A/N: So, finally a new story from me! I hate it when school doesn't allow me time to write. Anyway, I bet you know the feeling. This is something I wrote for my friend's eighteenth birthday and she gave me a thumbs-up to post it. Please let me know what you think!
Dedicated to N.Bones, lots of love to you and may we be 'Thirds' forever!
Routinely, she pushes open the door to the staircase with her right hand while plunging her left in her pocket to get the keys to her apartment. Her mind still occupied with work-related thoughts and ideas, she almost doesn't notice the dark mass in the shadow underneath the stairs. Later, Booth would insist that it wasn't a coincidence that she dropped her keys and suddenly noticed a protruding limp as she bent down to retrieve them.
Coincidence or not, her heart skips a beat as her mind assesses the situation withing seconds and her body proceedes to approach the dark spot, fully alert. As she moves closer, her ears pick up on the sound of hard breathing, or rather someone trying to suppress their breathing reflex. The moment the half-naked form of a young woman appears fully within her sight, another figure leaps forwards and pins her against the wall, closing his fingers around her throat. His face is inches from hers and she presses her eyelids shut against his ragged breathing and the tiny drops of saliva flying from his mouth.
She is taken aback only for a moment, though, and as soon as she becomes aware that she cannot breathe she wills her knee to jerk upwards. Judging by the assailant's tortured cry, she's hit her target. Hard. Immediately he releases her and stumbles backwards, towards the door; the only exit besides the stairs. But she is faster and kicks his legs from under him, sending him to the floor which he hits with a loud thud. Dropping to her knees, she grabs his chin and holds his face in place while she raises her fist and lets it crash down on his temple, throwing all of her shock and anger into her punch, causing him to fall rapidly into unconsciousness.
Only when his eyes have fluttered shut her mind starts to clear from the adrenaline and she feels her heart pumping erratically inside her chest, her breath coming in painful gasps as the knuckles of her right hand throb.
What just happened? Then her eyes widen. The victim…
Quickly she gets to her feet and rushes over to the dark corner, where still lies the motionless form of the young woman, her jeans at her ankles and her underwear torn. Fortunately she is breathing on her own and her pulse is steady enough, so Temperance Brennan gets her cell phone out of her jacket pocket and dials the emergency number, after which she gently brushes some hair off the victim's face and holds her cold hand in her warmer one while nervously keeping an eye on the man on the other side of the cramped space. If he dares move… she's going to beat the living hell out of him.
The next morning she enters the Jeffersonian Medico-Legal Lab before anyone else does and begins by opening the blinds of her office, allowing the begging sunbeams to pool on her floor and her desk and the many artifacts that are neatly positioned on shelves, making the office look fresh. The bright light relaxes her slightly; she has been a bit on edge since the past night, but she doesn't worry about it. Considering all that happened she isn't surprised to feel drained and slightly shaky as she descended the stairs of her apartment building forty minutes ago. It would go away.
She shrugs off her jacket and hangs it on the coatrack in the corner, then turns around and eyes her clean desk appreciatively. Yes, she is going to get some work done. She sits herself in her comfortable chair and turns on her computer, logs in and thinks –once again- of what a wonderful profession she has. Her specialty is identifying remains and since every body has a different identity her job never gets dull. So, surrounded by a familiar and safe environment, she sighs in contentment and starts working.
It isn't until her door is excitedly rapped on a few hours later that she looks up from the screen. When she has turned to face the entrance to her office, whoever requested access has already opened the door and stepped in. She looks up at this person and meets with the sparkling brown eyes of her partner, Special Agent Seeley Booth. A smile forms on her lips at his obvious excellent mood and he matches it before holding up the object in his hands. It is that day's newspaper and he triumphantly places it on her desk.
"Jeez, Bones, I can't believe- well actually I can- but I never thought- You're a hero!" he exclaims happily. "I'm so proud of you," he adds and squeezes her shoulders lightly to emphasise his words.
