Disclaimer: The characters portrayed here are not mine. Fox owns them. No infringement intended.
Summary: Teaser prequel chapter to proposed fanfic. Timeline: post season 7 finale.
Child Services Hearing
Judge Frances Cutters presiding.
Briskly, Judge Cutters came in through an unimpressive side door with a frosted glass panel in it, and all eyes shot in her direction. As she took her seat at the oak bench in her black robes of office, carrying a thick file under her right arm the clerk ordered, 'All rise!' Over the hurried scuffles as they stood he went on, 'Court in session. Judge Frances Cutters presiding.' Then he looked to the middle-aged, auburn judge for his next direction. Narrow-lipped she nodded absently, settling herself with a flourish, and opening her chunky file. Given permission, the clerk concluded the prelims with, 'Be seated.' More scuffling ensued and a breathless heavy silence descended again, like a blanket of icy fog over the non-descript courtroom.
Booth stared at Cutters sliced by shards of early summer sun from beside his lawyer, with a harrowed expression, and misting eyes. He could tell already the judgement she was about to deliver was going to obliterate their last clawing hope. He didn't know it, but everybody else saw he was trembling in his platinum grey Italian suit.
In an orange jumpsuit, cuffed and guarded from behind by two armed officers, Bones sat next to her life partner. She trembled too but the regulation custody jumpsuit was overly large, and concealed her terror under the coarse fabric. However, that irrepressible terror permeated her lightless irises, and invaded her weakened heart like a necrotising bacterium she'd long since tried to fight off. The evidence against her was compelling. To all intense purposes she did commit the murder - although she didn't.
Watching Cutters intently, Bones stared at her for a few moments, attempting to read her mind. Without that particular doubtable power she looked to a watery-eyed Booth. The gut wrenching epiphany she saw in his agonised expression confirmed it for her. Immediately her emotional control gave way: saltwater dripped like chilled rain from her eyes.
Feeling her look to him, Booth reached for her hand, which she took with a rattle of her cuffs. They laced sweaty fingers, and both looked back to the judge with her eyes skimming the pages, with scorching vomit in their throats. One of the stoic officers peered over their shoulders, and compassionately let their subtle contact slide - this time.
With no more support or evidence to give; Ange, Jack, Cam, Sweets and Max sat directly behind them with their failing hearts in their shoes. But their equally haunted eyes fixed on the chaotic mess Pelant had made of their family. Not only had Pelant orchestrated a perfect untraceable crime of homicide to implicate Bones. But he'd waved a savage dark wand to ruin them professionally and emotionally too. It was with impunity, unsurpassed genius and vindictiveness he'd ripped them to shreds bit by bit, and continued to do so. Limb by trembling limb; withered organs, sensitised flesh, aching bones and hollowed out souls: he'd tortured them without laying a slimy finger on them. If it wasn't so evil, motiveless and callous Pelant's rampage could be hailed as brilliant. It was a horrific scene of devastation: a double murder inside another.
Max knew his genius daughter worked and functioned, like most, in three dimensions but Pelant clearly used five. They'd been out-foxed, outmanoeuvred and outclassed. Max recalled at the first hearing the lawyer had ripped them apart and was also brilliant. He'd been obviously working from a five dimensional, well thought out script of deceptive questions. They were unprepared for those questions. The first judge, raised his brow intellectually on several occasions as they answered the questions honestly. But, they realised now, everything they said sounded contorted and completely irrational. The logic of their actions and decisions about Christine's care had been twisted. At the time Bones was inevitably emotional but trying not to be: which made her appear senseless, self-appointed and an unstable personality. She understood now that she sounded untrusting, superior in her arrogance and confused. Her lesson in humility was served freezing cold and hard to swallow. Max remembered her saying reflectively afterwards: "I've been too self-assured, too myopic - we all have. Pelant is clearly a superior intellect and has been two steps, brilliantly, ahead of us these last few months. That's what's humbling, and terrifying. And now a reality we all have to respect."
