I should have been studying for AP Bio but I wrote this instead. Set on the plane ride home, but no spoilers for YitUK, which is a hideous acronym.
Booth awoke gently, but unexpectedly from his slumber. Where was he? His vision was blurry at first, but after a moment it cleared, and his disorientation cleared up as well. Now he remembered. He was on a nonstop flight - a red-eye nonetheless – from London to DC's Dulles airport. He stretched his arms and looked left towards the window to check on his partner.
To his surprise and consternation, she was awake and staring out the window at the clouds covering the dark ocean below. She made no sign that she had noticed that he was awake, but she clearly had, as after a moment she said, "You snore, you know that?"
His eyes widened a little but he couldn't help the smile that played across his lips, "Come on, Bones. I'm a man. Real men snore,"
She turned to him, cocking an eyebrow, "That's not a scientific fact, technically snoring is caused by the-" he cut her off with a wave of his hand.
"So what you're going to say is that it's a perfectly normal human function," he grinned and elbowed her in the ribs, "I bet you snore too, Bones,"
"I do not snore." she turned again and looked out the window, arms crossed. Booth's forehead was furrowed in concern. When she'd faced him, her eyes were bloodshot. Not as if she'd been crying, but as if she'd been on the verge for a while.
"What's wrong, Bones?" his tone conveyed that it was not only a question, but a statement of fact; there was no use arguing on her part that it was nothing so she shouldn't bother trying.
She looked caught off-guard for a moment, but got over her original surprise. Her eyes dropped to her lap and finally swung over to her partner as she decided that, objectively, she knew he cared about her, and he would never laugh at her for her thoughts and concerns. In fact, he'd probably make her feel better. He always had in the past. There was no risk.
"It's just… this is our first big case we've solved without Zack, and…" her voice trailed off and she looked down at her lap again.
"Bones…" Booth said quietly, taking her hand in his.
But before he could speak, "He saved my life once, remember? Mine and Hodgins," Booth's mind flashed back to a coded text message and the longest, most fear-filled 12 hours of his life, including his sniper years, "I just feel like…" her voice cracked a little and Booth squeezed her hand, indicating that he understood and she didn't need to continue, "I feel like I should have been able to save his," she blinked hard, still not allowing the tears to fall.
"Bones, hey." He placed his other hand under her chin, forcing her to look at him and believe him, "What happened to Zach was not your fault. It wasn't. And there was nothing you could do to help him. There was nothing any of us could have done."
She nodded, eyes closed, and he removed his hand from her jaw reluctantly, "I know. I know, it's illogical to dwell in the past, and there was nothing I could have done… but…" Closing her eyes, she took a steadying breath.
"I know it hurts, but… Bones, Zack did it to himself. It was his own faulty logic that did him in. And Gormogon. It was his fault too. But not yours. Never yours."
"But… part of me can't help but think…" she swallowed hard, finally voicing the concern that had been eating up at her for the past month, "that maybe by encouraging Zack to utilize his impeccable logic skills so exclusively in his work at the Jeffersonian… I turned him into some sort of unfeeling, robotic killing-machine. That maybe I helped close off some of the part of him that was human, and facilitate Gormogon's work in manipulating him."
"No, listen… Bones, you're one of the most human people I know," Booth looked down at their hands. At some point one of them had shifted, and his fingers were now intertwined with hers.
"I don't know what that means," she replied, and he smiled.
"Bones, I know you like to pretend you're all brains, but I know you. You've got an amazing heart. And if Zack didn't pick up any of that working with you, then that's his loss. And ours too. And plus, how do we know that he didn't?" Brennan raised her eyebrows at him, looking skeptical but hanging on his every word. She needed this. Booth could tell, "He endangered his whole plan and his life to save Hodgins. He did still have his humanity, he was just… confused. Really confused. You didn't do anything. It wasn't your fault. It was just a horrible thing that happened. And we can be sad about it, we can. It's only human of us. But there's nothing, absolutely nothing, to regret,"
Brennan frowned, and he could tell she was carefully considering what he had said. After a minute she nodded, "Okay."
Booth smiled, "Okay?" she nodded. He squeezed her shoulder and she smiled at him. Crisis averted, he thought, and then out loud, "You should get some sleep."
For once she took his advice without protest, leaning against his shoulder instead of the window, never letting go of his hand, liking the comforting feel of his thumb lightly stroking the back of hers.
She was asleep in minutes, and once he was sure she was out he kissed the top of her head lightly. She was right, he smiled to himself. She didn't snore.
Review if you liked it. )
If you didn't like it, please write it down on a scrap piece of paper and hold it up to your facing your computer, pretending that I can see it, even though I can't. That way you'll have the satisfaction of having informed me that you hated it and yet I will be blissfully unaware.