Title: A Better, Happier You
Summary: After hearing first-hand what Bones endured as a foster child, and how it affected her, Booth begins to reevaluate her personality, and his place in her world.
Tag: S01E05, "A Boy in a Bush" (post-Bones interrogation)
Inspiration: "Giant," by Matthew Good Band
Special Note: My first Bones fic, so be gentle!
Disclaimer: I have 206 bones in my body, but none of them are as pretty as Emily Deschanel.

"Just listen..." Booth leaned in closer to the wide window, watching his partner speak in a soft and knowing tone that he'd never heard from her before. It was gentle. It was human. "They give you a garbage bag to carry all of your stuff, like they're telling you everything you own is garbage," a sliver of bitterness was twined around her words, and--for some reason--Booth felt his chest tightening, "And then you have to go to a new school in clothes that smell like garbage bags." The little boy perched so helplessly next to Brennan replied in a small, shaking voice, and Booth felt his heart sink at the fear there. And then his partner was speaking again, "They bounce you around from place to place, and its never home." My god, Bones, the special agent thought, shaking his head, I never knew.

The conversation before him went on for a while longer, each sentence breaking his heart a little more as he thought of his own childhood, and all the things he'd had that these two never would. When Brennan made the promise to Sean that he would be able to continue living with his brother, the agent was taken off-guard. Not necessarily by the weight of her vow, but more the fact that she'd entrusted it to him; she'd insisted he could do it. She had faith in him. Her. Temperance Brennan, the woman who didn't trust anything but her bones and her science, actually had faith. He shook it off and informed Johnson that they would have to make it happen, then came back to the conversation in time to hear, "Charlie was just like you: Someone that Margaret chose to love." Her voice cracked, only a fraction, and Booth was overwhelmed by the underlying meaning there--she hadn't been chosen.

She got the name, and he got his bad guy. Edward Nelson, local exterminator and pedophile--the scum on the ankles of the human race. Seeing Brennan's face as he pushed the criminal into the back of the car, so broken and forlorn, Booth felt a new level of disgust toward people like Nelson; people that took everything away from people that didn't have a lot to begin with. But then, when he and Johnson took Margaret to Sean and David, he felt a new level of relief when Brennan's face lit up, so blatantly happy at the reunion of the boys and their foster mother. She wasn't guarded. She wasn't cold. This was the other side of his partner; the side that felt everything, without caring who could see. The real side.

And when he was standing a few feet from her that night, yet another new side of her glimmering from a strapless maroon dress, he was suddenly and inexplicably breathless. His mind went numb and his heart seemed to drop into the boiling acids of his stomach (and when that visual came to him, he decided he'd been spending way too much time with the squints), and he was suddenly stumbling for his words. "You like nice." Nice? That was an insult in comparison to what he really meant. "Better than nice," he corrected, "You look, uh...very..." He gestured around for a moment, as if trying to pull the right words from the air around him, as though such a thing was truly possible.

She showed him mercy, smiling in an understanding way, "Thanks."

He laughed in a quiet, distracted way, mulling over a point that had been on his mind since the interview. "Bones." He tucked his bottom lip into his mouth and ran his tongue over it once, choosing his words, "How did you know I was going to keep your promise?"

"What promise?"

"To get Sean and David back with Margaret Sanders."

She shrugged, like it was nothing, "Maybe I was lying to catch the bad guy. I learned that trick from you," she nodded surely to herself, like stating a fact, "The end justifies the means."

That's it? "Hm." He turned to leave, mentally berating himself for believing she had somehow changed. Same old Bones. Faithless. Untrusting. Hiding herself from the rest of the world because she was too strong, too cold, too afraid.

"Booth." He stopped and turned quickly, silently begging her to tell him he was wrong. And she did. "I knew you would back me up. I knew you wouldn't make me a liar." The way she said it, so straightforward and sure, like talking about a skeleton or a disease, struck a cord in Booth. It was there; he hadn't just imagined it. She trusted him enough to make a promise that meant so much--not just to a little boy, but to her as well--knowing that he would take care of it.

They parted soon-after, her to her fancy party, and him to Wong Foo's for a couple of beers and whatever Sid felt like serving him. Now, Booth sat at the counter of the restaraunt, sipping at a beer already half gone and twirling some strange new noodle concoction around his chopsticks. Sid called it "yakisoba," which started an at least mildly entertaining conversation about Japanese food being served at a Chinese restaraunt, but then the owner was called away to sort out some problem with a flaying knife and a convection oven and Booth was left alone with the thoughts he was so desperately (and, thus far, hopelessly) attempting to press from his mind.

Bold. Beautiful. Brilliant. Three Bs. Brennan. He hung his head a little and laughed bitterly at a bit of Stargate: Atlantis knowledge that had worked its way into his thoughts. Really gotta stop hanging around the squints, he told himself before his mind refocused. This whole time, he'd thought he was the only one who felt the full emotional effects of the job, but she did too. In the last few days, he'd seen her infuriated, saddened to the point where she was almost crying, vulnerable, disdainful, empathetic, hurt, relieved, and several more different shades of humane he'd never known of her. And he'd seen her smile. A true, genuine smile for a family that was not her own, and for him, because she thought he'd brought them all back together. But it was her. It was always her. She always put up the front, acting so strong and untouched by anything that was going on around her. She made the job look easy, and there were many times when Booth had caught himself envying that strength in her. But she'd slipped. She'd shown vulnerability. And he found himself admiring that even more.

