AN: OMG! Yes, I know it's been forever since I posted anything regarding this story. There has been so so much on my plate that I haven't really had time to look at it or even write. Work is INSANE! And on top of all that, I'm most likely headed back to school. I've got a class next week for my Skywarn certification (which allows me to spot potential severe weather and report it to the proper authorities.) I'm following that up with 10 days crisscrossing the US with the Collage of DuPage as part of a meteorology class. Yes, people, I am a certified storm chaser! Crazy to the core! LoL. Anyway, I'm hoping things will wind down soon so that I'll be able to get back on the writing horse and have some new stories up for y'all. Just give me some time.

Big thank yous to my beta, wrthy2bluvd for sticking with me. I hope to someday return that favor. Love ya, chica!

PSA: Paris and Allegra are currently MIA and need your help! Please review and let them know you're enjoying the story. Hopefully with your help, they'll come back and finally let me finish this story. -DK

Chapter 8

Afternoon passed slowly into evening, and even though Brennan had fallen into a fitful sleep in his arms, Booth refused to release his hold. A part of him feared waking her while another part craved the closeness she afforded him in these few unguarded moment. An even smaller part, the part that always piped in when he felt some doubt over her safety, feared that if he did leave her, she'd wake up alone and terrified. It was the part he chose to ignore due to the incessant ringing coming from his cell phone in the living room. Untangling himself from his partner's grasp ever so gently then setting her back onto her pillow, he finally rose from the bed and stretched. He pulled the covers over her bare shoulders and with a soft kiss against her forehead, he headed into the living room where he'd let his phone ring long enough.

Looking at the missed call log, Booth realized he'd finally have to make that last phone call… to his boss. Although he dreaded it, there was no way around it. Taking a deep breath before pressing the send button, Booth stood in the middle of the living room trying to figure out what to tell Cullen.

"Agent Booth," the voice on the other ended sounded quite unhappy, if not angry. Then the sarcasm kicked in, "It's nice of you to finally check in."

"I know, I should have called and taken a sick day, but with what happened this morning, I really didn't have…" Booth started to ramble off the haphazardly assembled apology he'd come up with in his head just moments earlier before he got cut off.

"Is this about Dr. Brennan?" the deputy director replied. Booth's mouth hung open for several moments as he tried to figure out how Cullen knew about his partner. "Dr. Saroyan informed me of her prognosis." Cam… go figure.

"Yeah… um… right… Dr. Saroyan…" he stumbled looking for a response. There were few times Booth had ever found himself at a loss for words, and this just had to be one of them.

"Will Dr. Brennan be alright?" Cullen continued asking questions, giving the agent time to come up with answers.

Booth sighed deeply. Glancing through the open door of her bedroom, he spied his partner curled tightly in a little ball, her arms around her left leg, her faced creased in unconscious pain. It tugged at his heartstrings, and immediately prompted his mouth to start moving. "From what the doctor at the ER said, it looks like she'll be out of commission for a few months. Brennan tore her hamstring pretty bad so she'll need to see an orthopedic specialist and a physical therapist. Right now she's on some pretty strong pain killers and the doctor advised us that she'll need someone to look after her for a little while until she's well enough to stand on her own two feet," he softly explained as he took a seat on the couch and continued to watch his partner to make sure she didn't awake screaming in pain.

That's when he realized he couldn't bear the thought of leaving her, not after everything he'd seen in the last few hours. She was far too fragile to be left alone right now. Her mind just wasn't clear, and her body was far from healed. Brennan needed someone who could take care of her, not just physically, but mentally as well. Although he knew Angela would probably do a good job, there was a part of Booth that knew he could do just as well, if not better. The way Angela had stared at him that afternoon, her eyes calculating, unreadable, made him think that maybe she was trying to make a decision about whether or not he was capable of helping her friend.

His epiphany was so sudden, so shocking, yet so straightforward and simple that it left Booth speechless as Cullen continued to ask questions that never quite reached his ears. By leaving him to take care of her best friend, Angela had already made up her mind. She trusted him. And that was more than Booth could ever ask for. It prompted a complete and total change of direction in his conversation with his boss, startling them both when he finally voiced what his mind had been toying with all day.

