Betrayed By Those Loved Best
Disclaimer: ::stares:: ::blinks:: ::stares again:: Yeah. I still don't own anything…but, you knew that from the stares, right?
Summary: Recently accepted to the FBI Academy, Booth struggles to complete his training as he clashes with an instructor & is pulled into the investigation of the Broken Promises serial killer. AU.
Ch 14: Bested by His Roommate
Through his rapidly fading whiskey-induced alcoholic haze, FBI trainee Timothy Sullivan was trying to make sense of what his eyes and ears were telling him.
Fact: he hadn't hallucinated encountered Dr. Temperance Brennan, his former―as of twelve hours earlier, at least―Academy instructor in forensics, in front of his dorm at Quantico.
Fact: it was three o'clock in the morning.
Fact: said instructor was apparently looking for Sully's roommate and best friend.
Fact: Sully didn't have a clue where in the hell Booth was.
All of these facts were swirling around in his head when some errant neuron in his brain decided to react to Brennan's inquiry as to if he might know where Booth was at the current moment in quite an unexpected way. Initially, Sully had opened his mouth to tell
Brennan that Booth wasn't in the dorm, and―because he was worried about how moody Booth had been after the forensic final―Sully had decided to go on some grand quest to find him. Much as he viewed himself as Sancho Panza to Booth's Don Quixote, he felt it both his duty and prerogative to look after his much-to-prone-to-brood best friend. However, as he noted that Brennan―normally a person whom he'd never describe as hesitant―seemed almost nervous as she waited for Sully to answer her question. That one observation seemed to be the curious point that his inebriated brain latched onto and cause him unexpectedly to spit out the question that loomed now between the pair.
"Uhhh, Dr. Brennan? Before I answer that, I gotta ask—what in the hell do you want with Booth at three o'clock in the morning?"
Good question, a random voice echoed in Sully's head as he waited for Brennan's answer. Not just a good question, but a great question. What does the good doctor want with Booth of all people at 3 o'clock in the friggin' morning?
He blinked several times while he awaited some type of answer to his question. As he looked at Brennan, he saw a strange series of wash over the forensic anthropologist's face. For some reason he couldn't quite grasp, she seemed to be struggling in coming up with any type of response for his question, let alone a suitable one.
Finally, as the silence continued to hang between them, Sully couldn't stand it any longer as some of his infamous impatience flared, and he prodded her, "Dr. Brennan?"
When he said her name, Brennan was startled out of a battle with herself as she looked at him and finally spoke.
"I, errr, I…I-I…I needed to speak with him about something," Brennan finally managed to mutter, offering some type of answer to him that, even to her untrained―from the perspective of an individual with no significant experience on interpersonal relations―sounded rather lame.
"At three o'clock in the morning?" Sully could help but ask, his tone a bit more sharp than he'd intended. As soon as he'd spoken, when he saw Brennan pale at his words, he paused as his brow furrowed. He tried to soften his tone as he added, "That is, it isn't any of my business, but you've gotta admit that it's sorta weird, and I know I may be rambling here a bit, but it's only because it's been a really long week when I haven't slept a lot, and I've been under a lot of stress, and to blow off some steam, I went out celebrating tonight. And, when I was with some buddies of mine, I probably had a few more drinks then I should've, so if the filter that's between my mouth and brain isn't really working right―not that it works that well on a good day, because, I mean, we both know I've got some serious impulse control issues when it comes to my mouth even on a good day―" He stopped only when he saw the look of confusion that had clouded Brennan's face. Sticking his hands in the pocket of his jeans, Sully said, "Look, I'm sorry. I-I…it's none of my business why you want to see Booth."
Brennan, her heart beating wildly as she tried to figure out a way to get out of what was a situation that was rapidly spiraling out of control, tried to downplay the oddity of whatever reason could've driven her to seek out one of her (recently former) students at such a strange time and place. "It's not a big deal," she told Sully. "I just needed to speak to him. It was…that is, there was an issue that I wanted to discuss with him, and I felt that time was of the essence. It was probably stupid coming here, but I was in my office grading the final exams and averaging the forensic unit final averages and―"
Suddenly, a look of comprehension dawned on Sully's face as he said, "Oh, wait a minute. Does this…that is, did you come to talk to him about his test? Did he really do as badly as he thinks he did? He wasn't really clear earlier when we left the classroom, but the general vibe I was getting was that Booth was just doing that thing he tends to do and thinking the worst of things. But, if you're here in the middle of the night, is it because he really screwed the pooch as badly as he thought? I mean, if he did, and you're here―wait, why are you here again?"
Brennan opened her mouth and tried to figure out what to say. She took a breath and then said vaguely, "I can't really discuss another student's performance on the exam or grades, Trainee Sullivan―"
"Sully," he interrupted her.
