Saturday, February 27, 2010

Fan Fiction Entry - "Worth It," by Era

Worth It
by Era

"Mr. Booth?"

Still clapping for the last parent, I looked toward my son's teacher as she gave me an encouraging smile. "Are you ready to present?" Casting a glance at Parker, who gave me an excited thumbs up from his desk in the center of the room, I nodded. Standing up slowly, I began my walk to the front of the room, all the while subtly surveying its occupants. Most had by now zoned out, long ago having tuned away from the endless droning of accountants and nurses and who knew what else. Hey, never said I was paying attention, either. I mean, it was career day - no one remembered that Jimmy's mom worked at Starbucks or that Casey's dad was a CEO of some little-less-than-multi-million dollar company.

One thing I knew, though, was that no one ever forgot Special Agent Seeley Joseph Booth.

Having reached my designated place in front of the chalkboard, I looked out over a sea of young, curious faces, and the older, more distracted features of their parents. I continued to search the pairs of eyes until mine locked with those of my kid.

I smiled, and began.

"How many of you have ever played cops and robbers?" A few hands shot into the air with childish exuberance, and I grinned. "Yeah, I did too. And even now I kinda do something like that. See, I'm Mr. Booth, and I work as a Special Agent for the FBI."

A few whispers and gasps accompanied my last words, and I couldn't help but feel the swell of pride in my chest as I went on. "So, does anyone know what an FBI Agent does?"

To the silence in the room, I waited and raised my eyebrows, but when no one volunteered I continued. "Well, how about I tell you? The typical day of an FBI Agent begins at about seven every morning..."

***

0700 HOURS
APARTMENT OF SEELEY BOOTH/FAIRFAX FIREARMS TRAINING CENTER

He flipped over and slammed his hand down upon his alarm, his other hand wearily rubbing the sleep from his eyes. Blearily, he stumbled from his bed to the dresser, donning an old t-shirt and some basketball shorts before heading out the door and into the gentle break of day. He found himself fully awake as he tied his shoelaces and stretched, the morning soft and impressionable around him as the sun struggled over the horizon. Heading into that growing light, he began his run at a brisk pace, the sharp slap of his cadence echoing in the silence. It was peaceful, and he liked that. Calm, when so much else in his life was not.

Running faster was an easy way to run away from all those things he hated to admit that he couldn't fix.

Soon, though, he found himself back at his apartment, and it was a quick shower and breakfast before climbing into the SUV and heading to the firearms training center.

"Hey, Booth," chorused through the locker room in several variations upon his entrance, and he gave small smiles in silent reply. Amidst the bantering of his peers, he strapped on a shoulder holster, adjusting the straps and checking his weapon to make sure it had the required number of rounds. When the administrator ordered them to the range, the group of agents gathered their things and waited to be briefed on the day's exercise.

"Alright, boys. Simulated unarmed suspect pursuit and subsequent take down - the hanging board will move along the course we've pre-programmed. You will be placed at different points along the perimeter. Locate and terminate the target first, or there are fifty push-ups in your future."

They nodded, and split for their positions.

Booth slipped his glasses over his face, the room around him instantly darkening into the subtle tones of a city slipping into evening. The set they'd fashioned (really made only of cardboard backgrounds that could be moved into different positions to improvise different scenarios) held that familiar air of mystery, and he absorbed the feelings of heightened suspense and breathless anticipation that came with the chase. He took in the atmosphere, and found himself briefly part of this fake world - but the smooth, metallic glide of a weapon through his hands was entirely real. Slipping quietly through the course, he exhaled as he peered around the corner, then the next, gliding along with each step and moving with a serpent-like elegance; a shadowy grace; a dangerous intent.

A sinfully perfect picture of the thing he hated most to be - a killer.

Of course it was he who successfully completed the task first. Was there ever any doubt?

***

0900 HOURS
J. EDGAR HOOVER BUILDING

At nine in the morning, the Hoover building was already swarming with activity. Agents bustled to and fro, talking in low tones about current cases as they scurried to their next destination, while others relaxed and chatted on break in the lounge. Booth sauntered into the workplace, immediately adapting to the environment; as at home here among the best of the best as anywhere else. He found himself subject to many greetings, and the subject of many green-eyed stares.

But here, he was no subject. Here, he was king.

Not to boast or anything.

His feet eventually found his office, where Charlie stood by with a steaming mug of coffee.

"Whatcha doing here, Charlie?" he questioned, removing the cup from his grasp and clapping him on the shoulder simultaneously.