"Sir," Booth said with total disregard to any pertinent questions Cullen might have asked while he'd been dwelling on Angela's actions. "I'd like to take whatever vacation time I've accumulated over the last few years and cash them in now."

Several long moments of silence passed making Booth wonder if he'd been hung up on or his phone had died, but when Cullen suddenly cleared his voice, it sent him almost jumping to his feet.

"That's quite a request, Agent Booth," his boss finally replied. "And a little sudden. You know the rules…"

"I can still claim a family emergency," Booth replied, his mind working overtime to remember the guidelines for long absences. Family had to be one of them. And Brennan was family.

A sigh… Another long moment of tense silence, then finally, "You're lucky you and Dr. Brennan have the highest success rate in the Bureau, otherwise I'd never sign off on anything like this."

Booth couldn't help the smile that grew on his lips, but he had to keep his excitement in check as he replied evenly, "Thank you, Sir." That was all. Cullen hung up on him, leaving the young agent standing in his partner's living room staring in disbelief at his phone. Had that really just happened? Had his boss actually given him the next few weeks off to take care of his partner? Then he suddenly realized… Sweets was going to hear all about this, and therapy would probably get even more uncomfortable than it already was.

Groaning inwardly, Booth tossed his phone onto the coffee table. Therapy would be nearly unbearable those first few sessions when they returned from this little break. Sweets would probably want them to go into detail about their feelings for one another, especially since it was Booth who had made the decision to take a few weeks off to take care of Brennan. He shuddered at the thought. It was bad enough he had uncontrollable feelings where his partner was concerned. Voicing them would most likely get him into some pretty deep trouble.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), those thoughts would be kept at bay for a little longer when he heard Brennan cry out his name in near agony from the bedroom. Booth practically ran to her side to make sure everything was alright only to find her curled up again in the fetal position with her arms wrapped around her leg. The clock on the nightstand read 6:23PM, well past Brennan's last dose of pain killers.

"Shh," he leaned down and cooed in her ear. "It'll be okay, Bones. Try to relax. I'll be right back with your meds." It somewhat did the trick. Her body did relax to a degree as a few labored breaths escaped her lungs, and after several moments, things returned to normal, allowing him to slip out of the bedroom and head back into the kitchen where he'd left the two pill bottles on the counter.

Taking one capsule out of each, he was ready to set them down when he noticed the warning on the Diclofenac. Brennan needed to eat before taking those pills? Great… he'd already let her take them once on an empty stomach. He wasn't about to let her do it again. Although the takeout he'd ordered several hours ago was probably cold by now, he grabbed the box that contained the fried rice and one of the plastic forks the restaurant had packed with the food. Taking a detour to the fridge, he pulled out a bottle of water, somehow managed to balance everything in one arm as he headed back to the bedroom.

Brennan was laying on her back staring at the ceiling with empty eyes as she waited for her partner's return. Since she'd awoken writhing in pain, her thoughts had been dark and depressing almost to the point of being suicidal. She hated feeling so helpless, hated that she depended on pain medications to ease her suffering. What made things even worse was depending on someone to bring them to her. That's when she curled up again, wishing that her partner wasn't around to see her like this. It was bad enough he had to pick up the pieces after all her emotional breakdowns, but this? This was too much to ask for. She couldn't let him continue to stay with her. He had his own responsibilities, his job, his son. She should have been on the very bottom of his priorities list.

When Booth arrived with her pills, she glanced over at him, her eyes still red rimmed and shining from her latest outburst. She quickly buried her face in her pillow, hoping that he hadn't seen her, but the bed bobbed and rolled as he sat down at her side. Her mind screamed for her to tell him to get out, that she hadn't invited him into her bedroom, let alone her bed. He was invading her personal space. Although she wanted to do that, the part of her that seemed less rational had quickly silenced her when she felt his hand filter through her hair and his voice, rich and velvety, whisper, "You okay, Bones?"

