He drummed his fingertips on the table of the bar with one hand. He spun his glass around with the other before lifting it to his lips to take a sip of the beer. He wasn't sure how he'd gotten here. Well, he knew the how of it in the physical sense. Just wasn't sure what he was doing. Following a lead, tugging on a line until he was satisfied it led nowhere.
He recognized the couple when they came in. Their paths had no reason to cross professionally beyond the halls and elevators of the Bureau building. It helped that they were legendary around the Bureau. Spooky Mulder had managed to redeem himself and nabbed the fine Agent and Doctor Dana Scully in the process. Fine not just by Booth's standards but also most of the men in the Bureau who had eyes. Beauty, brains, the ability to handle a gun, and cut into a corpse without flinching were impressive qualities for a woman to have. It was a shame she'd lost her son. Booth didn't know how, no one seemed to know, beyond the fact that she no longer had a child.
"Agents Mulder and Scully," he said standing from his chair to shake their hands. "Have a seat. Can I buy you a drink?"
"Just a couple more of whatever he's having," Mulder said to the server when she came to the table. He removed his leather jacket, draped it over the back of the chair before tapping the standard 9x11 manila envelope against the palm of his hand. Booth noticed the gold wedding band on Mulder's left hand. He had been a bachelor, a pretty legendary one at that if rumors were to be believed, until he was forty or so.
"We've got some questions first."
"Okay." He'd expected it really.
"Scully and I. We're what you might call skeptical when an agent asks us to do a background check on a woman he's encountered during a neighborhood canvass of a closed case. Particularly when that woman doesn't appear to have anything to do with the case."
"I almost didn't do it and had we not found the information we did may not have given it to you."
"She's got an interesting file."
"Thank you," Scully said as their beers were set on the table.
"The Bureau had a file on her?"
"No, another government branch did. A failed, very hush hush project out in California. We had to have clearance to access it, but I'm surprised it's not better protected than it is. But then, someone would have to know what they're looking for to find it. Sunnydale was the town's name. The town, by the way, is no longer on the map."
"Towns come and go. It happens sometimes."
"Not so much in this day and age."
"Mulder didn't mean it's a ghost town. He means the town itself is gone. Destroyed four years ago. It's written up as if it was some sort of bomb."
"If it was a bomb why wasn't anyone notified? If you read between the lines someone, somewhere knows more. Something happened there. Big."
"Agent Booth, I'm sure Mulder and I don't have to tell you the information is sensitive."
"I'm not going to sell it to the tabloids. I know how to handle sensitive information. I appreciate your handling this for me."
"Why did you ask us to do it? There are plenty of other agents who could handle simple background checks."
"I suspected it wasn't going to be simple. And I figured you two, dealing with the X-Files and all, were best suited to handle this particular woman's background inquiry."
"Fair enough. If what that file says is true the world is a better place for having her here. I'm surprised she and Sunnydale hasn't popped up on my radar before now. Someone's kept tabs, though. As far as the other background you asked us to do."
"What information we found is in there, too. It's not much, but it seems to match what you gave us. He was CEO of the LA branch of Wolfram & Hart law firm. MIA as of three years ago. And going by the pictures in the file. You and he could be brothers."
"It's fascinating. Medically speaking I mean. To think that someone virtually identical to you could exist and not be related."
Booth wondered if there was a possibility they were related. Perhaps this Angel was a relative many times removed. It wouldn't explain why all of the sudden Seeley Booth popped up looking like the spitting image of said distant relative. But it sat better with him than the alternative. What was the alternative? He wasn't sure. He'd thought of various scenarios, and none seemed possible. It was one of the most baffling things he'd come across.
"Thanks for your help on this."
"At least this was a background check I didn't mind running." Mulder sat back in his chair and took in the bar. "Did you have us check her out because you look like this guy? Or because she's nice to look at?"
"I don't let anything but my brain make decisions for me." He saw the telling smirk from Mulder. "Well, not about background checks anyway. I don't make it a practice to invade the privacy of a woman I want to date. She shook me."
"I can't say as I blame you."
Buffy stood out on her deck watching the sunset. She had an exam to study for, but she'd needed to take a minute for herself. She'd been having a hard time for the past month or so. It was hard to keep the past where it belonged right now.
Giles and Willow were busy researching the FBI agent who had caused the current upheaval in her life. She had no idea what it meant. It was probably nothing. The resemblance was not a figment of her imagination or wishful thinking, though.
Todd had seen the prom picture, she'd been unable to put it away this time. He said he thought she looked both pretty and happy. It was no easy feat to accomplish that given she had to take on a pack of hellhounds before she could get her party-thing on. Knowing it was the last date she'd have with Angel hadn't made her very happy either.
She had seen Agent Booth several times after that night, but always from a distance. He hadn't visited her again. When another agent showed up at her door for follow-up questions she knew he was putting it behind him. It wasn't his heart that felt like it had been ripped out again so she imagined it was easy enough to walk away for him.
Some would chalk up her relationship with Angel as being nothing more than a high school fling. It was so much more than that. He was everything to her. Her world. She wasn't sure she'd ever completely gotten over his leaving her. She'd moved past it and was a better person for it. The type of friendship she'd developed with Spike that last year in Sunnydale was important to her. She'd needed it. It gave her hope that she'd find it somewhere with someone.
How was she supposed to move on when he took front and center in her life again after all these years? She was having dreams again, too. About him. It made her wish for the slayer dreams. Not that those were a walk in the park, but at least there she could do something about them. There was nothing she could do to lessen the effect of a Technicolor, larger than life Angel starring in her dreams ten years later.
It was time to get back to studying. She ran her fingers through her hair, letting the sun make its goodbye for the day before heading back inside.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com