Disclaimer: If 'Bones' belonged to me, Booth and Brennan would have gotten together years ago and 'Stargazer in a Puddle' would probably have involved them getting married.
Author's Note: 2 posts in as many days; you can all thank my finals for this. Call me crazy but somehow writing Booth/Brennan fanfic is just so much more fun than studying. Just a one-shot set after S1's 'Man in the Morgue' because no one can tell me that after that ep, at the very least, Booth didn't realize he had feelings for Bones. This also involved me having fun picking out some of my favorite BB moments in Season 1, as you'll see. Enjoy!
Seeley Booth opened a bottle of beer and sank back onto his couch with a sigh, feeling the tension that had been in him for the past day finally beginning to dissipate.
He glanced at the clock. It was past midnight and he really should be getting to bed, because he would need to go into work early to report to Cullen (and grovel a little for having taken an unscheduled personal day to fly down to New Orleans so suddenly).
God, had it really only been one day? It felt like weeks since he'd received that phone call from Bones this morning that had almost literally had his heart leaping into his throat. (He could hear Bones' voice in his head saying that it was a physiological impossibility for a heart to move into a person's throat—his lips quirked slightly and then he had to wonder when he'd started hearing her voice in his head and when he'd started to find her ultra-logical statements so… amusing.) But impossibility or not, it was how he'd felt, his throat so tight with fear bordering on panic that he hadn't been able to swallow or breathe for a moment. She had sounded so shaky, unsure of herself—Bones, shaken? She'd said—predictably—that she was fine but there had been a distinct tremble in her voice and it had terrified him, especially when she'd admitted she didn't know what had happened.
He'd seen too much, knew too much, of what could have happened to a young, attractive woman and the possibilities, given that she didn't remember an entire day, were endless—and endlessly horrifying.
He didn't think he'd breathed normally in all the hours it took for him to get to the airport (breaking every traffic and speeding law known to man and feeling more thankful for his siren than ever before), then using a combination of his charm smile and the weight of the FBI to get himself on the first flight out to New Orleans, and all throughout the several hours of the flight down. He'd never been claustrophobic or the jittery type—years of training had taught him to be able to stay almost perfectly still—but on that flight, for once, he'd been unable to keep still, so full of suppressed energy he felt as if he could have run to New Orleans.
He hadn't breathed normally, hadn't been able to think clearly, until the moment he'd pushed past the protesting nurse at the hospital and seen her, his Bones, sitting up, a little wan but coherent and collected and sounding almost her usual self. The relief he'd felt then had almost made him dizzy, even more when he'd heard that there was no evidence of sexual activity, forced or otherwise, easing what had been among his worst fears. He knew what rape could do to a woman and the thought of that happening to Bones had almost killed him.
All in all, he was exhausted, emotionally and mentally drained. He was trained to keep cool under fire—literally and figuratively—trained to be as detached as was necessary to get his job done and, normally, he was—if he did say so himself—rather good at it. Today, he'd forgotten his training entirely, tossed it out the window, broken every rule he'd ever learned of how a Special Agent behaved.
He'd been biased, subjective, had used his siren for his personal benefit, had abused the power of his badge and his position, and had taken a vital piece of evidence from a crime scene. If Cullen ever found out about the full extent of what he'd done today, he'd be out in the cold faster than you could say Special Agent. He had, literally, risked his career and everything he'd worked for on one earring—on one woman.
He didn't regret it at all. He would do it again, if he had to. And that was what gave him pause. He'd made mistakes in cases before; he'd lost his objectivity in cases before (the case on Donovan Decker's kidnapping, for one, had been one where he'd reacted a little too personally—as Cullen had later made a point of mentioning, with the mildest of warnings) but he usually regretted his mistakes, resolved to do better the next time. He'd never ever hidden evidence from a crime scene before, had never even thought about it, but he'd done it today. He had risked it all—and he would do it again if he had to, in a heartbeat.
He would risk it all for one woman, for her, Dr. Temperance Brennan, his Bones.
And there it was again. His Bones.
Except she wasn't his. She would never be his.
But he wanted her to be his. He just wanted her—in every way a man could want a woman.
He couldn't deny it any longer. He wasn't that good at lying to himself and all that had happened today had shaken him out of his complacency and his denial.
He was in love with her.
When had that happened?
