Seeley Booth was pacing up and down the lab impatiently.
"Bones! Finally, let's go. We're late," he exclaimed as his partner, the brilliant forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan emerged from the ladies' room.
Booth started to stalk towards the exit but turned around when Brennan didn't catch up with him.
"Bones, what's wrong?" he asked with concern as he watched her place one hand against the wall and the other pressed to her lower abdomen.
She clenched her teeth and took a moment before answering his question as another wave of pain hit her.
"I'm sorry I took so long. Could you get your car and park in front of the entrance?" Brennan replied in a weak voice she tried to make sound casual.
Booth was at her side within seconds and placed an arm around her waist to support her.
"Can't you walk?" his concern grew as he noticed the beads of sweat forming on her forehead.
"I just have to wait a minute," she replied, grateful for the support for she felt her legs tremble under her weight, "It'll pass in a moment."
"Are you sick? Bones, if you aren't feeling well you should go home," he urged her.
"I know- I'm giving it another thirty minutes I just took a pain killer," Brennan sighed heavily.
"No common pain killer's going to be stronger than your pain, okay? I'm taking you home, come on," Booth said in his and-do-not-try-to-argue-with-me-tone. Usually this was Brennan's cue to do just so but this time she easily relented and leaned into him.
"Don't worry, I'll get back and inform everyone, clean up for you. Just put your arm around my neck now," Booth interrupted her and carefully led her away from the wall and towards the exit.
Brennan wasn't one to complain, mostly she just dealt with whatever it was that bothered her in silence. Apparently this time it was really bad.
By the time they'd gotten outside and Booth had gently sat her on a bench it took all of Brennan's willpower not to cling onto him and cry like a child. God, it hurt. As if a balloon inside of her wired with nerves was being punched all the time.
Finally Booth pulled up next to the bench and jumped out to help her get into the car. Standing up only increased the pain, it was as though the already irritated nerves were also stretched out and her face was contorted by pain.
"You okay?" Booth asked, still concerned, as she weakly took the hand he stretched out to her.
Again, it would be such a relief to just collapse in his arms and sob in his shoulder, but her dignity wouldn't let her.
"Yeah, I'm fine," she quickly replied as she let him help her get seated.
During the ride to Brennan's apartment her face contorted at every bump in the road and Booth kept glancing at her with worry written all over his face.
"Stop looking at me, Booth, this is embarrassing enough as it is," she said irritably. Booth averted his gaze and concentrated on the road.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to snap at you," Brennan apologised after a moment. She felt bad; he was only trying to help her.
"Don't worry about it, Bones. You're in pain. I get it, trust me," Booth replied as he softly placed his hand on her knee. Brennan hesitated merely a second, then placed her hand atop of his. Booth turned his palm upwards so he could hold her small hand and soothingly run his thumb over her skin.
They arrived at Brennan's apartment building and Booth helped his partner get out of the car. The moment she stretched her body she realised the pain had spread to her lower back. Booth laid his hand exactly there and felt her tense under his touch.
"Does it hurt anywhere else?" he asked before he attempted to support her again.
"It's my lower back, lower abdomen and my upper legs are tingling," she sighed.
These symptoms sounded familiar to Booth but he couldn't think of where he'd heard them before, not yet.
"Let's get you upstairs," he said softly and placed his arm around her waist. They took the elevator up to the second floor and Brennan got the keys out of her pocket and she let Booth unlock the door.
"You can get back to work now, I'll be fine," Brennan said as she leaned against the wall, longing to let her heavy body flop down on the couch but resisting the urge because she'd have to drag herself to her bed eventually and might never get up from the couch once she'd collapsed there.
"What? No, Bones, I'm not leaving until I know you're okay. Really okay, I mean. And right now I don't even know what exactly's wrong with you so no. I'm staying," Booth told her determinedly.
Brennan sighed as the cramps continued to torture her and decided this was really not a good time to argue with an alpha male out to protect a female member of his group.
"All right," she mumbled.
"What?" Booth said in surprise. He was expecting her to put up a fight against his 'alpha male tendencies'.
"Uhm, okay, then. What do you need?"
"A bed and some morphine, please," she attempted to make a joke but the smile that crossed her face was wry.
Booth shook his head and walked up to her.
"Come here," he told her with a desperate smile and without a warning lifted her in his arms. It's okay to be vulnerable sometimes, he'd like to say to her, but thought it better not to.
Though apparently, she agreed to his unspoken words and wrapped her arms around his neck. Booth couldn't believe she just let him carry her to her bedroom.
