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Mass Effect: No-One Left Behind

our_innocence in mausolea_fics

Fic: Subtle, Part One

Title: Subtle, Part One: Trial By Fire
Summary: Sometimes you need a friend. Sometimes you need a psychologist. Sometimes, it pays to have someone who's both.On Shakespeare, forgiveness, family, and friendship; Brennan and Sweets have a conversation in the aftermath of Jared Booth.
Word Count: 2,379
Pairing/Characters: Brennan, Sweets, mentions of Booth/Brennan and the rest of the squint squad
Spoilers: Up to Season 4, episode nine The Con Man in the Meth Lab
Rating: T for occasional cursing.
A/N: I originally meant to write a smallish rantessay about the problem with Bones after watching Con Man, but it morphed into a discussion between Sweets and other characters in my head. Un'beta'd.

The room usually provokes a feeling of annoyance in the good doctor, but today, it seems very safe. Neutral colours, comfortable furniture, and a trained professional- no matter how soft that profession may be- there to support her. And though she has not come to admit it yet, Sweets brings credibility to his chosen line of work. But today is not about work, or theories. It's about what could be put as a monumental fuck up on her part.

Why she has chosen to speak to Sweets is unclear, even to herself. Perhaps she thinks Cam is too emotionally involved, perhaps Angela's view towards relationships is too muddled at the moment to ask for her advice. But for whatever reason, she has come to Sweets for advice.

He gestures, and she sits. There is a moment of awkwardness as she tries to find a comfortable seat and adjusts her bags, trying to assuage her own discomfort. Finally, she comes to rest, and for a brief while, the two doctors simply look at one another, neither knowing how to break the silence.

'So,' Sweets says, after a while, 'I would ask why you were here, Dr Brennan, but I think I can safely assume it has to do with the last week's debacle.'

'Yes,' she starts, and then she falters, not knowing how to proceed. Sweets sits back, allowing Brennan to take her time.

'I really don't know what I'm supposed to do.' There, she's said it, the closest thing Brennan can do to pouring her heart out to the young man sitting across the way. 'I made a mistake. I made a really big mistake.'

'Gargantuam may be a better word,' Sweets says. She looks at him, trying to see if he's joking or sarcastic, but his face is straight, betraying no inner thoughts. 'You messed up big time, Dr Brennan. From here on out, no matter what we say today, things are going to be different.'

'Well, how do I fix it?' she blurts out. 'I mean, I think Booth has forgiven me, but it's still not the way it was.' She looks at him pleadingly. 'What do I do to make it better?'

Sweets shrugs. 'The truth of the matter, Dr Brennan,' he says, 'is that you're not looking to make it better, per say. You're looking to make things the way they were before. They're not going to.' He sighs, shifts a little. 'Agent Booth has been injured, personally and professionally. He's opened himself up to you, probably in a way that no-one in his professional life has ever heard before.'

He considers her as she digests this information, processing it, trying to see it in her language. 'But Dr Saroyan knew about it,' she ventures.

Sweets gives her a look. 'Dr Saroyan and Agent Booth have a history,' he says. 'Not merely sexual, but very grounded in a mutual platonic affection. For all intents and purposes, they journeyed through the beginning of adulthood together. Dr Saroyan's observations and the resulting knowledge don't stem from a clinical trial or observation, but rather from personal experience. She understands Booth in a way that you're still learning; she's spent much more personal time with him than you do.' He straightens up a bit. 'Hence why she worries. And not just about Agent Booth, Dr Brennan,' he continues, 'but about you. Your team at the Jeffersonian, while not unique, is unusual at how the professional and personal fuse into a single creature.' He twiddles with a pen, watching her intently.

She stays quiet. Sweets decides to take a chance and slowly lead her towards a broader view.

'Dr Brennan,' he says, 'while you don't consider me to be a peer, we both belong to a shared societal grouping- we're both considered hyper intelligent, perhaps even prodigies. And aside from that, beyond your purely academic trophies, you're a best selling author and categorically a very attractive female. Society, as a whole, tends to forgive any personal quirks and beliefs when you've got that sort of package to offer others. But Agent Booth doesn't consider that. He respects that, immensely, but he doesn't consider that when it comes to you. He expects you to try and perhaps, at times, show a little more compassion.'

