RECUPERATION

Fandom: Bones
Pairing: Booth/Brennan
Rating: T

Disclaimer: The characters don't belong to me – I'm just borrowing them!

Summary: Set immediately after 'Two Bodies In The Lab'

Booth woke up suddenly, his stomach in knots of raw panic, his heart feeling twisted. He was sweating and his throat felt raw. In quick flashes, his nightmare came back to him. He'd been too late, Kenton had shot Bones in the head and he'd been unable to stop it.

Breathe, he told himself. It was just a nightmare. Take deep breaths. When he'd forced his heart to slow down to a reasonable rate, he looked at his watch at the side of the bed. 5.00am. Great, he thought, I'm not going to get any sleep now.

His thoughts returned to the nightmare and his reaction to it. Losing a partner was something he'd experienced before so he knew the pain of it but the thought of losing Bones ….. he'd felt something else. Despair; anguish. His heart had felt ripped out. This was not a good sign. This meant he felt something more for her than just friendship and he had no idea what to do with that.

Booth sighed. He'd been trying not to acknowledge his growing attraction to her. He'd always thought she was beautiful and her intelligence, stubbornness and ability to extract facts from bones to catch the bad guys only made her more appealing to him. But the fact remained that they worked together and pursuing anything other than friendship was a disaster waiting to happen. They argued at the best of times – what would it be like if they shared a personal life too? No. Definitely not a good idea.

But then she'd met David Simmons, the internet guy, and Booth could see some serious competition there. He'd felt jealous and the emotion was uncomfortable for him. Somewhere along the line, he had started to consider Bones as his and the thought of her dating someone else made his skin prickle. Booth made an impatient sound as that overwhelming feeling of protectiveness poured through him and yet he had no right to feel that. She hadn't given him any sign that she would welcome any advances from him. That's because she's sensible and she knows it would never work, idiot.

In that moment, Booth wanted to go home. He hated hospitals and knew he could recuperate at home just as well as he could here. He pressed the bell to summon the nurse. When she arrived, he asked if he could discharge himself. The nurse looked doubtful.

"Do you have someone who could stay with you or at least visit you every day to help you get around? What about your lovely friend who was with you last night?"

Booth smiled back at the nurse. Bones playing nurse was laughable but if it meant that he could get out of here, then a little white lie wouldn't hurt.

"Oh I'm sure Dr Brennan would be more than happy to help me out. I mean, I did save her life after all" he replied, gracing the nurse with his most charming smile. She dutifully melted and said she would find the doctor to sign off his chart.

Thank God. Now I can go home, watch some TV and forget about Bones playing nursemaid. Or whatever. Suddenly, a vision of Bones staying at his apartment, helping him recuperate popped into his head. The thought of her being in his life like that felt good. Too good. As if on cue, the nurse returned with his medication and as he struggled out of bed, he realised that this idea wasn't going to go away.

Angela had decided to come into work early. She wanted to know how Brennan's date with David went and so made her way straight to her friend's office. Her prediction that Temperance would also be in early was correct. There she sat, behind her desk staring at the computer screen. Angela's first impression was that Temperance was literally staring – not actually seeing.

"Good morning!" she said as she breezed into the office. Brennan looked up, startled to see her friend and examined her with a puzzled frown.

"What are you doing here so early? You normally require two cups of coffee and a road rage experience before you arrive at work."

"Funny", replied Angela as she sat across the desk from Brennan. "I'm here for all the juicy details!"

"Juicy details?" asked Brennan.

Angela rolled her eyes dramatically. "Yes. Details of the hot date you had with David last night. You know: the date with the not-so-creepy internet guy."

As Angela looked at Brennan intently, she realised that her friend looked a little uncomfortable. "You did go, right? "

Temperance was finding it difficult to maintain eye contact with Angela. She knew that it was impossible to lie to her but the real reason for her postponing the date was not up for discussion so she was going to have to end this inquisition quickly.

She took a deep breath and answered Angela's question in one quick sentence, "I postponed my date because my head was still hurting and Booth was alone in the hospital and I didn't want to leave him like that after he'd made such an effort for me so I postponed and that's it really, nothing more exciting than that."

Brennan let out the breath she'd been holding as subtly as she could but she knew she wasn't going to get past Angela.

Angela studied Brennan carefully and then spoke to her gently, "You postponed because you didn't want to leave Booth. It had nothing to do with your head."

