I hate putting disclaimers in my stories, but I know that a few readers object whenever I write scenes in which Brennan gets angry. All I can say is that what she's going through in this chapter is part of her journey of self-discovery, and that if you can be patient, all will (hopefully) come together at the end. Plus, I always do try to write her from a sympathetic point of view, not just make her into a villain, and I believe that she had some good reasons for feeling the way she does here.
And to one of my kind reviewers, rest assured, no babies (other than the one I've already written about) were harmed in the making of this ff! So without much more ado…
As much as Camille Saroyan tried tiptoeing through the Jeffersonian's halls in an effort to get to her office and catch her breath without running into Dr. Brennan first, it didn't work. Because the forensic anthropologist was already waiting for her there, sitting ramrod straight on her couch, her face fully belying the fact that she wasn't a happy camper.
Cam's shoulders drooped at the sight, and she reluctantly accepted that the inevitable skirmish would be starting sooner than she anticipated; hopefully, it wouldn't leave either her or Dr. Brennan too bloodied, or escalate into something that made their always tentative relationship end up looking like bits of shredded mulch.
She walked in slowly, holding her hands up to show she wasn't armed.
"I know, Dr. Brennan; I know-Booth told me you found out about his lunatic plan, which I fully acknowledged I probably shouldn't have taken any part in. It's just that he begged, and he made a face and frankly, I let myself feel sorry for him, although I now wish I hadn't because I really don't want get lectured and scolded over it, even when it's deserved. So I'm sorry."
Brennan stood up, unmoved by what she felt was less than a credible apology.
"Please don't try to mollify me, Dr. Saroyan; I won't have my expressions of displeasure preempted by Booth's announcement to you of what happened at our house this morning" she began angrily. "I want you to know that I'm very upset with you, perhaps even more than I am with Booth, and I feel I'm well within my rights to express that anger. I'll remind you that you're my colleague, not my mother. I realize that you're my superior at the Jeffersonian by virtue of your job description and title, but I always assumed that you felt we were equals in terms of skills and expertise, and that you could trust my decision-making abilities, at least when it came to work. I can see now that this apparently isn't the case."
"By all means, please go ahead and vent" Cam said in a conciliatory tone; "don't let me stop you. You've more than earned that right. It's not like I got into this unawares of where I would end up. And yes, Dr. Brennan, of course I consider you my equal professionally, and I trust your ability to do the right, intelligent thing on almost every occasion. Lord knows there are few people whose judgment and level-headedness I respect more, especially under pressure, both on and off the field."
"So why this? Why go around my back and give in to Booth's patently illogical arguments? You know as well as I do that the suspect has never remained at the scene of a crime beyond the initial disturbance. Why would he? His behavior so far shows him to be an extremely cautious individual; why else wouldn't he have been apprehended yet? His targets have always been first responders, and no matter what Booth thinks or how many times he says it, we at the Jeffersonian are scientists, not first responders. I had as good a chance of getting killed by the sniper while collecting evidence this morning as I did stepping off the curb and getting run over by a taxi when I went out for lunch. Surely you must see that."
"I realize that you consider yourself first and foremost Booth's friend," she continued with a touch of bitterness; "that's pretty obvious at this point. And maybe because of your previous romantic involvement, you feel that your loyalty towards him should trump your loyalty to me, your associate, no matter how unfair that may be. But I want you to be aware of the fact that this is not a situation I'm willing to tolerate. I have to be allowed to exercise my own judgment when it comes to carrying out my professional duties. And if you won't, or can't allow it, then I'll be forced to go over your head and talk to someone else, someone whose views haven't been tainted by the opinions of my partner, and your friend."
Angela had been about to step into Cam's office with information about the killer's probable vantage point at the warehouse, when the loud argument going on between the two women stopped her in her tracks.
"Whoa" she uttered in bewilderment. "Okay, I don't know what's going on, but I'm backing away now, just in case the shrapnel gets me. We can do this later, Cam. I'll come back in a little bit."
Whatever was going on in there was something Angela wasn't going to meddle with in any way, shape or form. She quickened her step, and left the quarrel behind her as fast as she could, not even wanting to hear any of the details in case she had the misfortune of being called back in to referee.
Although initially stung by Dr. Brennan's words, Cam ultimately made the determination that the comments about Booth really held no malice, and she opted to ignore them; she decided that they were most likely just a symptom of how stressed and hurt her colleague was, and that they were her way of lashing out at the person whom she perceived had just stripped away a large chunk of her dignity and self-image.
"Okay, I don't deny that Booth is one of my oldest, dearest friends, and that I may have let that friendship-and absolutely nothing else-with him get in the way of my duties and responsibilities towards you as a boss, but you have to realize that I know what you and this baby mean to Booth. I have never, and I mean never, seen him this happy-and terrified-at the same time. For the most part, I concur with you on the minimal risk that the killer poses to our staff, and logically, I shouldn't have taken into account Booth's request to keep you off the field. But I want you to know that while Booth is my friend, I also consider you to be a friend, a good friend, and as such I can't help it if sometimes I do let my feelings about your condition dictate where I send you. Am I presuming too much by hoping that you see me as a friend as well?"