"…M fine," came Brennan's mumbled response from the pillow. He continued to gently stroke the top of her head, the motion soothing and gentle, silencing all the thoughts that had been running rampant in her mind. For some strange reason, she wanted him to stay. Just knowing he was there made the pain all that much better. It was as if being near him healed her faster. The rational part of her brain quickly rejected that theory telling her she'd gone crazy.

"Here, I got your pills," Booth replied, his hand still buried in the tangled mass of her sepia colored hair. She raised her head off the pillow and glanced up at him, their eyes meeting for the first time that evening. There was a flicker of her inner struggle reflected in her steel blue eyes, but it quickly disappeared when she realized he'd caught it. An emptiness quickly replaced it, something that pained him even more than whatever her mind was warring over. He wanted to tell her that everything would be alright and that she had nothing to worry about, but something told him this wasn't a good idea. She would just pull further away if he even mentioned it.

"Can I have my pills please?" Brennan finally asked, knocking him out of his thoughts.

"Sure," Booth replied, extending his hand. As she reached up to take them from him, he quickly pulled back. "You need to eat first," he added.

Her stomach dropped. She wasn't hungry in the least. In fact, food seemed like the enemy at the moment. Just thinking about eating nauseated her. A frown curved her lips downward into almost a pout making him smile back at her. "I'm not very hungry," she finally answered.

"Then I can't give you your pills until you eat," he said, continuing to hold her medications hostage.

"Why not?" she whined.

"Because it says so on the bottle."

She let out an exasperated sigh and grabbed the box of takeout he'd left on the bed in between them. Resting her weight on her elbows, she pulled the paper clasp open then reached for the fork. After having put a heaping helping of rice into her mouth, she chewed, swallowed, then held out her hand. "There, I ate."

Booth chuckled. "Not enough," he replied, folding his arms over his chest and making sure the hand that held her pills was well out of her reach. "C'mon, Bones, you need to eat. It's healthy and it'll make you feel better." He saw her roll her eyes, but yet another forkful of fried rice entered her mouth. After about a dozen more, she finally put it down, her eyes pleading with him silently to allow her to stop. That's when he knew she'd had enough, even if it would barely sustain her for the next hour or so. But at least she was eating.

Unscrewing the cap from the water bottle, Booth handed it to his partner along with her pills. She greedily gulped them down, laying back on her pillow as she closed her eyes and snuggled into the warmth of the blanket. Her deep sigh told him she was content and getting ready to fall asleep again. Taking that as his cue to leave, he grabbed the barely eaten box of fried rice and the fork then headed to the kitchen to have his own dinner before returning to her side.

Within fifteen minutes, he'd managed to eat, throw the dishes into the dishwasher, and find an old National Geographic magazine stashed beneath the pile of forensic journals on the coffee table. He couldn't care less about whatever topics were discussed in the magazine, the photos had always managed to mesmerize him. Booth made his way back to the bedroom to find Brennan still awake, staring at the door with blank, emotionless eyes. She clicked out of her stupor when he entered, steel blue pools fixing on him.

"What are you still doing here?" she asked, looking a bit confused. "I thought you went home already."

"Nonsense, Bones. I'm staying the night..." Under his breath, he added, "And then some."

Her brows furrowed. "Why?"

"You heard the doctor this morning. You need someone to stick around for the next few weeks, make sure you're okay..." He stopped, seeing the frown on her pale lips. She was still having a hard time accepting help from her friends, and he wasn't about to make it worse. But he wasn't about to leave her alone either. He chose another tactic. Slipping his hand over hers, he waited a moment to see if she would pull away then said, "I know this is hard for you. I know you're not comfortable with giving up whatever control you have over your life, so I'll try to give you as much distance as you want. But if you need me, I'll be right here, okay?"

That seemed to do the trick. With steel blue eyes focused on the edge of the comforter, she nodded her acceptance of his proposal and in a barely audible voice replied, "Okay."

"Will you be alright for a few minutes while I run back to my place and grab a few things?" Booth asked.

"I'll be fine," Brennan softly reassured him as her hand slipped out of his grasp and she snuggled back into the sheets. He sat at the edge of the bed for a couple moments more, just to be sure, then stood and walked out of the room, leaving her to lay there by herself as the drugs took effect.