A/N - My knowledge of Bones is limited to three episodes and a whole bunch of fanfic, but I love this relationship. If I've gotten any of the details wrong, please forgive me. This came to me this morning and just had to be written. Just to set it up a little, Bones somehow got hurt.
"I'm fine, Booth," she argued, opening the door before he had a chance to sprint around the car. "You don't have to…" Unthinking, she put her weight on her sprained ankle and lost her balance. Sliding toward the ground, she managed not to hit the concrete by catching herself on seat belt, which wrapped around her battered wrist, leading to a sharp yelp. She closed her eyes in pain and aggravation, knowing there was no way her partner would leave now.
"Bones!" he yelled, anxious that less than an hour after she'd been released from the hospital to his care, she might have injured herself again. "Bones, why'd you do that? For being so smart, you don't always show it." His eyes traveled over her, assessing for any more damage.
"I am fine," she reiterated, attempting to stand on her own. "You don't have to do this. Just let me go to my apartment and relax. I'll be fine. You don't have to help me."
"Look, Bones," he said, his frustration mounting, "I get it. I get that you don't want any help. I get that you don't want to depend on anyone, for anything. You got hurt; you didn't trust anyone for a long time. So you put up walls, I get it." He exhaled slowly, trying not to appear frustrated with her, only with the situation. "But what you don't get, is that a whole lot of time has passed. And there are people on the outside of your walls just dying for a chance to be let in. And we're good people, Bones. Me, Angela, the guys…we're not going to hurt you. You know that, right?" His question was answered with a slightly shamed lowering of her eyes. "You don't have to keep up those defenses 24/7. You're not that 15 year old kid anymore, you're a forensic anthropologist." He took a deep breath and stood to his full height, towering above her. "And with such boundless knowledge of the human body, you've got to admit that with that ankle, those ribs," he pointed, highlighting each damaged part, "and that wrist, climbing two flights of stairs independently is not in your best interest. So put down the walls for a minute, maybe the rest of the day, and let me help you, okay?"
He leaned down, extending his hand to her good one, and waited indeterminable seconds until he saw the slow, steady progression of her hand to meet his. His chest eased a bit, fearful his words had been too harsh, as he shifted her hand to his right, and wrapped his other arm around her waist to help her up. Guiding her, they hobbled up the first four stairs into the building and through the empty lobby. Their progress stopped at the bottom of the rather grand staircase that led to the second floor.
"Okay, Bones, we can do this the easy way or the hard way."
"What exactly would the easy way entail?"
"Me, carrying you up those dozen or so steps."
"And who exactly is that easy for?"
"Uh, that would be me, probably."
Gritting her teeth, dismissing each archaic symbolization that came into her mind, she consented, "Fine, just be quick." The words were barely out of her mouth before she felt her feet leave the ground and her body settle into his strong arms. Balancing herself by wrapping one arm around his shoulder, she refused to meet his eyes as their journey continued. And while he didn't run, she found herself leaving his arms and being gently righted in less than a minute. "Thanks," she muttered. "I could have done that myself if they'd given me crutches."
"They didn't give you crutches because they knew you'd try something like that. You're on bed rest for 24 hours," he reminded her. "If you're a good girl, maybe they'll give you some when you go back to the doctor."
"I could have you on the ground in five seconds," she threatened, pointing out her usual physical abilities, struggling to maintain some sense of her dignity in the situation.
"Definitely possible, but let's not test that theory out right now," he said, stopping at the doorway to her apartment. "You've got your keys?"
"Yeah," she said, visibly wincing as she reached her hand into the pocket of her jacket. Extracting the keys, she held them in her palm and stretched it out to him. His forehead wrinkled, noting the extent to which her injuries were affecting her. Unlocking the door, then making his way in first to turn on a light, he held the door open for her as she cautiously maneuvered into her home. "I'm going to go…" she pointed her way down the hall.
"Let me run back to the car," he said, thinking of the medicine that she'd left there, knowing as the adrenaline wore of the pain would worsen. He returned, calling her name as he retraced the steps she had taken to her bedroom. She was sitting on the edge of her bed, jacket crumpled on the floor in front of her, eyes half closed as he materialized in front of her. "You should lie down."
"No," she said, shaking her head, and he was not at all surprised to hear her refusal. "I really," her voice came close to cracking, betraying the emotions she kept so hidden, "really want to take a shower first. I'd feel better, but…" His mind thought through the process and caught up with hers and the impossibility of the situation. If limping down the hall had worn her out, standing in the shower would do her in.
"You could probably manage a bath," he suggested, seeing how much she wanted to, deciding washing away the day's events would be a good thing.
"I don't take baths."
"This just might be the time to start." He poked his head around the door to the bathroom and surveyed things. "You could probably take the splint off your wrist and unwrap your ankle for a little while," thinking the logistics aloud. "I could help you to the side of the tub, if you can get yourself in and out," he offered. Her brows furrowed at the mention of him in her bathroom, but she realized her options were few. Seeing her nod, he asked "Do you have a robe or something? It might be easier to…"
"It's on the back hook," she supplied, seeing him blush as he realized her clothes would have to come off at some point. "Thanks," she said as he tossed it to her, before disappearing to fill the tub.
