Title: I'll Try – REPOSTED DUE TO FFNet removing it – see my website for the original version with song lyrics
Author: Ice Cube
Rating: T (K+ except for chapter 4 really)
Spoilers: Nope, none…except for some basic history on Booth, but that's all covered in the Pilot and some random quotes throughout the series to date
Disclaimer: Right, if I owned them anywhere outside of my dreams, the characters that are forthwith mentioned in this story would be making me a lot of money and very happy…so no, they aren't mine, and I'm a broke college student who has no money, so if you're going to sue, feel free, you won't get anything. Lyrics are the property of whomever deserves credit for them, I use them only to enhance the storyline.
Characters: Booth, Brennan, maybe some minor ones
Archives: Feel free; just let me know where so I can find it again.
Summary: AU future fic. A simple misunderstanding and a call to action leave the partners hurt, lost, and alone for the first time since they met. Things are said, and with both on the defensive, what will become of the pair?
Warnings: To those who think that I am capable of writing a fic that is torture free…I can't, and thus, if you don't want to see h/c, various possible tortures, and other forms of angst, find another story.
I don't have my stories beta'd, I'm too impatient to wait for someone to proof it after I've written it, so I apologize for any mistakes, and if you email me to tell me that they're there, I'll fix them later. Reviews are always a plus, it's great to know that people are reading my stories and like them, but as I'm a horrible reviewer, I won't hold my breath for them. Flames, however, will be treated with the utmost respect they deserve…they will be ignored completely or poked fun at with friends.
That said, on with the tale…
Chapter 1 – Welcome to My Life
The bones on the exam table were always a comfort. There was no psychology here, there was no time. There was calcium, and minerals, and sterility. And she could understand everything about them. She'd been comfortable with the situation. She was Dr. Temperance Brennan, forensic anthropologist. Then she wrote a book. But that was still okay. It was still concrete and she could make sense of it. No one saw beneath her titles, no one knew what she was underneath a scientist and an author. Then he came along. Within weeks he had somehow created this break in her armor and nudged her out the door into the real world. The world filled with psychology and gut instincts and immaterial reasoning. The child that she had locked away at sixteen years old was screaming to be let into that world. And she didn't know what to do. Why couldn't everyone see that?
Everyone around her seemed to be fine. Angela had her drawings and Jack. Jack had his bugs…and Angela. Zach…well Zach had his robots and his "male bonding time" with Booth and his beetle races. Even Zach, who was so much like her, was different. So what did she do? She looked at her bones. She catalogued and filed and concluded. And that was okay before. Before he came. She never thought about it. But now…now Booth had thrown in the proverbial wrench and she found herself seeing things differently. He made her completely lost, and completely found all at the same time. And no one was ever supposed to get that close to her. Ever again. But he did, and now she had no idea what to do about it.
It was fine most days. Most days they went out and investigated and interviewed and Brennan was amazed at the conclusions Booth wheedled out of thin air. There were difficult cases, sure. There were the cases that would cut one or both of them into shreds and leave them reeling to put all of the pieces back together. It made it so that days like this, when they were in between cases, the adrenaline present was too much to bear. And when it got like that, Brennan became even more involved in her limbo cases. She poured her everything into identification, finishing reports, and trying to turn the nervous energy she felt into productive work. It put her very much on edge and everyone at the Jeffersonian knew that her temper was on a very short fuse when she was like this.
Brennan knew that people found excuses to stay out of her way when she got this wound up. Truth be told, however, she didn't really mind. It let her work more efficiently and let her live in that concrete world she missed so much. But it seemed that today, nothing was following that outline. Her alarm clock had gone off too early, her coffee had been too sweet, and no matter what she did, it seemed like the pile of unfinished files on her desk kept getting bigger instead of smaller. Cam wanted to see some serious progress on these cases, but it didn't seem to be happening.
When Cam pestered her for the fourth time that hour about what progress she was making on the set of bones in front of her, Brennan let out a little mewl of frustration. She turned on her heel and, with Cam following her, stomped to her office and slammed the door in her boss's face. Throwing herself into her desk chair, she booted up her computer and waited for the media player to open. She was just deciding which jazz playlist to run when she heard it. Booth was here.