'But why?' she asks hoarsely. 'He's known me long enough to know how I am, how I think things through.'

Sweets looked at her sympathetically. 'Be that as it may, Dr Brennan, it's because he does know you well enough to see past the professional façade. Agent Booth doesn't strike me as someone who would have fostered a relationship that the two of you share if he didn't know that you weren't merely a robot processing data. Agent Booth cares, deeply, about a number of things. You are one of them. Your opinion matters. And you basically crapped all over that.'

She knows this- she knew this- she knows that everything that Sweets is saying is true. But it doesn't make it hurt any less, doesn't make the truth any easier to bear. At a moment when Booth needed her to lean on, she failed him because she let someone who twisted her knickers in the right way lead her in a direction without looking at the truth. She should know this. The scientist in her knows that evidence alone proves nothing without proper context. The human in her knows that Booth has weathered many storms with her and has never failed her before, whatever it might cost him personally or professionally. She knows all this, and she failed him.

She tries not to cry.

'What am I supposed to do?' she asks hoarsely. Sweets smiles, not smugly, but warmly, one friend to another.

'Perhaps,' he says, 'you've already started. You're talking to someone, and you want to make things right. Keep talking. We all have different perspectives on Booth. To Cam, he's an old friend, someone who knows the past and doesn't judge. To Hodgins, he's another guy to talk about guy stuff- sports, women, large and expensive cars.' They both laugh. 'To Angela, he's the closest thing in your group to being normal, two people who fit in much more but are still very different from the population, by and large. Even Zach has his own perspective on Booth.'

'What would that be?' she asks, curious. He laughs a little.

'Doctor-patient privilege,' is all he says. He shakes his head, but the amusement leaves his face and he looks at her with all the seriousness.

'But what's most important here,' he says, 'is what Booth is to you. And that's a whole different dragon in and of itself.'

There is quiet, now, as they contemplate. Brennan's tears are past and she chews her lip for a moment, looking at her hands, the wall, her chair, anything but Sweets. He is still, letting her ponder, knowing where things will lead.

'What is he to me?' she asks, half to Sweets, half to herself. 'What does Booth mean to me?'

'Not just what,' Sweets interjects, 'but who, and why.' She looks at him expectantly. 'What?' he asks.

'Well, aren't you going to give me some broad, bullet point description of what, who and why Booth is to me?' She sits back, a little more relaxed, letting her guard down a bit. Sweets rolls his eyes and crosses his arm, giving her a wry look.

'If I could give everyone everything they wanted, I'd be out of a job,' he says finally. 'But, since we're friends and all, I suppose I could get you started. But that's conditional.'

'On what? Behaving in therapy? Because I promise I'll try, but I'm not making any promises.'

He shakes his head. 'That you'll try looking at this from more than one angle,' he says. 'Not just the rational and the logical, but also perhaps what your heart says. It's just as important as what the head says. Letting one reign over the other is a dangerous thing, and you slipped up.' He leans forward. 'And as a friend- not just as your colleague and as your therapist- I don't want to see that happen again. I have no desire to see either of you in pain. I respect you both- I like you both.'

She hesitates, not sure of what she's getting into, but nods. Anything to make this better.

He fiddles with his hands, lacing and re-lacing his fingers. 'What you and Agent Booth have,' he says slowly, 'is a specific sort of bond.' He raises his head, looking her in the eyes. 'You have an emotional attachment to one another that is vital not only to your relationship professionally, but on a deeper, more profound personal level.

'Dr Brennan, you and Agent Booth are two very talented people in very mentally engaging, but emotionally draining jobs. You deal with death in ways few can. And even before you two were aware of one another's existence, you were dancing on the darker side. He was a sniper. You dug up mass graves to give names to victims. You both worked on cases before you were placed together. And together, you have forged a protection for one another, a refuge in someone who can understand in a way that other people can't. He has killed on your behalf, Dr Brennan, and you have done the same for him. Are you familiar, perhaps, with Shakespeare's Henry the Fifth?'