"Booth- you mean a heroine," she laughs.
"What?" he asks as if he hasn't really paid attention to what she said.
"A heroine. Not a hero. A heroine; I'm a woman," she corrects him patiently.
"Okay, great. You're a heroine then. Whatever you're called I'm taking you to lunch today and you'll have to tell me everything. Wow Bones, just wow. You totally caught a rapist in the act and kicked his sorry ass unconscious. And you saved the victim! I'm telling you, you're the definition of a hero."
"Yeah. Like I said: whatever. Anyway, I have to go now, brag about my partner who's a hero. See you at lunch, okay?" he claps his hands twice starts to walk out the door.
"Okay. Sure!" she calls after him, happy that he stopped by, for his positive view on what happened makes her feel better, makes her forget about the fear and the strong fingers around her throat, pressing it shut, about the violence inflicted upon that poor girl, and about her trembling hands as she forced herself to look at the place in daylight.
Her smile hasn't faded yet when she shakes her head and resigns herself to some more work.
"Let me see," he asks.
"Why?" He's already wanted to take a look at her hand, the knuckles of which are bruised underneath the dressing.
Sighing, she brings her hands to her throat and loosens the scarf she is wearing around it. Pushing it down, she reveals the purplish bruises in the shapes of fingers.
"Whoa, Bones, that doesn't look too good," he observes with concern.
She shrugs. "They're just bruises. They'll go away. Besides, it's a small price to pay for beating down a rapist. Right?" she proceeds to cover her neck back up with the scarf.
"Right," he smiles. "Want another piece of pie?"
As Booth orders two more pieces of the Royal Diner's delicious pie, according to both partners the best in all of DC, she gazes out the window and watches the passers-by for a moment. She has to admit she is slightly confused about how she feels exactly about the events of the previous night. Everyone at the lab has apparently read the paper and congratulates her, like Booth. He even bought her lunch and pie to celebrate her act of heroism. So judging from people's reactions, she should feel thrilled. And she does, for some part, because that night she received a call from the police who told her the doctors hadn't found any signs of rape. The young woman had 'merely' been roughed up and she is fine now, except for the mental trauma she has sustained of course.
Obviously things could be much worse, yet to be perfectly honest, she doesn't feel all that relieved. A woman was attacked in her own apartment building, the rapist attacked her, too, and she would grow nervous whenever she approaches the stairwell. How can everyone be so happy about it?
"Hey Bones, you all right?"
The voice of her partner brings out of her thoughts and back to present.
"What?" Has she missed anything else he's been saying?
"You. That deep, thoughtful look. Are you okay?" he repeats.
"Yeah. Fine," she replies quickly, forcing a smile.
"You sure? Because if you need to talk…" he presses.
"What would I need to talk about? I mean, we've talked about it just seconds ago, haven't we?" she says casually and uses her fork to cut off a piece of pie and brings it to her mouth. She isn't going to blow this thing out of proportion; if anyone needs talking it would be the girl who got attacked.
"Yes we did," he gives up and, following her example, starts eating his pie.
Just as they're about to leave the Diner and go their separate ways that afternoon, Booth receives a phone call and runs after his partner, telling her they have a case. They go to the crime scene together, taking his car, and stay there a few hours until she declares the remains may be transported to the Jeffersonian.
Next, Booth drives her to the lab and insists he pick her up that night and drive her home.
She has actually had a good day; going into the field with Booth is always exciting, and today the experience has presented itself like a gift, for she hasn't thought about the incident in the stairwell since lunch. But now that Booth's car has stopped in front of her apartment building reality comes crashing down on her and she turns slightly pale at the thought of entering the cramped space again.
"So I'll see you tomorrow?" the soft voice of her partner makes her turn her face to him and meets his gaze.
"Yeah. Thanks for the ride."
"Hey, don't thank me; I insisted," he teases good-naturedly.
She smiles in reply before grabbing her bag, opening the door and stepping out into the cool, dark night.