"You don't want to go in there, Seeley. Believe me you don't."
"Don't call me Seeley, Camille."
"Just trust me on…" Brennan drowned out the conversation going on outside her door with the volume set on maximum. She honestly hoped for once that Booth would actually listen to Cam and go away.
No such luck.
The cocky FBI agent knocked softly on the door and Brennan was tempted to ignore it, feigning missing the sound due to the crescendo of the music she was listening to. Something seemed off, however, and without allowing herself to speculate on why she thought that, stood and moved to open the door.
Booth looked slightly haggard, but it wasn't enough that anyone besides Brennan would have noticed. On a normal day. Today she was so caught up in what was going on in her own life that the difference was overlooked. She missed the way that her partner sagged his shoulders just a little bit lower than normal. She didn't see that the sparkle in the corner of his eyes was missing. Brennan didn't notice that he stopped just inside of her door instead of throwing himself comfortably onto her couch. In short, her dealings with the dead blinded her to the plight of the man trying desperately to live his life right in front of her.
"What do you want, Booth? I'm kind of busy today."
"Oh, you know, Bones. Just wanted to drop by and see how you were doing."
Brennan sighed. She had a lot of work to do and not enough time to do it. Why couldn't people just leave her be when they didn't need her? Why couldn't they just let her get her work done?
"I'd be doing a lot better if I could get my work done." She stared pointedly at her partner to see if he would get the hint.
And Booth may have. If he didn't have something to tell Brennan. Something that couldn't wait and that he was still trying to work up the courage to say.
"So what, you can't take a few minutes' break for me, Bones?"
"No, Booth, I really can't. This is important work, and I need to get it done. Cam's waiting for…"
"Cam can wait a little while longer, Bones. These dead guys aren't going anywhere. Most of them are probably too old to have family waiting for them. Just, just sit and talk with me, Bones."
"Why do you keep saying my name?"
"Every sentence you're calling me Bones. Why?"
"I…I dunno, Bones."
Brennan had gone back to her report and missed the look on Booth's face that clearly said he knew exactly why he kept repeating her name – like if he didn't, he would miss the last opportunity he ever had to say it.
"Fine. Whatever. I have work to do, so unless you have a case for us…" Brennan tried to push past Booth and head for the platform.
She could hear Booth sigh heavily and was almost past him when his hand shot out and grabbed hold of her arm. The movement startled her more than she cared to admit and instinct took over, dropping the man to the ground with a wrist lock that would have snapped the bones in his forearm had she not realized what she was doing. Booth never fought back, but the look in his eyes was one of betrayal as he cradled his arm to his chest, not moving to get up from his knees.
Brennan shut her eyes momentarily before heading off to the safety of the platform. She never acted this way towards him, what was going on with her now? There had to be some reason that she was this defensive. There had to be some explanation as to why she couldn't just relax for a few minutes and let her partner say what he needed to say. Surely that would be the most efficient way to get him out of her hair and get this feeling out of her chest.
The fact that maybe she was reading something into Booth's actions and that maybe that feeling was fear of what he was going to say didn't consciously cross her mind, but somehow Brennan knew that the best way to protect herself was to avoid the conversation, no matter what the cost. She had been hurt too many times in life to trust that it wasn't going to happen again, and self-preservation instincts were too deeply ingrained to break. An apology was definitely in order, she knew that, but beyond that were uncharted waters that would serve to cap the day she was having.
Things were swirling out of control as Brennan studied the bones on her exam table. She was caught between hoping that Booth would rush up onto the platform and demand an answer for what had just happened and that he would simply go away and give her some time to rationalize what was going on. Then she was torn between remaining in the sanctity of the platform and running back to her office and melting into Booth's arms begging forgiveness. She was unsure of where their relationship stood at the moment, the denial and tension had built up for so long that this new turn was throwing her into the deep end and not giving her a chance to tread water. Change was an inevitable part of human existence, all of her schooling had taught her that, but change was also frightening and gut-wrenching sometimes. Part of her wanted to explore what change with Booth would mean in the long run – to be able to become so wholly entwined with another that the boundaries of where one ended and the other began would be lost. She had seen what that was like in other people; had studied relationships that went along around her and gave her a hope that something like that could work out. But her own past experiences with relationships had given her a sense of hopelessness and desire all rolled into one. Emotions were very confusing to her. And definitely had no place in a lab.