Brennan sighed and then amended, "I can't really discuss anything related to Trainee Booth's classwork, Sully."
"Better," he nodded approvingly.
Resisting the urge to roll her eyes, Brennan continued, "I'm sure you understand. There are laws concerning his privacy, both professionally and ethically, I'm bound―"
Brennan couldn't help but here a voice in her head snicker when she stumbled on the idea of using the ideas of professionalism and ethics to see if it could get her out of what was far past the point of no return when it came to rescuing her from a very awkward situation.
Professionalism, the voice snickered. Ethics. Professional, ethics, and Booth, Brennan. Smooth, real smooth on that one.
For his part, Sully didn't seem to notice Brennan's slight pause as he suddenly waved his hands dismissively and said, "Oh, sure. I get it. This is one of those things where you just want to do right by your students, and so this is one of those things where you were here, but you were never here, right?"
Not quite certain what he had said, but sensing the moment of her escape was potentially at hand, Brennan nodded. "Yes," she agreed. "That's it exactly."
Sully stared at her for almost a full moment, his appreciation and admirably for Brennan growing even more than it had been just as few hours earlier―and that was saying something. Smiling at her, he said approvingly, "God, you are so awesome."
"Thank you," Brennan said simply. She stopped, and then, slinging her purse over her shoulder, she asked, "So, Booth?"
"Oh, yeah," Sully said. He then made a face and said, "I'd love to help you with that one, Doc, but the truth of the matter is, Booth's not here. As a matter a fact, I was just on my way to try to find out where the SOB ended up."
"He's not here?" Brennan asked, this time clear confusion writ on her face. "But, I don't understand. It's the middle of the night. Where would he be?"
Sully shrugged his shoulders slightly and then said, "Honestly? I don't know. Usually, if he's not out getting shit-faced with me, and he's not in the dorm, the only other place he could be is at his apartment. Sometimes he goes there when Rebecca calls―"
"Rebecca?" she mouthed, her voice coming out in a small whisper that was almost no more than a quiet muttering.
However, given how late it was and how quiet the night time surrounding them was, Sully had no difficulty in hearing Brennan's question. Slowly, he nodded his head as he repeated, "Yeah, Rebecca. His ex. Err―well, maybe not so much of an ex in the traditional sense of the word, but more like an ex who was never really an ex to begin with since they're kinda have always had this on again/off again thing. So, maybe it's better to call her one of his friends with benefits, I guess?" He paused and then sighed, "Not that you probably care very much, but Rebecca's always been Booth's Achilles' heel. I thought that maybe when he started the Academy that he'd get his head on straight, meet a great girl that would stop messing with his head and get just beyond the sex with him, but I guess I was just too optimistic about things…just like always."
Sully paused for breath, curious to see a strange look in Brennan's eyes as she was clearly focused on every word he said. Unable to not enjoy the feeling of her rapt attention being concentrated on him, and too far gone from his buzz to question why she'd be so interested in what he had to say, Sully smiled and continued talking. "You see, I'd probably never even tell you this if I was sober, but since I am, and you're here, and it's three o'clock in the middle of the night, and none of this makes any damn sense right―and will probably make even less sense tomorrow morning when I wake up with a bitch of a hangover that I know I'll be nursing―but, I figure what the hell," he said before flashing her a toothy grin. "Here's the 4-1-1 on Seeley Booth. He's my best friend, and I'd do anything for that guy. He's almost like a brother to me. But, one thing that makes him both one of the best guys I've ever met and one of the most idiotic, infuriating, and most boneheaded guys you can ever come across is that whatever Booth does…well, he does it with all his heart. And, he fell in love with Rebecca―if you ask me, just because he's always had this thing from hot chicks with sharp brains and long legs…and, well, Rebecca? She has all that and more, because…well, she's a blonde. And, God knows why, but Booth's always been into blondes more than any other type of girl. It's his defining visual cue, if you know what I mean. So, with Booth's thing for smart chicks with long legs who are blonde…well, he was done as soon as she said yes he could buy her a drink this one time we were all at this club in the Penn Quarter called Gleam. They had a few drinks, started bickering about some bullshit thing, because they've always done this bickering/banter thing that I think is some type of verbal foreplay between them, and before I knew it, Booth was going home with her, and I had to catch a cab ride home. That was―"
Sully looked off in the distance, his eyes narrowing as he wracked his brain for the crucial bit of information he was trying desperately to grasp, and then a smile light up his face as he said, "That was about a year and a half ago. They've been making up and breaking up and messing around with each other, if you know what I mean, ever since. So, I, uhh, if I had to guess where he was right now, I'd say he went to meet Rebecca for another go 'round." He paused again for breath, and then added only as a random thought, "After their last break up a four or five months ago, I figured they were done for good. But, I guess with the stress of the stuff going on at the Academy, he bounced back into bad habits because I know he's been getting laid by someone to take the edge off of things in the last few weeks. Because, if there's one thing I know, it's the difference between when Booth is getting laid and when he's not, and about a month ago…maybe a little bit more, he started getting all doey-eyed and nauseating like he tends to do when he gets all cock-eyed optimistic that this time things with Rebecca might go different. I tell you, I've never seen such a hopeless romantic as Booth. When that guy falls, he falls hard, and I guess maybe as far as Rebecca is concerned, he just got KO-ed, and there's no coming back from it."