"Thanks anyway," she says before she throws the door shut and turns to face the building she stupidly dreads entering. She waves as Booth speeds off.
With a sigh she straightens her shoulders and walks towards the entrance, where she humours her own trembling hand as she pushes through the door.
"Doctor Brennan!" the night doorman Archie calls when she enters the large hall.
"Yes?" she walks over to him and awkwardly shakes his outstretched hand.
"I haven't had the chance to thank you yet. Poor miss Stanton; she was lucky you were there, or she may not have lived." Archie sighs dramatically and his honest light eyes look up at her.
"I feel I should have done something, you know. Heard something, seen something. I mean if you hadn't-"
"Archie, it wouldn't have been your fault. And it's not logical to ponder alternative situations when all has ended well," she assures him.
"If you say so, Doctor Brennan. Please, go get some rest. I presume I'll see you tomorrow morning?"
She smiles friendly. "That's right. Have a good night, Archie."
"You too Doctor Brennan!"
She turns around and begins walking towards the door. That door; behind which is the staircase, where one night ago she became a heroine. How that word seems just completely wrong…
Just when she's about to push the door ajar with her right hand while plunging her left in her pocket to get the key to her apartment, a voice stops her.
"Bones! Hold on a sec." It was Booth. But why was he here?
"I thought you'd left." She turns towards him and feels an unexpected gratefulness. Perhaps he wants a beer, so she doesn't have to go in alone.
"No I was merely parking the car. Listen, I'm sorry if I'm invading your privacy or independence, but I'm not comfortable with you taking the stairs all alone. I mean, you've obviously proven you can defend yourself, but-"
"Thanks," she sighs in relief and treats him on a smile. He looks deeply into her eyes for a moment as if questioning her, then frowns. "All right, okay, that was easier than I anticipated."
This earns him another smile and he grins before pushing open the door further and stepping in, quickly looking around to make sure it's safe.
"All clear," he announces and she steps in as well, joining him in the cramped space. Noticing her uneasiness, he places a hand on the small of her back and guides her towards the stairs.
"Despite your moment of heroism, it must have been pretty scary."
They climb the rest of the stairs in silence until they finally reach her door.
"So. I should probably-"
"Do you want a beer?" she cuts him.
"Well, yeah. Yes, I'd love one actually," he smiles, pleasantly surprised by the offer.
A few minutes later they've settled on her couch, each with a beer in hand. Brennan has visibly relaxed since they exited the staircase.
"Listen, Bones," Booth starts to say in a serious voice and she gazes at him as a lump forms in her throat. This is not the right time to bring it up, it's too soon, the grip on her emotions isn't tight enough yet.
"I'm sorry," he continues to say, "for not being a good friend today."
She waits for him to explain himself.
"I wasn't a good friend because, I didn't look at it from your point of view, and I didn't give you the chance to explain because all I saw was that you are a heroine and how proud I am of you." He pauses and meets her gaze, staring intently at him, listening to what he has to say.
"I noticed you were tense when we got to your apartment building and I realised what a scare that bastard must have given you. I thought it would probably be kind of freaky to go back there alone, so I hope it makes me a better friend to be here for you now."
His eyes pierce into hers and she swallows hard to force back her tears. She knows that had she been alone now crying wouldn't even have crossed her mind, but she isn't alone and for one reason or another the fact that she doesn't want to cry forces the tears into her eyes. So she quickly averts her gaze by staring straight ahead and shrugs as she tries to push words past the lump in her throat.
"It's just that seeing her lying there, exposed and unconscious… it was horrible." She feels her partner's hand on her forearn and she glances at it. "It wasn't even that bad when he attacked me, I mean… I can put up a fight, you know," her gaze momentarily shifts to Booth's understanding eyes before she continues. "I'm afraid I won't ever get that image out of my head," she sighs, ending her story and leaning back against the couch. It's quiet for a moment and they look at each other.
