|To Sleep, Perchance to Dream
Author: Robert Modean PM
After a long and trying week our favorite forensic anthropologist has literally worked herself to exhaustion. Originally planned as a one-shot, now a FIVE shot. Chapter Four is up!Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - T. Brennan & S. Booth - Chapters: 5 - Words: 44,316 - Reviews: 78 - Favs: 74 - Follows: 85 - Updated: 01-21-10 - Published: 01-06-10 - id: 5644889
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: Unfortunately I don't own nor am I involved with the production of Bones. On the plus side, I work cheap so if Hart Hanson and Company are reading this - call me.
Synopsis: Two months later we find the partners, now the couple, having fallen into each other's lives naturally and their happiness seems assured. Yet something on the horizon that threatens the status quo. Wither our favorite couple once the revels all are ended?
A/N: This was supposed to be the last chapter of my one shot turned triple shot now multi shot, and while I'm still planning a follow up piece that's more a continuation of this timeline, I've got one more chapter left to round this one out. As always, adult situations and language apply.
Chapter Five - Our Revels Now Are Ended
Two months later…
He woke as always, eyes snapping open, body remaining frozen, the product of years of sniper training, honed razor sharp by months of life with Brennan. He'd come to love the pre-dawn hours, the time when the grey light of the new day filtered through the window blinds and washed the room anew. He'd let his eyes wander about, noting the changes the last two months had wrought, the mingling of their lives displayed through the mingling of their things. As always he was surprised to find himself there with her, in their room. 'Our room,' the thought came unbidden, and it was now, truly theirs, in every sense of the words. Brennan shifting against his body sent a thrill through him and pulled his focus back toward the angel in his arms. He lay a kiss upon her temple, inhaling the scent of her hair as he did, marveling at how jasmine and heather had taken a place among his favorites. Arms tugged her closer and the warmth of her body spread against his own, the soft sighing as she relaxed against him drew a smile. Their sleeping requirements had been the biggest change for both, and the easiest to accommodate, as they needed only to sleep with each other to find rest. He needed contact, but not just contact, her scent, and so he slept most always with his face not far from her hair or neck. She needed contact, but not just contact; she needed to feel him, and his arms were not enough. No, she had to lay along his length, naked, her body molded to his, and as often as not she would wake to find herself partially or wholly atop him, sleeping more on him than the bed itself. Neither minded, neither joked or even talked about it much, for neither had ever felt those needs before. Now, two months later, neither could imagine sleeping any other way.
A sudden shift in the status quo broke his train of thought. A squirming burden filled his arms and no sooner had he blinked but his vision was filled with the smiling face of his paramour. Eyes sparkling, mouth parted sweetly as she smiled down at him, Brennan pressed a kiss against his lips. Instinctively Booth's hand travelled from its station at the small of her back to bury itself in the burnished chestnut locks, and their kiss grew more heated, hands found new purchase along their bodies. This was the other change each had grown accustomed to, making love in the mornings. He woke each morning from habit, she from necessity, but in truth neither could truly be called morning people, and yet since that first day together each found their body's needs demanding they be awake before dawn, and there was no such thing as going back to sleep until their needs were fully sated.
Booth's vision blurred as her hands found a particularly sensitive spot that drew a shudder from his body, and his responding touch pulled a mewling moan from her. Rolling them over, pinning Brennan beneath him as his lips feasted hungrily on the exposed column of her neck, he couldn't help but think back to her words so many months ago, and he knew that he was right. Forever wasn't time enough for them, but it was a start. A definite start.
Wendell watched as Brennan turned the fragment over in her hands. He and Daisy had puzzled over the skeleton for hours. The bones were badly deteriorated, some badly broken in a fall, others crushed from some weapon, and still others cut clean in two by a sharp blade. Until they had the skeleton reassembled they couldn't determine cause of death, and the plethora of fragments facing them made that exceedingly difficult. He watched as his mentor huffed in frustration, rotating the bone again. Finally she set it down, stepped back from the table and rubbed the backs of her gloved hands against her eyes. When they snapped open Wendell flinched. Cobalt blue sparkled under the florescent lights as she stood there scanning the table from left to right until she stopped suddenly, picking up two additional fragments, one of equal length to the fragment she'd been studying, the other a small triangular nub. She carefully aligned them until the pieces snapped into place.
"Wow. That was an amazing trick, Doctor Brennan." The whisper of wonder echoed around the three figures, drawing a glaring look from Brennan.
"Really Miss Wick, though I can appreciate that this particular set of skeletal remains is proving more difficult than many in its assembly, that was hardly a parlor trick – it's what we do."
"I'm sorry, Doctor Brennan. It's just, you're so amazing sometimes I don't…" Wendell bumped her shoulder, drawing a glare from Daisy, whose expression softened almost instantly at his quirked eyebrow.
"What Daisy's trying to say, Doctor Brennan, is that while we know it's not a parlor trick, after three hours of looking for the right pieces to put the fourth anterior rib segment together, watching you do it so easily seems like magic."
Brennan gave him a grudging smile, and handed Daisy the rib segment, indicating that she should fetch a fresh assembly kit to begin gluing the pieces together. As Daisy walked off, Brennan turned toward Wendell. In the past she'd have lectured him about the impossibility of magic and the importance of maintaining a rational perspective at work, but time with Booth had changed her enough to sense a compliment when she heard one. Motioning for him to join her on her side of the table, Brennan put a hand on his shoulder and pulled the young man back so he was even with her.
"The key is to know when your focus is too narrow." Wendell looked at his boss and smiled knowingly before turning his attention back to the table and its contents. "You and Miss Wick were focused only on locating the bone whose edges would most likely fit, and while that is laudable, once you'd gone through them all and failed to find any candidates you should have stepped back to gain a fresh perspective. It's a case of not seeing the forest for the trees, only in this case the forest is a metaphor for the fourth anterior rib segment…"
"And the trees are the bone shards. Got it." Chagrined by interrupting his boss, Wendell shot her an apologetic look only to see Brennan beaming a smile at him.
