What would Booth's reaction be if Parker wanted something for Christmas and Booth was adamantly opposed? This is a short Christmas piece that I hope you enjoy. Happy Holidays. Gregg.
Disclaimer: I don't own, or profit from, these characters or franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
"He's really upset, Seeley," Rebecca said from where she sat across from Booth and Brennan. She had to admit that it was good to see Seeley in the relationship he'd wanted for so long. If only Parker hadn't wanted something that was putting a strain on everyone's Christmas, particularly Seeley's first Christmas with Temperance as a couple.
Booth sighed. "I know, Becs," he told her. "Look, I know I didn't handle it well, but it really took me by surprise, and it's one subject I am very sensitive about."
"He is almost twelve now," Rebecca added. "Can we really forbid him from having something most of his friends have? I know how I feel about it, but when we look at everything around us even I admit it's a little overbearing of us."
Bones sat there without really interfering in the conversation. Now that she had a baby on the way she was thinking of real world consequences when it came to kids, and she could see Booth's point. She simply held his hand and was there for him. Oddly enough she felt comfortable doing so, whereas in the past she would be interjecting her comments from the start.
"What do you think we should do?" Rebecca finally asked Booth. "I'm willing to let you decide this one, Seeley. When it comes to this I trust your judgment more than anyone elses."
"I'll talk to him and clear things up between us, Becs," Booth told her. "But I'm going to explain to him why I am so out of sorts about this. He deserves to know."
"And if he still wants one?" Rebecca asked.
"Do you trust me to make the rules about it?" Booth returned it to her court.
Rebecca nodded. "Yes," she told him.
"I'll pick him up from school tomorrow and talk to him," Booth pronounced. "I'll clear the air, and make a final decision when I'm done talking with him." He looked to his side and Bones and was relieved to see her nod in agreement with his plan of action.
"I'll let him know he's spending a few days with you and Temperance," Rebecca told them and stood up, smiling when she saw Booth stand instantly, ever the gentleman. She left the Diner mentally thinking that she knew for a fact that she had let someone special slip away because she was a selfish, stupid bitch in her younger years. But at least she was now coming around and seeing Seeley Booth for who he really is and was making amends for her mistakes vis-a-vis Seeley and Parker.
"Thanks, Becs," Booth said and then sat down, a pensive look on his face. He smiled when Bones moved to the opposite side of the booth they were in in the Diner.
"Are you okay?" Bones asked, worried. There were only a handful of times that she'd ever seen Booth this pensive and moody.
"Every time I look at Parker I see that four year old little boy who I told to tell you Merry Christmas at Sid's after the quarantine mess," Booth replied softly. "Now my Little Man really is a Little Man and I'm not ready for that, Bones."
Bones chuckled lightly. "Ready or not, he is a Little Man," she told him. "The question, I think, is whether you're ready to be an OLD Man," she teased, a twinkle of amusement in her eyes.
"Now that was just cruel, Bones," he chuckled in return, though he knew that despite her, very successful, attempt at lightening his mood, what she said had a grain of truth embedded in it. He wasn't getting any younger, by any means, and the thought of Parker being ready for that was terrifying.
"No, cruel would be reminding you that in a year or two you will have to have a discussion about sex with him," she pointed out, her amusement shining through very clearly.
"I'm sending my son to a monastery," Booth said firmly as they stood and he picked up the check, ignoring the exasperated look on Bones face as he did so. She was always reminding him that she was perfectly capable of paying for their meals once in a while, but Pops had raised him right and if the Old Man ever heard that his beloved Shrimp didn't pay for a meal with Bones, or any other lady for that matter, there would be Hell to Pay. "They'll turn him into a celibate Monk," he muttered.
"I could give Parker a lecture on sex when the time comes," Bones offered.
"No," Booth said, his teeth grinding at the very thought. There was no way he was going to let Miss Taking Care of Urges, Monogamy Is For The Birds give his Baby Boy a lecture on sex. No way no how! Not that he'd ever put it that way to her. No, she was monogamous with him, and any urge taking care of was done by him and him alone! He was her good reason for modifying her views a bit. Why rock the proverbial boat now?
"At least I wouldn't frighten him of the female gender," she pointed out.
