A/N: Hi all! I've had this half written for I don't know how long and in my incredible get-stuff-done state of mind, actually finished it today! It's just a little character peice that struck me out of the blue. Let me know what you think!
It had been a particularly hard case. The body of a 15 year old girl found in a back ally, outside of a whore house, buried in months of trash and debris, the majority of the body covered by a mattress. Michelle DiMarco. Pretty little thing. What was left of her cloths suggested scant attire, but no…she wasn't in the life as they say. She had used a fake ID to go clubbing with her friends. Just another teen girl trying to grow up before her time…
Her mother was hysterical, not just in the crying 'no, not my little girl' kind of way. Booth called her a Screamer. She needed someone to blame, which made things a little more difficult for the crime fighting duo since they hadn't found out who was responsible yet. Her grief, her anger at the injustice, her need for someone—anyone—to pay for what had happened. At each interview she would scream, rave, blame them for anything she could think of. Today, the third of these interviews, had been the worst by far.
Brennan had been an easy target, or easier than Booth anyway.
"Why are you even working on my daughter's case? You're not even a cop! You aren't and FBI Agent! You're not qualified to investigate my baby's death! You're just deadweight, holding everything back!"
She sat there and took it, however indignant she may have been about the remarks. She'd had much worse said to her in her life.
"It is my job to analyze the remains—of you're daughter— and let them tell me everything they can about how she died and who killed her."
She still wasn't all that good at dealing with the families. It always felt so awkward to speak to hysterically irrational people.
"This shouldn't have happened! She was a good girl. She tested her boundaries just like any teenager, but she was a good girl! Why her? Why did this bastard choose her?"
She tried so hard not to say the wrong thing. But sometimes she just failed miserably. And when Booth was on the phone, it was more likely to get out of hand…
"Anthropologically speaking, even in a semi-restrictive sexual society like ours, there can be great animosity towards women who may be perceived as promiscuous—"
"ARE YOU CALLING MY BABY A WHORE?"
Temperance began to panic slightly at the, for her anyway, unexpected misunderstanding. "What? No…"
"Bones," Booth tried to worn, but she didn't listen, she needed this woman to understand what she was trying to say.
"No, I would never insinuate that you're daughter was a prostitute. I simply meant that with her manner of dress and her location at the time of the attack, the perpetrator may have—"
"YOU BITCH!" The woman was red-faced, her already messy ponytail making her look like a mad woman. "How dare you? You cold, emotionless Bitch! You're inhuman! A castoff from society! No wonder you look at dead people all day…no one else would be able to stand being around you!" It was almost surprising that Mrs. DiMarco wasn't coming after Brennan to throttle her…it sure seemed like she wanted to.
Booth ended his call abruptly, snapping the phone shut. "Bones…" He lifted the stunned woman out of her chair by her elbow, guiding her to the door of the room as the victim's mother continued to rant about Brennan's despicable existence. "Go home, Bones…"
"I didn't…" The socially inept woman tried to explain to her partner. She didn't have to.
"I know." His demeanor was stern, but his voice was low and understanding.
She'd done as he'd asked. She'd gone home, trying to figure out why she could never get across what she wanted to, why she couldn't understand why someone would react the way Mrs. DiMarco had. Why the woman's comments against her had stung so much after years of being able to brush such things away…
Brennan indulged herself with a hot bath, trying to wash away the tension from the uncertainty of her feelings. As she dried off, she felt only marginally better. The sting from the comments was gone, but it left her heart feeling heavy—as preposterous as that was. There was no difference in the weight of the muscle than before. She sighed and walked into her adjoining bedroom to snag some clean under things. Her black bra had been snapped and she had just pulled on the matching panties when she caught her reflection in the full length mirror on her wall near the bathroom door. Usually her image in a mirror was not at all significant. The light from her lamps hit her body which then reflected certain wavelengths which then hit the reflective surface of the mirror and sent those same wavelengths back to her own eyes. What she saw was exactly what others would have seen had they been looking at her. In her relatively emotional state, however, she founder herself having a rather irrational thought.
Mirrors are funny things. While technically they reflect nothing other than the wavelengths of light that rebound off whoever is in front of them, they very rarely show the truth. When one looks in a mirror, they usually see one of two things: a reflection of how they see themselves, or a manifestation of how others see them. For some, the first reflection is all that is ever seen, others' opinions dismissed as unimportant. For others, you are what the rest of the world says you are. A portion of these people submit to this and believe nothing can be done to see themselves differently. But then there are those who commit their lives to making sure the world thinks highly of them. Typically, these people are not easy to spot. They are like chameleons, ever changing to fit what you expect of them, the embodiment of how people perceive them. Expect them to do well and they will do well. Expect them to be closed off and they will close themselves off.
For most, a true friend is someone you can be yourself around because they see you how you see yourself. But what about those who only see themselves how others see them? What happens when they find a true friend? Miraculously, they begin acting like…themselves. Perhaps they don't realize it at first, but given time they will find that missing sense of self. This, you can not forget, is a process, and a long one at that. And there is always a possibility of falling back on that familiar and comfortable routine of reflecting how others see them.