Max lent into Sweets ear; his subtle action tensed Lance, and he listened as Max informed, 'I'll be back…' Instantly Max got up, and walked out of the court on soft soles. With a furrowed brow Sweets watched him go, perplexed as to where he was going at this last critical stage of his daughters life. Thankfully, Sweets noted, the distraught couple didn't witness his flight or cowardly betrayal.
Jack caught his hasty exit too, then whispered to Sweets, 'He has to go more regularly now.' Sweets expression didn't change but he registered Jack's flat comment with a stony singular nod.
With a miniscule smile anyone would have ransomed for a full blown one if it would make a difference, Cutters looked up, clearing her throat. 'Morning,' she greeted, holding Bones' eyes for a few seconds then looked into Booth's eyes, seeing his jaw twitching. 'I apologise for keeping you waiting,' she said with a respectful nod to their agitated lawyer. Booth gripped Bones' hand tighter, which she reciprocated as much as she was able to. 'I've read the transcripts of the previous three appeals. I've also consulted in chambers with Doctor Sweets and your independent psychologist to clarify some details. I have reassessed all the evidence pertaining to your petition and the case history of the murder you're accused of Doctor Brennan. I understand a trial date has been set?'
Bones nodded, glancing to their lawyer, unable to reply herself. Her answered for her, 'Yes, Ma'am. September 12th.' Cutters nodded, then looked back to her pages. She picked one up, and sighed, with a slight head shake.
'My ruling will follow my next comments.' Cutters alternated her peering grey eyes between the couples and the sheet as she said, 'These are the facts I have before me… Doctor Temperance Brennan, you're being held on remand, incarcerated and await trial on murder charges. Bail was argued for but refused on the grounds you would be a flight risk and a possible danger to Christine Brennan. The danger spoken of, in my opinion, is moot in this appeal.' Bones nodded to concur with that elegant fabrication of evidence by Pelant, thankfully it hadn't washed with this judge. 'However, you are indeed incarcerated until such time as you are acquitted of these charges and unable to care for your daughter. Moreover, I cannot, in all good faith, leave Christine in the care of her father either: Seeley J Booth…' Bones gripped Booth hand, flicking her eyes to his, knowing the gnarling twisted lies that had torn him apart and hollowed out his soul. He looked to her a shadow of his former self: thin, with sunken chest and wilting shoulders, that were once wide and strong. It pained her immeasurably to see him this way.
'Mr Booth's irrational behaviour, lack of commitment to his first child, gambling addiction, and psychiatric assessments points to a career obsessed, regularly absent parent with concerning violent tendencies. A man who has admitted to the FBI psychiatrist he was severely physically abused by his father. It is also in evidence he needs constant reassurance by Doctor Sweets and others, that he is a good father. And more worryingly, that he fears he may abuse or harm his own child in times of stress. Despite councils vehement protestations of this - the evidence is clear…' Sweets recalled painfully being ripped to shreds by a well verse, slippery lawyer that argued at the first appeal how unfit Booth was to care for Christine. Unable to perjure himself and having kept personal notes on his computer on the subject: Sweets knew his testimony and evidence had hammered the last nail in Booth's heart. Seeds of doubt were sown. The old adage, there is not smoke without fire, had scalded the new parents and they'd had to give up their daughter.
Their feisty lawyer stood with an outraged, 'Ob-jection!'
Expecting it, Cutters calmly lifted her hand to silence and ease him. 'Mr Trope, no need to interrupt - I'm fully aware of your objections to that assessment. Please, let me finish…' Mr Trope retook his seat slowly, and looked to Booth, who quickly wiped his damp hollow cheek. 'As to this petition by you and Mr Max Brennan, the maternal grandfather, to take on Christine's immediate care in the family home: I like that idea…' Everybody held their breaths with their last vestiges of hope, and spirits rising. 'However, given Max Brennan's advanced age, his terminal illness and ongoing chemotherapy, and previous criminal record - I've come to the conclusion, I have to - reject this petition…' Bones looked to her lover, partner and trusted friend, her chin quivered, with cheeks awash. That they knew was the end: the very end of the line. Booth saw her lips part slightly as she drew a feeble, shallow breath, knowing she had to continue breathing. Instead of it being a subconscious instinct Booth knew it was a forced one.