"Good. Then you won't mind demonstrating what you've learned." Wendell swallowed as Brennan cocked an eyebrow at him and tilted her head toward the table. Screwing his eyes shut he let out a breath and tried vainly to clear his head, eventually settling on hockey stats for the Bruins' '97 season. When his eyes snapped open a second later he let them fall to the table, un-focusing, then refocusing, so he could see the whole table at a glance. His vision swept from corner to corner, and he was surprised to see things jump out at him that he'd missed before. Moving deftly, Wendell went to the exam table and picked up two disparate pieces of bone, locking them together easily. These he joined to another segment and holding them up for Doctor Brennan he could scarcely contain his glee.
"Hmm, they are an excellent fit, and not obvious from the interior splintering…this would comprise the rest of the seventh rib. Very good, Mr Bray. You got it in one." She stifled a snort at the look of shock on his face at her colloquialism and her smile grew. "Sorry, Booth's bad habits seem to be rubbing onto me, but it was an apt expression I think."
"No problem, Doctor Brennan, and it's rubbing off, not onto, the implication being that the behavior or trait is akin to a stain that one would acquire from repeated close contact." He grinned back at his boss, whose smile brightened at a familiar sound from behind her.
"Bray, you makin' time with my woman?" The booming voice echoed throughout Limbo and both turned around to see the source.
Booth was leaning against the entryway, the jacket of his three piece suit hanging open, his vest drawn tightly across his abdomen. Brennan beamed a smile at him, her hands fumbling to pull themselves free of her gloves. Once they were she shoved them at Wendell as she jogged toward Booth. Stepping forward he enveloped her in a bone crushing hug and kissed her hungrily. Wendell gave them time, but when he heard the distinctive clack of Daisy's shoes approaching he hastily cleared his throat. When she'd re-appeared Brennan was standing on the steps in front of Booth, whose hand rested lightly on her shoulder.
"Miss Wick, Mr Bray will take the lead in reconstruction from this point forward. I would appreciate it if you would assist him in the catalogue and storage of the remains. I expect you will both be here until late tonight so do plan accordingly." Brennan hesitated when she felt Booth squeeze her shoulder, hastily whispering words in her ear and she nodded once, contritely. "Oh, and you should make sure to take time for dinner. No point in letting hunger dull your faculties."
"Yes, Doctor Brennan," the pair chimed together. Brennan pushed past Booth as she left. He lingered a second longer smiling at the pair working together and blushing at Daisy's comments to Wendell. Shaking his head he chased after his girlfriend, intent on following up on their kiss and all it promised.
The sounds of bickering preceded the happy couple, and so common was the sound that no one really noticed it at all. They walked the halls, side by side, heads tilted toward one another as they went, hands touching, shoulders rubbing, intimate, but not overly so. The volume of their disagreement waxed and waned as was its wont, and as they rounded the corner toward the Medico-Legal lab, it was firmly on the wax.
"I am not playing favorites, Booth. He simply grasps concepts faster than the others," Brennan defended.
"Hey Bones, I'm not complaining, really I'm not, 'cause Wendell, well, he's like the most normal guy here and that I could get used to. It's just…"
"Just what, Booth?"
"I don't want you to compromise for me, okay? I mean, whoever you pick is going to be your intern, not mine, and you need to be 100% sure you get the right person for you." Booth squeezed her shoulder softly. "Temperance, no one can replace Zack in your heart, so you need to find someone who's the best fit for you. If that's Vinnie or Fisher, even if it's the Indian guy…"
"Aroosto, and he's not Indian, he's Iranian."
"Whatever. Look, all I'm saying is if you're favoring Wendell as a favor to me, then don't. This is about you, babe, not me, and I don't want you making the choice that you think I want. I want you to make the choice you really want." Seeing the confused look on her face Booth nudged her. "What is it, baby?"
"I don't know what's more disconcerting. The sudden realization that I've become habituated to you calling me 'baby', or the fact that I actually understood that ramble." Brennan dropped a soft kiss on his shocked lips before the pair resumed their walk. "Fine. I agree that you're right to be concerned, but you must accept that out of all the candidates for a permanent job as my assistant, Wendell is currently the best suited. He's not only among the brightest, but his unorthodox reasoning style often provides insights that the others overlook. He's a quick study and a determined student with an excellent work ethic and a broad degree of life experience to draw from."
"And he's the least annoying one of the bunch, isn't he?"
"Without a doubt. Fisher's either too morose or too focused on his next sexual conquest to devote himself entirely to the work at hand. Aroosto's religious fervor is inherently disconcerting… What?" Brennan rolled her eyes at Booth's worried look. "Relax, Seeley. It's not his religious faith that bothers me; it's his fervent need to pray constantly I find disruptive and more than a little off putting."
"Okay, so you'd be okay with him being a practicing Muslim, as long as he didn't actually practice his faith?"
Sighing, Booth shook his head gently. "So he prays too much. What about the others?"
"Well, Mr Nigel-Murray's constant quoting of random trivia can become both grating and a distraction. At first it was rather reminiscent of Zack, but…"
"He's not Zack." Seeing her lips tighten into a thin, joyless smile, Booth's hand slipped briefly to her side, dropping low enough for him to pinch her hip, drawing a surprised look. "Baby, no one will ever be Zack. You can't hold that against him."
"Yes, I know. It's not just that. He seems to have difficulty keeping his libido in check around Angela, and after her and Hodgins, and now her and Wendell, well, I don't need any love quadrangles in the work place." Brennan ignored Booth's snort and continued. "That of course leaves only Daisy and she…she's not as bad as she used to be. In fact, she's much improved..." Brennan turned and caught his eye. "There's still something about her that just sets me on edge."
Booth put his hand on the small of her back and steered them toward her office, his voice staying low as he talked.