"And you're not a bad friend, Booth. In fact, you're my best friend. Or best male friend. We shouldn't forget about Angela of course."
They both smile and Brennan is glad to feel the lump's disappeared, as have the stinging tears.
I didn't cry in front of Booth again, she thinks relieved.
"The image won't fade, Bones. Sorry. But in a few days you won't see it as often," he assures her.
She lowers her chin a bit and cocks her head to the side, hair escaping from her behind her ear. "Promise?" she presses. His hand moves from her forearm to her hand and squeezes it.
"Yeah. And by the way; you're my best friend too. Best female friend," he adds with a wink and draws back his hand. Brennan laughs and shakes her head at his wicked grin. They continue to sit in comfortable silence for another while, each a content look on their face as they take sips from their beers.
"Well, I should probably get going now. Thanks for the drink, Bones."
They stand up simultaneously and Brennan smoothes her shirt over her hips as Booth gets his jacket and shrugs it on.
"Thanks, Booth," she says sincerely, still a bit insecure about sharing her feelings. Somehow she's always felt that she shouldn't bother others with what she is thinking or feeling. But Booth doesn't seem to mind at all. To him it is normal, she guesses. He is used to talk like this.
"It's nothing, Bones. I'm just glad I could help. You know that, right? You can always come to me."
She feels stupid to keep thanking him for favours that are apparently no trouble to him; she doesn't want to sound too polite, so she nods her head in acceptance.
"Well, I'll see you tomorrow then," he says and flashes her a charming smile before he opens the door and disappears as he jogs down the stairs. With a sigh Brennan closes the door behind him. She actually feels much better.
The next morning Brennan hears a rap on her door just when she's about to grab her bag and walk to the Jeffersonian. After all, her car's still parked in front of the Royal Diner. Opening the door, she reveals the bright-early-morning face of her partner, smiling at her.
"Hi, Booth," she laughs and walks back into her apartment.
"Morning, Bones," he greets her back happily and follows her. "Figured you might want a ride since, you know, your car's still at the Diner."
Her jacket's on and she flings her bag over her shoulder, ready to leave. Today she's wearing her hair in a ponytail, but one strand of auburn has already managed to escape the elastic band and she repeatedly tucks it back behind her ear; it makes her look so girlish it makes him smile. He likes it when she wears her hair back; it shows off her beautiful face.
"You ready?" he asks and opens the door.
"Yeah," she replies and follows him out, locking the door behind them. When they arrive at the bottom of the stairs she subconsciously throws a glance at that particular corner but doesn't feel scared or tense. Booth's safe presence perhaps has something to do with this. His wide chest is like an inpenetrable shield and if she were to stand behind his back no one would be able to even see her. This gives her a secure feeling. But she doesn't really need him to be her shield. She just needs him to be there for her as a friend. Without pausing Booth has already pushed through the door and she quickly follows him outside.
"You okay?" he inquires sternly.
"Yeah," she assures him with a quick smile.
"Then say good morning to Archie and off we go. It's a good day to solve murders."
"I don't think there's a distinction between good or bad days when it comes to solving murders; but I think what you mean to say is that you're in a good mood and looking forward to work," she corrects him patiently as they start towards the exit and she raises her hand as a greeting to Archie, the bags under whose eyes are the proof of a long night spent with cross-word puzzles illuminated by a limited desk light.
"Good morning Archie!"
"Good morning Doctor Brennan, have a good day today!"
That night she insists Booth takes her to her car instead of driving her home. In reply to his pouting face she merely laughs and promises to treat him on a piece of the Royal Diner's pie during lunch the next day. Eventually he gives in. "Okay Bones, you win. On one condition: you give me a call the minute you're in." She knows she should feel slightly offended at this invasion of her privacy, but a bigger part of her feels warm and cared for. Since her parents left her and her brother when she was only fifteen years old, she's missed someone caring where she is all the time. And now, apparently, Booth has taken to be that someone for her. He is her special person, in another way than Angela is. Angela is her best friend; they frequently share their thoughts on various subjects, mostly men. When she needs advice she knows Angela has it. they are as close as sisters would be, perhaps.