Everybody else sagged as their vital organs faltered, and hung their heads: not with shame but with sorrow and defeat. They'd all been scythed in half by Pelant's deviousness. He'd known how to ruin them all and wielded the sabre with precision and it seemed with minimal exertion.
Cutters, seeing the grief on the parents faces, concluded sympathetically, 'This is all about what is best for Christine in these difficult circumstances… Therefore, for the protection of Christine Brennan, aged three months, I rule: she's be taken into State care immediately, until her mother, Doctor Temperance Brennan is acquitted of all charges. Or when Mr Seeley Booth's continued counselling reports convince me otherwise of his mental and behavioural improvements.'
Their defeated lawyer stood to ask, 'Your honour, may I make a request - beg the court?' Cutters nodded for him to continue, closing the file. 'Christine is just next door with a social worker appointed by the State. Before Doctor Brennan returns to the penitentiary may she be allowed a few moments with her daughter?'
With mixed feelings for this proposed reunion and inevitable heart wrenching parting, their friends held their breaths yet again.
Judge Cutters acquiesced, 'I am willing to allow that. You may bring her in...' The clerk left the court to notify the social worker and to bring back Christine.
Bones and Booth took the brief opportunity to speak to each other. Unfortunately they had nothing to say to one another. Their world had fallen apart and no words could make better what had been dragged away from them. Booth was humiliated; his father's abuse of him now a matter of public record. His position as a Special Agent hung in the balance - he was still under investigation by the Bureau. His one true love had a possible life sentence hanging over her too which he could see was draining her of her beauty. And now he had to witness her utter and complete desolation again as she said goodbye to her daughter indefinitely. The cruellest and deepest cut was that he was only allowed to hold his daughter under supervision by beady, suspicious eyes.
Booth could see the agony in her for her daughter, and felt weak and hapless. She knew all too well what it was and how it felt to be abandoned: to be cared for by others - not family. The legacy of scars it could leave and the effect those deep wounds had on future relationships he knew could haunt his precious child.
Staring into her harrowed, gaunt face: gently, slowly Booth rested his brow on hers, and squeezed her hand. 'I'm ok - I'll be ok if you are,' she whispered, sounding distant and unconvincing. He rocked his head on her brow in reply, equally unconvincingly.
The double doors of the court swung wide as the clerk trotted back in. Everybody looked around to him as he scurried toward Judge Cutters. He whispered something over the bench to her, then they all saw her take a deep breath.
Standing, Cutters said gravely, 'There's been and incident.' Booth and Bones stood immediately, followed by gasps from Ange and Cam. 'Unfortunately the social worker looking after your daughter has been found unconscious - she has a head wound.' Bones swapped her weight, and took a ragged breath to fortify herself. Booth set his jaw, feeling the air in his lungs expel in a gush. 'Christine is not with her… We're searching the building now.'
Bones snapped her eyes to Booth's, not daring to vocalise what she suspected and hoped had happened in front of the judge. Then she saw another type of terror flash through Booth's eyes. He asked her silently, was it her absent father that took Christine or was it their malicious nemesis?
A/N: Worth continuing with or not? Hugs, Lebxeb XX
Doctor Temperance Brennan
I watched intently, almost passively, as his face crumpled. So intently that I didn't take in what was happening to me or where these events were leading us all. I could see in his dampening eyes the surrender, helplessness and pain he was trying to hide from me. But I could see he was terrified of what was to become of our torn family. As the court officer was putting on the cuffs I realised this wasn't going to end well for any of us.
We all make unilateral choices for our families and loved ones. At the time we think those choices are the right ones - or at least we think they are. Me make them with a foundation of logic, reason and Christine's best interests at heart. But no one suspected was those choices and decisions could make her personality look fractured - and dangerously so.
I detest that phrase, ' into care', for it is a shadow of what it shall be for her - this I know for a fact. There was very little care taken with me when that innocuous phrase was passed down to me all those years ago. Where will she sleep tonight? Will she sleep at all? Will she ever know she was not abandoned by us - her parents?