A/N: We've loved Bones since the beginning, but have never really felt the need to write about it until now. Watching the whole series a second time through (Netflix is awesome) makes us realize that there's some stuff missing. How did Sweets go from being accused to murder to a baby duck? Plus, we just love beating on our favorite characters.
"Grief is the price we pay for love." Elizabeth II
"Agent Booth, we need you over here!"
Booth wiped his sleeve across his forehead, taking off at a jog in the direction of the newest yell. Here in this disaster, it seemed like his name was being called every few minutes, as one junior agent or another asked him about proper procedure. He didn't mind acting as a mentor to these younger guys, and was flattered that they felt they could confide their difficulties getting used to the process in him, but if one more kid screamed his name from across the yard…
And he wasn't in a great mood to begin with. On one of his precious few days off – a day he'd been planning on spending with Parker at the zoo – all the FBI agents available had been hauled in when the ceiling of Whispering Willows, a loony bin, had collapsed, freaking out the mental patients and causing chaos as crazies and their doctors tried to get out of the structurally unsound building.
Luckily, they'd gotten almost everyone out, thanks to an air duct and some pretty small agents that ferried patients back and forth. Doctors were delivering sedatives to the more distraught patients, and the shrill screams that had chilled Booth to the bone when he first arrived were thankfully fewer and further between.
"What is it, Agent Rossi?" He asked, pulling up short at the air duct. "I thought we had all the patients out."
"Yeah. He's the last one." The kid shoved a thumb in the direction of a lost-looking young man shaking in the huge arms of a nurse. "But now the guy's stuck and he's asking for you."
What? Booth didn't know anyone crazy enough to be at Whispering Willows, let alone ask for him. "A patient?"
"Naw, the shrink who was helping us out. Name's…aww, I forget. Hey kid," Rossi called into the duct, so loudly that Booth winced as the voice bounced off the metal walls. "What's your name again?"
"Lance Sweets." Came an achingly familiar, pain-strained voice that literally brought Booth to his knees. He knelt in front of the air duct, trying to see down into the darkness.
"Hey, Sweets." He called, and if the military had taught him anything it was how to keep his voice relaxed and calm even when his heart rate had suddenly sped through the roof. Why was he not informed that the FBI's wunderkind psychologist was in the building when the ceiling collapsed? "Guess you won't be doing any outswork outside the FBI anymore, huh?"
"Hey, Booth." The voice was weaker, if possible, and frayed with pain and fatigue. For a desperate second Booth sized up the air duct and glanced at his own broad shoulders. No way he himself was fitting in there, but that didn't mean he couldn't try. "I heard you were around here somewhere."
"Yeah. Listen, kid, you gotta get out of there before I can help you. I don't know if any of my agents can fit in a tunnel this small."
There was silence, and for a terrified second Booth was sure that Sweets had passed out, then… "I'm…not sure I can move that far."
"How hurt are you?" Booth called, even as he turned to Rossi and lowered his voice. "Get me a flashlight, huh? And some rope. I don't think he's coming out under his own power." Rossi took off and Booth leaned into the duct as far as he could. "Sweets? Talk to me!"
But there was no answer.
Sweets was stuck in his head, trying desperately to block out the pain that was threatening to overwhelm him. After the ceiling collapsed, Carreen and Thatcher, the UFO nuts, had been sure that it was aliens coming to eat their brains, and, worse, that Sweets was an alien. They were the ones who had taken one of the twisted bars and stabbed him in the side with it….
And then the air duct, the thing he had miraculously seen through the dust and debris, was like their safe haven. Luckily, the patients that had been in group therapy that day were all thin wisps of things that could crawl through the tunnel easily, and with the help of three doctors and four nurses, they were able to corral the nine mental patients into the dark by use of force and subtle threats.
He was almost at the end of the air duct before he remembered Stanley, the nineteen-year-old who liked to hide in cabinets, who definitely was not ahead of him, on the way to safety. He went back, running on adrenaline and sheer will, sliding back out of the tunnel and crawling over to the cabinet.
Stanley had shot out like a bullet when the door to his hiding place was opened, and then weaved deftly between the wreckage and rubble, hopping into the air duct and motioning Sweets over to him. "C'mon, c'mon, they're coming!"
Who they were was anyone's guess, but Sweets was in no position to disobey an order to get out of a collapsing building. He pressed a hand against the hole in his side, hyper-aware of the ruby drops of blood he was leaving behind, a breadcrumb trail of pain. "Go on, Stanley!" He called, climbing with difficulty into the duct.
