Story Notes: I wrote this because there's no way in hell that Booth let Brennan stay at her apartment by herself after Gormogon's backpack bomb exploded.
When I started All That Lies Between Us, I had a feeling that some of the drabbles and ficlets in that series would want to be part of something a little longer. Blasphemy did, so if the first part of this story looks familiar, that's why. Think of this fic as an episode filler and a missing scene for Knight on the Grid. The first part is set during the montage at the end of Knight on the Grid, when Booth goes to the shooting range. However, for the purpose of this fic, that scene occurred earlier in the episode—after the explosion, the same day as the explosion, but before the rest of the episode. I hope I haven't confused you, but if I have, let me know. I'll try to clarify.
A/N: As always thank you for reading and/or commenting; I appreciate it.
Please read the story notes before you read this.
I want you to trouble me
I wanted you to linger
I want you to agree with me
I want so much so bad
- Matchbox Twenty
The sick motherfucker mailed her two bloody kneecaps, and then tried to kill them both with a bomb packed with human teeth. For these transgressions alone, Booth would pry every last tooth from the motherfucker's mouth.
But he knows he won't be granted that opportunity.
"I'm your gun," he remembers telling her.
And he is—her gun, her Michael, her flaming sword.
So he pictures a man with an unknown face, while he reloads the magazine and empties it into the target, six sure rounds in all. His grip stays steady and his aim remains true.
A man with this purpose cannot afford to waver.
If his list were to grow by one more name, that is a price he is willing to pay.
If given the chance, he will shoot to kill.
One for the blood staining her familiar face.
Two for the tooth lodged in the flesh of her arm.
Three for the gash on her pale forehead.
Four for the endless seconds until she lifted her head.
Five for the lives the bastard so needlessly ended.
Six for the fear for her that now burns in his gut.
If given the chance, he will shoot to kill.
He goes to her with the smell of gunpowder still fresh in his nostrils. A knock. Footsteps. The front door opens too quickly. Booth shoves his way inside, head turning automatically to scan for any immediate threats. "You didn't even look to see who was at the door, did you? For all you know, I could have been Gorgonzola."
"Gormogon," she says, correcting him as she always does.
Satisfied that Gormogon isn't standing in the apartment with them right now, he shifts to look at Brennan. Her dark hair is skimmed into a messy ponytail, and several damp strands have slipped out to curve against her flushed cheeks. The terry cloth robe she wears might have been white at some point. Now, the sad gray speaks of better days.
She's fresh out of the shower, he notes, and feels his cheeks heat because of the image that flashes through his mind. Hot, wet skin. Her head dropped back, exposing the line of her throat.
"What are you doing here, Booth?" she asks, drawing his attention to her mouth.
He drops the small duffel bag in his right hand. It hits the floor with a thunk. "I'm staying here tonight."
"What?" Her mouth curls in a frown.
"You heard me." Gearing up for a fight in case she's feeling stubborn, he crosses his arms over his chest and widens his stance. "I'm not letting you stay here by yourself while that nutcase is still out there eating people and mailing you the leftovers."
"While I appreciate your concern, I really don't think that's necessary."
"You don't have to appreciate it; just accept it. You've got two choices. Either you stay somewhere else, or I stay here with you. Up to you, Bones."
"I'm not staying somewhere else. I won't be chased out of my own home by—"
"Ok then. It's settled." He holds his arms out to his sides, palms up. "I'm staying. I call couch."
"You are not staying here."
"Have you forgotten how that asshole mailed you kneecaps?" He hasn't forgotten, even if she has. "You had teeth in your fucking arm. Did you forget—"
"I haven't forgotten anything—I just refuse to be intimidated." She narrows her eyes, challenging him. "By Gormogon...or you."
He reaches out and lets his fingers graze her cheek, careful to avoid the angry red patch left by the explosion. "I'm not trying to intimidate you. Somebody tried to blow us up today." Their gazes meet and hold.