But Booth… Booth protects her, contradicts her. His male presence some times providing for tension, at other times oddly comforting; the manner in which he brushes her as he passes, or calmly places his hand on the small of her back when he guides her, soothing.
"Only tonight, then. For the sake of your peaceful state-of-mind. Right?"
"Right." They lock eyes and a grin spreads across his features. "Okay, Bones. Time to get going."
"See you tomorrow."
"Talk to you later," he specifies.
Forty-five minutes later Booth has gone from frowning worriedly at the clock to waiting anxiously beside the phone. She should have been home in twenty minutes, maybe twenty-five taking red lights into consideration; thirty give or take some small-talk with Archie. Thirty-five includes putting her stuff away and settling down on the couch. Forty tops to remember their agreement. Five to get attacked in the staircase…
Just when he's about to frantically start calling her cell and home telephone the small screen in his hands starts to flicker, displaying the name 'BONES' in bold capital letters across it. Heaving a sigh of relief, he accepts the call and brings the device to his ear.
"Hi Booth," her voice speaks innocently.
"The minute! I said the minute you get in, Bones!" he scolds her.
"Do you know how worried I was?" he cuts her immediately. "You could be lying dead in that staircase for all I know!"
A pointed silence hangs between them for a moment.
Worried? He was worried about her? How dare he? Fine, he could be a protective alpha male; fine, he could impose on her privacy every now and then; but worrying about her and forcing a feeling of guilt upon her which she didn't even deserve because he was overreacting… she wouldn't accept it.
"It's not my fault you were worried," she states confidently, a hint of arrogance in her voice.
"Oh yes, yes it is your fault, Bones, entirely, since you are the one who didn't call while you knew I was expecting you to," he bit back and heard her huff indignantly.
"It's so typical of you to jump to conclusions without knowing all the facts, Booth. If you'd just let me finish for once…"
Now it is he who huffs but she wisely decides to ignore it. after all, she can't say the his concern isn't also a bit sweet.
"I couldn't call because I was on the phone with someone else."
"And who might that be?" he asks sarcastically.
"So… who's she?"
"The woman who got attacked in the stairwell," she states matter-of-factly.
"The woman you saved."
"…Yes, in a way I guess." Their former irritations forgotten, their voices have become softer, conveying a silent apology to the other.
"What did she say?" he inquires curiously.
"She thanked me."
"How's she doing recovering?"
"She was discharged from the hospital this afternoon. She's staying with her parents now." The thought pops into her mind, and just as quickly as it's come, she disregards it.
What if something like this would happen to me? Where would I stay? Who'd want to take care of me?
"She's staying with family… that's good," he approves.
A pause follows in which Booth apparently reads her mind, because his next words are, "Hey Bones, if you ever need to stay with family, we're always here, okay? The squints and I. You're welcome any time," he emphasises.
As she listens to his soft words it's as though they're caressing her face, and a long-lost feeling of being charished; not just being accepted or merely looked up to because of her skill, but being loved, resurfaces. What can she say? She can probably thank him, but somehow that would sound like politely disregarding the offer. Why is she thinking about this at all? She never paid much attention to what 'hidden message' her choice of words might convey. Perhaps it's because she has been really careful not to hurt Booth whenever he puts himself in a vulnerable position. At least she would feel vulnerable saying these things about family, kindly offering support. There's a very high risk of being rejected, getting hurt when bareing your soul to someone, figuratively speaking of course. Yet it pleases her to no extent that he apparently feels comfortable enough with her to let down his guard. It would be fair, at least, to confide in him, trust him back. And, most importantly, quite safe, for he's taken the initiative, which, she has to admit, is a rather brave thing to do. With this in mind she answers, "I know."