"Look Bones, she idolizes you. They all do really. It's just for her you're like a hero…you're her Wonder Woman, alright?"
"Booth, what do you know that I don't?" Her challenging tone made him sigh, and Booth's voice dropped to a conspiratorial level.
"Daisy was pissed that you put Wendell in charge." Catching the look on Brennan's face he explained it to her. "She called him an 'ass-kissing suck up' who only got to do it because he was my hockey buddy, and I…"
"And you thought it must be true because I'm so head over feet in love with you that I'd compromise my principles to make you happy." Brennan smiled sweetly at him. "Well you're not entirely wrong, Booth, but I'm not compromising myself to make you happy. Wendell has earned his position. The fact that he's your hockey buddy not withstanding."
"Thanks, Bones." Booth let her malapropism slide, happy to be proven wrong.
"No, thank you, Booth, and later today I shall have a talk with Miss Wick and explain things to her in no uncertain terms."
"What? I can be tactful when needed." Brennan quickened her pace. "I just rarely see the need."
The weather was pleasant so the pair walked to the diner that day. Brennan loved the long walk with him as it afforded them ample opportunity to hold hands and kiss openly with no cares as to who was watching or what they might say. Despite a few slips here and there, they'd managed to maintain a mostly professional demeanor since beginning their relationship, though at the Hoover it was more hands off, which amused Brennan to no end. The fact that her openly affectionate boyfriend could, and would, without hesitation, plant a paint peeling kiss on her in front of half the staff of the Jeffersonian, but paled at the thought of holding hands while standing in the hallowed halls of the Hoover, gave her ample opportunity to embarrass him. Opportunities she'd avoided taking serious advantage of since they'd both decided to keep what was going on between them as quiet as possible.
She found it intriguing, the semi-secrecy of their relationship. While almost all the Medico-Legal lab knew, as did her guys (the men Booth called 'Brennan's Own'), there were key individuals who were kept out of the loop: Sweets, and by necessity, Daisy. In fact, she was sure that none of the interns knew except Wendell, who'd seen their very public kiss that day. The more she thought about it, the more she considered telling Booth why she truly wanted Wendell to earn the job. It was his discretion, the fact that he'd kept their secret, her secret, meant she could trust him, and trust was a commodity Brennan valued above all others, and it was the one thing he had that Zack didn't. Her trust.
Before she knew it they were at the diner, and in no time their normal lunchtime routine asserted itself. Eating, laughing, stealing fries, and bickering, always bickering. The last few months the biggest changes in their lunchtime routine were the overt displays of affection, the touching, the lingering looks, the occasional stolen kiss over the table, and of course the bickering. Before it had been a way to tease and toy with one another; now it was more intimate, more purposeful, and more often about when they would tell everyone else that they were finally together. Booth, of course, maintained that waiting was the best option for now.
"You just don't get it, Bones. I've checked with my guys in both the Bureau's Legal Department and Human Resources. Technically the rules regarding establishing romantic relationships between partners are straight forward – it's generally prohibited between field agents given the high risk of physical injury and the potential for traumatic emotional fallout."
"I do understand, Booth. We are not field agents – you are." Brennan jabbed in his direction with her fork. "I'm a forensic anthropologist and don't even work for the FBI. The Jeffersonian has no problem with us as long as my work doesn't suffer."
"And there's no chance of that. I get it, Bones." Shaking his head slowly, Booth swallowed the mouthful of cheeseburger he'd been chewing and continued. "Thing is, the FBI's regs don't really differentiate between contractors and agents, so my guy in human resources is telling me that it's the same for us = that if we're in a romantic relationship they'll separate us."
"And what does your guy in Legal say?"
"Ah, well Sammy says that it's not nearly as cut and dried – in fact she says that since you're an outside contractor working with the FBI the rules have no bearing on us at all, and the only thing they could do is put me before a review board for failure to report a change in our status. Once that was done it'd be up to my immediate supervisor and the Associate Deputy Director, and that's Hacker."
"Hmm, and you think he'll be a problem?"
"Don't know really. He's like my boss's boss's boss, so if he has an issue with us it could be a real problem."
"What about Cullen?"
"Sam? He's still the Deputy Director, so technically he's Hacker's boss, and as a unit SAC I've got the option of going directly to him…"
"Then why don't you? If it would help us, I mean I just, I…" Brennan faltered, and she couldn't help but see the concern etched in Booth's face. She wasn't used to feeling unsure about them, but times like this she felt lingering doubts surface.
"Temperance, just be honest with me, okay?" Biting her lower lip she nodded once. "Now tell me what you were thinking, baby."
"Okay." She took in a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "I was thinking if it would help us, why don't you just go to Cullen, unless you don't want to because you're having second thoughts?"
Booth stood quietly, moving around the table to squeeze in next to Brennan. Reaching out he captured her chin between his thumb and forefinger and carefully lifted her face. Their gazes locked. He could see the lingering doubts in her sky blue eyes begin to fade as she searched his face and saw nothing but his unwavering love for her. Leaning forward Booth kissed the pout off her lips and smiled against her mouth.
Brennan's eyes closed automatically, and she sighed at the feeling of his lips softly ghosting over her own. When she opened them again she saw his soft brown eyes locked on her, a smoldering fire within them flaring as he spoke.
"Listen to me, Temperance Brennan. I have no doubts about us at all, and I'll go to Cullen. Hell, I'll go to Director Traynor himself if that's what it takes, you hear me?" Booth left a lingering kiss on her forehead. "Are we solid, baby?"
"We're solid, Seeley." Sighing, Brennan snuggled in against him, letting her head come to rest against his shoulder. "I just wish it wasn't all so complicated."
"Me too, babe, but nothing we've ever done has been easy, has it?"
"No. I don't suppose it has."