And so it came to be, under duress of the hurtful screams of the dead girl's mother, that the world renowned anthropologist, loved and esteemed coworker, friend, and partner looked into the mirror and saw…
Societies were about being social. Brennan was not social. When she had been left alone at sixteen she'd already been rather socially awkward. Then she'd been herded into the foster system and she'd not known who to trust. No one seemed to want her trust and so after a while she forgot how. The best way to keep people you don't trust away from you is to appear exactly as they expect you to. She was the 'poor little orphan who had no family and no friends'. They'd expected her to not want to talk about it, so she didn't. They'd expected her to be stand-offish, so she was. The only thing she could not shake was her drive for her education. When they'd expected her to fail, she'd proved them wrong. In her field, she was the best. But socially, she was nothing. She had extracted herself from society. Mrs. DiMarco had seen this and now so did she.
She was a robot; barely human. Cold, blue eyes. Thin, pale lips. Tense muscles that screamed 'stay away'.
She stood there for a long time, looking at the nothing in the mirror. After a while, her study of herself was interrupted by the soft click of her lock disengaged and a slightly louder call of "Bones?" She didn't answer. Her bedroom door opened and Booth peeked his head in. "Bones?" he said again, stepping all the way in when he saw that she was there. She looked at him in the mirror, but didn't turn to face him. He was part of society. He was someone. He stood there, just inside the doorway, watching her watch him. This was still new. Her bedroom was still hers…not yet theirs. He rubbed the back of his neck a bit awkwardly. "Look, Bones, I'm sorry about earlier. I shouldn't have let her go off on you like that."
"It wasn't your fault, Booth. She was just telling the truth." It was calm, measured.
"Yeah, but she had no right—the truth?" he asked incredulously, "What are you talking about Bones? She doesn't know a thing about you. What kind of truth do you think she was spouting?" His tone was nearly angry.
"She was just voicing what everyone thinks of me. It's nothing new. She's right. I'm an outcast." She was so matter-of-fact.
Booth stood straightened, and set his stern brown eyes on the reflection of her blue ones. In three long strides he was behind her, large hands on her bare shoulders, keeping eye contact in the mirror. "Tell me what you see."
Her brow furrowed. "What?"
His grip tightened slightly. "In the mirror. Tell me what you see."
Her gaze turned back to her own body. She was a bit confused, but went along with it. "I see me. And you behind me, of course. I'm not blind, Booth."
His eyes did not soften like she expected them to. "Be more specific."
She complied; sure he would explain himself eventually. "Brown hair, blue eyes, a black bra—."
"No, Bones." He stopped her. "What do you see?"
She blinked. Hadn't she just been telling him? "I don't know what that means."
There. The softening in his eyes. He gave a slightly exasperated sigh and rested his forehead on her smooth shoulder for a moment. She thought she may have felt the ghost of his lips on her skin, but she couldn't be sure. He brought his head up and met her eyes in the mirror once more. "I think you see what she saw. You think she was telling the truth. You look in the mirror and see someone cold-hearted. Someone who can't function socially. Someone who only the dead can tolerate."
Brennan gave a derisive snort even though he'd hit the proverbial nail on the proverbial head. She tried to hide how much it stung hearing the words from his mouth.
Perhaps he'd seen through her as usual, perhaps not, but his grip on her became gentle then. He let his hands skim over her shoulders and down her arms then slid them up her thighs to settle at her trim waist. He pulled her back to lean on his chest and kissed the column of her neck before bringing his lips to her ear. His voice was a low rumble, rich and seductive. It was the tone he saved for only her, the one he knew made her heart quicken and her breathing increase. "But do you know what I see?"
She shook her head, caught in the spell of his eyes and his voice and his hands.
He closed his eyes and lavished her neck with another slow, sensual kiss. He preened when he opened them again to see her attention was still riveted on his mouth. He smiled with the knowledge of how he was affecting her. "I see a woman who feels so much that she has to physically restrain her emotions so she can still do her job better than anyone else," he told her in that same low voice. He slid his calloused hands up her warm skin and gently untangled her arms so they could no longer act as a shield for her body. "I see a woman whose passion draws people to her like moths to a flame and only trusts those who can stand the heat." He kissed her neck again and then her shoulder, letting his hands wander her smooth skin, slowly stroking, pleased when the tension in her body began to melt away. Their eyes never left each other's as he continued his monologue. "I see a woman who wants everything done the right way the first time so that the families don't have to wait longer than necessary for justice. I see a woman strong enough to not back down so that can happen. And I see a woman kind and loving enough to take care of those who try to take care of her. You're not a cast-off, Bones. Whoever thinks so doesn't know you and doesn't deserve to."
Their eyes held a bit longer, affirming the seriousness of what he was saying, before she finally looked back at her reflection instead of his. Her skin glowed under his hands, her ice blue eyes held a spark in their depths; she no longer looked like a robot. She looked like a woman in the arms of the man she loved. Perhaps she was still a bit of a chameleon, or maybe this was just her true self, brought out by someone who could see it before she could. "I hate psychology."
Laugh-lines crinkled around his eyes as he chuckled, allowing his lips to once again skim along her neck and shoulder before returning to her pulse-point. "I guess I should change the subject then," he rumbled teasingly as he let one had stray upwards and one to stray downwards both with the intention of burrowing under black fabric.
Her breath hitched. "Good idea." Regardless of what, or who, she saw when she looked in the mirror on an average day, this was going to be the best thing it had shown her in a long time.