A/N: Confession: I'm a little obsessed with Existentialism. Nietzsche, Sartre, de Beauvoir, doesn't matter, I love 'em all. And sometimes, this obsession crosses over into another one of my obsessions and things like this OS happen. So as I was debating Sartre's facticity with a philosophy student, I thought of this. I promise you it's not as nerdy as it sounds. lol. Special thanks to Baileyjane for reading this before I posted. Happy Reading!
Parker was silent the entire way home from school. Brennan waited until they got inside the house to inquire as to why.
"Did something happen today at school?" She asked. Parker remained silent. "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to, but I hope that you know that you can discuss it with me if you would like." She waited some more. Parker sighed, clearly making his decision, and he pulled out a textbook from his backpack.
"We are studying the Civil war in school." He said as he flipped open the textbook. "We learned about the assassination of President Lincoln today." Brennan knew where this was going.
"By John Wilkes Booth." She spoke softly in understanding.
"Look at him. Can you tell? Am I related to him?" He asked as he showed her the picture, hoping she could tell from his bone structure.
"Parker, I don't have to see the picture. I know for a fact that you and your father are his descendants." She said.
"I thought so." He groaned, not wanting to hear that. "Booth isn't a very common name."
"Does that connection bother you?" She asked.
"Some kids were being idiots today at school." He said nondescriptly. Brennan figured this was probably a child's code for something less than flattering.
"What did they say?"
"Just some stuff about my family and guns." He clearly didn't want to talk about that. "But, I mean, Dad does have to shoot people sometimes, right?" Parker knew it was true, even if his dad never talked about it. He had seen enough soldier and cop stories to know how his job worked.
"Parker, that's not the same thing. You know that your father would never willingly choose to kill someone. The men that he has killed in the past were very dangerous. By killing a few, he has saved thousands of lives, including mine." She added.
"But how do you know that they were bad?" He asked. "I mean, didn't John Wilkes Booth think that the President was bad too?" Brennan was suddenly grateful that Parker wasn't having this conversation with Booth. That question alone would have destroyed him.
"There is a difference between killing to protect people and killing to prove a point. I have seen your father in action and he has never, ever, killed someone that he could have injured instead, including people who were trying to kill us. He is merciful and kind, even when the people in question do not deserve his kindness. Besides, everybody has a family member in their past who has done terrible things, sometimes more than one. But we are our own people and we make our own decisions. We can't let those people define who we are." They both paused as they heard Booth's car pull into the garage.
"Are you going to tell him that I know?" Parker asked. Brennan glanced at the back door.
"I think that you are old enough to determine whether or not you want to discuss this with him. If it were me, I would want his side of the story. I'm sure he's faced similar problems as you did today."
"Hey." Booth said as he entered the kitchen. "What's going on?" He asked as he set his things down.
"Hello." Brennan smiled as she walked over to kiss him. "Not much. How was your day?" She asked. Parker was grateful that she seemed to be distracting him for a few minutes.
"Long." Booth said as he loosened his tie. "Hey Parks, how was school?" He asked as he sat down on the couch next to his son. Parker gave a meaningful look over his father's shoulder to Brennan who was watching the scene.
"It was fine." He said. Booth caught the look, but didn't let his poker face slip. Instead, he continued on with his original plan.
"What do you say we give Bones a night off and you and I go catch a movie or something?" Booth asked. Parker smiled.
"That would be fun." He said.
"Great. Let me go get changed and you can decide where you want to go for dinner." He said as he slapped his son's back. Parker waited until his father was out of sight before turning to Brennan.
"You're welcome." She said as she made her way down the hall towards the bedroom. She was fairly certain that Booth hadn't gone as far as he had appeared to. Sure enough, Booth was standing just inside the doorway.
"What happened at school today, Bones?" Booth asked, getting straight to the point.
"Don't look at me like that. I told Parker that he could talk to you about it when he felt comfortable." She said. "Nothing dire happened, he just had some questions."
"Questions about what?"
"Booth, please? I need to keep my word. If you want to ask him, you should." Booth sighed, seeing that he wasn't going to get any further with her.
"Thank you." She said as she kissed the wrinkle in between his eyes. "And stop worrying."
"It's my kid, Bones. It's not that simple." He muttered.
"I know." She smiled at his concern. "You're a good dad, Booth. If there were more men like you out there, the world would be a better place."
Booth managed to wait to ask his son about his day until dessert. Over giant ice cream sundaes, Booth finally posed the question.
"So you wanna tell me what happened in school today?" Parker set down his spoon.
"Did Bones tell you?"
"No, but you seemed to dodge the question earlier." Parker looked down. "I'm a cop, kid, I know when I've hit on something you don't want to talk about." Parker acquiesced to his father's authority on the subject and sighed.
"We learned about John Wilkes Booth today at school and some kids were being stupid about it." Booth suddenly realized why Brennan had kept her silence.
"What were they saying?"
"No, about you." Parker said quietly. "They know that you're an FBI agent and you have a gun and they were just being stupid, okay?" Booth leaned back in his chair and sighed.
"And what did you do?"
"I told them to shut up and then I ignored them."
"Oh. Well, good." Booth said. "Look, I know what it's like to get that." He started.
"Yeah, I am one of the best marksmen in the world. Once people learn my name, they put two and two together and they sometimes give me a hard time about it." He said.
"I didn't know that."
"That I got teased?"
"That you were one of the best shooters in the world." He said. "Do you hold, like, a record or something?"
"Yes." Booth said definitively without going into any further details. "Parker, don't let them get to you. If you ignore it, other people won't even notice. If you make a big deal out of it, then other people will too." Parker thought about this for a second before moving on.
"Dad, does it bother you to have to kill people sometimes?"
"Yes." He said. "Always."
"Because it's a sin?" Booth stared at his son, wondering just how far he was going to let this conversation go before he stopped it.
"Because it's ending a life. Even when it's a bad life, I don't want to do it."
"But you still have to."
"Only when there is no other way to get out safely. I try to avoid it at all costs."
"Bones said that, and that you were merciful."
"What else did she say?"
"That we have to make our own choices in life and we can't let people in our past define who we are." Booth smiled at the perfect answer.
"She's right. Every decision you make is a choice that will define who you are as a man. No one else is responsible for those choices except for you. That's why it's important to make good decisions."
"What if I make a bad decision?"
"You will." Booth said. "Everyone makes a bad decision now and then, that's how we learn. I can tell you not to touch the stove, but until you make the wrong choice and get burned, you're not going to really understand why you shouldn't, right?"
"If you learn from your mistakes, you will remember to make a better choice the next time. You can't change your past, but you can always change your future." Booth let that information sink in. "Is any of this making sense?"
"Yeah." Parker nodded.
"Good. And I want you to know that you can come to me for anything, okay? Day or night. Just pick up the phone and I'll be there and we can sort it out together. I still ask Bones or Pops for help when I need it."
"You ask Pops for help?" Parker said and Booth smiled.
"Sometimes, yeah. He tells me stories and I get to learn lessons without going through all the trouble firsthand. I can do the same thing for you and it will save you from making the same bad choices that I made. Like knowing that you should never buy your first car from a guy named Sal." Parker smiled at the example. "Speaking of bad decisions, maybe we shouldn't have gone with the large sundaes." Booth groaned as he set down his spoon. "Don't tell Bones I couldn't finish it. She's only going to say 'I told you so' when I come home full later." Parker chuckled.
"She likes to say that."
"She really does." Booth agreed with a grin as he took a sip of his coffee.