"You know I do" Brennan admitted unwillingly, the spark suddenly going out of her anger. "I know we've had our differences in the past, but I thought we had worked through all that, which is why I was caught completely off guard by your decision to give in to Booth's ridiculous demands this morning."
"If I were no more than an impartial, by-the-book employer, it would make perfect sense for me to send you out there without a lick of guilt, with the rest of the staff; but as a woman who unexpectedly now has a daughter of her own and as a friend, I feel I'm within my rights to at least ask you to think about the dangers inherent in going to an open crime scene that may not be fully secured or securable."
"I thought we both agreed that my odds of getting killed were not particularly high today."
"But what if next time the killer decides to hold his ground and pulls the trigger again, or sets off another explosive device. Even if he doesn't aim for you, it could cause another scramble for safety by everyone around you that could end up injuring you and the baby just as much as a bullet. You're not as mobile as you used to be, or as agile as you were before you became pregnant; you have to know that. And the honest truth is that I'm not sure I'm willing to live with the consequences should something like that happen, and I'm certain neither is Booth.
Dr. Brennan's shoulders slumped dejectedly, and she looked away, as close to tears as Cam had ever seen her.
"So that's it; I have no recourse then" she said haltingly. As she spoke, Cam saw something else in the doctor's eyes, more than just a loss of pride and a relentless need for independence-it was fear.
"And what about Booth" Brennan asked in a broken voice. "What if something happens to him while he's out there without me? Everyone is so worried about me, what about him? He is a first responder; he's a law enforcement officer, the same type of target the shooter is going after. You may not realize it, but when we're in the field together, I look after him as much as he looks after me. Yes, he's saved my life before, but I've saved his as well; what if I'm not there and something happens? How can I live with that?"
The argument surprised Cam; it had never occurred to her that this might be part of the reason that Dr. Brennan was so vehemently opposed to being left behind at the Jeffersonian. It wasn't an admission she expected the scientist to ever make, or to even let herself acknowledge, because it spoke more to heart and raw emotion than anything else, but Cam could now plainly see just how much had changed in her friend since the early years of their collaboration. Dr. Brennan could say all she wanted about being able to think rationally no matter what she was faced with, but what Cam was seeing in her now was a total loss of perspective brought on by love, pure and simple. That, and perhaps a feeling that things were spiraling out of control as a due date and the killer's hunger progressed. Ironically, the exact same things that Booth was probably feeling these days.
"Dr. Brennan, Temperance," Cam replied soothingly as she placed a reassuring hand on her friend's arm. "That's his job, and he's good at it-incredibly good. You know Booth doesn't take unnecessary risks, and he's aware of his surroundings like no one else I know-it's like a sixth sense with him. But what you have to realize is that if he's worrying about you on top of everything else that's going on out there, it makes his job that much harder and it could even end up dangerously diluting his focus. I promise you, though, that from now on I will make every effort to consult with you-not Booth-about whether or not you get to go on a specific job assignment. If you assure me that after calmly and objectively looking at the situation you still feel comfortable going to a crime scene, I swear I will not let my personal feelings or Booth's puppy dog eyes keep me from sending you there. No more backroom deals, you have my word; is that something you think you can work with?"
"Yes, I suppose I can work with that."
"But I also ask you to please take Booth's affection for you and my own concerns about your condition into account when you're weighing your options. Because if something does end up happening, we're the ones who are going to have to live with that burden for the rest of our lives. I care about you, Dr. Brennan, I really do-and this isn't just about Booth. So can you do that for me?" Cam pleaded. "Deal?"
Brennan looked around thoughtfully, perhaps on the brink of agreeing to Cam's request.
"Deal," she finally replied. She walked silently out the office, but abruptly turned around to look at Cam once again.
"I'm sorry that I behaved so harshly towards you just now. I want you to know that ultimately I do appreciate that you had what you felt were my best interests in mind when you kept me from going with you this morning, even if I disagree with your methods. I guess it's just hard accepting that so many things lately are no longer mine alone to deal with as I see fit. I hope you will accept my apology for yelling at you just now-and for some of the other things I brought up," she said sheepishly. "I really do consider you a friend, Cam."
"Of course. And I understand, more than you think. Ever since Michelle and I became a family, I've had to make adjustments to my life that I never thought I would be capable or willing to make for anyone. And I want to assure you that when things get back to normal after the baby is born, we'll go back to our old way of doing business, Booth or no Booth."
Brennan finally allowed herself to smile a little. "Thank you. I suppose I can't entirely blame you for having capitulated to Booth earlier; I know how convincing he can be when he puts his mind to it. He does have 'puppy dog eyes' as you call them, at least when he really wants to get you to do something for him."
"That he does-and from now on they'll be entirely yours to deal with any way you choose, I promise. No more being suckered into insane shenanigans behind your back. I may like the occasional big-stakes poker game, but even I'm not that big of a risk-taker."