At that precise moment the waitress came by and slipped the bill on their table. Booth caught the note on the back and his face shot up to give her a thankful smile but she was already moving on. He hastily shifted to the other side of the table, and his knowing nod to Brennan was all she needed to spur her into hastily straightening up and turning her attention back to the long forgotten salad in front of her. By the time their company entered the diner, the previously good natured humor of their bickering was restored, and the two were gamely sparring over the upcoming weekend's schedule.
"So I was thinking I'd take Parker to the zoo Saturday, Bones, and well, I was thinking that maybe you'd like to go with us? You know it'll be a beautiful weekend, and it seems a shame to spend all that time with some musty old skeleton, cooped up inside when the sun will be out, and the cherry blossoms will be in bloom."
"I don't know, Booth, I have a lot of work to get caught up on…"
"Yeah, I know, Bones, but that's what the interns are for, right?" Beaming his patented charm smile at her, Booth kicked back as Daisy and Sweets approached. "I was thinking maybe you could make it a contest – give them each a couple of skeletons to work with and then check their work on Monday?"
"You know, Booth, that's a lot of thinking for you for one day. Are you sure you're not overtaxing yourself?" Brennan's mouth curled into a sly smile at the sight of Booth's slack jawed look.
"Ouch. Wicked burn there, Doctor Brennan." Sweets nodded at both of them. "Mind if we join you?"
"Nah, not at all, Sweets. Bones and I were almost finished anyway. Have a seat."
"Not that I mind, Sweets, but Daisy was working with Wendell on a set of remains from Limbo. Have you managed to finish them already, Miss Wick?" Brennan's pointed look drew a groan from both Booth and Sweets as the younger couple took their seats.
"No, not at all, Doctor Brennan, but you did say that we shouldn't let hunger dull our senses, so when Lance asked me out for lunch I just couldn't say no. It's his eyes. They're so soft and warm, like melted chocolate. Well, not really, but you know. It's just, when my Lancelot gives me that puppy-dog look with his eyes, well he can make me do almost anything." Daisy nodded at Booth, and continued in a lilting voice, "Looks like I'm not the only one."
Booth choked on his pie, and Sweets instinctively pounded his back to help dislodge the offending hunk of fruit while simultaneously shooting a warning glare at Daisy. Brennan, however, merely stared at the girl for a long minute before nodding once, sharply, and turning back to her tea.
"I concede that Booth does have a proven ability to persuade people using his considerable charm, and that his eyes, being both warm and expressive, are an integral part of said charm. However, I refuse to agree that any of his 'looks' have undue influence over me or my actions." Brennan took a long sip of her tea, suddenly aware that there were three sets of eyes staring at her. "What?"
"Oh c'mon, Doctor Brennan. You can't seriously expect us to believe that you aren't the least bit influenced by Agent Booth's charming smile or his overly expressive deep brown eyes? Or the way he'll furrow his brow when he's concerned about you and doesn't want to let on?" Sweets continued unaware of the bemused look on Booth's face.
"None of that has any bearing on my behavior, Sweets."
"Really?" Sweets' mocking tone riled Brennan.
"Yes, really. Booth's considerable charms not withstanding, it's past experience that dictates my actions. I know that when he comes to take me out to lunch that he won't leave me alone unless either I go with him to eat or prove I have plans to do so; hence, by acceding to his demands I'm simply expediting the process whereby I can return to work. Past experience, Doctor Sweets, that's all."
"Of course, but that's really not all there is to it, is it? I mean the man practically oozes charm and charisma, so how can you not be affected by it when he turns it all on you?"
Sweets still hadn't pulled back from the pounding he'd given Booth's back, and the hand that rested on the agent's shoulder squeezed reflexively as he spoke. Booth half turned toward the psychologist and glared at him before letting his eyes fall to the offending appendage.
"Um, Sweets, I don't know about Bones, but you think maybe you could back up off me now?"
The young man's eyes followed Booth's to the arm that was still looped over his shoulders, and he jerked it back like he was on fire.
"I, I'm sorry, Agent Booth. You just, um…"
"Really, Sweets, if you'd like some alone time with Booth I'm sure Miss Wick wouldn't mind accompanying me back to the lab."
"Ooh! Of course I wouldn't, Doctor Brennan. We could grab our lunches and eat them back at your office!"
"NO! No, that won't be necessary. I was just – he was choking and I was trying to help him and my arm, it was just…" Sweets saw Brennan's face twisting into a rictus of amusement, and Booth's own hearty guffaw joined her musical laugh. "Really funny, you guys, very mature."
Pushing back from his chair, Booth stood, thumping Sweets soundly on the back as he maneuvered around him.
"Don't worry, Sweets. You're not the first to fall victim to my considerable charms. Bones'll tell you I'm very hard to resist." Stepping back as Brennan fell in beside him, his hand finding its customary place at the small of her back, Brennan smiled at the embarrassed psychiatrist.
"It's true, though I was attesting to his impressive physical attributes…and I was addressing a suspect at the time." Brennan smiled softly at Booth, ignoring the blushing psychologist.
"Way to feed my ego, Bones. Never have to worry about a big head with you around."
The two were just out of earshot when Brennan leaned into his side and whispered back, her hot breath tickling his neck. "You've got the big head, Booth. In fact, it's one of the things I love about you."
Barely swallowing a growl, Booth whispered back, "Wait 'till we get home…"
It was the sound of one special ringtone that started it all. Having come back from lunch everyone congregated in Brennan's office, as had become the norm since she and Booth got together. Angela was talking to her about some club she thought they should all go to, and he could see his girlfriend struggling not to roll her eyes at the thought of 'shaking her booty' on the dance floor. He was standing near her couch, chatting amiably with Hodgins, Wendell and Cam about the upcoming hockey season and his team's need for a new goalie, when Hodgins professed a sudden desire to try out for the spot. Amid the eye rolling, chuckling, and good natured ribbing the entomologist was getting, Filter's Nice Shot suddenly filled the musical void drawing everyone's attention. Booth held up a finger, hoping for silence, and answered his phone.
