DISCLAIMER: Sadly, I do not own Bones or any of the lovely characters or even one of the squints experiments.

AUTHORS NOTE: Been a long time viewer of Bones and just felt inspired to toss out a Bones inspired one-shot of our favorite duo. Also needed a break from my own writing. I'm doing the NaNoWriMo amongst other things this month and it's had me pretty locked in.

This bit is inspired by the end scene of 'The Con Man in the Meth Lab'. It's not beta'd. Just wanted to get it out there, so there are plenty of grammar mistakes. I hope I kept the characters in character, because I love them just the way they are. And I hope you like it if just a little bit. So happy dancing phalanges everyone.

WARNING: Spoilers for "The Con Man in the Meth Lab". Curse words and references to child abuse. Angst with a sprinkle of mush.

Someone to Protect You

by Ann Pendragon

"My father drank…" his words hung heavily in the air.

She had been about to take another forkful of Booths birthday cake, but quickly lost interest. She watched him now, waiting. Her heart pounding in her chest.

Booth raised the fork to his mouth and then slowly chewed, the sweetness of the cake a stark contrast to the bile turning in his stomach. It wasn't what he'd said to Jared that left him with this heavy hollow feeling. He'd done the right thing with his brother. Bones was right. It was what he had seen during the exchange that was tearing at his insides now. Tonight, Seeley saw his father looking back at him through his brothers eyes.

Closing his eyes, he lowered his head and fork. Elbows on his knees he took in a deep steadying breath. "My father drank a lot, actually. I guess it really got bad after he left the service. A lot of guys have a hard time after leaving. I can't talk, and it's no excuse…" Booth snuck a quick glance at his partner, his best friend, his… He found warmth in the azure depths of her eyes. He found understanding and he felt the strength to continue. Looking back to the fork he flicked about in front of him he swallowed hard and began letting Bones further into his life.

"It was mom he'd come after when me and Jared were small, but when we got a little bigger that changed. And when I got old enough, I made sure it was only me he came after."

Brennan watched him take another piece of cake on his fork and bring it to his lips only to lower it and leave it hanging between his knees. She felt her heart constrict, hearing the pain in Booths voice, and to see a man as strong as him so broken. It was a private pain he was letting her see, an intense and lingering pain, just like she'd seen in him when he told her about his days as a sniper. While the hurt and horrors of his time with the military was primarily placed on him by strangers and the things duty demanded he do. The hurt caused him tonight had started with family, someone she knew he had loved, someone who was suppose to have been Booths protector. Temperance felt anger bubble up inside. How could a father break a son—a man as wonderful and as good as the one who sat at her side? How could a brother do the same and with so little thought?

"I was eleven and Jared eight. The old man had come home from the bar after closing up the barber shop early. He was flying high that day. Went strait to the study and pulled out the gin for a before dinner nip." Booths eyes now stared out at the traffic not seeing it. "Mom had gone to Millers down the street to get something she needed for dinner. I had just started my homework and Jared-Jared was once again messing around in the back closet. Only instead of the football and hockey sticks he was digging out, it was dads 22 he got his hands on." He shook his head. "Well it went off. Shot a whole right through the cellar door and into the wall. I got to Jared before Dad did. The kid had pissed his pants he was so scared." Booth grimly smirked. "I knew if Dad found him with that gun, Jared was done. I mean Jared was just a little guy then and that was Dads gun and his door and wall. And Dad was really drunk…" Booth fell silent.

"So you took responsibility for what Jared had done that day." Brennan's voice finally broke the silence. "And every day since."

Booth quietly nodded his head, eyes on the untouched cake on his fork. "I was right you know. I was right to do it. Dad was really pissed. But I took it. I always took it. The arm healed…" Booths eyes now glassy and wide. Temperance felt sick. "After that I kinda became Dad's sick favorite to beat around. At least it wasn't so much Mom anymore and it wasn't Jared. It was never Jared after that."