She was undoubtedly the most (scarily) brilliant woman—person—he'd ever known, could be the most infuriating, aggravating woman and at first, that was all she'd been. She'd been a thorn in his side, even as he couldn't help but respect her for her brilliance and her strength. And she'd become his friend, his best friend really.
And somehow, in these past months of working with her, watching her, getting to know her, she'd gotten under his skin and into his heart and now—now he couldn't imagine life without her.
When had it happened?
When had she become so important to him? When had it gotten so that he angled to make her smile?
When had it gotten so that he looked forward to going to work, almost looked forward to cases involving skeletons (and that sounded more twisted than he cared to admit) because of her? He couldn't exactly say he loved his job; it was fulfilling and it was challenging and he believed in what he was doing, in spite of the times it was hard to deal with the terrible things he saw every day. But now, now he did look forward to going to work; he looked forward to spending time with Bones—and, yes, the rest of the squint team too, in an odd way. But it was because of Bones. He looked forward to work because of the time he spent with her—and he didn't know when that had happened.
He remembered the case of Charlie Sanders, remembered the way he'd felt on seeing Bones hugging little Sean Cook… He'd been right at the time; she wasn't great with people (he found it amusing, even endearing, now and not annoying) and he had little doubt that, in general, she wasn't great with kids—but when she'd been talking to Sean, he'd seen the affection, the vulnerability, that she so rarely showed—and he'd been fascinated.
And, of course, he could not forget the way she'd looked that evening before she'd left for the banquet for the Jeffersonian's donors. He'd known, in a sort of detached way, that she was a very attractive woman but that night… That night, she'd looked… amazing… And he'd felt the almost instinctive and very potent attraction of a beautiful woman, an attraction all the more powerful because it had been her, Bones, and he already knew how amazing she was in other ways that had nothing to do with her appearance.
Maybe that had been when it started.
He did know that that had been the time when he had found himself occasionally distracted with looking at her, with watching her… That had been about the time when he'd first realized just how attracted to her he was…
And that time Kenton had nearly killed her… That had not been a pleasant time. He'd been torn between worry over Bones and very reluctant jealousy over David. And then when Kenton had actually gotten a hold of her… He had never been so worried—and absolutely furious, at himself and at Kenton, in his life. It had made getting up and moving around with a couple broken ribs seem almost painless in comparison. He could still remember the terror in her eyes and how it had felt when she'd collapsed onto him, the way she'd hugged him—and his telling her that it was okay had been as much to reassure himself as it had been to reassure her.
He let out a brief laugh as he remembered dancing in her apartment to "Hot-Blooded" and her joining in… After all, maybe that had been the moment when he'd fallen in love with her. Really and truly fallen in love… That moment, when she'd been smiling and dancing, having fun in a way he'd never really imagined she could—and he'd been utterly charmed. The way her smile had lit up her eyes… The slight defensiveness in her manner when she'd explained her love of jazz had been… adorable… although he would never until that moment have thought to use that word in relation to her.
And now, today, hearing the shakiness in her voice and not knowing what had happened to her had terrified him. And then when she'd started to doubt herself, when she'd wondered if she could have killed that other Doctor…
He investigated murders; he'd long ago stopped assuming that there was much that people were not capable of. But for her, for his Bones—no. Everything in him, his mind, heart, and soul, had outright revolted at the bare idea that she might have done such a thing, such a brutal killing. No, even drugged or under the influence of some mystical voodoo thing, she could not have done such a thing. He wouldn't believe it, had refused to believe it. He hadn't cared about the evidence—and, thinking about it more rationally now, he knew she'd been right when she said it was plausible. Plausible, yes, but possible, no.
It was a somewhat startling realization to come to, this unquestioning faith in her, this trust in her. In spite of the evidence, in spite of all the seemingly-damning things the Sheriff and Caroline Julian had pointed out, he hadn't been able to believe she'd done it. Not only because he loved her—although he did—but because he knew her.
He'd seen the look in her eyes as she watched two foster kids being reunited with their foster mother, had seen her cry when she spoke of her parents and why she did what she did. He knew her tactlessness and her almost amazing ability to compartmentalize; he knew her razor-sharp brilliance and her stubbornness. He knew how abrasive and cold she could seem. He knew her courage and her determination. And he also knew her kindness, her gentleness, her compassion. Temperance Brennan had her faults—God knows she had faults!--but she was one of the fairest, most sincerely, well, righteous, women he'd ever known. She was a good woman, the best, and she was simply not capable of such a brutal murder.