"Hey Walt…Jessie?" The surprise in his voice drew everyone's attention, but none more than Brennan who held up a hand silencing Angela's incessant need to question. "Relax Jess, I'm right here, now tell me what's going on."
The next few minutes were filled with a tense silence that was punctuated only by Booth grunting or swearing softly under his breath into the phone. Seeing the look of grief cloud his eyes, Brennan was instantly on her feet and moving moved toward Booth. She'd hoped their friends would take the hint and leave them alone to sort things out, but to her dismay they remained rooted in place, as if drawn by the sight of Booth's distress. Then Booth snapped his phone shut and collapsed on her couch.
"You okay there big guy?" Cam took a hesitant step toward him, looking for Brennan to take the lead. She didn't disappoint, pushing past Angela and Hodgins in her effort to reach Booth.
"Booth?" When there was no response from him, only a further furrowing of his brow, Brennan became concerned. Brennan knelt by his side, her hands resting gently on his arm, and she looked imploringly at him. "Seeley, baby, talk to me. Tell me what's wrong."
The shock on everyone's face from seeing Brennan acting so tenderly was nothing compared to the shock they got when Booth looked up from the phone in his hands to the woman kneeling beside him. The eyes so often described as warm and chocolaty were now clouded and muddy as Booth blinked away tears, letting them roll freely down his cheeks, his voice a strangled whisper.
"That was Jessica. Walt's dead."
Brennan choked back a gasp. She'd only met the man twice but knew how important he was to Booth, and how much of a hole this would leave in his life. He was devastated now, and vulnerable, and he needed her to take care of him but she wasn't sure how. Then a voice broke the silence and it all snapped into place.
"Walt? Who's Walt?" Angela looked from Hodgins to Cam, neither seeming to know what was going on or who the mysterious Walt was, but both seemed horrified at her tasteless question.
Wendell shifted nervously from foot to foot, looking at his co-workers, jerking his head toward the door. No one seemed to pay much attention to him, but everyone paid attention when Brennan bolted upright following Angela's words. The cold, resolute look on her face would brook no discussions, no hesitance. Whatever Brennan demanded next it was perfectly clear she expected complete and utter compliance.
"I need the room, now." Her voice was soft, yet the timbre suggested steel, like a saber drawn from its sheath. She saw some hesitance in Angela, her best friend stepping toward her instead of the door, and Brennan's eyes flashed. "Now."
Hodgins reached out and snaked an arm around Angela's waist, half pulling, half guiding her out of the room. When the artist actually tried to turn back it was Wendell's hand that caught her shoulder and helped guide the distraught woman from the room amid her protests that Brennan needed her.
For her part Brennan stood immobile, guarding the shaken Booth, watching her friends leave. She hastened to grab Cam's arm and pull her close before the woman could escape the stifling atmosphere of the room, and leaning in, Brennan hissed into her ear.
"Cam, I need you to make some calls for me…" Before she could finish she felt the other woman's fingers covering her own.
"No need, Doctor Brennan, I'm on it. How long?"
"The rest of the week, at least. We'll call Cullen if there's any change in plans, and I'll let you know about the funeral arrangements."
"Got it, and I'll get on it." Giving Brennan's hand a reassuring squeeze she turned to leave, only turning back a second later. "Doctor Brennan? Take care of yourself too, not just the big guy. Okay?"
Nodding mutely, Brennan let her hand drop from Cam's arm and turned to tend Booth. He sat as she'd left him, staring numbly at the spot where she'd been kneeling, hands idly turning the phone over like a large poker chip. She heard the door close and lock, a grim smile passing her lips at the knowledge that Cam at least knew what to do. Struggling again at the right thing to say, Brennan gave up and decided to go with her strength and be rational. She stepped over to her desk and picked up her desk phone, base and all, and took it over to Booth. Nudging him with her knee, she coaxed him into moving over and sat beside him, placing the phone on the table in front of them. Brennan's hand fell to Booth's thigh and his jerky response was the first outward sign of distress she'd seen other than his tears. She patted him comfortingly, greeting his upturned face with a sad smile.
"Booth? I need you to focus now, okay? I need you to help me, Seeley; help me help Jessica. Can you do that?" Brennan saw the struggle behind his eyes, red rimmed and puffy even from the small amount of crying he'd done so far. He seemed so vulnerable and she knew he needed to grieve, but she also knew if he didn't help Jessica he'd hate himself later; blame himself for letting both of them down. She couldn't stand that. She'd rather he hate her now than himself ever, so swallowing hard, Brennan did what she had to do and pinched his thigh.
Booth said nothing. He barely grimaced, so she did it again. The second time he shot her a pitying look. Frustrated she reached over and pulled his cell from his hands, setting the offending item far from either of them. When Brennan turned back to him, she finally snapped.
"Man up, ranger. You've got a job to do. You've got people who depend on you and that means there's no time for this self pity bullshit, alright?" Brennan took the receiver from its cradle and shoved it into his hands, not really caring how he was looking at her just then as long as it wasn't like some wounded puppy. "I know you're hurting, Booth, but so is Jessica, and you'll forgive me if I think she might be the priority right now. She needs you. She's lost Walt and you're all she has left. You and Hank. So you're going to man up and be there for her, are we clear?"
The word was spat more than spoken, his voice thick with emotion, rough from choking back tears, and hard on the edges. Taking the phone in hand, Booth began dialing, and for the next two hours Brennan sat by his side, taking notes, fetching coffee, stroking his thigh or looping an arm over his shoulders to hug him close when he needed it. As dark as it was, with each call the mood lightened considerably until it was a sad but stoic Booth she heard on the phone talking to his boss, requesting off the rest of the week to deal with the funeral.
He'd set the phone down, shoving it roughly away as he settled back into the couch. Brennan drew her knees up under her and rested an arm against the back of the couch, cocking it to support her head as she stared at him. She never tired of looking at him. He was a beautiful man, but she preferred to watch him in his sleep, when worry left his face nearly seamless. Booth's eyes closed for a second, and Brennan let a hand drift lazily toward his forehead, her fingers tracing the furrows in his brow. He sighed softly as she stroked the skin, again and again.
