A/N: This is the final chapter. I realize this makes for a short fic, but musie really felt this was as far as it should go. A huge, heartfelt THANK YOU to all my reviewers. You really made my day and spurred me to write this. WARNING: THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS A RAPE SCENE (TASTEFULLY, CAREFULLY WRITTEN—NOT GRAPHIC) IF YOU THINK IT MIGHT BOTHER YOU, PLEASE DON'T READ ON
In Her Defense
It had been a long day. Angela was walking down the hall toward her office, ready to shut down her computer and head for home when suddenly an arm slipped around her waist and she looked up in surprise. Booth started moving her along swiftly, his gaze darting around to make sure they weren't being observed.
"Sshhh! I don't want Bones to see me yet," he whispered urgently, ushering her into her office and closing the door behind them. Peering through the blinds, he sighed and closed them. He turned to find Angela watching him quizzically. "I need to talk to you," he said, still whispering.
Angela smiled, propping a hand on her hip. "I thought you understood, Booth. While I find you nearly irresistible and I've been tempted to give a relationship with you a try, I'm with Jack now," she teased.
Booth frowned. "What? No, that's not what this is about—" he began to protest, then he noticed the teasing light in her eyes and smiled a little. "Very funny. This is about Bones."
She perched on the corner of her desk, intrigued. "Yeah, I figured. Go on."
Booth gave her a brief account of his training session with Brennan. "Any idea why she might have reacted that way?" he finished.
Angela had started frowning by the end of his story. She got up and paced the small office thoughtfully. Booth was growing more agitated by the minute. If Angela knew the source of Bones' behavior, he hoped she would tell him. Stopping suddenly, she folded her arms and turned to face him and his hopes were dashed.
"I can't tell you," she said softly, firmly.
Booth sighed with frustration. "Why not? If something is bothering her, I need to know so I can help her—"
"No," Angela interrupted. Booth frowned. "I know her better than anyone, Booth. She prides herself on her independence, and she won't welcome your interference. You have to let her work it out on her own."
"C'mon, Angela. You weren't there, you didn't see how upset she was—"
"It's not my story to tell, Booth," Angela cut in gently. She stepped closer to place a hand on his forearm. "Give it time. She'll work it out on her own. And if she can't, maybe she'll confide in you. But I can't break her trust. What kind of friend would I be?"
Booth studied her silently for a long moment. Then he sighed and closed his eyes briefly. He opened them to find her watching him with a speculative look.
"You're the best kind of friend," he said with a wry smile. "Okay, I'll give it time. But if it gets to the point where I think it's affecting her work or our partnership, I'm going to confront her and see if I can get her to open up to me."
Angela smiled at him fondly. "And that, G-man, is what makes you the best kind of friend." Booth grinned and squeezed her hand. Angela's look became serious. "She might surprise you. She's one of the strongest people I know."
Turning to open the door, Booth glanced at her. "Yeah, she is. I just hope she's strong enough to ask for help if she needs it. Thanks, Angela."
Nearly two weeks later, Booth's frustration had reached its zenith. Brennan was pale and withdrawn and he knew by the circles under her eyes that she wasn't sleeping well. He suspected she wasn't eating well, either. Late on Friday night he showed up at her apartment, determined to talk to her.
Opening the door, she sighed. "What are you doing here, Booth?" she asked tiredly. She made no move to invite him in and he shifted from foot to foot. She wasn't going to make it easy.
"I need to talk to you. Can I come in?"
Sighing again, she dropped her hand from the door and turned away, leaving it to him to come in and close the door behind him. She padded wearily to the couch and sat in the far corner, wrapping a throw around herself and looking up at him with hollow eyes. Booth's concern rose.
"Bones, what's bothering you? You haven't been yourself since that day in the training room," he asked, sitting down at the opposite end of the couch.
"Nothing's bothering me. I'm just not feeling well. If I'm not feeling better by Monday, I'll go to the doctor, I promise. I think I just need to get some rest." She picked up a mug from the end table and took a sip. Booth wasn't fooled.
"Temperance," he said in a no-nonsense tone. Her eyes met his and she knew it was time to tell him. Though she didn't think much of psychology, she understood the value of sharing painful memories to strengthen their friendship. And it might have a cathartic affect. All she knew was she was having a hard time putting the memories back in the box they'd been in for years.