"Good. I'm glad you do," he sounds relieved, somewhat surprised.
"I'm sorry you were worried."
"That's okay. I guess I should stop acting like your annoying stalker boyfriend," he jokes, but, as is often the case, Brennan misses it and gives him a serious reply.
"You're not acting like a stalker boyfriend, Booth, although I do find you annoying sometimes."
"Whoa there, Bones, don't hurt my feelings," he chuckles.
"But you are the best partner."
"And I'm your friend," he supplies.
"And friend," she concurs.
"Yeah, well, you're not so bad yourself, Bones. I mean that." Before she's able to form an answer he changes the subject, not wanting to make her uncomfortable with all this share-your-feelings talk. "Anyway, I'll let you go to bed now. You'll probably get up early tomorrow, right?"
"Yes," she sighs.
"Sleep tight, then."
"Good night, Booth."
Relieved, she steps out of the court building and welcomes the warm sunbeams as they fall upon her face as well as the cool afternoon breeze when it brushes her form, making her jacket billow slightly. Closing her eyes for a second, she breathes in and relishes the feeling of something being over. Truly over. Her steps are lighter and more energetic as she walks towards the road, planning on getting a taxi to drive her to the Jeffersonian where she left her car; the court house's parking space has always been insufficient.
As she raises her arm to beckon a taxi driver, a familiar figure on the opposite side of the road catches her eye. The grinning man's raised his hand and is waving at her; in reply she raises her hand a bit higher and twists her wrist from left to right, waving back.
"What are you doing here, Booth?" she calls across the street and starts making her way towards him.
"Well," he says when she's reached him and gestures with both hands, "I was hoping to be able to congratulate my girl, the star witness, with a happy outcome." He pauses and she shields her eyes from the fierce sun by placing the side of her hand against her forehead, creating a shadow. "So… Can I congratulate you?"
"The defendant has been found guilty, yes, if that's what you mean," she supplies, still not entirely sure of his motive to come all the way up here. It's been over a month since the attack in the stairwell and although barely a week afterwards life went back to normal, she and Booth had been spending a lot of time together, and not only during work hours. They talked about cases, personal interests, sports, food, marriage and even children at some point. The subjects of their conversations got more personal each day, yet, strangely enough, she doesnt find this invading at all. Even though she's started to dare ask him about his private life, she's come to realise how she enjoys opening up to him, how special it makes her feel that he took such a great interest in her. In her. Not in her job or her achievements, but in what she likes and dislikes, in how she perceives things, people, relationships, life. In returns he's given her all the facts about his life, provides his view on the world and everything in it. She has come to understand him and, surprisingly, finds herself able to tell beforehand how he's going to react to certain situations. There is also something else, another curious sensation which apparently is included in the extensive gift package of intense friendship; she is able to tell what mood he is in by hearing his voice, or sometimes even by the sound of his footsteps. Still, she finds this all intriguing, like she's exploring a new system in the field of social interaction.
At first it was difficult, scary even, to open up to her partner completely and granting him access to her mind and… heart, by lack of a better term. But, as time progressed and she was able to experience the results of her 'experiment' with Booth, the knowledge of having someone to rely on, someone to whom she needn't explain herself because he already understands totally makes up for the risk of getting hurt she was taking.
Surely they have arguments, but those have only proven be a means to understand the other better, and both of them know how far they can go without crossing each other's boundaries.
Yes, she feels like she's found her soulmate, and so does he.
"Yeah. You can congratulate me," she says to the man standing in front of her, who she can hardly call a stranger any more. To her he's transparent. All the people passing by are solid, impenetrable. But he's familiar. He's home. He's family.
"That's my girl! I'm real proud of you Bones," he smiles broadly and swings an arm around her shoulder.
She laughs heartily. "You mean really," she corrects him.
"You know what I mean."
For a moment they say nothing. They're just standing there, feeling comfortable around each other. She leans more into him and he touches his cheek to her skin.
