right, and that's all that really matters..."
But he's not all right, I can tell just by looking at him. I hope I don't come off as insensitive. I have feelings, I know the wrong things to say so I don't say them, but I'm not really sure I know the right things, either. Sweets, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have a problem expressing his feelings. That's fine, some people are like that. But he's also still kind of secretive about things. He's hard to understand. Kind of like me, in a way. I see a younger version of Special Agent Seeley Booth in him somewhere, but don't expect me to say that because I won't.
Though I'm not sure if he took any solace in my words, he gives me a nod. I let go of his shoulder and he stares straight ahead, again. Did that help at all? It doesn't look like it really helped.
"Sorry," he says again.
Whoa, whoa. No. Why is he apologizing? Again? This is exactly why I hate doing this kind of stuff, I always mess everything up. I double-take, still remembering that I'm trying to drive us somewhere. Did I make him think it was his fault? That I was mad at him or something? Because he can be upset about the picture if he wants. It's his picture, his loss! Let him be upset.
"What? No...Stop, all right?" I sputter, with guilt and disbelief. "Stop apologizing. I don't like it when you apologize for nothing."
He wants to apologize for apologizing out of turn, and again I'm not sure how to fix this. He nods to show me he understands, and I can only hope he does. Because I don't think he really does. He keeps blaming himself for everything. He keeps pretending like he believes he's such a nuisance to me. Yeah, I don't want to deal with this but not because I hate him. It's because I hate seeing my people hurt. What the hell's wrong with him? Again, I want to smack him so badly just so he gets that he's so severely wrong. He's usually never wrong about anything, so this is kind of new.
The car goes quiet and I know he's not up for a conversation, anymore. I want to talk to him, but I decide against it. Just let him cool off, let him think about things. I need to do those things, too. I still want to hit him.
A few minutes later, he breaks the silence. His head follows a street sign outside the window, but he still doesn't look at me. He sounds very confused. "You missed the turn."
I'm confused, too. "No, I didn't."
"Yes, you did." He sounds so sure of himself. He looks at me. I look back.
"No, I didn't, Sweets." I say a little more strongly.
He frowns. He says with eyebrows furrowed, "But my apartment is that way..."
What? Oh, I hope for his sake he did not just say what I think he said. "What? We're not going to your apartment."
Okay, now I'm officially furious. He thinks after all this I'm going to just dump him off at his place? I'm going to be honest here, I'm actually offended. First he apologizes for calling me. Which he shouldn't have done because I was the right person to call. Then he apologizes for being upset in front of me, which is kind of appreciated, but still. It's not right. And now, he expects me to just leave him at his place and get him out of my hair? No way. Is that what he seriously thinks of me? Does he think I'm that low?
"We're not?" I've never heard anyone sound more confused. Ever.
I look angry, and I'm sorry for that, but I just can't help it. I'm really, really mad. "No, we're not going to your apartment." I almost yell. "Why would you think we were going to your apartment?"
He blanches at my tone. Oh God, I'm scaring him.
"Wh...I don't..." he recoils. "I don't know. I just thought..."
"You listen to me, Sweets. All right? Are you listening?" He nods, obediently. I continue, "Don't...don't..." Wow, I'm actually too mad to speak. I hold my hand out, shake my head and try to say something while I still have his attention. I exhale, "Don't ever think about things like that. Do you understand me? You don't think like that, you don't say things like that. You don't do it again, you got it?"
I think he understands me, but at the same time he just looks confused. Like, he's asking himself why I'm so mad at him for asking a question. He doesn't think it's all that bad what he said, but he's dead wrong about that. He doesn't know why he's in trouble.
He nods. "Yeah, sorry."
And now that I think of it, I don't think he understands me at all. Maybe I wasn't clear enough. No, I definately wasn't. I'm not sure I even made any sense to him. I just kind of went off and expected him to get it. He's got a concussion, for God's sake. I'm not doing this right, I'm not thinking.
"Sweets," I sigh. "I'm sorry. You're not the one who should be apologizing, ok? That's supposed to be me. And that's supposed to be that asshole who did this to you." That gets his attention. I continue a little softer, "I just...I don't want to hear you assume things like that. All right?" Because assuming makes an ass out of you and me, my English teacher used to say. "We're not going to your apartment. You've a concussion, remember? You can't just deal with that on your own."
He's stunned, I can tell. "Thank you. But, I could have called Daisy..."
"No offense, Sweets. But I'm sure as hell not gonna leave you with Daisy, all right? She's gonna be yapping it up and your head's just gonna feel worse."
He smiles. After everything that's happens, he actually smiles. I smile, too, because I'm relieved he finally gets me. Maybe I'm not so bad at this, after all...
The record stops. "But then, where are we going?"
If he didn't have a head injury, I'd yell at him for not using his brain. "You're gonna stay with me at my apartment, all right? Where I can keep an eye on you."
And he's content with that. Maybe a little shocked, but I know I said the right thing and I know now that he does actually get me. I watch him, as he leans back in his seat and just takes it all in, like if there's a ton of information to compute. I glance between him and the road, because for a second there I almost forgot I was driving. When he speaks again, it's not much louder than a whisper.
Again, I nod. I'm not done here yet. I'm not sure if I ever will be.
"I'll wake you up in a few hours," I tell him, as he settles into the couch. I'm proud to say I got us home safe and in one piece. He nods and mm-hm's and dives deeper into the blanket I gave him. He actually looks comfortable. I don't know how he does it. Must be because he's young, but he's tall, and his body is pretty banged up. That gives him plenty reason to be uncomfortable. I'm not going to question it, though. As long as he's good, I am.
"Ok. Get some rest, all right?" That won't be any problem, since he's practically out already. "If you need something, you just call me."
Again, I'm rewarded with an appreciative nod. I clap him on the shoulder for a few seconds, then release him. I set the television remote on the coffee table in front of the couch, and tell him, "Night, Sweets."
"Goodnight," he mumbles back, tiredly.
If I said he looked young before, then I take it back. Curled up on my couch in one of Parker's spiderman blankets, he literally looks twelve. It's so strange to see. He tries so hard to make himself come off older, which I guess is partly my fault, because I do give him a lot of crap for being young. But he really is a kid, and he looks it, and it's really kind of funny I want to grab my camera and take a picture for blackmail. But I don't.
I trudge over to the kitchen table, and instinctively grab my cell phone. It rung a few times earlier, but I was too busy getting Sweets settled in for the night. I flip it out and see two new voicemails from Bones. I've even got three text messages from her. I hit my speed dial and grab a chair to sit in.
Despite how late it is, she answers. "Booth!" She doesn't sound tired at all. In fact, she sounds relieved.
I run a hand down by face, guilty about not answering her before. I speak quietly, so I don't infere with Sweets' sleep. "Hey, Bones."
"Where have you been? You were supposed to meet me at the diner after you finished your paperwork. Did you forget?"
Oh, crap. I totally forgot about that. How could I have forgotten about that? I wince, "Gee, Bones. I'm sorry. Something important came up."
"It's ok," she forgives. "Are you all right? I was worried about you."
"Yeah, yeah. I'm fine." Just completely exhausted, but I don't understand how anyone wouldn't be after a night like this. I peer back over to the couch, where Sweets has officially knocked out, and smirk. I don't want to tell her about what's happened, because she doesn't need to hear it at this hour. She's already had enough time to worry. "Hey, Bones. I was thinking. You wanna go out for dinner with me and Sweets, tomorrow? I'm kind of in the mood for baked potatoes."