Title: Shortness of breath

Summary: Post - Jasper, I-just-killed-someone B/B drabble

Ratings/Spoilers: K - no spoilers.

Disclaimer: Not mine.

A/N: Out of order on purpose - if you want the story in sequence, just follow the numbers - I like this way better though.

IV.

It was a Tuesday night, and he was out of his mind.

She's sitting on the couch opposite of him, slurring all of her big words and emphasizing her points with flying wrists and grandiose gestures that threaten the nearby lamp with every exclamation. From her intonation and facial expression, he can tell she's trying her best to be serious, but through the haze he can only think how pretty she looks, flushed from the alcohol and her excited speech.

"You didn't hear a single thing I just said!" It's not accusatory because it's a statement of fact and it isn't angry. But it is enough to pull her out of her seat, and for a second he's terrified that she's come over to knock some sense into him. Only for a second because that's as long as it takes for him to realize that he has a good seventy pounds on her, and that she's tripped over her own shoes and is well on her way down.

And it's a terrible crash followed by an unhappy moan and he almost joins her on the floor in his rush to reach her. After falling all over himself, he finds her lying on her back, one hand wrapped around the leg of an end table, the other against her head.

"Are you ok?" He's checking her from injuries and she is drunk and giggling in a completely un-Brennan way. She swats his hands away, hard.

"Yes and no help from you - finer points of drinking..." She gasps between her frantic breathing, tears streaming down her cheeks. His gaze feels too reverent and too intense and she's in no state to feel over scrutinized so she rolls her head to one side and blocks the light with her right hand. She isn't sure when she stopped laughing but she knows she's crying when she feels his hands, cool and soothing, against her cheeks.

When the sobs had become sniffles and she was sitting next to him, the couch against her back with his left arm around her waist and his right hand resting against her shoulder, softly stroking the side of her neck, she turned to him, puffy eyes and running mascara and whispered quietly, "I thought I could handle this."

He knew it was wrong, but he kissed her anyway.

-----

I.

"I know, I was there."

As he rises to his feet, he inhales slowly - oxygen always tasted sweeter for a few fleeting seconds after a close shave with death. His sides ache, but he breathes deeply and feels relief.

Gil Lappin is bleeding out at his feet and she is shaking five feet from them; legs braced, arms stretched out with his pistol dangling at a dangerous angle from her tight little fist.

"It's ok." He tells her soothingly, knowing that it probably isn't, but wanting her to believe that it would be. He slowly uncurls her fingers from the butt of the gun, holstering it quickly as he pulls her to him, anchoring her to his chest while blocking the view of the crumpled man behind him.

She doesn't react, aside from her arms falling to rest limply at her sides. Her expression blank, save for her eyes, which were wide and as blue as ever.

----

II.

It's unsettling, the way that she stares into open spaces.

She let him dictate the police report, blankly nodding in agreement when prompted to respond, his jacket over her shoulders and his gun in a clear evidence bag. He had run his hands up and down her arms, but even after the coffee and the jacket, she can't seem to get warm.

He's worried because she's silent and passive, and she's neither silent nor passive. She's worried because the last time she felt solid was when she had the steady weight of his firearm in her hands.

----

III.

He must have pulled some strings, because thirty minutes later he's arranging a ride home for her while he stays at the scene to tie up loose ends.

The unfortunate rookie that's been assigned to chauffeur the doctor-scientist-assassin is under strict orders to take her home, but she intimidates worse than her partner, and an hour later, she lets herself into her office. She's angry and tired of being surrounded by death, but she doesn't have anywhere else to go, so she treads up the stairs to the open break room with a glass of water and the case file in hand to appease the masochist in her.

He treads softly, the well worn stairs, and keeps a well guarded distance. He's pissed that she isn't home, but he wants to be gentle with her, so very careful because even now he isn't sure that she won't turn and run. He had instinctively headed to the examination room and felt confused and turned about when he found the table empty and the room dark.

When he finally made his way to the top of the stairs he finds her nursing a glass of clear liquid and knows, if he's done his math correctly, that she should be well on her way to oblivion. But his calculations were off and she tilts her glass to him - as if in salute - but the salt behind her eyes is bitter, and it feels more like defeat than victory.

"Hey."

She sags against the couch and smiles after their brief encounter, toying with the trinket, and then...nothing. The silence is making her uncomfortable and she stands, ignoring his confused gaze. "We need...I think Hodgins keeps alcohol in his office."

"I can drink to that."

He leads her to Hodgins office, fixing her a drink the proper way in her own office, keeping her far from her case files while trying to keep the memories of the day far from her. He knows that tonight in her dreams she will still play the assassin, colors fading around the edges, short of breath, and will wake with a yell - tightly tangled in sweaty sheets.

But for now, she's safe.

----

V.

With his hands in her hair and his lips against her, she thinks that he just might be able to make this better.

But when they finally surface for air, she feels his breath heavy against the side of her face, feels him shake with emotion and control. And she knows, before he can tell her, that this is wrong. Not wrong we-shouldn't-be-doing-this, but wrong we-shouldn't-be-doing-this-now. But for once in her life she wants to feel and not to think, not that he would let her.

He can run a mile in five minutes but sitting next to her his pulse is quick and he can't seem to catch his breath. He feels conflicted and lightheaded from the proximity - but mostly he feels guilty - so guilty for just looking at her.

So he pulls away but he doesn't tell her this can't happen, but then again, he doesn't have to when the look in his eyes says it all.

In the end, it doesn't matter if he gives voice to his doubts or not because she knows he'll say, "I can't," instead of "I won't," and she doesn't want to hear any of it.

So she stands on shaky feet and he doesn't look up as she walks away. He knows her silent exit is her way of ending the night but he doesn't follow her or try to press the issue because he wants to think that things could be ok this way - like these things didn't exist. He closes his eyes and thinks, for now at least.

She locks herself in the bathroom and stares at the stranger in the mirror as he quietly becomes one of the hundreds of thousands of things that she can feel, but can't quantify.