"Bones, I…I'm sorry, about earlier."
"I wasn't very…I didn't…I just sort of lost it. I didn't know what to do, and I, I couldn't stop thinking of him, lying there on some slab somewhere, and Jessica having to identify her brother's body." An involuntary shudder ran through his shoulders. "We need to go get her; I don't want her spending the night in foster care."
"Agreed. We'll make up Parker's room for her. You and Hank are both her legal guardians, right? Do you think he would mind if she stayed with us a while? I was thinking, we have Parks this weekend. He could sleep with us…" The look on Booth's face indicated she was clearly delusional, but Brennan refused to let it go. "What? We can curtail our morning activities for a few days. We'll find other places to express ourselves. I just think that Jess needs us now, and I don't want Parker to feel left out by not getting to spend time with his father."
Booth leaned over to kiss her, a lingering, if chaste, kiss. He beamed a sad, sweet smile at her, his hand brushing the hair from her face, cupping her cheek as his thumb stroked her cheek.
"I love you so much, Baby, and I get it. I'll let Rebecca know it's okay for Parker to spend the weekend as planned."
"I love you too, and I'm glad you agree with me, but what do you 'get'? I'm not sure what you're talking about."
"You know you do, Bones; you love Parker and you'd miss him if he didn't stay with us." Booth leaned over to kiss her again, softly. He pulled back to see the blush creeping up her neck. "And he'd miss you, and us. We're family, Bones. We're his family, and now we're Jessica's family too."
Brennan said nothing but scooted closer to him and settled into the crook of his arm. She sighed against Booth, feeling his arm drape over her shoulders and pull her snug against him. The two sat silently, touching and stroking one another in the most reassuring ways but never speaking, until both drifted off to sleep.
Angela stalked about the lab, a black cloud of frustration roiling off her. She disliked being kept out of the loop, especially where Brennan and Booth were concerned. She disliked it more when she realized that since they'd gotten together she hadn't just been out of the loop, she'd been relegated to a whole other circuit. She wasn't asking for much, just a tasty morsel now and then, but Brennan had relegated her to crumbs, and even those were few and far between. She'd come to this realization when she found out that no one, not even Cam, knew about Walt or Jessica, or what their relationship was to Booth or how Brennan figured in all of this. It wasn't just that she had a relationship with Booth, it was the fact that Brennan had a whole other life now; one that didn't include her best friend, and it hurt to come to that realization. Somewhere along the way she'd stopped being a priority in Brennan's life. She'd known for some time Brennan's real priority was Booth, but to have confirmation, and so publicly too. Well, that stung. More than stung, it hurt, and a hurt Angela was a dangerous animal.
"So do we know who Walt and Jessica are yet?" Wendell regretted the question almost as soon as he'd asked it; the look Angela gave him had to mean no sex for a week. "I'm sorry, sweetheart…"
"Just don't, okay, Wendell? I, I really can't deal with your crap right now."
"Okay, I'm sorry, Ange. I'm heading back to Bone Storage anyway." There was nothing, no outward sign that she'd heard him, but he saw the tremor in her arm as she sketched and his hand alighted softly on her shoulder. "Dinner tonight?"
"If Brennan doesn't need me for anything, sure." Angela cringed at the bitterness in her own voice.
"Oh, well I'll be working late probably, but if you get free, let me know, okay?"
Wendell's voice, like his touch, was warm and reassuring. He hesitated only for a second before dropping a soft kiss to her temple. The feel of his lips stunned her. She'd been a perfect bitch to him since the partners had sequestered themselves in Brennan's office. Angela finally turned to say something, what she wasn't sure, but it didn't matter; he was already out the door.
Standing in her doorway, she wondered why Wendell did it, why he tolerated her demanding, high-maintenance personality. She couldn't kid herself. It wasn't just the sex, not for him, certainly not for her. He was young, attractive and surprisingly charming. His was the easy-going personality that lent itself to seduction, and she knew he could have most any girl he wanted, but the fact that he wanted her made her feel…special. Angela was a woman confident in her looks, her charms, her abilities with men, and yet Wendell was a constant surprise to her. He was young, and yet old fashioned enough to treat her like a lady. He was gallant, polite, endearingly chauvinistic about the silliest things, and yet progressive enough to know his own limits with her. He never pushed. He simply waited for her to come to terms with his views or tell him why it wouldn't work. He wasn't like anyone she'd ever dated, not even Hodgins. He was, well, Wendell.
The sound of laughter broke her concentration. Looking out her window she saw Cam and Jack, heads together and laughing, smiling in a way she hadn't seen either of them in a long time. Suddenly her dark mood got that much darker, and tropical storm Angela was on the move.
"So you two, having fun out here?"
"Hum? Oh, yeah. Hey Ange, any word on what's going on in there?" Hodgins nodded toward Brennan's office. "It's quieted down quite a bit."
"I'll say, they've been sitting like that for the last twenty minutes. I was about to knock but after the way Doctor Brennan kicked everyone out I thought better of it. Whatever's going on, it can't be good."
"Well it's obvious what's wrong, Walt's dead." Angela rolled her eyes at the pair. "The question is who the hell was he, and why is Brennan kicking me out of her office to deal with this?"
"Because it's got nothing to do with you, Angela. It's about Booth, and Brennan is all about Booth these days. You should get that, after all, it's what you wanted right?" Hodgins tight delivery drew a look from Cam but Angela only nodded.
"It is, but…"
"But what, Ange? Did you think they'd get together and it'd be like any other guy she's dated? Late night post-coital phone calls to tell you all the things he did and how he rates?" His snarky tone drew stares from both women. "Get real, Angie. This is Booth. How many times have you told anyone who'd listen, 'he's the love of her life if only she'd catch up to her own reality'? Well she's there, babe, and that means he's her priority now, not you, not us."