Thirty minutes later, bathed, re-doctored, and dressed in pajamas, Brennan was attempting to brush out her hair when she heard a knock on the door. "Are you decent?" came her partner's voice.
"Come in," she replied, trying to steer the brush through her hair without lifting her arm, which caused shots of pain in her side. The door opened, and Booth entered, noticing her struggle.
"Here, let me do that," he offered and cut her off before she could argue. "I do know how to brush hair. Rebecca's let Parker grow his out, in case you hadn't noticed," he grumbled as he ran the brush through her auburn tresses.
"Parker looks fine with long hair," she contended, uncomfortable with the level of intimacy such a simple act aroused in her. She was certain her mother had been the last person to brush her hair, decades ago. Her mother was the last person she had let care for her.
"I think Rebecca does it just to annoy me," he countered, smoothing the hair back around her ears, using long but gentle strokes. "You want a ponytail?" he offered.
"You do not put Parker's hair in a ponytail!"
"No, but I bet Rebecca wouldn't like it," he grinned mischievously. Putting the brush on the nightstand he reminded her, "You're on bed rest."
She groaned, but truthfully the idea of surrendering her head to the pillows sounded wonderful. The pain, which had only been intermittent due to her movements, was making its full force known. Booth began rearranging her pillows as she stood to get under the covers.
"Now don't lie down just yet," he warned.
"Booth…" she moaned.
"Sit up by the headboard there. I'll be back in a minute." He returned with two mugs and a plate in his hands. "You've got some painkillers to take and you don't want to do that on an empty stomach. Here." He handed her the mug and she peered over the rim to see it full of tomato soup. Buttered toast was piled on the plate. "You have no cheese," he informed her.
"What? I have cheese, there's feta…"
"You have no fake cheese. No cheese that will melt on a grilled cheese sandwich," he clarified, crunching down on a piece of toast. "So I made toast instead."
"I see," she said, eyeing the food suspiciously.
"Just eat it," he said, defeated. "Eat something, take your medicine, and then I'll be out of your hair. You can be here all by yourself without anyone trying to care about you." He had been sat on the bed facing her, but turned away, head hanging low. They sipped their respective soup for several long minutes.
"I'm not good at this," she finally said meekly. She heard a half hearted laugh before he murmured, "No kidding."
"I'm not used to you being nice to me."
"I'm not nice?"
"No," she rushed, trying to explain, "I'm not used to…anyone being nice…doing things for ….I take care of myself."
"Most of the time."
"Most of the time," she agreed. "I'm not ungrateful, Booth, I'm just…uncomfortable." He turned his head towards her and raised his eyebrows. "Not with you," she stumbled on, "with this whole situation…and…needing help…needing someone."
"It doesn't mean you can't keep your walls, Bones. Just maybe make them a little shorter. Let a few of us pole vault over to be with you." Seeing tears glisten in her eyes, he grabbed the tips of her fingers on her splinted hand. "I just want to help my partner. My friend," he amended.
"Okay," she nodded, keeping the tears from spilling over. "You make good toast." His laugh was genuine this time as a smile crept over his face.
"That's the spirit. You just earned your medicine." Crossing the room he took the bottle off her dresser, shook out two pills, and handed them to her. Indicating the dishes he said, "I'll take these back to the kitchen."
As she attempted to rearrange herself and the pillows, Brennan hoped the medicine, or sleep, would take effect quickly. A dull ache was beginning to throb at her temples, in addition to her other injuries becoming more pronounced. Not normally one to sleep on her side, it was the most comfortable position for her ankle, but she couldn't manage to elevate her head on the pillows enough to ease the pain her ribs caused. She let out a slight whimper as she tried to return to a sitting position, but flopped to the bed at the pain.
"Comfortable?" Booth asked, poking his head around the door.
"Not really," she admitted. "I can't angle the pillows right or they're not firm enough or something." The situation perplexed her and she frowned. "And I hurt."
Those last words had him at her bedside in an instant. "Ribs?" he asked, having had that experience before. When she nodded, he picked one of the decorative pillows she'd discarded on the floor. "This should go under your foot. Do you want me to do it?" When she nodded, he dug his way through the blankets at the foot of her bed. "I'm going to put it sort of diagonally behind you. Move back towards it…good. Okay, now…" His mind formed a strategy. "If I sit on the bed, are you going to push me off?"
"After you've been so nice?"
"I'll take that as a no." Back against the headboard, he angled two pillows against his legs. "Put your head here," he directed, patting the top of his leg, "and see if that takes the pressure off your ribs." With wary eyes, she shifted until her head rested against him, making minute adjustments until she was more comfortable than she had been all day.
"Hey," he prodded her with another pillow across his legs, "lay your arm here." She did, finding the softness a welcome relief. And the fact that Booth was responsible for her comfort was less painful than her injuries.
"Thanks," she murmured, feeling her eyelids grow heavy, realizing he was, in essence, her pillow. "You don't…"
"Shh," he cut her off. "We've been through that already. Shorter walls, remember?" She felt his hand softly tracing patterns on her back, adding to her drowsiness. "I'm here. I'm staying." And she thought, before sleep overtook her, that that wasn't such a terrible thing.