"I would not leave my boy afraid of women!" Booth spluttered. She did it every time. No matter how well he knew her, if they were in public she could always push his buttons just right to drive him nuts!
"Then you'd turn him into a teenage Lothario?" she asked, enjoying the banter too much to close off the discussion just yet.
"Get in the car, Bones," he told her, shuddering at the idea of the word Lothario and his son being in the same sentence. She did get in the car, but he could hear her laughter as he walked around to get in the drivers seat.
The Next Day
"Dad!" Parker said in shock as he got out of school. He knew he was spending the next few days with his Dad and Bones, but he'd expected his Mom to pick him up from school and take him to his Dad later.
"Hey, Little Man," Booth said, a warm smile coming to his face.
"How come Mom's not picking me up?" Parker asked curiously. He may be upset at his Dad right then, but at the same time he knew that he'd been wrong to act out like he did the other day, so he was acting the way he was raised for the moment. He'd find a way to apologize when a good opportunity presented itself.
"She was going to Bub, but I asked if I could since you're staying with me and Bones for a few days and I wanted to talk to you about something," Booth told him, turning into traffic and heading down the road.
Booth stopped when they got to a nice park in the area and he got them each an ice cream cone from the sidewalk vendor. Finding a good place to sit, he sat back and enjoyed the ice cream with Parker. In his mind he was wondering if he was ready for this talk, and while he most definitely wasn't, he knew he had to. This was too important to kick down the road. Looking up he saw that Parker was finished. He sighed.
"Parker, I need to apologize for flying off the handle the other day like I did," he told his son.
"I was a jerk, too, Dad," Parker reminded his Dad.
Booth smirked. "Touché," he said with a chuckle. "There aren't too many times you get to call your Old Man a jerk and be dead on, huh?"
Parker smiled. If his Dad was joking with him then he wasn't mad. He didn't like his dad being mad, knowing that when he was, he was disappointing him somehow. Parker would do just about anything for his Dad.
"But why were you so upset?" Parker asked.
"Two reason, actually, Bub," Booth told his son. "The first one won't make much sense, and the second one I'm hoping won't make you hate me."
Parker looked like his Dad had just grown horns. "I know I said that, Dad, but I don't hate you," Parker said vehemently.
Booth cracked a smile. He ruffled Parker's hair, and enjoyed seeing his son roll his eyes at the public affection. "The first reason, Parks, is that you're growing up," he told him.
Parker scrunched his face up in confusion. "That doesn't make any sense, Dad," he told him. "I'm a kid. I'm supposed to grow up."
Booth laughed. His son sounded more and more like Bones everyday, and while it was a bit disconcerting to think of his kid as a Squint, he also knew that it was reassuring to know that his kid was going to be okay in the world.
"No, Bub, it's a parent thing," he replied. "When I look at you I keep seeing my four year old Little Man and when you asked me for that the other day it got slammed home to me that you're not my four year old boy anymore. It got me feeling old and a little depressed. It's hard, Parker, because I know I need to let you have more space and do things that kids your age do. Then I remember when I was your age and causing Pops all sorts of grief and I groan thinking about you being the same way as some sort of poetic justice."
"Poetic justice?" Parker asked, confused.
"Think of it as what goes around comes around, Bub," Booth laughed, thinking his son was going to start saying I don't know what that means soon and sound even more like Bones.
"Oh, I get it," Parker chuckled. He still didn't quite understand the whole growing up, stuff, but he understood what his Dad was getting at on the poetic justice bit.
Booth was now at the part that he was concerned about. "Do you know what a sniper is, Bub?" he asked.
Parker cocked his head. "Someone who shoots someone from a hidden spot?" he asked. He'd heard the term before, but never really got into what it was.
"Basically," Booth said grimly. "In the military snipers are sent out to kill a person. There's a lot of training and stuff that goes with it, and it isn't nearly as simple as how you put it."
"What do you mean?" Parker asked.
Booth hung his head a bit. "Do you know what I did in the Army?" he asked, hoping that Parker didn't know already.
"Catching bad guys like you do in the FBI?" Parker asked. He wasn't sure what all the different jobs a soldier could have were, but it seemed to make a bit of sense that his Dad was some kind of cop in the military.
"No, Parker," Booth said sadly. "I trained some soldiers in that for a while the last time I was in, but the main job I had was as a sniper. I killed people, Parker."