They've been playing this game for a week and neither rof them really knows the rules. What they have is more than a strong partnership, better than a deep friendship. Their bond is of a higher level, the system of their relationship complicated; it's not a straight line. It's got dents and peeks in it and the diagrm has several levels. Hostility, annoyance, disagreement, agreement, trust, partnership, friendship, a grey area and then romantic love. The latter level includes hugs –not 'guy hugs', real ones; the most intimate of conversations and more than slight touches. Without saying a word, both of them have increased the amount of physical contact, and when this hasn't seemed to bother either one, the touches have begun to last longer when they occur. And so, without realising it, they've grown comfortable with each other's minds as well as bodies, and as of lately even small kisses are allowed. Sometimes their hands find each other in the car or inside her office, doing their own dance as their owners don't move another muscle.
The game is the perfect solution. There needn't be any awkward conversations and as soon as one of them wants out, they can just stop responding to the other's touch. Also, they can have arguments without the bitter aftermath they would involve had they been vocal about their relationship. Brennan in particular likes it this way for it's safe and she can do what she wants without having to constantly justify herself. To Booth, it's all but thrilling, the way their relationship seems to take on a life of its own, leading them, guiding them. It seems that slowly, silently, they've fallen for one another.
"Let's get some pie," she proposes.
"You must be hungry."
"I'm starving. Just told you so. I want pie."
"All right. If you want to, we'll go get some pie."
They get into the car and fasten their seatbelts, openly staring at the other while they're turned in their seats. Then Booth turns the key in the ignition and blends in with the traffic, placing his hand on the elevation inbetween them, where her hand is already awaiting his. Only this time, for the first time, she watches their fingers dance.
Routinely, she pushes open the door to the staircase with her right hand while plunging her left in her pocket to get the keys to her apartment. Her mind still occupied with work-related thoughts and ideas, she almost doesn't notice the dark mass in the shadow underneath the stairs. Her fingers tighten around the key and her heart skips a beat as her mind takes her back to that night over a month ago. She stands there, frozen on the spot for merely a moment until a man in a uniform swiftly climbs off a stepladder, plunging a screwdriver in his pocket and scratching his chin as he takes a step back and studies his work.
"Yeah, that should do it," he mumbles to himself, then suddenly he notices her presence. "Oh. Hi, miss."
He continues when she doesn't reply. "Both monitors and cameras are installed so you should be able to reach your door safely from now on."
"Thank you," she nods respectfully, finding her voice again and wanting to slap herself across the forehead for being such an idiot to think she'd have to take on another attacker in the stairwell.
"Yeah, well, no problem, miss. A good night to you," the electrician modestly accepts her gratitude and grabs his stuff.
"Thanks," she says again and starts up the stairs as the electrician walks out, closing the door behind him. However, only seconds after the sound of his footsteps has died out the door is opened again, only this time it grants access to a more familiar presence…
"Hey Archie!" he calls as he enters the building. "Wow, what have you got there?"
Curiously, he walks over to the night doorman and gazes over the desk, watching footage from the stairwell on a black-and-white screen.
"Hi Agent Booth! Yeah they just got installed. Looks like Ted's finished up with the last camera." The screen skips to a view from another camera and the door to the stairwell opens behind Booth's back, a uniformed man walking out with his gear.
"They're all set, Arch!"
"You're the man, Ted!"
Booth nods appreciatively at the monitor. "Major improvement there, Archie."
"Actually it was Doctor Brennan's idea. She's a smart lady. Got more balls than most of the men I know."
"That she has," Booth agrees, a shiver running up his spine as he thinks about his partner kicking the asses of all the men she has, as he imagines what she could do to him if she got really angry with him…
He quickly wishes Archie good night and enters the stairwell himself.
Again, she hears the door open and from the sound of his footsteps she can tell it's Booth. A smile plays on her lips as she holds still and waits for him to catch up.