She doesn't know about his nightmares. How could she? He'll never tell her how it plays in his head on an endless loop some nights. Never tell her how his lungs burn as he runs down the hill of that quarry. Never tell her how he digs and digs and digs, his fingers scrabbling in the hard, dry earth. Digs until his nails are caked in dirt and his skin is split and bleeding. His blood, soaking into the ground like an Old Testament offering. Forgive me.
And still, he can't reach her.
She doesn't know about his nightmares. How could she? He'll never tell her of the nights when he's too late. When she's alone with Epps in her apartment and her screams echo in his ears, even as he tries to reach her. Forgive me.
She doesn't know about his nightmares. How could she?
So he consciously softens his voice. "You can't seriously think I'm going to let you stay here alone."
Brennan turns her head with a scowl, knocking his hand away. "How many times do I have to tell you this?" The hardwood floor creaks beneath her pale, bare feet as she steps forward, crowding him. "You don't get to let me do anything." Each word is punctuated by a jab of her index finger to his chest.
"Stop that." He grabs her wrist, gripping it firmly. "Damn it, be reasonable. I'm trying to protect you." All he can do is try, knowing too well the cost of failure.
"I own a gun. I can take care of myself. I don't need you to protect me. Let go, Booth." She tries to free herself from his grasp, but he feels how half-hearted the effort is.
He holds tight.
Staring into her eyes, he forces her backward until she's caught between him and the wall. "Maybe I need to protect you." He releases her wrist only to cover her hand and press it, palm flat, over his heart. Her touch burns through the fabric of his shirt.
Who knows when it happened? Sometime when his back was turned, she slipped beneath his skin.
At night he dreams of being inside hers, and every waking moment, he fights to remember, his fingers grasping at something that dances just out of reach. "For once, can't you just let me do that?" he whispers just before his lips brush her forehead. He inhales; she smells of soap—and of every good thing he doesn't believe he deserves. Slowly he pulls back, searching her face in the warm glow of the lamps scattered around her living room. Wanting to remember this. "Please?" Swallowing, he slips his other hand beneath the collar of her robe and curves it around her throat, his thumb stroking the warm spot where her pulse beats, steady and real.
Booth waits for her response, counting her breaths.
When she sighs and curls her long fingers into his shirt, he knows he's won this particular battle. She nods. "All right. You can stay. But only because I owe you; you let Russ see Hayley."
He steps back, pulling her with him and thinking of how she kissed him on the cheek a little more than 24 hours ago. Funny, it feels like that happened weeks ago. "Thanks." He wraps his arms around her and closes his eyes, letting himself relax for one precious moment. "I worry about you, you know." His words are an admission of sorts, but it's only in his head that Booth finally admits the whole truth: he doesn't know how to live without her in the world.
"I know." Brennan squeezes his shoulder, and Booth wonders just how much she really knows.
They checked the door, windows, and closets twice before he let her go to bed. After the light in her room went out, Booth sat in the living room and oiled his gun. Now, he sits in the dark, listening to the apartment shift and whisper around him as if it's alive. He won't sleep, not tonight.
When Booth tires of sitting, he walks—down the hall, past the bathroom, to Bones' room. He made her keep her door open. In the murky light, he can barely make out her body, a shadowy shape on the bed. Booth prays she's sleeping peacefully—in a way he hasn't slept in a long, long time. He wonders, then, if she's dreaming, and if she is, what she's dreaming about. Knowing her, bones.
He wonders, then, what she'd do if he eased in behind her, lifted her hair, and pressed a kiss along the back of her neck. His mouth quirks in a small smile as he imagines her reaction. The smile fades as he reminds himself that there are certain things he isn't meant to have. Can't have.
So he takes what little he can get, standing in the doorway to her bedroom, listening to her breathe. Night stretches and lengthens around Booth, wrapping around him the way he wants to wrap himself around her.
Maybe he'd be able to sleep through the night if he had this woman beside him.
Maybe the nightmares would fade faster.