So where did that leave her? And what was she to do about Booth now? The look in his eyes had rocked her to the core and set her fight or flight response to flight. But now that she could see him exiting the hallway, clearly looking for her, the adrenaline coursing through her veins turned towards fight. She was strong, independent, stubborn, and willful in the best of circumstances. She had told the man approaching her that she was busy, and so whatever he had deemed important would have to wait.
There was something to be said for being detached from the world around you. Once upon a time, Temperance Brennan would have been able to ignore the stares that her co-workers were gracing her with. Once, she wouldn't have cared that everyone could see that something was wrong, because she would have been able to hide it. But it's hard to hide a problem when it is a 6'1" man coming barreling down a hallway calling out her name.
"Bones. Stop. Please."
"Look, Booth. I'm sorry about your arm. You scared me and I reacted. If it's injured, I'll…"
"My wrist is fine, Bones. Forget about it. I need to talk to you about something. It's kind of important. Can you please just…stop for a minute?"
Booth had reached out to make contact again, but the twinge that shot up past his elbow from the aggravation stopped him from actually laying a hand on the headstrong woman in front of him. Brennan noticed the hesitation and couldn't help being concerned at the physical discomfort her partner was trying, rather unsuccessfully, to hide. She grasped his palm in her own and palpated the carpal and long bones that made up the joint, searching for disparity.
"Nothing's broken that I can tell, but the evidence of fever and developing ecchymosis suggests that there is at least some soft tissue damage to the area. You should ice it and possibly compress the area for the next day or so."
Booth resisted the urge to roll his eyes and took his hand back from the scientist in front of him. "I don't care about that right now, Bones. Please, can we just go somewhere and talk? Please?"
"Look, Booth. You already said that we don't have a case, and…"
"No I didn't. You just assumed that we don't."
"Well do we?" She called his bluff easily.
"Then like I was saying, I have work to do here that is important to the Jeffersonian and to me, so whatever it is, it's going to have to wait."
"It can't wait. Temperance, please." The man in front of her was almost pleading now, and it set her even more on edge. Something was wrong. Something that she wasn't going to like and therefore didn't want to hear. There was nothing for it; she had to avoid the problem at all costs.
"Booth, calm down. You're being irrational and getting all worked up over nothing. We don't have a case, so shouldn't you be getting some work done at the office? I'm sure Cullen has things that you need to do there just like I have things I need to do here."
"This is important, Bones."
"Stop saying my name every time you open your mouth. It's unnecessary. I know that you're very clearly talking to me, and don't need to be reminded of it with every sentence. It's childish."
I don't care, Bones. You're going to stop what you're doing and listen to me even if it kills you. Or me."
"I'm not one of your suspects that you can just order around. I'm not one of your lackeys that will drop everything that they're doing to fulfill your every beck and call. I. Am. Busy. You'll just have to come back later when I'm done."
"I have never thought of you as anything less than an equal in this relationship, Dr. Temperance Brennan. Never. Which is why I came here. I understand that you're busy. I do. But this…person…isn't going to go anywhere in the next few minutes or so, and I could really use your ear for a minute."
There was something in Booth's voice that was offensive to her. Like a scared child in need of reassurance. Something like that should never come out of him, and it frightened her. It sounded so much like the memory of her calling after Russ so many years ago.
But she had to be strong. That was what she did. She was on her own, always. That way no one could ever hurt her the way her family did again. So she ignored the emphatic gestures that Angela was making behind Booth's back to listen to him, ignored the pull in her chest that told her five minutes wouldn't harm anything.
"It'll have to wait, Booth. I'm busy right now."
"It. Can't." Booth was yelling now, and it startled even Zach, who was trying as hard as he could to pretend that nothing was going on and that his own little corner of the lab was far removed from the drama at stage right.
His voice quieted to the point where Brennan almost missed his next statement. "There's no time."