"Hey Bones, wait up!" He jogs up the stairs and when he reaches her playfully wraps his arms around her waist from behind. His proximity instantly warms her and fills her with a feeling of happiness, so strong it's as though she's drugged.
"I love you, Booth." As the whispered words leave her lips the realisation hits her. She's in love with Booth.
"What?" His body freezes, she knows his eyebrows rise and his forehead creases as he waits for her to explain herself, repeat what she's just said. She turns in his arms and rests her own on his shoulders, piercing her gaze into his soft, chocolate brown eyes. She knows he's heard her; he's just giving her the chance to change her mind. She also knows she's broken the rules to their game, even though they were never established.
But as he drowns in her crystal blue eyes, sparkling with determination, already enveloping his soul, he embraces the fact she's made up her mind.
"I love you, Booth," she repeats, louder this time, and observes his reaction. Slowly, his eyes turn big. Obviously he hasn't expected her to be the first to acknowledge what they have. Then his eyes radiate something she can only explain as peacefulness, contentment, and he cups her face with both his hands.
"I love you too," he states breathlessly, and she merely blinks, once, slowly, carefully.
Never before had she thought it possible that someone would fall in love with her. Why would they want to? She has her own life, a mind of her own, is stubborn as hell and always thinks she's right. In brief she is nothing but trouble, and although she herself has never ahd a problem with this, she understands others might.
There's nothing a man could offer her that she wouldn't be able to get herself. He wouldn't get ingrained in her life because she can exist without him. He would feel worthless with her, and it wouldn't be entirely unlogical.
Yet logic seems to have little to do with what she's feeling now, in this moment, for this man, who somehow does seem to complement her.
He's still cradling her face in his hands and his face dips, the distance between their lips swiftly crossed. Right before they touch, Brennan speaks in a low voice.
"Are you sure you know what you're getting yourself into?"
He touches his forefinger to her chin, lifting it slightly while holding her gaze.
"Yes." He takes a moment to let the answer get through to her. "I am absolutely, utterly, completely, one hundred per cent sure. Are you?"
Quickly, she leans forward and kisses his lips, closing her eyes for a moment then pulls back, subconsciously licking her bottom lip. It may have been over in an instant, her insides are still jumping and doing summersaults as the feel of the roughness of his lips lingers on hers.
He is staring at her, dumbfounded, overwhelmed, before he regains consciousness and apprehends the situation. The possibility. The opportunity. The chance.
Moving suddenly, he winds his fingers in her silky hair and wraps his other arm around her back, trapping her between his body and the hard concrete wall as he frantically, yet lovingly, kisses her back. Losing themselves in the moment, the softness of her lips setting him on fire while the love pouring from his every touch numbs her mind, they're unaware of someone watching them until he pulls away to catch his breath and she contentedly concludes she can last longer without oxygen than he can.
Right when he's about to devour her lips again, she places her strong but delicate hands on his chest, pushing him back a little. His eyes meet hers questioningly and she smiles guiltily.
"The cameras…" she points out, "Archie must be watching…"
Upon her words, Booth grins widely. "I'm sure he's on the phone with Fox right now, selling a staircase soap-opera."
Her eyes sparkle as she laughs. "Archie wouldn't do that," she insists, "but let's get inside anyway."
"Sure," he grins mischievously and takes her hand as he follows her up the stairs, his mind filling with ideas for later.
Oh, the possibilities…
Having reached her door, Brennan retrieves her key from her pocket and unlocks the door, pushing it open and entering her apartment as she pulls him with her, still holding hands. Once they're both inside she releases his hand and turns her back to him to pull the key out of the lock. Casting a glance into the stairwell, she realises she's successfully replaced her bad memory with a better one; a good one. An amazing one. And as she feels the lips of the man she's grown to love placing kisses on the nape of her neck and her legs find it increasingly difficult to support her weight, she swiftly closes the door, ready to start creating memories of the more pleasant sort…