Author's note: After more than 16 weeks, the story finale is finally here. I can't believe this has ended so fast...I am actually quite sad to label this story complete...Anyway, on with the show. I would sincerely like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read my work. Special thanks to those who found the time to make me happy with a little review. Know that it is greatly appreciated.
M, Amasayda, and Addictt, I honestly couldn't have made this story to what it is without all your help so THANKS!
Chapter Sixteen - Sweet Home D.C.
Wednesday June 6th 2007 -- 02:13 p.m.
Home...They were going home. The significance of that one syllable word hit Brennan square in the chest and robbed her of all air for a few moments. They were going back to their regular lives, even though she wasn't sure she would fit in. With every mile D.C. got closer and the knot in Brennan's chest tightened---to the point of suffocation at one point. In response she wrapped her arms tighter around Booth's waist and almost buried her nose in his jacket.
Home...Four letters that represented the world she had fled so hastily when reality became too confusing---too dangerous---to think about. A word that sent chills down her spine, that reminded her of the thin line Booth and she had walked. One second---one inch---of difference could have changed their lives completely. Brennan felt familiar imaginary walls closing in on her. It almost felt as if the fresh air she was breathing in was toxic and life-taking rather than life-giving. So she did the only thing she knew would calm her: she shifted forward until she was entirely molded to Booth's back. Brennan knew that the warmth radiating from his clothes or touch had a more than relaxing effect on her---the solid feel of him in her arms confirmed he was still with her and she could let go of her fears and hold on to him instead.
At that precise moment, when she was flush against her partner ensuring that he couldn't abandon her, she noticed the first familiar sights of Washington D.C. Strangely enough with every mile she knew so well---street corners she had rounded dozens of times, low honks of impatient drivers, the peculiar smell of exhaust fumes---her anxiety about returning home slowly faded. By the time they stopped in front of a building she knew so well, she had her breathing under control again. This was D.C. This was home---painful memories or not.
Brennan hesitantly looked up as the last roars of the Harley died away. She savored the final vibrations of the bike's engine racing while she contemplated the apartment on the fifth floor. For ten long days she had barely thought about her luxurious home. During those ten days, her world had consisted of Booth and a Harley. It was almost surreal to climb off the bike and back to real life. Brennan breathed in deep. She knew she couldn't escape this moment. Sooner or later she had to return home, of that she had been well aware of from day one. She just hadn't suspected it would be this soon. Booth must have sensed her troubled thoughts because he turned around, silently questioning her with raised eyebrows. Brennan first took off her helmet before meeting his stare. After pushing Booth to talk about his demons, she wanted to try and describe the inner turmoil their arrival was causing her, but she couldn't seem to find the words. It didn't matter. Booth sensed her distress and shot her a reassuring smile. His easy acceptance washed over her. Surprising them both, she wrapped her arms around him. Booth gave her hands a quick squeeze before patting them.
"Come on. I'll walk you up."
They both climbed off the Harley and Brennan grabbed her belongings. With her bag bumping gently against her leg, they took the elevator up to the fifth floor and strolled down the hallway until they came to a stop at Brennan's apartment door. Her face contorted in anxiety, anticipation, and a bit of worry as she fished her key chain complete with miniature skull out of her bag. When she swung the door to her apartment open, Brennan let go of a breath she didn't realize she had been holding. What she saw in front of her wasn't what she had expected to see.
Sunday May 27th 2007 -- 05:17 p.m.
With an irritated sigh Brennan threw her book onto the coffee table and got up to get herself a drink. A bottle of red wine was waiting for her on the kitchen counter, but when she reached for it her hand was left hanging in mid-air. Brennan bit her bottom lip. What was she doing? Drowning her memories in glasses of rich red wine wasn't the answer. She'd end up a drunk at this rate. Brennan shook her head and turned her back on the bottle that had kept her company every evening for the last five days. Why she had taken so long to come to this conclusion she would probably never figure out. She guessed she had thought she could solve all her problems on her own. But instead of facing her troubles she had chosen to ignore them, as always. Brennan decisively nodded. No more denial for her. She would head out immediately and would approach the man that had offered his help---Booth.
Armed with determination and her car keys, Brennan grabbed her jacket and left the safety and loneliness of her apartment. She was maybe ten feet away from her car when she heard a loud roar entering the parking lot. Fascinated she witnessed a heavy Harley Davidson with a familiar looking man riding towards her. Her eyes widened slightly when she took in his dark blue jeans and leather jacket that stretched around his shoulders. She would recognize those shoulders anywhere. When he stopped in front of her, Brennan crossed her arms and stared at him as he killed the engine and took off his helmet.
"So..." he said.
"So..." she repeated after him. Her eyes traveled over the bike for a second. "I didn't know you could drive a motorcycle."
"Well, Bones, there are a lot of things you don't know about me." He stared at his sunglasses after he had removed them. "But I know one thing about you."
Brennan arched an eyebrow. "And that is?"
"You," he said as he turned his stare on her, "have trouble breathing." Brennan averted her eyes upon hearing his words. She shuffled around a bit and opened her mouth, but no sound came out. Booth softly touched her elbow to make her look at him again. In a gentle voice he reassured her, "And that's alright, Bones. I know how you feel." When Brennan lifted her head she saw her own anguish mirrored in his eyes. He wasn't lying. What he had confided to her during their various meetings on his porch and at the cemetery and what she saw etched in his face now spoke an urgent truth. He had advised her to get away from everything while he suffered from the same pain.
"Booth, maybe you should..." she started, intending to suggest they leave their regular lives behind together for a while.
