Author's Note: This takes place after Season 3, Episode 4 (The Secret in the Soil). There aren't any spoilers in this part, but there may be in future parts.
Don't worry, this story won't be very long, and it shouldn't take me long to complete it.
Warning: Here be pure, unadulterated fluff. Not a hairshirt in sight. If you don't like fluff, don't read this. You have been warned. And I'm sure this type of story has been done a million times, but I wanted to write it anyway. Hope you enjoy it, but if not, that's absolutely ok, too. Thanks for the lovely feedback you've left recently; I treasure it ALL. And if you're reading but not commenting, I hope I can entertain you even a little bit. The world can be a tough place to inhabit at times. I know fiction can provide an escape.
Whistling cheerfully, Booth knocked on the door to Brennan's apartment. He was taking a chance, given that it was a Saturday morning. But Rebecca had Parker that weekend, and honestly, he was kinda bored. He'd hopped in his car, not sure where he was headed, and on impulse, wound up at Brennan's place.
He knocked again. Nothing. It would be just like her to be at the lab at 10:00 am on a Saturday instead of lazing around like a normal person. Still, it was worth another try. If she was around, he'd drag her to brunch. His stomach growled, and he looked down. He knocked again, this time pressing his ear against the door. There it was: a very faint shuffle.
With a frown, he straightened and knocked harder. What was taking her so long?
Just as he lifted his hand to knock again, the locks turned with a click and the door opened just a crack, allowing him to see absolutely nothing. "Go away, Booth," said the disembodied voice.
"Now now, Bones, is that any way to talk to your partner? Come on, let's go to brunch." He leaned against the doorframe and patted his stomach and sighed dramatically. "I need pancakes. Give me pancakes, or give me..." he shoved the door open and stepped inside, "...death," he said, trailing off as he took in Brennan's appearance. "Man, you look like hell, Bones."
Bloodshot, glassy eyes. Flushed cheeks. Puffy, pink nose. Normally neat hair pulled back in a messy ponytail; more of it hanging out of the elastic band than tucked in it. A ratty gray t-shirt and shorts that had clearly seen better days.
"Thank you for stating the obvious," she croaked. She shot him what he knew was supposed to be a withering glare, but which had the effect of making her look slightly demented instead because of her current state.
Yup, the mighty Temperance Brennan was sick.
"What are you doing here, Booth?" She raised a hand to her face and blew her nose, making a loud, honking sound.
"I wanted to take you to brunch, but you don't really look up to it."
She shook her head. "No brunch. If I even think about food, I'll..." Brennan paled and slapped a hand over her mouth. He watched, concerned, as she turned her back on him and lurched down the hallway. Without hesitating, he followed her.
The bathroom door stood slightly ajar; he could hear her throwing up. Then, nothing but the sound of her labored breathing. "If you come in here, I'll shoot you." The words came out so weak he doubted she could swat a fly at that moment.
Booth's lips twitched and for a split second, he paused. Then he shrugged, squared his shoulders, and prepared to meet his fate. He pushed the door open and eased into the bathroom. She was crouched on the floor in front of the toilet, clutching the sides with knuckles that had gone white. He remained silent and moved forward to kneel beside her as she retched again. He gathered her straggling hair in one hand and held it back from her face. With the other hand, he stroked her back, feeling the blade of her spine beneath the soft cotton.
As Brennan puked and he rubbed her back, Booth couldn't help but notice that she wasn't wearing a bra. His hand registered nothing but muscle and bone. Jackass. There she was, puking her guts out, and he was pondering her bralessness. Really classy.
Brennan trembled and Booth frowned; she really wasn't doing too well. "Ugh." She groaned and struggled to her feet, shaking his hands off. She turned on the tap and rinsed her mouth out with water before reaching for a green bottle of Listerine. When she had finished, she leaned her forearms on the counter. Their eyes met in the mirror. "I'm going to shoot you."
He smiled gently. "Sure, shoot me — just wait till you feel better."
"I'm fine, Booth. Just..." She waved her hand at the door. "...go. Please."
The last word tugged at him, telling him exactly how much she must hate letting anyone see her like that. Too bad. He wasn't just anyone. He couldn't, no he wouldn't, leave her alone like that.
"Sorry, Bones." He shrugged. "I'm really bored. Parker's with Rebecca, all my friends are busy, and right now there's nothing on tv but cartoons. So I guess you're stuck with me."
Brennan shook her head and sank to the floor again, knees drawn up to her chest and back against the cabinet. She sniffed and fumbled around on the floor. Ah, tissues. He spied the box on the counter and pressed one tissue into her hand. "Here you go."
After she'd blown her nose until it glowed as red as Rudolph's, Brennan tried to stand, making it as far as the edge of the bathtub, where she sat down with a thump and a world-weary sigh.
"How long have you been sick?"
"I'm not sick," she insisted.
"Did you get a flu shot?"
"Booth, if the vaccine strains and circulating strains aren't matched, they're not particularly effective at preventing influenza."
He sighed and rolled his eyes, hands on his hips. "I'll take that as a no." He crouched in front of her and placed the back of his hand first on her cheeks and then on her forehead. "You're on fire."
"Since the middle of the night," she said in a small voice that oddly enough, reminded him of Parker and made him want to give her a hug. If he wanted to live, he'd better restrain that particular impulse. "I woke up around 3:00 and couldn't get back to sleep."
Seeing that she'd exhausted her limited reserves of strength, he picked her up and carried her out of the bathroom and down the hall toward what he assumed was her bedroom.
"I hate you."
Good. If she could muster up a little venom, things couldn't be that bad. "I know you do," he replied, tightening his arms around her.