Disclaimer: Nope...still not mine. I say that like they might be someday. Only in my dreams.
A/N: So, I think this is the closest to angst I'm ever going to get. I love reading angst no matter how much I may protest, but writing it doesn't come too easily. Anyway, BondJane challenged me to write a story where I made one characters very sad because I said I couldn't do it. Now, all I've ever written is fluff so writing this nearly killed me, but really, once you've read it you'll see, this isn't half as angsty as I hoped it would be. So Jane, if I messed it up with a happy ending then I'm sorry, but I just couldn't help myself.
This is set after "Yanks in the UK".
"Thanks Sweetie, but I think I just need some time alone right now," said Angela as she moved with Brennan toward her front door.
"Are you sure Ange? I can stay if you want," Brennan said hopefully. She took in Angela's gaunt features and empty eyes and her heart constricted as she wondered desperately if there was anything she should be doing right now. She only second guessed herself as a friend about a million and one times every day and it was moments like these that evoked feelings akin to despair that she'd never be the kind of friend that someone like Angela deserved. Angela always seemed to have a bright reassuring smile for her and the right words always seemed to be on hand, but now, when her friend was counting on her she couldn't help but feel the differences between them that served to underscore her inadequacies.
She had come over that evening as soon as their flight had landed and while she had talked to Angela well into the night about what had happened and where things had gone so horribly wrong, she had an awful feeling that their talk had left Angela in a worse state than Brennan had found her a few hours ago.
"I'm really tired," said Angela, opening her front door.
Brennan looked down at the floor as she slipped her shoes on. "Did any of it help?" She cursed herself for sounding so vulnerable and possibly giving Angela something else to worry about. That last thing Angela needed was to fret over whether her friend had left her place that evening feeling as low as she did. Her voice sounded so soft and timid to her own ears that she wondered if Angela even heard her.
It seemed that she had as she pulled Brennan into her arms and hugged her close.
"Of course it did," Angela protested, forcing a smile for her concerned friend. "I think I'll get my first real sleep in days tonight."
"Alright," said Brennan, still doubtful as to whether or not she should march back into Angela's apartment, sit herself down on the sofa and refuse to move until Angela admitted that she didn't want to be alone. But she just wasn't sure. What if that was the wrong mode of action? Damn, she should have discussed this with Booth before she rushed over. She prided herself on having learned much from Booth over the years they had been together as partners, but it seemed that all her stored knowledge was proving to be completely useless in this situation.
"I mean it. Go home, get some sleep, you don't look too hot yourself," Angela said, smirking, attempting to direct the conversation away from herself, if only for a moment.
"You try sleeping next to a snoring Booth for six hours then we'll see how good you look," said Brennan wryly.
Angela cracked her first real smile that night and shook her head.
"You two…" she mumbled as Brennan moved into the hallway. "I'm glad you have him Sweetie," she finished quietly looking directly into her eyes for the first time that night.
There was something in Angela's voice that she couldn't decipher, made her feel slightly on edge, and she gave her an odd look. She almost voiced her concern, but thought better of it, falling back on her usual protest.
"Ange..." she said, issuing her typical warning; distancing them from a topic that certainly could be saved for another day…say fifty years from now.
"I know, I know." Angela held up her hand, physically attempting to put a wall up against the famed 'partners' speech.
Brennan shifted uncomfortably as Angela continued to regard her curiously. Clearing her throat she broke the silence.
"I really am sorry Ange. Are you sure…" she began, but Angela cut her off.
"I'll be fine," said Angela with another sad smile, but her eyes betrayed her attempt to alleviate the heaviness in the air.
Brennan simply gave her a hard look, a look she knew was reserved for the bones she examined everyday, but she had to know her friend was going to be alright. Try as she might the reassurance never came.
Brennan turned to walk away when she felt Angela's hand on her arm. She turned and the look in Angela's eyes made her take a breath. The pain was still there, but a look of sorrowful resignation had clouded her face.
"Bren, I need to…" Angela faltered and looked at the ground. "I just…" She couldn't finish though and hurriedly told Brennan goodnight before closing her door.