He turned back to his desk, only to sit down and find the other man dropping a stack of paperwork in front of him that could not have possibly weighed any less than an elephant. The minor sonic boom it made upon connecting with his desk confirmed that suspicion, and he looked up at Charlie, features twisted quizzically.

"From Hacker," Charlie explained, a pitying look in his eyes. He fidgeted with his tie before elaborating, "He wants it done by noon."

Booth leaned back in his chair in surprise and minor annoyance. "Is this for that Halfields case? I mean, I wasn't even the Case Agent..." He trailed off as Charlie nodded, then passed a hand over his eyes, rubbing them. It was starting to look like a long day already.

With a sigh, he replied, "Tell Hacker he'll have 'em. But I get dibs on the Pickerings case!"

"Is that the dismembered skeleton found in the ice block under a - ?"

"That's the one. Now, you better go tell him that before he gives it to someone else."

Charlie thought it wise not to mention that he only wanted the case because he would have to bring his squint in on it. Or that it was supposed to be his case anyway. Who else could handle that feisty little genius? Not that a lot of people wouldn't like to try...

Realizing he'd been standing there a while, he nodded fiercely and backed out of the room, swept away in the tide of government employees.

Booth, on the other hand, stayed where he was, glaring at the pile of paperwork in front of him. Wasn't it this kind of stuff that was killing trees? With a last sigh, he grabbed a pen from the rattling tin on his desk before setting to work.

***

1200 HOURS
DEPUTY DIRECTOR HACKER'S OFFICE

"Come in," came his boss' voice from behind the thick wooden door as Booth juggled paperwork and case file, reaching for the door knob and successfully stepping inside without injuring himself.

Hacker looked up at him in surprise. "Gee, you finished on time? How do you always find ways to make me look like the slacker?" the deputy director mumbled under his breath, standing to heft the pile into the drop box. When he turned around, the case file Booth had taken possession of early was being waggled in front of his nose.

"Pickerings? It's mine now, right?"

Andrew resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "Yes, Booth."

Booth was especially eager for that particular case, not only because of the intrigue it presented with its multiple...angles, but also, well... he was kind of starting to miss his people. It'd been at least a month since he'd seen them.

Them really being Bones. But it was true that without her or any of them, things weren't as interesting for him. Not that he'd ever tell them that. And not that things were ever boring in the FBI.

As if on cue with his thoughts, the phone shrilled loudly, and the deputy director held up a finger as he answered with a prim, "Deputy Director Hacker speaking." Booth observed his face morph as a speaker babbled in frantic tones on the other end. He was about to reply, but a dial tone sounded on the other end and Hacker uttered a muffled curse instead. He looked up at Booth with worried eyes. "You know the case Jennings is working?"

Booth stiffened. Luke Jennings, if he remembered the newbie's name correctly, worked in Missing Persons, and the only case he remembered him working in recent history was the abduction of a teenage girl who'd gotten mixed in with all the wrong people. "You mean the one on Annemarie?"

His boss nodded solemnly. "That was her."

Booth breathed a sigh of relief. She was still alive. That was better than...well, the alternative. "Where is she?"

"Hiding in an empty storage facility just off I-95. I don't know how she reached us, but you better go inform Jennings. I want you to go with him; you know, bring her in. You're good with the kids."

He swallowed and nodded. Booth wasn't usually part of cases that didn't involve murder, as he was a homicide investigator. But he could make an exception when it involved kids.

That was sort of a personal issue.

Turning on his heel, he strode out of the office with a new found purpose, his cell phone already at his ear. "Hey, Luke? It's me, Booth. About that case of yours..."

***

1400 HOURS
BB AND CO. STORAGE FACILITY ON I-95

Sirens wailed his arrival as Booth expertly steering the black SUV up and over the curb, gravel crunching under the weight of treaded tires. Almost before he'd pulled the vehicle into park and turned off the red and white blaring overhead, he was out of the car, his feet swiftly crossing to the entrance he spied along one corner of the weathered brown building. Jennings was right behind him, a younger man with a knack for figuring out what made kidnappers tick. Annemarie's case of abuse and subsequent running away had been a long, drawn out case that he was eager to close.

Booth, on the other hand, was more concerned with whether or not she was ready to close it. He knew firsthand just what kind of...experience, that was.

"Do you see her?" The blonde agent asked in a whisper, his hands reaching for his gun as he swiveled around on the approach.

Booth cast him a glance as he aligned himself with the doorway. "No. She's probably in here. I go in first, you cover me. Something happens, the girl is priority one. Get her out safe." Signaling his acknowledgment, Jennings obediently fell behind him. Despite the fact that he was the Agent in Charge on this particular case, he bowed to Booth's experience, allowing him to dictate the situation.