"Hodgins, please…" Cam's words went unheeded, but gale warnings went out across the lab as hurricane Angela made landfall.
"Exactly what are you getting at, Jack? Was that little spiel really about Brennan or was that aimed at me?" Crossing her arms, Angela pivoted until she was squared off facing her ex. "Because let me tell you, buddy, you're one to talk about the love of your life and priorities."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"Hodgins, Angela, let's all take a breath…"
"No, seriously, what does that crack mean? My priorities weren't screwed up, baby. I was the one who wanted your husband found so he could become your ex husband. I didn't know it'd be just another chance for you two to catch up on old times. " Hodgins eyes narrowed, his nostrils flared as he pressed on. "Seems to me my priorities were dead on, baby."
"How can you lay all this at my feet, Jack? You know I was fully committed to you, but you couldn't trust me on that; you just had to act like some jealous jerk. I was willing to marry you, and you threw it right back at me because you couldn't control your own insecurities."
"People, please. Jack, step back now. Angela, let's calm down before anything more is said…"
"Hang on, baby. There's no way I'm letting that slide." Hodgins quirked his head at Angela, not missing the look on her face and realizing too late what he'd said. "Oh shit."
"Baby? Since when do you call Cam 'baby'?"
"I call everyone baby, you know that. Hell, I called you baby not five minutes ago, and we're arguing."
"Yeah, Jack, I do know, and I know what you mean when you call people baby. You have different 'babies' for different people and different occasions, and that was not the 'you're my friend' baby, that was the 'you're my baby' baby." The general sense of frustration was mounting behind Angela's icy demeanor. "And don't try and sell me another line. The 'oh shit' kind of makes that impossible."
There was dead silence as three sets of eyes locked on one another, shifting from one to the next, tension building until it was almost tangible.
"What the hell is wrong with you people?" Booth's baritone cut through the stillness, the unmistakable edge in his voice causing all three to jump back.
"Jesus, Seeley, you've got to stop doing that."
"Doing what, Cam? Wondering why the three of you are acting like high schoolers?" Booth regarded the three of them despairingly. "You three really need to grow up. So Angela's seeing Wendell, so what? So Jack and Cam have gone out on a couple of dates, so what? Christ, get a grip already. A guy died and you all are acting like asses."
"We're sorry, Booth, but what do you expect? We're worried about you and Brennan, but we don't know who Walt is or what's going on. It's not like the two of you are sharing with us, you know? Your friends? We want to be there for you, but we don't know how and we're just frustrated."
Leaning back heavily against the railing, Booth let out a heavy sigh. He looked at the three worried faces and felt his chest tighten. This wasn't something they could help with, no one could. It wasn't something you got over. You just pushed through it and got on with life, but they wouldn't get that. Blowing out a breath in frustration he shoved his hands in his pockets, and picking out a spot on the floor to stare at, he began.
"Jessica called. She's the baby sister of an old army buddy, Walter Hirschberg. Walt and I served in the Rangers together. We were close, like brothers really, only unlike Jared, I never wanted to slap the crap out of Walt." Shaking his head, voice choked with emotion. He continued, "He took his life early this morning. He…his sister, Jessica, found his body. I'm…she's only 16. I'm her legal guardian now."
Stillness filled the area around Booth, who looked away from the people near him, casting a glance over his shoulder at Brennan's office. When he turned back he saw three faces, blank, struggling to understand.
"What's Dr B think about that?"
"She wants Jessica to stay with us for at least the next week. I know they hit it off, but I think she's afraid of Jessica entering the system if she's not with us."
"Is there no one else she can stay with?" Angela choked. "No other family, friends?"
"She's my responsibility, Angela. It's not like I'm looking for someone to adopt a puppy for Christ's sake." Angela paled at Booth's words, her eyes welling instantly as she tried to explain herself.
"I know, Booth. I was, I was thinking maybe she could stay with me? Or maybe Cam? Cam has Michelle, she's the same age…" Angela wiped the tears from her cheeks. "I just, I want to do something to help you guys now, and I don't know what to do."
Booth stepped forward, looping his arms around Angela, pulling her in for a hug. "I know, Ange, and I appreciate that. It's just, this isn't something you can help us with, not right away. When things calm down, maybe then, okay?"
A minute passed, then another. Angela's breathing leveled off and he eased her out of his arms. Seconds later it was Cam hugging him fiercely, and Booth drying her tears. When she stepped out of his embrace, Booth shot a wary look at Hodgins.
"Look Hodgins, how 'bout we just…" Grabbing one of his hands and jerking Booth into a half-armed hug, Hodgins thumped his back soundly as they bumped shoulders. Booth broke the embrace quickly and stared at the laughing entomologist.
"Dude, we're good," Jack grinned back. "Listen, you and Dr B need anything, you let me know."
"Thanks, man. Look, um, Bones is resting and I'm going to head out and pick up Jessica, so keep an eye on her for me?"
There were nods all around, but nothing was said as Booth walked off the platform. Cam looked back and forth between the two exes and excused herself, heading for her office. The exes looked at each other and smiled gamely before going their separate ways, neither one looking back at the other.
It was the absence of him that drew her from sleep, the cold replacing his warmth, emptiness replacing his touch. Brennan opened her eyes and brought into focus…nothing. She blinked. He was gone. Sitting upright she looked about her office, his jacket was still there, so was he - the question was where? Brennan sat upright, recalling his distress at the news of Walt's death, and she blinked away the tears that suddenly flooded her eyes. She'd only met him twice, but she really liked him. He reminded her so much of Seeley. They had the same expressive eyes, outgoing personalities. They were both charming rogues in their way. And then there was Jessica. Walt's parents had Jessica after he'd entered the Army. She was their miracle baby, and when they passed away Walt became her legal guardian. Now she had no one, and she was already a shy, introverted young girl, more at home with her books than people. Brennan was terrified for the girl. What would happen to her now?