He would stake his career on it—as he had.
It was no wonder he felt as if he'd been through an emotional wringer, from his panic in the morning to his worry over what had happened to her, and all he'd risked for her…
And now he knew, the knowledge too stark and clear for him to deny. He was in love with her.
Booth let out an unamused laugh, taking a long swig of his beer, half-tempted to drink himself into oblivion except for the fact that he knew he'd need to be in the office early to explain himself to Cullen.
He was in love with Bones. Really, he wasn't winning any points for intelligence with this belated revelation.
He was in love with her but he knew he could never do anything about it, could never tell her. At least not any time in the foreseeable future.
She didn't feel that way about him; he was only her partner and, he liked to think, her friend, but nothing more.
And he knew she was seeing David, that investment banker who seemed like a decent enough guy (nothing suspicious had been found out about him) and, in all honesty, Booth had to admit that the only reason he found David worthy of suspicion at all was because he was jealous. It wasn't admirable but it was true. He wanted Bones to be happy—he did—but he couldn't help but feel as if Bones's relationship with David was rather superficial, a fling. He knew that they didn't see each other very often because of how hard Bones worked and he knew for a fact that Bones would not have told David anything about her parents or her experience in the foster system or anything because Bones was one of the most private people he'd ever met and he, of all people, knew how much it took for her to trust someone. He'd been more touched than he cared to admit when she'd asked him to look at her parents' case file; he'd understood it for the sign of trust that it was and he didn't think anything had ever meant more to him except the way he felt when Parker hugged him or smiled at him or showed him that he was a good father. (And that, right there, was yet another reason why he was an idiot not to have realized his true feelings for Bones before this; he should have known just from his reaction to knowing she trusted him. He'd only been able to compare his feelings for her to his feelings for Parker and Parker was the center of his life, the dearest person in the world to him.)
Booth took another drink and then sighed.
Because even if David was out of the picture, he knew Bones too well to think that he could simply ask her on a date and then tell her he loved her. With any other woman, maybe, but Bones? No. Bones was… complicated and, for all her strength of will and her determination, she was also fragile and vulnerable. If he told her he loved her, he could imagine her reaction; she would probably deny it and slip into her most detached, scientific mode and say it was merely caused by chemicals in his brain and his primal desire to find a mate or some such thing or—he couldn't quite decide which was worse and which would hurt him most—she would panic and run. Either way, he could wave goodbye to their partnership and their friendship, goodbye to all the lunches and dinners together, goodbye to the friendly banter…
No, he couldn't risk it.
It was ironic—painfully so—but it was the simple truth. He cared for her too much to risk what they had by telling her the truth of his feelings.
He couldn't risk it. He wouldn't risk it.
He loved her but he couldn't tell her and should probably, if he were smart, try to stop loving her, if possible.
He let out another brief, unamused laugh, finishing his beer in one long swig. Stop loving her? Who was he kidding? He wouldn't stop loving her. Couldn't. Not when he'd continue to see her almost every day, spend so much time with her, getting to know her better and realizing more with every day just how unique she was…
He loved her but he couldn't tell her. He would be her partner and her friend, would be, he admitted, anything she needed him to be.
And maybe someday, he could tell her the truth. Maybe, someday, she would be ready to hear the truth.
Booth stood up, tossing the bottle into recycling and then heading towards his bedroom.
He had just gotten into bed when he paused, opening the nightstand to pull out the file Bones had given him on her parents, opening it to pull out the picture of her as a young girl, gap-toothed and smiling. She'd been happy then and he hated to think of all that had happened to her in the intervening years that had made it so hard for her to trust people now.
He touched his finger to her cheek in the picture and then placed it on his nightstand, leaning it against the framed picture of Parker he kept there.
Parker's face grinned out at him and beside it, Bones' younger self smiled at him as well. Booth smiled a little.
Parker. Bones. This, right here, was his entire life, the two most important people in his world. The two faces who would be the first ones he saw every morning, even as he hoped that one day, Bones would be there in reality whenever he woke up.
He lay down and closed his eyes, his mind immediately conjuring up a picture of her expression when he'd revealed her mother's earring. Nope, he didn't regret it at all.
His expression softened unconsciously and he drifted to sleep with one word echoing in his thoughts.
A/N 2: I love getting reviews almost as much as I'd love finding Booth under the Christmas tree (almost.) But since that's not going to happen, at least make me smile by leaving a review and letting me know what you thought of this!