AN: This is my first attempt at Bones fanfic and my first attempt at any fanfic in years (a few bad experiences soured me on the idea for a while). Please let me know what you think.
I don't own Bones. If I did Hannah would never have existed.
There's some violence in this story, though I tried not to make it too graphic.
The Moments in the Memories
Seeley Booth absently stroked the soft skin of his wife's ring-less hand as he watched the birds peck at the feeder hanging on the large maple just outside the window. Sunset was coming earlier each day and most of the branches were already bare. The birds were taking advantage of a hearty meal before beginning the next leg of their journey south and the rhythmic beep of the heart monitor provided a sort of musical accompaniment to the bird's flutters and jumps. He watched through the trees as an ambulance approached the hospital, emergency lights flashing. Though the thick pane of glass muted the sound of the sirens, he heard them in his memory as his mind drifted back…
Booth's government-standard SUV was too large to park on the narrow streets but he managed to find a place just one block west of the address displayed on his phone. As they walked along the cracked and weed-infested sidewalks, Booth kept Bones close, his sniper senses working overtime in the crime-riddled neighborhood. His FBI issued firearm was a reassuring weight in its holster.
"There it is." Brennan pointed to the end of the street. From the outside, the single story house looked old and was clearly in need of numerous repairs. A crude wooden ramp had been built over the porch steps and the boards creaked as the partners approached the door. Booth gave three solid knocks and Brennan watched a few paint chips detach themselves to land softly at their feet.
The door cracked open. "Yes, can I help you?" Bloodshot eyes peered out behind a chain at waist-level.
"Rebecca James?" Booth flashed a smile along with his badge, "I'm Special Agent Seeley Booth of the FBI. This is my partner Dr. Temperance Brennan of the Jeffersonian."
The door closed and they heard the sound of the chain being unlatched. The door opened fully to reveal a middle aged woman, her petite frame dwarfed by the size of her manual wheelchair.
"Yes, I'm Rebecca James. Is this about Geoffrey Whitmore?" Her voice was slightly unsteady.
"Yes ma'am. You've heard about his murder?"
"Yes," she said cautiously. "It was in the papers." Her eyes strayed from him to his partner and back again.
Booth nodded. "Well, we have some questions for you regarding your relationship with the deceased."
Mrs. James recoiled as if slapped. "Well, if all your questions are like that one, I don't see that I have anything to talk about with you. We didn't have a relationship. That young man got drunk and ran into me with his Porsche." She gripped the arm of her wheelchair. "Stuck me in this contraption for the rest of my life."
Brennan jumped in with an attempt to sooth the distraught woman. "We understand your reluctance to speak with us ma'am. You've clearly endured a traumatic event. Anthropologically, young males in a society such as ours often resist the responsibilities that accompany adulthood by frequently overindulging in the consumption of alcohol, among other things. Unfortunately it is often the weaker members of society that pay the price."
Mrs. James looked up at her in offended confusion. "Are you saying that it's normal for spoiled rich boys to run down older women?"
"No, of course not," Brennan attempted to defend her statements. "What I'm saying is-"
"Mrs. James," Booth cut off his partner unapologetically. "We just have a few questions we need you to answer."
Mrs. James took a deep breath and let it out with a sigh. "Yes, of course. He ran me down. That's a type of relationship I suppose. It'd be best if you come in. It's not the safest neighborhood, especially once the sun goes down." She motioned for them to follow her as she wheeled down a short hallway into a small living room.
With an open hand she gestured for them to take a seat on the shabby sofa. "What would you like to know?"
"Well ma'am," Booth began as he and Brennan settled themselves on the lumpy cushions. "When was the last time you had contact with Mr. Whitmore?"
"Five months ago," she answered definitively. "I had finally been moved out of ICU and was looking forward to being able to go home. He came to visit me. Tried to apologize."
"I assume his apology was not accepted." Brennan leaned forward to better gauge her response.
"Of course not! I spoke to our lawyer about the incident and she was sure it was a ploy to avoid extensive jail time. Something about showing remorse for the judge." She humphed in disgust. "There was no way I was letting him off the hook, no matter how much he said he was sorry. Not after everything that had happened."
"Everything that had happened?" Booth questioned in a soft voice.
Mrs. James shifted in her wheelchair. "My husband had been laid off and our house was already in foreclosure. Bob and I thought he'd find another job before the COBRA insurance ran out, but with this economy…"
"You seem quite angry." Brennan stated simply. Booth placed a quelling hand on her leg but not before Mrs. James's eyes darted to Brennan's in shock.
