In the past couple of days, Booth noticed that Brennan was behaving a bit differently than usual. It wasn't anything major, and he doubted that Angela had noticed. She seemed a little sadder than usual. She was staying a little longer at the office and just a bit of her sparkle was gone.
As Booth reflected on this, he realized that it wasn't the first time this had happened. 'She was like this a couple of months ago,' he recalled.
A knock at her apartment door pulled Brennan's attention from the chapter she was trying to write. She peered through the eyehole. 'Booth. What's he doing here at…' she looked at her watch, '11:30 at night?' she wondered, as she opened the door.
Booth held up a bag of takeout from their favorite Thai restaurant. A big grin spread across Booth's face. "I thought you could use some good food and good company," he said.
Brennan gave him a small smile and stepped aside to let him enter. He headed toward the dining room and she went to grab their usual beers from the refrigerator. The two made small talk while they ate.
After dinner was cleaned up, they headed to her couch with fresh beers. Booth's mood turned serious and he asked the question that had been on his mind for the past few hours. "Temperance, are you okay? And don't say you're just fine; I 'd like a real answer."
'He never calls my by my first name. This isn't what I expected,' Brennan thought wildly. 'What do I say?'
Slowly she asked, "Why do you think I'm not okay?"
Booth explained his observations, and concluded, "And I don't think this is the first time either. I just need to make sure you're okay, really okay."
Brennan thought, 'I can't believe he noticed. I knew he was good at reading people, but I never expected this.' But she said something different. "Do you ever feel like something's just wrong?" she asked.
"Sure," he replied. "Usually when we're interviewing suspect. It's that 'gut feeling' of mine you keep dismissing," he teased, winking to let her know he was joking.
"No, no. That's not what I meant," Brennan said. "Sometimes I just feel like something is wrong with me. I'll start feeling a bit off, sometimes down. I try and figure out exactly what's wrong, but I can't."
She turned and looked at him instead of the wall. Booth nodded, surprised that she was sharing so freely.
"It will last for a bit – a few days, a couple of weeks, a month at most. The only way I know to cope is to keep busy. It's almost like I'm compelled to do something to distract myself. Eventually it wears off and things go back to normal."
She looked away. Booth waited patiently to see if she would continue. He wanted to reach out a hand to comfort her, but wasn't sure if it would be a good idea.
After a few minutes of silence, she continued, "It used to only happen once a year. But the last few years it's started to happen more often – twice, and then three times a year.
"I really don't like emotions. They're not logical and although I've tried, I just can't ignore them…" she said, frustrated. Brennan pursed her lips. 'Talking about this is not making me feel any better,' she thought with despair.
She continued anyway. "When I feel, well, off, that's the best it ever is. Sometimes…" she trailed off.
She looked at Booth, trying to gauge his reaction, despite her generally dismal track record at reading body language.
He gazed back at her for a few seconds. "What's it like when it's worse?" he prompted.
Brennan hesitated a moment. "The worse it is, the more I have to distract myself to deal. Sometimes it feels like I'm walking around wounded, with my heart cut open – like someone ripped off a scab from over a suppurating wound that just won't heal, kind of like how I felt when my family deserted me. Sometimes I can barely cope. I'm afraid that someday I won't be able to." She sniffed, holding back tears.
Booth couldn't just sit there anymore. He scooted toward her and wrapped his arms around her. "Thanks for telling me, Temperance," he said softly. He felt her take a deep breath, and then a few shorter ones.
She sighed. "I'm just… broken," she said sadly, summing everything up. Her shoulders slumped.
He tightened his arms a bit. 'I can't fix this, but I can comfort her.'
She relaxed into his arms. She felt secure, protected. He couldn't make problem, whatever it was, go away, but his caring felt wonderful.