And then Stanley was yanking on his arm, probably only thinking he was helping, but crazy people, especially crazy people who think they're being attacked, are not known for adjusting how much force they use. Stanley pulled hard, and Sweets could hear the *pop* of his arm, loud like a gunshot, as it slid out of its socket.
That was the last straw. Stanley, good deed done, was banging off ahead, screaming about Them and Their Plan To Kill Him, leaving Sweets behind, adrenaline wearing off in the face of this new pain. He tried to crawl forward, knowing that at the other end was help and safety and, most importantly, pain medication, but he could not force his body to go those last hundred feet.
Now, Booth's voice was going in and out, like a badly tuned radio, and he knew that he should answer him, if only to keep the agent from worrying about him, but he couldn't bring himself to speak, and even the thought of crawling a little further made his stomach roll. He couldn't make it, not now…maybe in a few hours, after he had a chance to rest….
And all the time, blood spilled out from his side, coating the ground beneath him like the grains of sand in a timer, telling him that time was running out.
As the silence stretched on, Booth his worry climb like bile in his throat. "Sweets? Answer me. Sweets!"
"Agent Booth!" Rossi was back with the flashlight, an even younger agent at his side. This kid was tall and thin, and something about his face and the way he hunched his shoulders reminded Booth of the man that was currently stuck in the tunnel in front of him. "This is Geller. He volunteered to go in after the shrink."
"The guy's a hero." Geller piped up, his eyebrows knitted in worry. "If half the stuff the docs are saying about him is true, then he saved everyone in there. Damn shame he's the only one who got really hurt in all this."
"Yeah." Booth ground out, unwillingly relinquishing his spot in front of the air duct for the smaller agent, trying to wrap his head around the concept of geeky, mild Sweets being a hero. "Let me just tell him you're coming. Sweets!" He yelled this last word, a plea in the syllable. "Sweets!"
"Wha'?" The broken question came back, soft and pain-ridden, but this confirmation that Sweets was as least still well enough to talk made something small and warm bubble in Booth's chest.
"Someone's coming in for you. He'll help you out. Don't fight him, okay? He's one of the good guys." Booth knew all too well the instinct to lash out if you're injured, the propensity for the human brain to perceive help as enemies. Sweets deserved a fair warning, at least.
He didn't expect the next thing to come floating out of the dark tunnel to be even more frightened. "No, please…no…"
The fear in those words froze Booth to the spot, and he caught the worried looks of the two Junior agents next to him. What exactly was going on with Sweets in there?
The very thought of someone touching him right now made Sweets let out a very unmanly whimper of pain. He had not felt like this since those awful first years…and those were memories that carried with them the haze of childhood, and even excruciating pain is mellowed by years. He hadn't felt this pain in so long it was almost like he was feeling it for the first time.
Cowboy up. He thought to himself, his father's favorite expression (birth father, not his dad, not the Sweets' who had taken him in and saved his life) You know that this isn't enough blood to die from.
And, indeed, if he let himself become detached, clinical (and, God, separating himself from his body relieved the pain at least a little, and he was able to think rationally again) there was less blood under him than Before, than that time when he'd been beaten and left in the closet to die. That had been a lot of blood. This was…merely a flesh wound.
Great, now random Monty Python lines were coming to him in the middle of a potentially life threatening (and very, very painful) situation. He was definitely going into shock.
Still, he had enough presence of mind to remember Booth's promise that someone was coming in for him, and he knew that he didn't want that. Somehow, some way, he had to make it those last hundred feet (and it might as well be a hundred miles, for all Sweets could overcome them. His body was drenched in sweat, and his limbs were so tense with agony that event he thought of moving them, or rubbing them against anything at all, made phantom pains shoot up his limbs)
"I'm coming out." He called, the call more of a whisper, a groan. He pushed out with one leg, thrusting his hand against the wound, into the wound, gritting his teeth….but it didn't work. He yelled out anyway, pushing again, arms flailing, his body beating against the close walls of the tunnel, his shoulder jarring, hurting, searing pain with every impact…another push, another, and there was a light now, and a silhouette that was so Booth that the next cry Sweets gave was a little moan of relief.
He was within arm's length when he passed out cold, blood still dripping from his side.