He continued on with his thoughts, finally surrendering to them, no longer attempting to push them from his thoughts. Before he knew it, he was on his third beer. He didn't remember finishing his first, or anything about the second, but the third was clasped tightly between his two large hands now, and he was taking it down like it was the purest water and he was dying of thirst. That dress. God, that dress. The way it had hugged her so perfectly, accentuating the perfect curves he'd always suspected she had. He often caught himself staring at her as she worked over a particularly difficult case, her face twisted in deep conversation, her hair messy, clothes wrinkled, eyes circled darkly from a lack of sleep. He found her beautiful then, too, because she was doing something she loved--and not for herself, but for someone she'd never even met, because she just cared that much. And when she was getting ready to go out somewhere with Angela (though it was a somewhat rare occurance), in simple skirts and blouses, hair pulled back in a casual but appropriate way, and he happened to bump into her before she left, he found himself stammering. He never told her how good she looked, but he always wanted to. But tonight... Tonight was something different. Maybe it was because of all the emotional aspects of her still fresh in his mind, but seeing her in that dark dress, shoulders exposed and hair pulled away from her face, showing off a certain amount of skin, just enough to be modest but intriguing. Words would barely come to him. His only thoughts were of her body and her mind and her emotions, and how deeply he desired to explore all of these things further than a colleague should be allowed. For the first time, he'd actually had to fight the longing to reach out and draw her into his arms and run his hands over those delicate curves and beautiful features. The next time he saw her, could he quell these urges? He didn't know, and it was scaring him.

Beer number four. This one he saw plainly, watching it replace the third, the top popping off under his fingers and he immediately began downing it, desperate to numb himself to his own feelings. That's when he heard it, "If you keep on like that, you're going to end up vomitting all over Sid's counter." He swiveled around in his chair to face the voice, which he instantly recognized as Brennan's, but did not want to believe so. He knew he couldn't handle being in close proximity to her right now, but god, he wanted to be. So when he found her staring back at him, still wearing that dress but now with her coat over her shoulders, he didn't know how to react. Did he run, or did he stay? In the end, he decided to pitch forward from the turn in his seat, barely having time to brace himself against the chair next to him before gracelessly righting himself again. Brennan laughed lightly and moved to sit next to him, crossing her legs, causing her dress to ride up ever-so-slightly and reveal a better view of her pale, toned legs. Booth gulped.

"Its only my fourth beer," he mumbled weakly, having to force his eyes away from her.

She rolled her eyes and replied sarcastically, "Well, as long as its only the fourth." He could feel her eyes on him, and when he finally looked up, she smiled at him gently, "You all right, Booth?"

He nodded. It felt like his head was a basketball on a pen-spring, just bobbing up and down, but it actually didn't move much at all. Instead of answering verbally, he replaced her question with his own, "What're you doing here?"

Brennan held a hand up to Sid, who nodded her way and went about fixing another drink. Then she told Booth, "About half an hour in, people started throwing up and the banquet was officially brought to a close."

"Food poisoning?" Even in his own ears, the words sounded a little slurred and a lot weak.

She didn't seem to notice. She simply nodded, "In the shrimp. Luckily," she took the drink Sid handed her with a smile of thanks before continuing, "I don't eat shrimp. Long story short: I figured you might want some company and try not to take any big cases for about a week because the rest of the team will be too busy throwing up."

Booth blinked at her, "You thought I might want some company?"

"Yes."

"How did you even know where I was?" She raised an eyebrow at him, as if to say, Where else? and he rephrased, "I mean, why did you think I came here, instead of going home for dinner?"

Brennan stirred her green-coloured drink with a straw and shrugged thoughtfully, "You mentioned today that Tessa was in Pennsylvania on business for the week-end, and I know you don't do the cooking." She brought the straw up to her mouth and ran her tongue over it, scraping off all of the liquid before dropping it onto the table and bring her drink up to her mouth. Booth couldn't help but be captivated by the way her two soft lips gathered around the brim of the glass, parting only a little to allow the alcohol in. He felt a shiver race through him when she put the drink down and her tongue brushed over her mouth to sop up whatever sweetness had lingered there. He had to surpress a groan when she smirked in approval of the drink and then leaned over to take his hand in hers. "Really, are you okay?"

"Do I not look okay?" He was barely conscious of the words leaving his mouth, his entire body driven solely on being closer to hers. He had to fight it. Had to fight it. Had to fight it. This was his colleague, his partner, his friend at best. It wouldn't be right.

She gave him a crooked stare, as if examining him like one of her subjects, "No. You seem distracted and tired and upset about something, and even a little bit worried. Booth," her voice suddenly became anxious, "Is something really wrong? Did someone try to kill you? Did someone put a bit out on your hair?"

"Hit out on my head," he corrected quietly.

"This is not the time to be correcting my pop culture ignorace," her voice was almost shrill now, "Why won't you tell me what's going on? Booth! Are you okay?" Before he could stop himself, he'd leaned in. Everything in his mind was telling him to pull back--pull back before it was too late. But everything in his body was driving him forward. He laced his fingers through the hand that still held his, and his other hand cupped the back of her head as he pulled Brennan closer, until there was no space between them. His lips found hers in such a hard, desperate, passionate way that he could feel her gasp against his mouth. Then, as quickly as he'd pulled her into this, she began to respond, kissing back with all she had. She'd just begun to bring her hands up to hold his jaw when he pulled away, breathing hard and looking so regretful that it stung her.

"No," he muttered, barely able to keep himself from hyperventilating. He took a few bills from his pocket and dropped them onto the bar, then gathered his jacket, "I'm not okay." He spared one last glance to her stunned, confused, almost pained expression before walking away, leaving her there to wonder what had just happened; what she might have done wrong.

A/N:

I know! How bad am I for ending it like that? I am such a mean person! But, ya know, if you're really, really nice in your reviews, and say "please," you might be able to convince me to write a follow-up. But only if you ask!

Other than that, what did you think? Was it pretty good, for my first Bones fic? Or did it suck? I need to know these things!