Before Brennan could answer, Angela continued, "Could this be because after seeing Booth leave the hospital to rescue you and because let's face it, he is drop dead gorgeous, you realised that he might be better date material than David?"

Angela was grinning. She knew she had hit the nail on the head just by looking at Brennan's stricken face.

Brennan fidgeted in her chair as she tried to explain herself. "No. I don't see Booth as date material at all. I …." Realising that she sounded defensive, she tried to find the right words. "What I mean to say is that I don't compare Booth to David because I see them in entirely different capacities. David is a potential boyfriend while Booth is my partner."

Angela knew that Brennan found it difficult to talk about her feelings but it was becoming obvious that if she didn't pursue this, Brennan wouldn't either and a possible romantic liaison with Booth would potentially disappear. Looking carefully at Brennan, Angela leaned forward slightly and said quietly, "You know, if you have feelings for Booth, it won't kill you to admit them. He's like an electric spark for you and look at what he did for you yesterday. The guy has internal parts hanging by a thread and he risked getting into a car with Hodgins. That's got to mean something. A dinner and a movie at least."

She was teasing now but she had to make Brennan see what was obvious to everyone else.

Brennan started wringing her hands and looked at the floor. "I don't know, Angela. I mean, maybe I'm just feeling this way because I nearly died yesterday and he was the one who prevented it. Maybe this is just delayed shock setting in."

Angela replied with only a look that revealed her scepticism at that idea.

Brennan ploughed on. "Look, we work together and entering into a relationship would just put our friendship at risk and I will not lose that. His friendship is too important to me, Angela. I can't risk losing him altogether." She paused. "Besides, what if he doesn't feel the same way?"

Angela shook her head slightly. "I've seen the way he looks at you sometimes. Of course he feels the same."

Brennan could only hear the doubts swirling around in her head. "But what if he doesn't?"

Before Angela could reply, a quiet but firm voice came from the doorway.

"Hi."

Booth got into a taxi and set off for the Jeffersonian Institute. He'd considered going to Bones' apartment but he knew she would want to get straight back into a routine after everything that had happened and routine meant work.

When he entered the building, it was quiet but there were a few members of staff just starting their day. It seemed that Dr Brennan wasn't the only one who liked to start early. Booth glanced at a wall clock and saw it was 7.00am which was good news. Angela, Hodgins and Zack wouldn't be in that early which gave him a chance to talk to Bones alone before the squints arrived.

He climbed the stairs and was about to enter Brennan's office when he heard her talking. To Angela. Booth's heart sank. He hadn't counted on Angela being there and now he wouldn't have the chance to speak to Bones privately. He decided to go in, say he was fine and had been discharged and then leave as quickly as possible but as he approached the office, he heard what they were saying more clearly.

" …. The guy has internal parts hanging by a thread and he risked getting into a car with Hodgins. That's gotta mean something. A dinner and a movie at least."

Dinner and a movie? What?

"I don't know, Angela. I mean, maybe I'm just feeling this way because I nearly died yesterday and he was the one who prevented it. Maybe this is just delayed shock setting in."

Shock. Yeah, that could be it. Don't get your hopes up.

"Look, we work together and entering into a relationship would just put our friendship at risk and I will not lose that. His friendship is too important to me, Angela. I can't risk losing him altogether. Besides, what if he doesn't feel the same way?"

Oh my God.

"I've seen the way he looks at you sometimes. Of course he feels the same."

What look?

"But what if he doesn't?"

Stop eavesdropping and get in there.

Booth stepped into the doorway and spoke firmly.

"Hi."

Angela leapt up from her chair, "Booth! What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be at the hospital?"

Booth didn't reply.

"Guess not. OK, I'll leave you guys to it then!" and with that, she sailed out of the office, closing the door behind her.

Both Brennan and Booth looked at each other awkwardly. She broke the silence first, "Hi."

"Hi" replied Booth. He felt ridiculous. They both knew what he'd heard and yet neither of them could find any words to say. He ventured, "I apologise for the eavesdropping. It was unintentional."

Brennan was struggling with what to say. Her brain was screaming. He heard what I said! This is terrible. I'm so embarrassed. Say something, Brennan!

After what seemed like an eternity, she replied, "Oh, that's OK. I …. How much did you hear?"