It all happened so quickly and Brennan just stood still for moment, debating whether or not to break down her friend's door if it meant learning what Angela had wanted to say before apparently losing her nerve. After several minutes she shook her head and remembered Angela's hollow and insincere reassurance that she had helped, and knowing it would probably only make things worse if she were to stay, turned and headed for the elevator. Tears burned her eyes as she left the building knowing that whatever her friend had needed she had been unable to be the one to give it to her. She had never wanted to be the one to comfort someone or heal their wounds before, but this new family of hers was proving just how sentimental she could be and how desperately she wanted to show them that she was worthy of her place in it.
B B B B B
Booth sat on his couch and looked around for something to do. He'd done his laundry from their trip, filled out reports on their cases as well as the requisite ones on his talk at the Yard, watched three episodes of Seinfeld and even cleaned his kitchen. Damn time difference.
He was contemplating going for a run to burn off some of this excess energy when his doorbell rang. Knowing it could only be one person and glad for a real distraction he hurried to the door and opened it to reveal a dejected looking Brennan. He vaguely wondered what could have happened in a matter of hours that had her looking as though someone had informed her that her precious lab had gone up in flames.
She had been silent during the plane ride home which had been fine with him, considering that he could barely keep his eyes open from the moment they'd reached customs. It seemed as though he should have made more of an effort to stay awake since whatever it was that had gotten to her before their flight had become a crisis that appeared to have her on the verge of tears.
"Hey," he said, stepping away from the door.
"Hey." She finally met his eyes as she moved past him into his living room.
She sat herself down on his couch and the tired lines on her face and the pain in her eyes made it very difficult for Booth to exercise restraint and not pull his hurting partner into his arms the way he would his son after a nightmare, which is what she looked like she'd just lived through. It seemed that whatever Temperance Brennan did, she did with grace, even suffer, as she composed herself, raised her gaze to meet his and patted the spot next to her on the couch.
He made his way over to the couch, glad that one of them seemed to know what was going on. If he was worried that tonight would be one of those nights when Bones came over to seemingly torture him by seeking his company, but refusing to tell him why she desired it, his fears were unfounded. He sat down beside her and was surprised when she leaned her head on his shoulder in much the same way as she had done when he had joined her in the stairwell after she had fled the platform mourning the fact that she had never given Zach anything.
He hesitated a moment before wrapping his arm around her shoulders and letting his head come to rest against hers. The tremors were so soft he didn't know if he was just imaging them, but when he saw a lone drop fall and a corresponding dark dot appear on his jeans he pulled back to look at her face. She tried to duck her head, but he raised a finger to her chin tilting her now tear stained face up so he could look at her.
"Bones," he murmured, before doing what he had wanted to do since the moment she had walked through his door. He shifted closer and pulled her slight, shaking frame into what he hoped was a warm, comforting embrace. If he expected her to break down he was disappointed. Brennan had proven to be a silent sufferer and his heart ached as her body continued to tremble in his arms, but she never broke. He didn't know if he should be thankful for that or frustrated that she wasn't doing herself the favor of letting herself go. The truth was that he couldn't bear it when she cried and these slow tears alone were wreaking such havoc on his own emotions that he wondered if he would be able to hold it together if she ever did completely lose it in front of him.
When the tears subsided she sniffed and pulled away from him. His heart warmed though, as she again rested her head on his shoulder.
"Angela and Hodgins broke up."
His mind immediately clouded with confusion. This was certainly something big and as a friend Brennan would obviously be concerned, but enough to elicit the emotions he was witnessing tonight?
"I went to see her and…" her voice shook and she wasn't able to continue. The tears came again and Booth once more cradled her against him. He felt her warm tears begin to seep through the fabric of his shirt and held onto her even tighter. His resolve strengthened to gain some kind of understanding as to why his unflappable partner had showed up at his house in agony over something that he never would have thought could shake her to such an extent.
When she finally regained some control he pulled away and linked his fingers with hers and, locking their gazes, prompted her to continue.
"And what?" he asked softly.
"She looked awful and….and there was nothing I could do. We talked, but…" she took a deep breath and tried to calm herself. "You should have seen her when I left Booth. I didn't… couldn't do anything to help her." She swallowed and struggled against a fresh onslaught of tears.
"Bones, I'm sure no one could have been there for Angela the way you were. Just being there would mean the world to her," he said earnestly.
"No Booth, you weren't there. I didn't say or do anything right. She practically threw me out of her apartment." Brennan choked up again.