She set her mug down carefully, gathering her thoughts. Booth waited patiently, sensing that she was about to tell him a very painful story.
"In 1997 I was working a mass grave in Belize near the border of Guatemala. That border had been under dispute for decades and the grave held at least seventy bodies of people suspected to be victims of a massacre led by Guatemalan guerillas the year before. They were believed to be settlers who were foolish enough to move into the disputed area. We'd only been there a few days, had really barely begun our work when our camp was overrun by heavily armed Guatemalans late one night. There were only twelve of us, almost all scientists guarded by a couple Belizan soldiers, and I was the only woman."
She paused, her eyes focused on a loose thread in the throw. Her fingers picked at it absently. Booth began to wonder if she would continue when she suddenly looked up at him with tears in her eyes. "I was asleep in my tent when they came. I—I woke up when one of the attackers straddled my middle and put a knife to my throat." A sob caught in her voice and she swallowed, blinking furiously. "I froze, I didn't know what to do. Everything I'd learned about self defense techniques completely deserted me. I was sure he would kill me, but he wanted something else first. With the knife at my throat the whole time, he—he raped me," she finished, dropping her eyes. "Just as he finished and it looked like he might actually slit my throat, his men called to him, telling him it was time to go. With an evil smile, he rolled off me and left."
Booth stared at her in shock, then his rage rose and his jaw clenched. He had the overwhelming urge to hit something.
"I had always prided myself on my ability to defend myself. That incident showed me what helplessness was." Her haunted eyes met his and his heart clenched. When she went on her voice was a little stronger. "That is why I've trained in martial arts. And why I slept with a gun under my pillow for a long time after that, even after I got home."
"Did—did they kill everyone else?" Booth asked hoarsely.
Brennan closed her eyes and a pair of tears slid down her face. "Seven of them. They left before they could finish because a Belizan patrol was spotted by one of their lookouts. Otherwise I think they would have slaughtered us all." When she opened her eyes again, she found Booth right beside her. She curled up tighter, resisting the urge to throw herself into his arms.
Booth reached out to stroke her hair, his heart breaking as she flinched involuntarily. "Why didn't you tell me, that day in the training room?"
A sad smile twisted her lips. "I had buried that memory so deep, it didn't even come to mind when you suggested that last scenario. When you straddled me, my instincts took over, and I did what I should have done all those years ago. If I had, I wouldn't have been raped."
"Maybe," Booth said softly. "And maybe you would have just made him mad enough to kill you outright." Her eyes were a brilliant blue, magnified by unshed tears. Moving slowly, giving her every chance to protest, he finally pulled her into his comforting embrace. "I'm so sorry that happened to you. Sorry that my actions brought the memories back." He stroked her back, leaning his cheek on her hair as sobs shook her body. Gradually, she relaxed, uncurling from her fetal position to slip her arms around him, clutching at his shirt as she sought solace.
Her sobs had stopped as had the hiccups they had brought on. Her arms loosened and he pulled back a little to look down at her. Her brow was clear of frown lines and her eyes, though rimmed with red, looked calmer than they had in awhile. She touched his shirt where her face had been pressed.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to cry all over you." Wiping her eyes, looking embarrassed, she straightened away from him more. "Why do you always let me do that?"
He smiled. "Makes me feel like the strong alpha male protector you're always calling me," he quipped.
She playfully slapped his arm. "Stop it, I'm serious."
"Bones, you have a tendency to bottle things up. Sometimes you need to let go, for your own mental health. I'm your friend and I'm here, anytime you need to let go."
Pulling a tissue out of the box on the end table, she wiped her nose. She took a shaky breath. "I hate psychology, you know that. But I have to admit, I'm feeling better. Thank you." This last was said solemnly as her eyes held his.
"No problem." He straightened. "Now, how long since you ate? "Cuz I'm thinking some Wong Foo's would be great."
She smiled and stood, looking for the portable phone. "I could eat. Make sure you order a double serving of the moo-shoo pork so I can have some this time."
He grinned. Now that sounded like his Bones.
I hope I didn't get overly dramatic there, or OOC (out of character) but that was a very traumatic experience and I think it would knock even the strongest woman for a loop. Now, click that cute little blue button and tell me what you think. Thank you so much for reading.