"Look, Booth. I don't know what has caused this reaction. Clearly your hormones are at an increased level right now, but you can't always be right. You're not thinking straight right now, and suddenly your idea of what should revolve around you is being questioned. So I don't blame you for being agitated, but that is no reason to come into my lab and act the way you are. You serve a purpose here, and this is clearly not it. You are disturbing my work, and I am nicely asking you to come back later when you have calmed down."
Please, whatever it is, it's not going to be good. Please don't tell me, I'm afraid to know. Can't you see that? The defense mechanisms that had kept Brennan safe in the past were firing at full effect and not letting her or her partner have a moment of clarity as to what could be done to find a peaceful resolution. She wasn't sure exactly where this was coming from, but every time she stopped to think about it, one look at Booth's posture and the fire in his eyes had her turning another corner to find her safe area.
If there was one thing Brennan had learned over the years, it was that everyone would betray her in the end. She had gotten complacent and let the man in front of her worm his way through her walls and started to trust him. She had forgotten for a time all the foster families who had turned her away, all the times that she had expected to find some peace only to be handed another garbage bag and told that it was the end of the line. She had forgotten that the first people who were supposed to love her unconditionally and keep her safe had left her behind like a broken toy. There was nowhere in the world that she belonged, and that was all coming crashing back down on her now.
It was her own fault, really. She was so different from him, so damaged, so lost. She was in uncharted territory with this and she should never have let the relationship progress this far. It should have stayed all business and never gotten personal. Personal attachments were a waste of time and got in the way of accomplishing her goals. She never should have allowed herself to believe that she could have anything different. His family life had been so different than hers, she knew that. He had a family who, despite whatever problems they had, had stuck together and were still able to be considered a unit. They hadn't abandoned him at the first sign of trouble like hers had.
Booth had been opening and closing his mouth for the last few minutes, trying to figure out where things had gone so wrong, she supposed.
"I…have a purpose here? What am I, one of your instruments?"
"Clearly not, you are a human being, albeit a rather irrational one right now. You are no more a piece of metal than I am."
"That's not what I meant, Bones. Look, I…"
"Whatever it is, Booth, I don't want to know. I thought I was making that clear to you, but obviously not. You have been a great help into the work that we do for the FBI, but you are not now, nor have you ever been, helpful to the work that we do for the Jeffersonian. So…"
"So what you're saying, basically, is that you're just using me to get what you need. Gee, thanks Bones. I appreciate it." She could see Booth almost foaming at the mouth, trying to keep his emotions in check. "I thought I meant more to you than that."
The words cut her deeply, and she wasn't entirely sure why.
"You are a detriment to everything that I am doing here and you are wasting my time. You are being disruptive and I will not tolerate it in my lab." She knew the words were wrong the moment she said them. She saw the anger manifest itself as redness in his cheeks and spasms in his skeletal muscles. Never before had words failed her as completely as this. Never before had she felt so wrong.
"Detriment? Disruptive? Dr. Brennan,
you ain't seen nothing yet." Brennan saw it happening
before it actually did, but was rooted to the spot. Sure they
had argued before, but it had never gotten to this level; she had
never actually fought with Booth. That hurt her as much as the
left scapula that flew into her ear as Booth swept the bones off her
exam table, breathing hard and looking aghast at what he had
Brennan was apalled at the mess that was now surrounding her. Never before had she seen him this worked up about anything, and never before had she felt so disrespected by something he had done. Any thought of reconciling with him was lost among the ruins of the skeleton around her and she snapped. No one disrespected her or her things in this lab. No one.
And don't come back here for awhile. I don't want to see
Booth turned on his heel, muscles in his face twitching with anger and hurt. She knew that he tried to turn fast enough so that she wouldn't see him weak – it was his nature after all. But she saw them anyway. Saw the tears that were fighting to escape the corners of his eyes at her dismissal.
Oh God, what have I done?
So yeah, Brennan may seem a little bit OOC right now, but the way I figure it, there has to be some serious defense mechanisms kicking in with the lack of sleep and adrenaline fueling them. On top of that, she clearly knows Booth well enough to see that something is seriously wrong – with him and with what he has to say – so she is going to react to that on a subconscious level to protect herself from being hurt, being abandoned, being left behind – whatever she thinks the threat to her safety net is…