"Bones," he said quietly. "It's not you. Have you always let someone be there for you when they wanted to be? Have you always allowed people to comfort you when you needed it? She's hurting and maybe she needs some space, but giving her that space does not make you a bad friend. Being a good friend is knowing when she needs to talk, which you obviously did, and understanding when she needs to be left alone." He was desperate to show her what she meant, not only to him, but to each and every one of her family members, biological or otherwise. He had been on the receiving end of her particular brand of comfort and while it wasn't your average method he knew that it was effective. Maybe it was because that despite her self doubt and awkwardness what came across was that she genuinely cared, and no one cared like she did.
Brennan absorbed his words and nodded, but the agony in her eyes remained. "It's just….we're falling apart Booth."
Suddenly it all made sense to him. Zach, Angela, Hodgins; her family was disintegrating before her eyes and she felt powerless to prevent it. He ached with the knowledge that she wanted so badly to protect them all from the pain they were going through, remove Angela's loneliness, protect Zach from the long months ahead of trials and years spent locked away, and when she would be unable to do so would chalk it up to her own shortcomings as a friend and mentor. She had done so much already. If she could only recognize, see herself through his eyes and know just what an incredible person and friend she was. If he could only wipe her mind clear of all those unwarranted insecurities.
"People do things Bones that you can't predict and you can't keep them from happening and you know what? It isn't your job. Just like it isn't your job to carry Angela's burdens….or Zach's."
Brennan's head shot up, surprise written across her face. She knew how easily he could read her, but it still continued to catch her off guard. She sighed.
"I know, but I can't help but feel like there was something I missed, something more I could have done."
"Bones, everything you've been through, everything you do for us….The weight of the world, even just your little corner of it, it isn't yours to carry."
Booth's hand moved up and softly caressed her cheek. She gave into the overwhelming urge and leaned into the warmth he offered. She still didn't know why exactly she'd ended up here tonight, but if she were to be honest, this was why. The contentment and security that flooded her when she was in his arms and the knowledge that the world could fall down around them, but if she was with him, she was safe. Temperance Brennan wasn't someone who needed an assurance of security, years of martial arts training took care of that, but with Booth it was more than physical security; it was the knowledge that everything about her was protected, even, she was coming to realize, her heart.
"Then why do you try?" she asked softly, placing a gentle hand on his arm.
Warmth blossomed from the place where her small hand rested and from deep inside when he saw the gentle, caring way she was regarding him. She was trying to understand him; she wanted to know what made him tick. She wasn't asking as a partner, not tonight. She had come over and given of herself and now it was his turn to reciprocate.
"For you…" he began and her eyes widened. ".…and for Parker. For everyone that I care about. I may not be able to fix everything…"
"Goodness knows you try," said Brennan vehemently.
"I have to Bones," he said. "I have to believe that I can do something or else I wouldn't be able to go to work everyday and see what we do as making a difference. I know it matters to the individuals who receive closure, but in the grand scheme of things I need to know that what I'm doing matters. It's the drive Bones. I know that one man can't carry the world on his shoulders, but yeah, I guess I do try, because I need to feel like I can make the world a better place for the people I care about and help the hurting people out there that need it."
Brennan sniffed. "I guess that includes me right now."
"I'll always be here when you need me," he said softly and she shivered involuntarily at the soothing timbre of his voice. Then she was in his arms again, without any coaxing from him; allowing him to run his hand up and down her back and relaxing into his embrace.
Across the room her phone vibrated and she was up in an instant. Her face lit up when she looked at the caller ID.
"Angela?" asked Booth with a soft smile.
She only nodded as she flipped her phone open.
Booth watched as her smile widened.
"No, no, I'm not busy at all…..Yeah, I can be there in ten minutes….Yeah, I can pick some up. What kind?...One of each hm?...Sure….See ya."
She closed her phone and turned to face him. She couldn't contain how she felt. She knew Booth had been right, that she had done what she could for Angela before, that knowing she needed time to herself didn't make her a bad friend, but the relief that came with that phone call was palpable and she couldn't stop herself from crossing the room and throwing herself into his arms – the man who had given her space on so many occasions when she knew it had nearly killed him to leave her alone. She'd be lucky if she could ever be half the friend and person that he was. The ways he had been there for her and comforted her that night were just one of many moments that saw her seeking out his presence when nothing else was able to make her feel right.
She leaned back and looked into the warm brown eyes that had come to mean everything to her and to symbolize the deep warmth and caring he continually held out to her when she needed it most. With that thought she tilted her head and pressed her lips softly to his.