As they stepped in, Booth was attune to his surroundings, his alert on full power. It was an eerie silence in the building, one that smelled of mold and decay and echoed with the forlorn memories of the past. Somewhere, water was dripping from ceiling to floor, and a faint wind whistled half-heartedly through broken windows.

And then through it all, the sound of a footstep.

Booth immediately motioned for Jennings to stop, and he did, listening intently. There it was again. Coming from...

Booth stalked the edges of the building, finally coming upon the hallway where he pinpointed the location of the sound to be. A door greeted them at the end. Locked. Breathing shallowly, Jennings raised his weapon, and Booth gave a nod, then broke down the door with an ear-splitting crack. His shoulder stung from the impact, and he teetered off balance for a moment, relying on Jennings for his cover for a split second before focus returned to his jostled brain.

When clarity returned, he saw her for the first time. Luke was already at her side, where she huddled in a corner of the room as if desperately attempting to camouflage herself with the peeling yellow walls. Whispering words of comfort, he soothingly informed them of who they were and the fact that, at last, she was safe.

It fell to Booth to radio back to Headquarters, and, with a face of exhausted but pure relief, he spoke into the phone, "We got her."

***

1700 HOURS
J. EDGAR HOOVER BUILDING INTERROGATION ROOM [MIRROR SIDE]

Booth watched as Annemarie slowly revealed the story she'd been dying to tell, her carefully guarded reputation unraveling as she sobbed into the sympathy of Agent Jennings. Her abduction from her mother by her biological father was a fairly common tale, but listening to her come clean about the problems she was facing was awe-inspiring, coming from a girl her age. She had been brave enough to face the ordeal, only running away in order to protect herself, and at last she was getting the help she needed.

Looking at her, he for a moment caught a glimpse in his mind's eye of another teenage girl with auburn hair, confessing the similarly cruel way in which life had treated her, and the way in which she eventually wanted it to. He saw her, and her brilliant blue eyes were no longer sad

If only someone like him, a man who wanted to help the lost souls, a man who had devoted his purpose in life to the condemning of the evil and the saving of the innocent and the avenging of the dead, someone like Special Agent Seeley Joseph Booth, had been there.

If only someone, anyone, had been there for her then.

Returning to the present, he knew what could have been. But maybe things turn out like they're meant to, and turn out for the better because of it.

His reverie was broken by the creaking of the door on its hinges as Jennings swung into the room. "You heard, right?"

Booth smiled wearily. "Yep. You've got yourself a solved case for your resume. Good job, rookie."

Jennings smiled, a flush gathering at his neck. "Thanks, Booth. For everything."

He gave a tiny shrug. "Ah, don't mention it. Now go home. Big day tomorrow. Little boys need their rest." His joking air was received with a good-natured laugh and a shake of a head, before the agent took his advice and stepped out, closing the door softly behind him.

Later, Booth too found himself in the parking lot, hands shoved in his pockets as he contemplated the day on the walk to his car. Although it hadn't been particularly eventful (besides retrieving Annemarie), it was yet another day spent doing something worthwhile. In the end, he might not remember what he did today, or two weeks from today, or two years from today, but what was important was the fact that with each day came the knowledge that he was part of something - something that mattered. And tomorrow, he would get up and do it all over again, simply because he knew it was right. Tomorrow, he would show his fidelity, his bravery, and his integrity all over again.

But hey, that was just the life of an FBI Agent.

***

Applause greeted me upon my finish, and I nodded in thanks. My presentation had been breezy, details forgone for the sake of the minds of children, but it had certainly made them excited. Chatterings about the lifestyle I'm sure they imagined as heroic and enthusiastic comments on their future in the FBI accompanied me on the way back to my seat, and I was relieved to have done my duty correctly.

When all the presentations had finished and Career Day had finally met its end, I waited for my son by the door. A young mother came up to me, supposedly to engage me in polite conversation as we patiently awaited the end of our children's class, and I gave a small, kind smile. But it was what she said next, in a totally unexpected manner, that startled me, in a good way:

"I was watching your son while you spoke. I don't think I've ever seen a child so proud of their father. What you do... it's pretty special."

After she'd left, and my son had come rushing towards me with news of the reactions to my speech and boastful comments on how I was the best, I realized that what I did wasn't just special. People made my life special, people like Parker and Bones and my Squints. The things I did to help the lives of others everyday made it special. The work I did was special. But all together, it wasn't just special...

...It was worth it. Every single day.

2 comments:

da_Liza said...

A well written, sweet story. Nicely done!

knox5 said...

Really enjoyed your story. Just what a Booth day should be.

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