Booth flinched, feeling a firm hand touch his arm and a warm weight lean into his back. His chest began to clench up tight and he tried to breath.

"You know it was after that day, I was taught how to shoot? While I was still on the floor of the back hall bleeding, Dad stood over me and said if I was gonna go blasting holes in things he'd show me how it was done. It's how I learned to be a perfect shot. You get beat less when you hit your mark." Booth looked up into the night sky and then back to the concrete. "Shooting was the only thing the old man ever told me I did right."

Brennan felt a small tremor go through Booth body and then another as she laid the side of her face over the back of his hunched shoulder and neck. She felt him continue his battle to hold in his emotions and hold up the world he shouldered. She wanted to help him carry some of that weight and let some of it go, like he'd done for her so many times before.

"I'm sorry Booth." She softly whispered into his shirt and skin and felt him shake once more. "No child deserves to be hurt that way by someone they love and trust. And you don't deserve to suffer for that past now."

She heard the ting of Booths fork when it hit the ground and welcomed his arms as they went around her in a constricting hug. The cake in her lap fell to the pavement forgotten.

Ignoring the discomfort of his heavy weight against her injured arm, she reached her good one around him and clutched him tight. She felt him take in hard breaths, trying to tame his emotions while her own began to fall down her face. An overwhelming need to take away her partners hurt filled her. Without thinking with her head, she used her heart. Turning her head she gently kissed the top of Booths head where it leaned into her shoulder and then his temple just as he slowly began to pull back from her embrace.

His eyes reflecting the street lights, Booth stared at her in silence. He took in the feel of how it was to once again be kissed by Temperance Brennan. He took in the care and concern that radiated from his partners eyes, her tears… 'She's crying for me?'

Temperance quickly wiped away the few stray tears and cleared her throat. The closeness they now shared not going beyond her notice.

"You deserve so much more, Booth." She held his eyes, unwavered by the intensity that now saturated their warm chocolate depths. "You deserve to be protected too."

Booth looked away at that, taking his broad hand over his face and cleared his throat. "Protecting…" he gruffly began to mumble, but then stopped when a delicate but firm hand grabbed his cheek and turned him back.

"You don't let me have a gun, but I can still protect you other ways."

"You'll protect me?" He could not help but smirk at her brave and honest declaration or stop the swelling feeling in his chest. He knew saying these things was hard for her. But this was his Bones—fearless.

"You're my family Booth." She continued. "You said we do things for family, we protect them, the ones we love…" Temperance sucked in a breath realizing too late what she'd indirectly admitted aloud. 'Damn.'

Booth felt himself stop breathing in that moment. Eyes wide with wonder, he enveloped her hand upon his cheek and held it there.

"I-I mean you protect me too." She stuttered out.

"I do. I try." He croaked, not being able to stop his mind from running the laundry list of times she'd been hurt, abducted or threatened and he hadn't protected her.

"And you said that there is more than one kind of family. You did…"she faltered. They were so close now that she could feel his uneven breath brush over her face.

"I did and there is." His voice a deep whisper. "You're my family too."

Like magnets on a board, the draw between them pulled at them once more. Inch by inch and second by second their moment came near. And then…

"Hey guys. We still have a lot of cake in here."

"Sweets." Temperance's hand quickly pulled from Seeley's grasp and he let it. Did he hear disappointment in her voice, see it in her eyes?

"Sweets." His grumble a bit louder, followed by a frustrated snort that was already sending the young therapist back into the bar. "Be there in a minute, Junior." He yelled, his eyes still on his partner.

Bending over, Temperance retrieved the fallen forks and plate then stood. Seeley's hand quickly reached for the items taking them away and replacing them with his hand.

"This is the best gift anyone has ever given me." He squeezed her hand them stood.

Wide blue eyes met deep chocolate brown and an understanding passed between them, along with a smile. Good things came in time and neither had plans to be anywhere or with anyone else while they waited. Hands still held tight, the partners entered back into the bar.

"Happy Birthday Booth."

"Thanks Bones."

fin.