"Enough", he said. And it was enough. Enough for her to know that he'd heard more than she'd feared. With a weary heart, she looked up at him. It had been a long time since she'd met someone besides Angela who she respected, liked and trusted so much and in revealing emotions she should have kept to herself, she knew that she may have lost any chance of staying friends with him. He would be suitably flattered but gradually, he would distance himself tactfully, suggesting other agents take on cases and with a grace she could not match, he would remove himself from her life.

Feeling intense dread at his next words, she was surprised at what he said, "Aren't you going to ask me what I'm doing here? Like Angela said, I should be in the hospital."

"Oh. Yes. Sorry, what are you doing here?"

Booth smiled to make her feel more comfortable. He knew she was flailing and as his stomach was severely overcrowded with butterflies, he wasn't doing a lot better himself.

"I discharged myself. Figured I could recuperate at home just as well."

Brennan was thrown by this conversation. Why was he telling her this? OK, so he'd discharged himself. She'd just revealed that she had deep feelings for him and he was talking about recuperation! She started panicking. I must be missing some emotional undertone or something. Think!

Desperate for something to say, she blurted out, "Yes! Er, recuperation at home is just as effective as recovery in the hospital. Patients often choose to go home because mentally and physically they feel more relaxed in their own environment."

Booth stared at her. Bones was definitely rambling. This was never good. It meant she was nervous and unsure of herself. Wanting to put her at ease, he got to the point, "I didn't go home right away because I wanted to talk to you about David."

Brennan felt like her brain was bouncing backwards and forwards. David?

"You wanted to talk about David? Why?"

Booth knew this was going to be difficult. He wasn't used to letting his guard down and making his feelings known but when things had to be said, he wouldn't shy away from them.

"I knew you had rescheduled your date and I thought you might be seeing him today …. or tonight. So I came over here to say …." He trailed off. Booth couldn't remember a time when he had felt so nervous. What right did he have to ask her to cancel her date? He took a mental hold of himself. Just tell her, Seeley.

"Don't go."

Her expression at this statement was guarded and Booth could not tell what her reaction was. Anger at being told what to do? Pleasure at knowing he didn't want to her date anyone else? He realised that he was holding his breath but he just couldn't seem to let it go.

Brennan's heart was beating so loud, she was sure anyone passing by the office would be able hear it. Was he saying not to go because he was jealous? Careful not to let her feelings show, she replied, "Don't go? As in, don't go at all or don't go tonight?"

Releasing the breath he could hold no longer, he breathed, "At all. Don't go at all. Please" he added.

Still unsure of how much he was revealing, Brennan asked, "Because you don't like him?"

Booth was losing his temper. How difficult could this be? "No! Not because I don't like him. I mean, yes I don't like him but that's not the reason. You really don't get it?"

"No! I don't get it!" she yelled. "I don't understand how you can hear what I said to Angela, say nothing about it, then go off on a tangent about discharging yourself and then David! If you don't feel the same way, then for God's sake, just tell me and let's get this conversation over and done with!" Brennan felt mentally exhausted and yet found the energy to look him in the eye and wait for his answer.

Booth was astounded that she hadn't worked it out. Yet, deep down he knew he shouldn't have been surprised. Bones had very little close family or friends and her life was based solely around her work. Body language and human emotions played a very small part in her world and the uncertainty of this conversation was obviously upsetting her deeply.

Booth walked slowly up to her and took her gently by the shoulders. Quietly, he said, "I don't want you to go on a date with David because if anyone is going to take you to dinner, it's going to be me."

As his words sunk in, he watched her face light up yet remain shyly uncertain. It was something he would remember for a long time to come. Aware that he was invading her personal space, he released her and stepped back a little. He continued, "I mean, if you're okay with that?"

Brennan smiled as Booth returned to the masculine, tough guy agent she'd come to know and was comforted by the fact that he also found it difficult to adjust to a more personal level. It was going to be strange for them to share a relationship deeper than friendship and she wondered how they would balance it all.

As if anticipating her fears, Booth spoke again, "Hey, I know it's going to be weird but if we don't try it, we'll never know, right?"

Brennan grinned as she replied, "Right".

"So dinner then? On the weekend?" he asked. Brennan laughed for the first time that morning, "You can't go out! You're supposed to be recovering!"

Brennan replied with the smile he reserved just for her. "Oh I know. I was thinking of take out over at my place."

And with that they both laughed, sharing their first intimate moment of their new relationship.