"Look what happened to me! Hospital bills galore, and none of it our fault. We're working on a civil suit, but that takes time. All of our savings are gone and we're drowning in debt." She looked around the small room in disgust. "And now we're stuck in this god-forsaken rat-trap of a house with practically nothing. I used to have a beautiful house. And nice things." She gestured to her legs. "Now I can't even take a walk."
"Were you angry enough to want him dead?" Brennan's tone was matter-of-fact, and Booth squeezed her knee in an attempt to get her to let him do the questioning.
Mrs. James sputtered at the seemingly insensitive woman across from her. "What's wrong with you, lady? Of course I was angry. That doesn't mean I killed him!"
Booth made eye contact and nodded his head in an attempt to connect with the middle-aged woman. "I'm very sorry, but in the course of an investigation we need to ask some very hard questions. I know this is not easy for you."
His sympathetic tone gained an immediate response. Mrs. James took a deep breath to gather her composure. "No. Not much of anything is easy anymore. But the honest truth is that it does Bob and me no good to have that man dead. Dead men don't write checks. Our over-priced lawyer is working to try to get us something from his estate. But we don't have much hope."
Booth stood up to bring the interview to a close. "I understand how difficult this entire situation must be for you. Thank you for your time Mrs. James." He laid one of his business cards on the dented coffee table. "Please call if you have any information. We'll see ourselves out."
Booth took Brennan's hand and pulled her toward the door. The night closed around them as they exited the house and approached the SUV in silence. Booth pressed a button on his keyring and the vehicle beeped as its locks disengaged. Brennan stopped with her hand on the door handle and turned to face her husband.
"Are you upset with me?" Her tone was slightly plaintive.
Booth sighed, dropped the keys into his pocket and took both of her hands in his. "No, honey. I'm not upset. I just wish you had let me handle the questioning. You're a little rusty."
"I don't understand. While the human body does oxidize, I am not ostensibly rusted."
"You're out of practice," he explained patiently. "It's been over a year. You haven't been out in the field since before Ali was born. It's going to take some time to get back into the swing of things."
"The swing of things meaning the way we questioned suspects before our relationship was altered by the birth of our first child?" She wanted to be sure she understood his use of the idiom clearly.
Booth chuckled "Yes, exactly. It will take some time for our dynamic as parents to morph back into the dynamic of a super-duper crime-fighting duo."
Later he would question how he had let his guard slip. It had felt so good to be back in the field with her, despite the rocky interview. She was showing an uncharacteristic bit of vulnerability, and as usual, he found it absolutely adorable. He had no hint that something was wrong until he leaned in to kiss her and felt the cold tip of the barrel of a gun pressed against the back of his neck.
"Keys. Now." The voice was low but direct.
Booth subtly shifted to put as much of his body as he could between the assailant and his wife. He fervently hoped she wasn't so rusty that she couldn't read the silent message in his eyes to let him handle the situation.
"You're making a mistake. I'm FBI." Only someone who knew him as well as Bones could hear the fear in his voice. "Walk away. Just walk away."
"Keys. Now." The gun pressed a little deeper.
"Okay. Listen. The keys are in the left pocket of my pants. Just take them." Booth could feel Bones tensing against him. He frantically pleaded with her with his eyes. Best to let the man have what he wanted and just let the LoJack in the SUV do its job.
The armed man took the keys and helped himself to the wallet in Booth's back pocket as well. Fortunately, the thief was so focused on Booth's pockets that he didn't notice the gun under Booth's jacket. Unfortunately, just as the man was pulling away, Brennan made her move and attempted to plant her fist in his solar plexus.
"Bones, no!" Booth tried to completely shield her body with his own while simultaneously twisting toward their assailant, gun in hand. But he wasn't fast enough.
Two shots blasted through the air. The first struck the side of his wife's head. The second tore its way through the thief's heart. Booth knew in a distant part of his brain that someone in the neighborhood must have called 911, but as the ambulance approached with its piercing sirens, Booth could only concentrate on cradling his wife's head in his lap, pressing on her wound with all his strength in an attempt to staunch the seemingly endless flow of blood.
Two long months had passed since that fateful night. That night when a drug-addicted petty thief got in over his head and tried to steal an SUV to pay off his dealer. That night when the same man panicked and shot his stolen gun for the very first time. That night when Booth killed yet another man, but was too late to save anyone.
That night when Seeley Booth's whole world had crashed down upon him.
Booth turned from the window to look upon his comatose wife, her limp hand still held tenderly in his own. Two questions formed a never ending chorus in his head. Would she ever wake up? And could he go on if she didn't?