His mind whirled as his hands moved of their own accord to band around her waist. The kiss was gentle and chaste yet intoxicating and unfortunately over all too soon. He moaned at the loss, but she quickly kissed him again before leaning her forehead against his.
"I'm meeting Angela in ten minutes and I'm not starting something I can't finish," she whispered. He groaned and removed his arms. She couldn't say things like that to him and expect him to just let her go.
She moved away and began putting her shoes on. She had hardly turned away from him before his was suddenly beside her. Once more his arms came around her.
"What was that for?" he asked.
"For being the friend I wish I could be; for showing me every day how to care. And for believing in me even when I don't."
He wanted to tell her again how much he had learned form her; that what she felt he did for her she did for him everyday in her looks, touches and the faith that shone in her eyes even if she wouldn't confess it with her mouth. If he had time he'd show her, but he knew where she needed to be right now.
"You're welcome." A simple answer to something that he could dedicate his life to trying to understand and explain, and if he was lucky he just might get the chance.
His eyes followed her as she opened the door and headed into the hallway.
"Bones," he called after her. "Dinner tomorrow night?"
They always had dinner, but after tonight…she knew it was different. Whatever happened with Angela and whatever trials her family at the lab would be going through in the near future, and she was sure they would be many; she knew she had a rock to lean on and a strength that she could rely on when hers failed. Shortcomings and weaknesses were never easy to admit, but the expression on his face and the look in his eyes as he'd comforted and reassured her tonight took away her insecurities and allowed her to feel that just maybe, two heads and hearts really were better than one. No matter how well that one could take care of herself.
She bit her lip and nodded.
The smile that lit up his face was mirrored on hers as she turned and headed back to the side of her friend, still unsure of herself, but now armed with the knowledge that someone else had faith in her and for now, that was all she needed.
B B B B B
Brennan was at Angela's house in record time after making a quick stop at the convenience store in order to ensure that they would be provided with an almost unlimited supply of Ben & Jerry's. She knocked lightly on the door and waited as the sound of her friend's footsteps got closer.
As soon as the door opened Angela was in her arms, holding on as though for dear life.
"I'm so sorry Sweetie," she breathed.
"For what?" said Brennan, her voice laced with confusion.
Angela backed away and stepped to the side to reveal three packed suitcases. Panic flashed through Brennan and she immediately reached out and grabbed her friend's hand.
"Angela! You're not..." her voice faltered as her throat closed up. Her eyes pleaded with Angela to tell her this wasn't happening right when she thought that everything was going to be alright.
Angela sighed and moved to sit down on her couch.
"I can't...I couldn't."
Brennan was beside her in an instant.
"They why are you apologizing?" she asked as she hugged her close.
"For even considering it. For thinking that I could leave you behind like that and my life here. In the end I just couldn't do it. My life wouldn't be complete if you weren't in it anymore." Angela began to shake and Brennan held her close even as tears streamed down her own cheeks
She swallowed hard. "I'm so glad you didn't leave. I know I don't always say the right thing or be the kind of friend you need, but thank you for not giving up on me...on us."
"Oh Sweetie," said Angela as her voice evened out. "I couldn't ask for a better friend."
They held each other for several minutes before Angela asked.
"Did you bring the ice cream?"
Brennan nodded and Angela actually smiled. The power of chocolatey goodness was never to be underestimated.
"You got here quick," mentioned Angela as she got up to grab some spoons from the kitchen, because everyone knows that the comfort offered by ice cream is increased exponentially when it's eaten right out of the tub.
When Brennan didn't respond Angela turned and noticed the blush spreading across her friends face.
"You weren't at home were you? Somewhere much closer... I know where you were," said Angela with a knowing glance
If anything could cheer her friend up at the moment Brennan knew that unfolding her evening's events at Booth's apartments would more than adequately do the trick - leaving out the depressing parts of course. She could sacrifice her dignity if it meant seeing her forlorn friend smile.
"I might have been at Booth's..." she began as Angela settled down beside her looking for all the world like she were settling in to watch 'Sleepless in Seattle' and Brennan felt, for the first time that night, like she had done the right thing.
So I'd written a really depressing ending before I realized that it would force me to make this into a chapter fic and I just don't do those so I amended it and felt a lot better. Maybe someday I'll write another chapter fic, but for now I hope you enjoyed this one-shot.
Remember, reviews excite me as much as the first snowfall of the season and that's quite a lot.