Brennan rose, finding her shoes she slipped them on. She needed Booth. She had questions, and she needed answers. Stepping out of her office, Brennan cast about the lab, but Booth was nowhere to be seen. Angela was in her office talking to Hodgins. Cam was on the platform with Wendell. She assumed Daisy was in Limbo, and that left only…
"Petey?" Brennan called out to the large, boyish guard she recognized as being one of Brennan's Own.
"Yes ma'am, Doc?" Giving her a good-natured grin, the tow-headed giant sauntered over.
"Do you know where Agent Booth went?"
"Sarge? Sure thing, Doc. He's up talking to Gunny, and I think they've got company. If you're heading up, best be real quiet like."
"Really? Thanks Petey, and…" Brennan looked around furtively, "if anyone asks, I just stepped out for a few minutes."
Peterson placed a finger on the side of his nose and nodded to her before hooking his thumbs in his belt and continuing his patrol around the lab. Brennan smiled to herself. Luke Peterson was probably her favorite of all Brennan's Own, if only because he seemed to always make her smile when she needed it. She took the back stairs and made her way quietly out of the lab, heading toward the Director of Security's office, and when she got there she was surprised to see his secretary was gone. Closing the door softly behind her, Brennan was instantly aware of something moving off to her right, and was surprised to see Jessica curled up on the couch, her long auburn hair cascading over her jacket, soft breathing sounds and sighs drifting up lazily. Brennan walked over to the sleeping girl, her fingers brushing back the hair, lightly caressing her cheek, and she knelt slowly, pressing a kiss to the side of her head. Rising quickly she headed for Washburn's office, and peaking through the door she saw Booth was waiting for her inside. He and Washburn were sharing a bottle of expensive looking 16-year-old scotch, talking in hushed tones, sad smiles fixed firmly in place. Leaning back against the door she stood silently, watching them talk, the somber mood of Walt's death casting a pall over what would otherwise have been a touching scene of two friends reminiscing. Washburn looked up and waved her in, so Brennan closed the door behind her.
"Hey, Gunny." Brennan stepped into the office, her eyes never leaving Booth. "Seeley, are you okay?"
"I'm fine, babe. Did you see…?"
"Jess? Yeah, she's still asleep."
"Yeah, poor kid. Talk about your shitty days. Poor thing fell asleep on my couch out there as soon as she laid down." Washburn smiled wistfully at the couple. "Tell you what, Rooster, I'm gonna let you and the Doc have my office for a few; I'm gonna go sit shiva with the young'un."
"You don't have to leave, Gunny. I hate to think I'm chasing you out of your own office."
"It'll be fine, Bones, trust me."
Booth smiled at Washburn, mouthing his thanks. The older man just smiled. Brennan and Booth stood silently, saying nothing, eyes never leaving one another. Finally Booth reached down and scooped up the glasses he and Washburn had been drinking from. Setting Washburn's in the sink, he fetched a clean one for Brennan, topped them off with ice and scotch, and motioned for her to take the proffered glass from him.
Brennan took a sip, the cool amber liquid rolled like velvet over her tongue, coursed smoothly down her throat, and set a slow burning fire in her belly. After a second tentative sip she looked over the rim of her glass at him. "Why didn't you wake me? I wanted to go with you to get her." Booth tried not to smile at the way her lips pouted but he failed.
"I'm sorry, Bones. It's just you looked so peaceful, and you know you never get enough sleep. I just couldn't bring myself to wake you."
"Well you should have anyway, Booth. It was important to me." Brennan set her glass down on the edge of the desk and stepped into his embrace, her arms snaking around his waist. "We'll talk more about this later. Just tell me how she feels about staying with us?"
"Excited. Sad, but, well, you know she thinks you're amazing, right? She couldn't believe you wanted her to stay with us. She thought for sure she'd be at Hank's."
"Do you think she wants to be at Hank's?" The doubt in her voice made Booth's heart ache.
"No, Bones, I don't. I mean, I know she likes Hank and Janie, but she's crazy about you, Bones. She really is. Walt said…" Booth swallowed around the lump in his throat. "He said the other day she couldn't stop talking about the last time we were there, and all she talked about was you."
"I just, I don't know if I can be who she needs me to be, Seeley, but I want to try."
"I know, Temperance, and so does Jessica. Trust me, she does. Right now she just needs to know she's not alone, that there are people who love her and are there for her. We can be that for her."
"I was thinking about that, Booth, about being there for her and what it will entail." Brennan tried to keep the tremor from her voice, failing. "What would you say to moving?"
Brennan felt Booth stiffening in her arms, his voice strained. "You want me to…move out?"
"Move out? Well no, not right away. I mean first we need to find a place big enough for the four of us." Brennan gasped when Booth grabbed her shoulders roughly and held her back from him. Her eyes darted to his and she could see the confusion. "What? Was I wrong? Did you not want to? I mean, I know Hank is her other guardian, but he has a family, and we could be there for- "
Brennan's words were cut off by the passionate kiss pressed into them. Seconds later she was staring dreamily at Booth's smiling face. "Temperance Brennan, I positively love you, and yes, absolutely baby, when we find a place big enough for the four of us we will totally move. As soon as possible." Booth let out a shaky laugh. "God, woman, you don't believe in taking your time do you?"
"I don't see the point. When I know what I want to do, if it's the right thing to do, why should I wait?" Brennan pressed her head into his shoulder, inhaling deeply. "That's not wrong of me, is it, Seeley?"
"Nah, Bones, it's just, regular folks don't move at the same speed, baby. Sometimes you need to give us a second to get caught up, okay?"
"Okay…are you caught up now?"
"Sure, Bones. We'll start looking at places as soon as we can after the funeral."
"Good, because I want us to be a family, Seeley, for Jessica and Parker. I want us to be a family for both of them."
"Me too, baby, and we will be, Temperance. We will be."
A/N: As always, feedback is welcome