Booth hadn't been able to see the damage until now, not really, but then suddenly Sweets was there, gasping for breath, eyes wide with pain and warm with relief Sweets recognized Booth sitting at the end of the tunnel like he'd promised.
When the kid passed out, Booth was able to just get his arm in to pull him out the rest of the way. The whole time he'd been thinking to himself that maybe it wasn't that bad, maybe the kid was just coughing up smoke or had twisted his ankle. When he pulled, he pulled on the arm that was dislocated, and the memory of grabbing the arm and having it come off of Sweets body at a 90 degree angle, with the psychologist totally limp behind it, would have Booth waking up in a cold sweat for weeks to come.
And then, when he finally, finally got Sweets (Sweets, who was now being called a hero, and what's up with that? Who said that the kid got to go and risk his life?) out of the air duct and onto solid ground…that's when he noticed the blood, glistening accusingly on the metal lip of the building, staining Sweets's skin.
"Oh…" That was Rossi, who had done the same route to the FBI Booth had, with a tour in Afghanistan where you see the product of IEDs and gun fights and torture. And he was surprised by this blood…
"Get a medic!" Booth snapped at him and the other kid, the one who was supposed to drag Sweets out before he somehow made it on his own power, a feat that Booth will never overlook, never forget.
Now, he just had to keep the young man alive until the cavalry arrived. "Hey, Sweets…" He shook the body slightly, sitting cross-legged on the hot ground, one hand pressed to his carotid artery, where he could feel the butterfly pulse of his heart, the other cradling Sweets's body like he was his eight-year-old son and not an accomplished grown man.
"'Sup, Booth?" Sweets said, cracking a small smile. And Booth loved him for that.
"Just a ceiling collapsing. Pretty boring day, actually." He had to keep Sweets awake. With blood loss like this, shock was a real fear. And Sweets's eyes were rolling back into his head, showing the whites. He jostled the kid again, eliciting a mostly-muffled scream this time. "I'm sorry…it'll be okay…I'm sorry…" he didn't know what he was saying. He moved his hand from Sweets's throat to the wound on his belly.
"Hey, talk to me, kid." Booth said, pressing hard against the wound to staunch the bleeding, to shock Sweets enough to stay awake. "What were you doing in there, huh? I thought you were FBI property."
To his credit, Sweets was fighting for a semblance of normalcy. He could have easily succumbed to the pain, to the bliss of the blackness that would carry him away from his ruined shoulder, his bleeding body. Instead, he fought for words, for a calm, controlled voice. "There are some people who appreciate psychology, Agent Booth…and they are not found in the FBI."
Well, that went a long way in making Booth feel like an ass. It made sense, of course…after constantly being teased, berated, criticized for his chosen profession, going to a place where shrinks actually helped put people back together must be rewarding. More rewarding than working with a sarcastic FBI agent and an emotionally stunted squint.
"Yeah, well…" He had to think fast, had to find a way to keep Sweets here for another few moments. "You didn't have to play hero. You could have gotten out yourself."
There was sincere puzzlement in the younger man's eyes. "One of my patients was left behind."
"A rescue crew would have gotten to him." Booth pointed out, pressing against the wound again. His hand was coated with blood already, and Sweets's face was getting paler by the second.
That was when Booth's heart felt like it was going to pound out of his chest. He could really lose Sweets here, in the nation's capitol, on safe soil. A young man could really die in his arms right now, a man that Booth didn't know he cared for so fiercely until just this moment.
"I needed to help him." Sweets said, hand fisting in Booth's shirt, leaving a bloody print on his regulation whites. "He was counting on me."
He appreciates me.
The words weren't said but Booth heard them anyway, loud and large in the breathless space between them, in the blood that ran from Sweets's side. This nameless patient appreciated what Sweets did, the fact that he put his heart into every one of his patients, the fact that Sweets loved them all so fiercely he couldn't bear to see them falter if he could help it.
"It's okay." Booth said, watching as Rossi ran back towards him, ambulance trailing behind him. "You did good, kid." Which was enough like I appreciate you, enough like don't die, Sweets, enough like I love you, man that maybe it counted, maybe it was enough to keep Sweets hanging on despite the pain and badness of the world.
Maybe it was enough to keep him alive.
Okay, so this will be maybe five or six one-shots long. A lot of Booth and Sweets stuff (because, really, there has to be a reason that Booth ragged on the guy in season three and went for him for advice in season 4. We're missing some stuff here).
Anyways, reviews are always and eternally appreciated.