"But I thought that's what soldiers did in war," Parker questioned.
Booth knew his son was only wanting to understand, so he didn't get worked up. "There's a bit of a difference," he told him. "When I killed someone it wasn't in battle, or even in the war zone necessarily. They had no idea it was coming. I lined up a shot, and when I pulled the trigger I saw the target die in my scope. Sometimes in war you see the person you're shooting at die, Parker. Sometimes. A lot of times you don't. But a sniper always sees the person die. Always."
Parker had a sick feeling in his stomach as he began to understand what his Dad was telling him. "What's this have to do with what we're talking about?" he asked.
"Parker, I use guns as a part of my job," Booth told him. "I'm one of the best shots out there, and I'm good with guns. I don't make any excuses for what I use a gun for when it's needed, but I hurt Parker so bad from what I did as a sniper. You know the extra candle I light after Mass? It's for the families of the people I killed as a sniper. It's a kind of guilt that eats away at you, Bub. My Faith, and my family, especially you, Pops, and Bones are what keeps me from losing it.
"But I hate guns, Parker, and what I've had to do with them. If it was up to me there wouldn't any of the damn things outside of hunting rifles for hunting. I wish to God that no one had to live with the demons I have. When you asked me for a gun, I saw you as my four year old boy, not the eleven year old you are now, and I snapped. How could my boy want a gun and all I saw was you on a morgue slab, Parks, because of something bad happening."
"But it's only a BB rifle," Parker pointed out.
"It doesn't matter, Parker," Booth responded. "Outside of shooting a Nerf ball, if it shoots a projectile it's a gun and deserves the same kind of respect as if it shot bullets. A BB or a pellet can injure, even kill a person as easily as a bullet. I want you safe, Parker. I'm sorry I lost my temper when you asked for a BB rifle, but what I just told you is why. Do you understand?"
"I think so," Parker answered slowly. His Dad had given him a lot to think about. A lot. "So no on the BB rifle?" he asked, not demanding, but wanting to know.
Booth sighed deeply. "You really want one?" he asked.
"Yeah," Parker told him. "Not so much as before, but I still want one."
"Alright, you get a BB rifle," Booth told him. He held up his hand, though. "But there are some ground rules. First, it is to be kept in my rifle safe at all times, including the BB's, when we are not shooting. Second, you will only use it when you are with me, and I will teach you how to shoot, and also how to respect a firearm. Third, before you are allowed to shoot it with me you will be taking a hunter's safety course, and pass it. There's one next week and I'll sign you up. Fourth, if you don't keep up your grades and stay out of trouble, the BB rifle is history. There will be more rules, but those are the main ones. Agreed?"
"Agreed," Parker said, using the same word.
"Parker," Booth said after a moments pause. "I do trust you. But a gun isn't about trust. It's about responsibility. The responsibility for other people's lives and safety. So I'm going to ask you. Are you ready for that responsibility?"
"I'm ready," Parker told him solemnly.
Booth looked deep into his son's eyes. He saw something that told him that his Little Man was indeed becoming the MAN that he'd hoped he would become. Perhaps a few years too soon for Booth's taste, but it was there in the beginning stages plain as day.
"Okay, then that's your Christmas present this year," Booth told him. He always got Parker one special gift and this year would be no different. This year it would be something much more adult, but a right of passage. "Just remember the terms, okay, Bub?" he raised a brow.
"I'll remember, Dad," Parker told him earnestly.
Five days later he and Bones watched as Parker opened the package containing the BB rifle. Booth was still conflicted about it, and didn't want his son growing up so soon, but he had to admit to some real pride in his son and how he was becoming someone he could respect, not just love.
"Are you okay?" Bones asked from beside him on the couch.
He smiled and placed his arm around her shoulder. "I will be," he told her. He looked back at Parker. "I will be," he said again a bit softer. He pulled Bones in closer and placed a kiss on her head. Yep. Daddy's Little Man was growing up.
A/N: Well, there it is. I hope you all enjoy this one. I know it sounds odd that Booth would hate guns, and in the line of the show I can see him loving guns, but I also know numerous people who are superb with guns, utilize guns, yet despise them nonetheless as a necessary evil. Thus I used that as an element in Booth's talk with Parker. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Gregg.