A/N This is set after Rene' dies in the comics. It is canon up till then. In the Bones universe it is set immediately after the season five episode where Gordon confronts Booth about the fact that he is in love with Bones. As always, I have no proprietary claims to either BTVS or Bones, but I sure wish I did.
ROLL THE BONES
Conversations, we have thousands, maybe millions of them in our lifetimes. Verbal and non-verbal, literal and metaphoric, brief and epic; but most are simply space fillers of little to no significance. Once in a great while you will know that a conversation will be significant before it even begins. More common, but only by a little is when the fact that you are having a significant conversation occurs to you while still having the conversation. Usually, though; we do not realize that we have had a significant conversation until long after it is over.
Our setting is a bar, which is a tad cliche, but appropriate. It’s one AM on a Thursday, and the bar we’re in is called Red’s in Washington DC. The name has nothing to do with communism and everything to do with the owner, whose Irish descent made his nickname pretty easy to come up with. It’s not a trendy or popular place, but it does have a fair share of regular clients, and it also features live music. While Red’s is not a “Jazz” bar, it has given a lot of up and comer’s some exposure. The guy playing is from Iowa of all places and is working his Tenor Saxophone well; those with an ear know that it won’t be long before he’s moving on to bigger and better places. The lighting is low and the few conversations occurring are just as muted.
Seeley Booth is sitting at a table by himself and staring off into the darkness while nursing a beer; something he’s been doing for about three hours. He’s not here for the music or the atmosphere, Seeley is here because he knows that he won’t run into anyone from either the FBI or the Jeffersonian here. Seeley Booth wants to be alone right now, and this is just about the best place he’s found to be that. He wants the solitude so he can think; at least that’s what he’s been telling himself. He wants to think about what his friend Gordon told him about Bones. He raises his glass and as he does his eye flicks almost imperceptibly to the left, that guy is still looking at him and frankly it’s pissing Booth off. As he lowers his glass he decides to meet the thing head on and turns to the man. “You got a problem, buddy,” he growls out.
“Sorry,” the other man replied, looking sheepish, “it’s just that you look just like this guy I used to know back in High School, he’s supposed to be in LA now but you never can tell with him.”
“Where was High School,” Booth asked, curiosity overcoming his irritation.
“California, a couple hours from LA.”
“Sorry pal, I’m from Philly; so if you don’t mind…,” Booth trailed off, hoping the guy would take the hint and leave him alone.
“No, I don’t mind; so why were you brooding?”
“Hey, I wasn’t brooding, I was thinking,” Booth replied quickly, even as he cringed at his defensive tone. He was wondering what it would take to get this moron to take the hint and buzz off.
“Nope, that was brooding, trust me; I know what I’m talking about on this subject.”
“Whatever,” Booth muttered, turning away; why did he always seem to attract the weirdos?
Silence returned to Booth’s world for about five minutes. Patience and Hope, that’s what Gordon had said; but how to keep that up seeing Bones all the time? How did he deal with working with someone he loved that didn’t return that love, would it be better to just walk away? His brooding . . . ahem, thinking, was interrupted by a question that wasn’t in his head.
“So who is she?”
Booth looked up to see that the guy had moved from his place by the juke box and was now sitting across the table. “Do you have a death wish,” he hissed, almost incandescent with rage.
“That’s a distinct possibility,” the guy replied flippantly. “Now who is she?”
Booth couldn’t believe what was happening. Here he was trying to figure out a situation and some total stranger comes along acting like he’s Dr. Phil. What was worse was that Booth couldn’t seem to stop himself from talking to this dipstick. “How do you know it’s a her, it could be money or the job or something like that.”
“I know that look.”
This was getting ridiculous; he couldn’t seem to get this moron to just leave him alone. Booth was to the point where he was contemplating pulling his gun, the only thing stopping him was the counseling session he’d have to go to afterwards. “And I’m gonna tell you, why?”
“Because sitting here, staring at the wall for hours on end isn’t really getting you anywhere.”
“But why you?”
