Notes: This is just for fun. There's no serious case, no serious anything, really... at least at this point. I hope you enjoy it and will click that Feedback button. Feedback brings me chocolates and rainbows. And it just might encourage me to write faster and finish the story. Visit me at lauradugan(dot)com.
No, miserable wasn't a strong enough word.
Nah, too death-like.
Wretched. Yeah. That's it.
Temperance Brennan felt wretched.
Temperance Brennan never got sick.
Well, used to never get sick. And now she was sitting here, feeling wretched with the flu. "I don't need a flu shot," she remembered saying. "I never get sick."
She rolled her eyes toward whatever gods may or may not exist and sighed heavily, wrapping her blanket tighter around her.
She was covered by a quilt, beneath which sat an electric blanket, adding an extra level of warmth, but she still couldn't relieve herself of the chills that ran through her body. "Come on, Tempe," she said to herself, "you have a PhD in anthropology. It's just the flu. Get over it."
But she couldn't. She was somewhere in between sleep and wakefulness when she heard a faint thumping noise. At first she thought it was the pounding of her brain against her skull until she heard a voice call out. "Bones?"
What was he doing here?
"You in there?"
She pulled the blanket up over her head. "No," she croaked.
She heard a chuckle and then the rattle of the doorknob.
She grinned. At least it was locked. Unwanted visitors beware! Temperance Brennan allows no intruders!
A soft jingle, followed by metal on metal, then a click and a creak. The door was opening. The damn door was opening!
She sat bolt upright and turned, incredulous, toward the door.
"Booth! How the hell…"
"Angela," he said, holding up what she easily recognized as her spare key.
"How could she have possibly thought giving you free entrance to my home was a good thing?"
Booth looked hurt momentarily, but recovered quickly. "Not like I'm some crazy person out to get you, Bones." Then she noticed the bags in his other hand. "She said you were sick and in need of some TLC."
Brennan fell back to the couch with a grunt. "I'm not exactly up for company. Or TLC. Or anything but sleep."
"There's nothing wrong with letting someone take care of you once in a while. I know this may come as a shock to you, but you're not infallible." He strolled into the kitchen and set down the bags.
Brennan momentarily let the juvenile notion of giving him the finger flit through her head, but then she decided it was too much effort for too little reward.
As Booth came over to her side, she dug herself further into the couch. "Go away."
"Now is that any way to treat your best friend who drove all the way across town just to bring you chicken soup and distracting movies? Movies that most normal people would have seen by age 10, but that you have yet to experience?"
She popped her head up from beneath her blanket, looking so much like a prairie dog – a red-faced, runny-nosed prairie dog – that Booth couldn't help but chuckle and await her retort.
"You're my best friend?" she asked, surprising him. He stalled by reaching for a tissue and handing it to her.
"Did I say that?" he finally responded, after she had completed some prolonged nose-blowing.
She nodded, handing him the used tissue.
"Thanks," he said wryly. "I better be at least your best friend if I'm touching your snotty tissues."
"At least?" she asked, and then sneezed. Booth handed her another tissue.
"Bestest friend?" Booth offered, with a grin.
"'Bestest' isn't a word." She lay back down on the couch, looking thoughtful. "I've never thought about best friends before. Actually, before you, my only friend was Angela." She paused, pulling the blanket up to her chin, closing her eyes. "God, that's pathetic."
"You don't believe in God, Bones," he replied gently.
"Semantics," she muttered.
"Besides," Booth continued, ignoring her response, "Angela and I are the two coolest people on the planet. You don't need any friends other than us."
This, at last, elicited a brief smile from her, though her eyes remained shut. "I don't know whether to classify that as egomaniacal or delusional behavior."
Booth grinned again as he reached out to feel her forehead. "Glad to hear you can still break out the six syllable words. Have you taken your temperature?"
She opened her eyes and stared at him. "I'm hot, aren't I?"
"There are many ways I could respond to that question, Bones."
She glared. "My forehead is warm, correct?"
"Then I guess I have a fever. What's a degree or two among friends?"
"Whatever. I'm tired. I'm going back to sleep now."
Brennan closed her eyes and settled again into the couch. Booth stood and walked into the kitchen. Brennan's opened her eyes as she heard Booth rummaging through bags, not opening the door. "That means you can leave now."
"Uh huh," he responded, absently.
"Booth, are you listening to me?"
He grabbed a glass and filled it with water and walked back to the couch. "Here, take these," he said, proffering her two pills.
"What is it?"
"Decongestant. With acetaminophen. For your fever." She looked dubious. "Just take them, Bones."
She palmed the pills, then popped them into her mouth, downing them with a large gulp of water. She sat perfectly still for about a minute, then Booth watched as her pink cheeks went pale.
"Uh oh," she groaned, as she threw back the covers and raced toward the bathroom.
Booth followed behind her, stumbling as she slammed the bathroom door in his face.
"Bones?" he asked, his hand perched on the doorknob.
For the next 30 seconds, Booth weighed his options. He wanted to comfort her, but Brennan didn't seem the type to want company while at her most vulnerable. He finally heard the toilet flush and decided to take a chance and enter.
She was leaning against the bathtub, looking sweaty and pale. She groaned, "Go away, Booth. I can say that in six other languages if you still don't understand."
He, again, ignored her. He grabbed a clean washcloth and dampened it with cool water. "It's okay to show weakness, you know," he said as he searched under her sink for mouthwash. "Everyone gets sick. And sometimes you can't fight it. You just have to give in. It's part of being human."
"I will have a response to that statement. But not now," she replied, curling on her side against the tub and closing her eyes.
"Here," he said gently.
One eye popped open. "Not more pills…"
"No. Just mouthwash."
"Thanks." She took the cup, swished, and spit, handing the cup back to Booth, which he took without comment.
He then helped her stand and guided her to her bedroom, making sure she was tucked securely in bed.
He left for a moment, returning with the cool cloth, which he pressed against her forehead. To her, it felt like heaven. Maybe it wasn't so bad being taken care of, after all.
"I know I'm fallible, Booth," she said softly. "I just don't like to admit it. I'm not used to being sick. And I'm certainly not used to someone taking care of me."
"Well, get used to it. I'm always here to take care of you, even if you don't think you need it. We're partners," he paused, smoothing out her blankets and adjusting the washcloth.
"Even after all of this," she asked, eyes refusing to meet his, "do you still think I'm hot?"
He chuckled. "Yeah, Bones. I still think you're hot."
She closed her eyes. "And you don't mean temperature hot, right?"
She yawned deeply, her entire face scrunching with the effort. "I think you're hot, too," she responded, sleepily.
"You do?" Booth grinned. He liked "sick Bones" – he doubted she even realized what she was saying.
"Uh huh. In a non-temperature way."
"Thanks. Get some sleep."
She said nothing, her breathing beginning to deepen. She was asleep before long, and Booth took the quiet opportunity to just watch her. He wondered if he would ever truly understand this woman that so fascinated and frustrated him. He hoped not. He liked that she kept him guessing.
Brennan curled onto her side, and Booth leaned over her, gathering up the washcloth and setting it aside. He pulled the covers up to her chin and swept her hair, matted with sweat, off her forehead. "We're partners," he said softly, echoing his earlier statement. "Best friends."
He was near the door and almost missed her near-silent reply. "Forever."