"Bones," Booth interrupted. "Grab your stuff. We're going on a road trip."
To her surprise she felt her lips curl into a smile. They might be in emotional limbo resembling a whirlwind of painful memories, but Booth still succeeded in reading like an open book. Without thinking about the possible consequences of their hasty decision to leave for better places, she nodded and went back to her apartment to do as he commanded. Booth accompanied her, but instead of helping her sort through her wardrobe, he wandered around her apartment pacing impatiently and rifled through her books and CDs. Idly he picked up a mask from Rwanda before discarding it for another of Brennan's eclectic collection of souvenirs. He eyed the bottle of red wine suspiciously as he uninterestedly leafed through the book Brennan had left lying on the couch. Hearing her heavy steps echo on the hardwood floors, he turned to face her as she emerged from her bedroom with her bag in hand. Glancing at her bag and that back up at her, he silently inquired if she was ready. With a nod, they headed back down to the Harley after barely a half an hour. Booth secured Brennan's bag on the back together with his before he swung his leg over the saddle. Brennan hesitantly followed his example. She had barely sat down when Booth handed her a helmet.
As she put it on, she questioned, "Why a motorcycle, Booth?"
He didn't answer. Instead he reached behind him for her hands. Wordlessly he wrapped them around his waist before glancing over his shoulder. "Don't let go."
"I won't," she returned. Not in this lifetime anyway. "But why a motorcycle?"
With a small grin he kicked the bike to life. The vibrations of the engine instantly made Brennan shiver with delight. "Don't tell me you don't feel the call of freedom when this baby is humming. And whenever I'm out there, on the highway, I feel like anything is possible...anything." To emphasize his words, he brushed his fingertips over her arms which were securely locked around his waist.
Brennan reveled in the overpowering sensations of the roaring Harley and the feel of Booth's jacket. Despite her dark memories and aching wounds, she felt safe, cherished, and at peace with herself. If only the prospect of running away from reality did that to her, what effect would the actual journey have? Fully planning on finding out, Brennan squeezed his waist. "Let's go Booth."
He more than gladly obliged. After a final glance at their surroundings, Booth opened the throttle and sped away. They exited the parking lot and disappeared into the light like two ghosts---like two wounded souls on the search of healing, enlightenment, and revelations.
Wednesday June 6th 2007 -- 02:28 p.m.
Her apartment---that's all she saw. Everything was still in its rightful place---even the bottle of wine she had left behind on the counter nearly two weeks ago. Brennan detected a slight pang of disillusionment. Somehow she had expected her apartment to change just like she had. She slowly walked through the door and dropped her bag on a couch. Booth followed her in before awkwardly standing in the middle of her living room. He uncomfortably shifted his weight from foot to foot as he stared at her frown. Brennan's eyes slid over her furniture and stopped at every souvenir she had once bought to decorate her apartment with. No change whatsoever. When she rested her stare on Booth, she tilted her head. Their surroundings hadn't changed one bit, unlike them. They weren't the same people anymore. They had risen above their memories. What had happened would always be engraved in their minds as well as on their skin thanks to their scars. Brennan shook her head and slowly approached Booth. The shooting had forced them closer. They were in each other's personal space now more than ever. And she didn't mind---not at all, not one bit.
When she was standing in front of him, she quietly asked, "Are you still afraid of us becoming something more?"
"Bones," he sighed as he pocketed his thumbs. "We were something from day one…only I was too chicken to acknowledge it." Brennan nodded to signal the same went for her. "And I was a fool for thinking I could fix you. In the end you were the one who fixed me."
"Good. That's what I needed to hear." Without any warning she slid her arms around him and pulled him closer. A surprised gasp escaped Booth.
"Whoa, what's this about?" he queried, but he hugged her back nonetheless.
"George Moore once wrote 'A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it'. I needed breathing room. The only times in the past weeks I felt safe breathing was when I was with you. You provided me what I needed...breathing room. Ergo, you're home to me."
A tender smile lit up his face as he tightened his grip on her. "You're home to me too, Bones," he quietly said. For the next five minutes they stayed like that---lost in each other's embrace, in each other's quietly uttered words, in their world---until Brennan hesitantly drew back. Booth cleared his throat and looked away as he took a step back. "I'd better go now."
"Booth, stay for a drink," Brennan urged.
He waved her words away. "Nah, I should get going." Shooting her a smile, he began backing away towards the door. "I'll see you tomorrow at the hospital to get our stitches removed."
She sighed. "Sounds like a plan. I'll um..." She followed him before holding the door open and smiling as well. "I'll see you tomorrow then." Booth nodded as he exited her apartment. He quickly waved at her to bid her goodbye while he made his way down the hall. He was maybe ten feet away when Brennan called after him. "Hey Booth, don't get rid of the Harley, okay?"
"Like you even had to ask, Bones," he called back before disappearing into the elevator. As he descended floor after floor, his smile grew in force. By the time he was at his motorcycle again, he was grinning from ear to ear. A feeling of being whole filled him as he thought back to her words. Don't get rid of the Harley. In other words, don't get rid of what we have---of 'us'. How right the world seemed now...
Hand me that handkerchief, will you? (blows her nose loudly) Thanks, I needed that. (deep sigh) So I guess this is the end...of Dying to Catch My Breath, but NOT of my writing! As a matter of fact...drum rolls please...I would like to give you a heads up about a new fic I will start posting on NOVEMBER 15. In case you're interested, look for a story called Strappado. :) And on that note, I am going to leave you review in peace. ;)