'Of course,' she says faintly. ''What's that got to do with Booth?'

'From this day,' he quotes, 'to the ending of the world, but we in it shall be remembered- We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.' Sweets cocked his head to the side.

'What does Crispan's day have to do with Booth and I?' Brennan looks faintly confused. Sweets shakes his head and smirks a bit.

'It's about fellowship in the trenches, in a way,' he says finally. 'Those who live through certain circumstances are bonded, forever.' He looks at her intently. 'Since your partnership with Agent Booth, you have both gone under trial by fire, and both have survived. And not just the two of you alone, but your entire group. The pain you've felt from this job, he's felt it with you. The professional lows he's suffered, you carried through with him. The problems, the heartbreak, you forged an emotional union with him, something no boyfriend of yours or girlfriend of his, no professional partner, no sibling or parental unit will ever compare to. Jared will never understand digging you out of a coal mine and Russ will never understand watching him bleed out after being shot. Not everything is seen in the grand scheme of culture, not everything is based on psychology, sociology, or anthropology. The ties the two of you share are going to carry on and resonate for the rest of your mutual existence and whatever life lies beyond your friendship. But to keep that bond strong, you have to make it matter. You let your faith falter and more than you, Agent Booth is paying that price.'

'But I don't see Booth as a brother,' she says.

'No,' he agrees, 'but he is family, isn't he?'

She has no response to that.

'Your family life is intensely complex, if we consider your biological family. Your mother was murdered, your father is a murderer, both were criminals, as is your brother. But your family- your team- while probably just as complex, welcomes you, loves you, forgives you your faults and helps you get through the darker days. Just as you,' he says, stabbing the air with his pen for emphasis, 'do that for them. Agent Booth is very much part of that family. Regardless of how you might view love, you're all a family and you all love one another. I see that, and I feel that, when I'm with you all. And that is why Agent Booth has already forgiven you, and that is why you've got to make sure that he knows that you appreciate him, and why you need to make sure- for yourself- that you need to have faith not only in him, but in your relationship with him.'

So many things run through her head, but the only thing she can say is, 'Booth loves me?'

He nods. 'And you love him. I'm not saying it has to be in the romantic sense,' he says, forestalling the argument on her tongue, 'but yes, you are his loved one, and he is your loved one. As are Hodgins, and Zach, and Cam, and Angela.' He smiles. 'You are an amazing bunch, and I, for one, feel privileged that I'm allowed to work with your group.'

'Even though we make fun of you all the time?' she asks sceptically.

'Yep,' he says.

'Huh.' They sit for a while longer, saying nothing, merely being comfortable in one another's company. She has a virtual torrent of emotions, thoughts, and questions that ring through her head, but she cannot bring herself to say anymore. It isn't personal pride or a disbelief in psychology that stops her; she simply can't form the words proper to ask any more questions.

'Dr Brennan,' Sweets says, bringing her out of her reverie, 'I have someone coming in soon, and it's starting to get late.'

'Oh? Oh, yes!' she says hurriedly. 'I'm sorry, I didn't mean to take so much of your time.' She gets up to go, shouldering her bag, straightening her jacket, turning her phone back on. Sweets nods, getting to his feet and walking to his desk, readying himself for his next visitor.

She gets to the door, one hand on the cool steel knob. 'Hey, Sweets,' she says, looking away. He mms in response.

'Thanks, Sweets,' she says.

'What,' he laughs, 'for the free therapy session?'

'No,' she says quietly. 'For being a friend. I really appreciate it.' And with that, she walks out the door, speeding her way to the elevator, deep in thought.

Sweets smiles, and looks at his clock on the wall. Ten minutes until Dr Saroyan arrives.

It will be an interesting day.


Awww I loved it! Well Done!
Mausolea of Fics Default

November 2009



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