“Because if you had family or friends to talk to about this, you would have, or you have and the advice they gave doesn’t sit well. Either way you’re just spinning your wheels and that’s not helping. So here I am, a completely neutral party that is willing to listen, and I won’t even offer an opinion unless you ask me to.”
To his complete surprise, Booth found himself actually talking to this guy. It was weird, it almost seemed like someone else was in control of his body as one part of him listened as the other part told this complete stranger about his history and current situation with Bones. And while one part of him was talking, another part was telling himself to shut up; after all, he didn’t know who this guy was or why he was there or anything but for some reason, the part telling himself to shut up just wasn’t being listened to. So the trained, FBI side of his brain sat back and listened as he spilled everything to some guy who’s name he didn’t even know. Booth found himself equally horrified at how much he was revealing about himself and relieved now that he was letting everything out. “. . . . . . so he told me that I needed both Patience and Hope. So what do you think? And before you answer that one, what the heck is your name?”
“Sorry,” the guy shot him a goofy grin, “my name is Alexander Harris, but my friends call me Xander. And as for what I think, well I think there’s a huge trap you’ve got to watch out for.”
“What trap is that?”
“What do you mean, how is hope a trap?”
“Hope is the greatest trap of all Seeley. Don’t get me wrong, hope is one of the greatest things there is and it keeps you going long after the rational part of your brain has packed it in; but its also one of the cruelest things in existence. Hope can drive you insane if you’re not careful.”
Xander could see that Seeley wasn’t convinced, so with a mental sigh, he continued. “Let me tell you about this guy I know. He fell for this girl, instantly head over heels for her. Now he knew she cared about him, he never has doubted that, and he was one of her closest friends, but things weren’t going the way he wanted them to. So after a few months he laid it all on the line and asked her out, she said no. Later that night he saved her life, something she never thanked him for because she only had eyes for someone else. But he stayed for several reasons, one of which was to be close to her. He would help her when he could and in his heart he always had hope that she would finally see him ‘that way’. He stayed and watched as she fell for practically every guy in her life that wasn’t him. And each time she did, each time she chose someone other than him, a little part of his heart was torn out. Despite that, he would stay and later help pick up the pieces and his heart would heal over, leaving scar tissue in its wake. He had relationships with other women, but he couldn’t give them everything because hope held a bit of his heart back, just in case she finally saw him as something other than a friend. So due to that hope that he carried in his heart, he could never move forward, past her. After each of her failed relationships the girl would complain that she could never find the right guy, all the while she was slowly killing the guy that was most devoted to her. Because only scar tissue replaced those bits of his heart, and eventually the guy was afraid that his heart was damaged to the point that he just couldn’t love; and without love, you die.”
“So what was the last straw,” Seeley asked, realizing early on that Xander was talking about himself.
“She decided to try the other side of the street; which is fine except that she knew beyond a doubt that the other girl was already in love with her. So it wasn’t some big risk, it was just using someone to make her feel good. Meanwhile the guy is standing vigil over the grave of a girl he cared about, all alone because none of his friends cared enough to be there for him.”
“I don’t understand why though, what is it about this girl that has him so wrapped up?”
“She is both the kindest and cruelest person he’s ever known. She’ll literally put her life on the line for strangers, but will then turn around and treat the people closest to her with disdain. She’s made sacrifices that would break your heart and she’s used people simply because she could. She’s probably the best person he knows, but caring for her has a very high price.”
“He’s trying to find out that if after eight years its time to give up the hope that’s kept him going and see if there’s still enough of his heart left. So take some advice Agent Booth, have hope; but don’t loose your heart to it. Have the guts to walk away before hope costs you everything.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Booth finally answered.
“Fair enough,” Xander said, while getting up. He extended his hand, “Good luck Seeley.”
“You too, Xander,” he replied; shaking the man’s hand. “I hope you find what you need.”
“So do I,” Xander quietly answered as he walked out of the bar.
Seeley sat back in his chair and took another sip of his beer, thinking about what he’d been told.
Despite the fact that both men were trained observers; neither had noticed the woman a couple of tables over that was sitting there silently, tears pouring down her face.