Duck And Cover

"You've never had siblings, correct?"

Sweets rubbed a hand over his eyes and shook his head. "I-I guess, if you don't count foster siblings, then no."

"Is that something you regret? That you never had that particular familial connection?"

With a sigh, he nodded. "Of course. I was…lost. A child, an abused child. I knew, know that my parents loved me. They gave me everything they had for as long as they could. But when they adopted me they were already in their early fifties."

"So siblings were not possible." Dr. Curtis shuffled a few papers. "But you were happy. Happier."

The younger man nodded. "My parents were amazing. They were everything my birth parents were not. It feels selfish now, to wish I'd had a brother or sister."

"There's nothing wrong with wanting something, or needing it. It doesn't make you selfish, it makes you human." Curtis uncrossed his legs and leaned forward. "We all crave a human connection, and if that connection is with someone closer to our age, in a similar situation, all the better. You wanted to share your life with a brother."

"Or a sister."

"No." He shook his head at his patient. "You craved a brother. Someone to play video games with, toss the football around…a male to male shared bonding that your adoptive father was not quite young enough to indulge once you became a teenager."

Sweets shook his head. "I would have been just as happy with a sister."

"Maybe." Sweets hated when he slipped into his condescending mode. Briefly wondering if Booth and Brennan hated his own overbearing attitude as much, he let Curtis continue. "But I think that, in the end, a brother would have been more suitable."

Giving up all pretenses at not understanding where Dr. Curtis was leading the discussion, Sweets nodded resignedly. "An older brother."

"You know where I'm going with this, Lance."

"Agent B is like my replacement older brother." Sweets smiled self-deprecatingly. "Kind of pathetic, right?"

With a furrowed brow, Curtis shook his head. "Why? Wanting something you've never had isn't pathetic. As I said, we all crave that connection. And the connection between brothers is incredibly profound. As males we may pass it off as alpha male posturing, asserting our place in the tribe, but in the end it's all about that shared male bonding experience, something we as men actually need."

"Exploring our masculine side instead of our feminine side?" Sweets smirked.

"We need both for balance. And if Agent B fulfills that role for you…"

"Well, he verbally abuses me like an older brother." Sweets laughed. "All attention, even negative attention and all that…but I-" He stopped, trapped in his own head for a moment.

"Lance?" Curtis prodded, gently.

Raising his head, Sweets nodded. "The reason Agent B gives me such a hard time, why he pokes and prods and picks on me…He thinks of me as a younger brother."

Curtis sat back in his chair, satisfied that they had reached the same conclusion. "That is entirely possible."

"So, what, does that make Dr. B? My sister-in-law? She'd love that comparison." He smiled. "And by 'love', I mean 'pick apart the insinuation in that particular moniker until there were absolutely no anthropological conclusions to draw from its use in comparison to our relationship' way."

"They consider you family, Lance. You must know that."

Unexpectedly, Sweets' nose tingled with that familiar pre-tears warning. Deep down, where he was unwilling to acknowledge it, he'd always wondered if his feeling of belonging within their team dynamic felt as much like a family to them as it did to him, or if he was just so goddamn needy that he had convinced himself of something that just didn't exist. But to hear someone else verbalize that inherent desire out loud…it affected him more than he would ever admit.

"I want to believe that." His quiet admission was enough for his colleague to continue on.

"They include you in holiday celebrations?"

"Most of the time."

"Are those celebrations workplace gatherings?"

"No, mostly at someone's home. Usually one of theirs."

"Are you discouraged from bringing Daisy as your companion?"

"No, they know what she means to me, that she's-"

Dr. Curtis watched as the light bulb clicked on. It was one of his favorite moments as a psychologist.

"They don't like her." Sweets stood and moved to his preferred spot by the windows. "I know they don't. Agent B certainly, Dr. B works with her but I know she's not her favorite intern…she drives Dr. H nuts and Mrs. H…really not a fan."

"Lance. Come on." He smiled at the slightly defiant look on the younger man's visage. "Don't deprive me of my triumph."

With a soft laugh, Sweets returned to his place on the sofa. "Alright, fine." He sighed, almost happily. "You're absolutely right. Only family would put up with Daisy voluntarily."

"Which means…?"

"Come on, you're really going to make me say it?" Sweets grinned. "I already admitted…out loud…that you were right!"

Curtis returned the smile. "You are an incredibly complicated case study. Allow me my basking."

With a small laugh, Sweets nodded. "Okay. You win. Dr. B and Agent B think of me as family. They treat me like they would a younger brother, and the rest of the team has followed their lead and let me in, as well." He rolled his eyes at his mentor. "Happy?"

Sitting back, fingers interlaced on his tummy, the elder doctor nodded. "The point is…are you?"

Sweets leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees, hands clasped in front of him. "I don't want to inflate your professional ego any more than necessary, but…yeah." He looked at his shoes, a small grin crossing his face. "I am not going to stop and analyze it to death, but yes. I am happy."

"Sometimes just being happy is enough without all that pressure of understanding why."

Sweets laughed, this time genuine and full-bodied. "Yeah, but then I'd be out of a job."