As Sully continued to spew his font of Booth-related knowledge, Brennan's mind was in a whirl-wind as she tried to make sense of what she was being told. She felt a knot in her stomach begin to tighten with each bit of information that Sully continued to voluntarily add to her stack of data on what type of man Seeley Booth actually was.
'smart chicks with long legs'
'bickering/banter thing….some type of verbal foreplay'
'getting laid by someone to take the edge off of things in the last few weeks'
Son of a bitch, Brennan thought, a strangulated voice of anger and pain echoing in her head. He's…he's just been using me. I don't know why, and frankly I don't care. But, he's just been using me this whole time…while he was really already with this other woman…this Rebecca.
"―he's always been in love with her," Sully finished, by the time that Brennan refocused on what he was saying. "It's not right or smart or logical…but it's the truth. And, I know that's probably way more than you wanted to hear about the love life of one of your students, but like I said, I'm drunk and rambling more than a bit, so―"
"Thank you, Sully," Brennan said, her head suddenly snapping up as she looked up as Sully and nodded. "I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me."
"Sure," he grinned at her. "No problem. And, when I see Booth, I can tell him that you were looking for him."
Gripping her bag firmly, Brennan's blue eyes hardened a bit as she shook her head vociferously. "No," she told him, the sharpness in her voice quite clear. "That's not necessary. That is, I'd appreciate if you didn't mention that you even saw me. Obviously, Trainee Booth has more than enough demands on his attention right now. Who am I to unnecessarily distract him?" She stopped and then tilted her head as she said, "I'd consider it a personal favor if you'd neglect to mention that we ever even ran into each other and had this conversation…Sully." She stopped and gave him a warm smile to emphasize her point.
What Brennan didn't know was that, as wonderful as the smile had been, she'd had him at the word 'Sully.'
The sun was almost up, the shadows of what had been a very trying and exhausting night having transitioned to the warm brightness of dawn by the time that Booth―who'd been up most of the previous night walking his colicky son―actually managed to return to his dorm room and crawled into bed. He noticed, with no surprise, that Sully had obviously stumbled into his bed and passed out from what looked to be an alcohol-induced bender at some point during the previous the evening. Sully lay face down on his bed, still in his clothes, his feet still clad in his shoes as they dangled off the edge of the bed, and a puddle of drool collecting on his pillow. He didn't so much as shift in bed or twitch a single muscle when Booth unlocked the door and entered the dark dorm room. Yawning once, Booth could only smile wearily when he took in the sight. He smiled because he knew that Sully wouldn't be making his life difficult at any time in the near future with the barrage of questions that Booth had dreaded having to field from his overtly nosy, if well-meaning, best friend. It appeared the hangover that awaited his best friend upon his awakening from the land of unconsciousness to which Sully had drifted would buy Booth at least a few hours of shut eye before he had to deal with questions about his performance on the exam and subsequent melancholy behavior. Kicking off his own shoes, and stripping down to his St. Christopher medal and boxers, Booth flopped down on his bed and was never more grateful for an off-day as he was in that moment. He stayed awake blinking at the rosy light that pierced the gray shadows of the room's blinds in a few random spots for approximately sixty seconds before he rolled over onto his side, adjusted his pillow, and let exhaustion win as sleep instantly claimed him.
By the time that Dr. Temperance Brennan left FBI Trainee Tim Sullivan at Quantico, instead of returning to her loft in Georgetown, she headed towards her office at the Jeffersonian Institute. She carried her messenger bag with her, the bag stuffed full of the paperwork, exams, final grades sheet, and all the other materials she had in her possession that related to the forensics unit at the Academy. Brennan had decided she would messenger the exams over to Warner and Kenton first thing in the morning and would handle any final queries about her final grades, assessments, and recommendations via email or telephone. As far as she was concerned, if she never stepped foot at Quantico again, it would be too soon.
In that moment, as Sully's words about his best friend and roommate continued to bounce around her head, all Brennan wanted to do was lock herself in Bone Storage and work until her brain couldn't possibly torture her with various images of Booth having sex with a faceless blonde woman―apparently, the love of his life―when she was just…well, Brennan wasn't certain what she was to Booth except a convenience in that moment. As far as she was concerned, that didn't matter. What did matter to her was the reaction she was having because of Sully's revelations...and the fact that she hated herself for feeling any surprise at learning such truths about Booth.