"There we go," he said as he gently laid Brennan down.
"Thanks, Booth," she told him as he was still bent over her.
"No problem, Bones," he replied and looked into her brilliant blue eyes.
Then their moment got interrupted by another wave of pain that made Brennan close her eyes and furrow her brow. She turned onto her side and pulled up her knees. Suddenly Booth remembered where he'd seen this before.
"Bones," he said as he brushed her hair out of her face, "Are you having cramps?"
She nodded her head.
"And back pains. I knew it," he ran his hand through his hair, "Do you have medication for this? I assume it comes back every month."
"No," Brennan choked out, "It's only this month. I guess- I guess I've been working a little- a little too hard."
"You're feverish," Booth concluded as he placed his hand to her forehead, "And pale as a sheet. Okay, sit up," he demanded.
"I'd really rather not move now," she said as her face contorted again.
"Trust me, Bones. I used to do this with my ex-girlfriend when she started her period. I don't know how I thought of it but it helped, so sit upstraight, please. Least I can do is try."
Brennan obeyed this time and lifted her upper body as Booth quickly removed his shoes and jacket and sat behind her, his back against the wall and his legs on either side of her.
"Try whatever you can think of," Brennan pleaded and leaned her head on his shoulder, tired of the constant pain from the cramps.
"Just relax," Booth whispered and moved one hand to her lower back where he started to rub slow circles. Brennan felt the tension ease off immediately and relaxed her body against his.
His other hand now travelled to her abdomen and was softly pressed against her skin.
"Here?" he asked.
Without answering Brennan took his hand and placed it a few inches lower.
"Here," she said, not being bothered by the touch of his fingers against the skin under her belt.
Brennan sighed in relief a few moments later.
"Better?" Booth asked.
"How did you do that? Your girlfriend must have been really happy with you," she replied in awe.
"I think it's mostly because of the warmth... What's wrong?" he asked with concern when he saw a tear slide down his partner's cheek.
"I don't know- sorry," Brennan tried to hold back the rest of her tears but all to no avail. It was as if with the pain that subsided all of her bottled-up emotions with the tears ran freely over her face.
Booth moved his hands to her upper arms and rubbed up and down gently.
"Shh, it's okay. I'm here," he consoled her as she turned and wrapped her arms around his neck and sobbed silently into his shoulder.
He pulled her closer by putting an arm around her back and with the other he stroked her hair. She didn't have to give him a reason for crying; he could think of enough and it was probably mostly the stress that had to find its way out of her system.
Ten minutes later she was asleep in his arms and Booth had his eyes closed, as well. When his back started to protest against his position he carefully moved from behind her and gently laid her down in the soft mattress, removing her boots before covering her with the duvet and leaving the room.
Yet, as he closed the door behind him, Booth knew he really didn't want to leave his Bones alone right now. Giving into his protect-and-comfort-Bones tendencies he pulled out his cell phone and called the lab and his boss to let them know he would be staying with Brennan to take care of her.
After putting his stuff –gun, badge, wallet, driver's license and cell phone on the table he returned to Brennan's room and closed the curtains. The few beams of light that caught her face allowed Booth to notice how truly exhausted she looked.
Booth hesitated; could he just lie down next to her or should he leave her alone? He received his answer quickly.
"Come lie next to me, Booth," Brennan's soft voice sounded. That was all the encouragement he needed and he crawled under the duvet on the other side of the bed. Then he decided he couldn't care less about how awkward it would be when they woke up in the morning and shifted to close the space between their bodies.
She reacted immediately by resting her head on his arm and snuggling her back against his chest. He wrapped his other arm around her shoulders and breathed in the scent of her hair. Very classy, he was guessing Chanel.
Maybe it was to express her gratitude for relieving her pain, maybe it was because she'd just cried in his shoulder, Booth was affected nonetheless by the simple gesture of this woman for whom he cared so much placing a small kiss in his hand and holding it to her heart as she fell back asleep.
Nothing like this had made tears spring to his eyes before. Not even on the day his son was born. Perhaps it was how a simple gesture like this made him feel. It had come unexpected which made it even more frank, sincere. No, there were no words appropriate for how it made him feel but it was one of the most beautiful gifts he'd ever received and he knew he'd cherish it for the rest of his life.
The last thing Booth did before he closed his eyes and allowed his body to fall asleep was kissing Brennan's cheek ever so softly, touching the tip of his nose to her fair skin.
Yes, she was fine now.