You're surprised, and yet you know you shouldn't be. And, that's what galls you the most, a sharp voice of critique rang out in her head. Your first instinct regarding that man was never to trust him. You never wanted to get within five hundred feet of him, especially after you got arrested because of him. And, yet, you decided to ignore what logical and reason told you...warned you about as far as he was concerned. You were here…more than willing, quite possibly, to risk your career, personal integrity, and professional reputation for him when you were never anything more to him that a way to pass the time until his true love decided she was ready to take up with him again. And, all for what? A few tumbles with a guy who never valued you as more than a way to pass the time and scratch a few metaphorical itches served up to his psyche by an unsatisfied male libido? Because, that's all it was, Brennan.. for Booth...it was never more than just satisfying some biological imperatives. But, for some reason, even though you should've known that, you chose to look the other way. You ignored your instinct about him because he has great eyes, a killer smile, and a very attractive physical body. It was never more than a game to him. And, you almost fell for it. God, Brennan…how naïve and stupid can someone with your IQ level really be?
The indignation she'd felt―metamorphosized as it had from the raw hurt that she'd never admit to anyone, let alone herself, over the revelation of what she apparently was to Booth―continued to smolder and bubble just below the surface. Resolved to work in isolation until she'd compartmentalized the entire situation, and no longer had any emotional response to even the mere mention of Booth's name other than that of mild indifference, the last thing Brennan was prepared to face in that moment was to walk into the lab and see it light up like it was five o'clock on a Monday afternoon rather than five o'clock on a Saturday morning. Nor, was she in any way prepared to face what...and who awaited her once she saw what was actually going on in the lab.
Zach, Kenton, Warner, Goodman, and Dr. Wyatt all stood around the platform in animated discussion.
When they saw her, Goodman's eyebrows arched in clear surprise, and he was the first to actually speak. "Dr. Brennan―"
"What's going on here?" she asked, taking her ID card and scanning it in the security check point. She pushed all emotions out of her mind, going on the defensive to what she saw as an invasion to the sacred space of her lab. She bounded up the stairs to the top of the platform and immediately saw a fresh set of remains had been set up on the examination table. Pursing her lips, and tightening her jaw, she stared at each person as she waited for some type of response to her question.
"Fresh remains," Zack finally offered as Brennan's eyes continued to dart from one person to another when the expected explanation was too slow in forthcoming for her. "Related to the FBI's serial killer investigation. Possibly a second victim."
"Why wasn't I called?" Brennan asked, her mind instantly shifting gears and some of her defensiveness melting away as her analytical mind took focus. She took her bag and tossed it on a nearby chair as she reached for a pair of nitrile gloves that Zach already had at the ready.
"We did try calling you," Goodman responded, tilting his head as he studied Brennan's haggard apperance. "Your phone was going straight to voicemail. Since I know how unlike you that is, I assured everyone that it must've been some technical issue like a dying battery. By you're appearance here, I'm happy to see that it appears I was right. I assume that by your timely appearance here that you somehow managed to receive our voicemails about the latest development in the case we're working with the FBI?"
"I'm here, aren't I?" Brennan deftly answered her boss's question with a question of her own. Sensing that his star forensic anthropologist was in a mood for some reason―probably being awakened at an ungodly hour for what was a reason unrelated to her traditional anthropological research―Goodman shrugged off Brennan's response.
When Goodman didn't say anything else, Brennan let out a small breath of relief before she paused and then looked at Warner and Kenton as she asked, "Where was this victim found?"
"Half-buried in the muck beneath the George Washington Bridge between the Bronx and Fort Lee, New Jersey," Kenton answered instantly. "The remains just arrived here from New York."
"Why?" Brennan asked, as she approached the remains and began a cursory examination.
"Because," Warner responded. "We believe this is another victim of the same person who murdered James Alexander."
"Based on what evidence?" Brennan asked to no one in particular, as she bent over the table and narrowed her eyes to study the remains.
Warner opened her mouth, but it was Dr. Gordon Wyatt who answered Brennan's question. Reaching out, he placed a light hand on Warner's arm as he said, "We were hoping you might be able to tell us what you could about the victim before we share our suppositions about the case, Dr. Brennan. I'm sure you understand, if we wait to share any possible details we have about the case and the circumstances under which these remains were recovered, as we don't want to necessarily prejudice your analysis."
Looking up from the exam table, Brennan considered Wyatt's words and then nodded her head sharply. "A wise precaution." She stopped and then said, "Very well. Give me twenty minutes, and I'll see what I can discern about your victim here."
"And, tell us if we're dealing with a possible serial killer here?" Warner asked.
As she looked over at the FBI agent, Brennan shrugged. "I'll tell you what the bones say. As for determining the significance of that information, in relation to any criminal investigations, that's something you'll have to accomplish since it's not my job…not anymore."