Title: Feeling the Pain
Author: CSIGeekFan
Rating: T
Summary: Post "Stargazer in a Puddle". What happens after the wedding reception.

The reception had certainly turned out to be interesting… sans a bride or groom. Heck, the way the minister had been looking at her and Booth, Temperance Brennan had expected to find herself a bride; willing or not. Dropping her handbag on the coffee table, she walked through to the kitchen and pulled out a glass. Laughing lightly, she twirled around a little and drew a glass of water from the tap and took a sip.

She hadn't thought she could feel good on a day like this – her father was in jail, her mother's last words still echoed through her mind. Yet life went on.

An envelope – out of place – caught her eye and she curiously moved over to find her name printed across the front. Opening it slowly, she recognized the handwriting immediately and moved over to sink down onto the couch. To read…

XXX

Dear Bones,

I arrested your father. May you and God forgive me.

You know, it wouldn't have been hard to take him down. Christ, I'm a former sniper and boxer.

I took the first hit for the pain I saw in your eyes when he came back and handcuffed you to a bench so he could get away. The tinge of salty iron brought me more salvation than a hundred Hail Mary's. The second, I gratefully accepted for letting things get so far out of hand – the pain felt like a relief to the ache in my chest for you losing your brother once more. The third, I felt so very keenly. It was for the hesitation in your voice – that conflict I created when Max showed up again and I arrested him in your office.

I betrayed you in that moment. The thing is… the look in your eyes, the hitch in your breath, the way you lock it all away sometimes hurts me so damn much… no amount of punches can ever compare. So I let him do his damage, and accepted it like a gift.

When you hurt, you hold yourself together so steadily, that you amaze me with your strength.

And then some days, I just get pissed. The world, Russ, and your father can make me so damn angry, I can't contain it. When no one is around, I can deal with it by yelling or hitting a punching bag.

So when I arrested him once again on capital murder charges, we fought. He may have heckled me into it, but I wanted it so bad, I could taste it. I got in a few good licks myself. I inflicted pain on him, too. Hell, by the end we both lay spent on the asphalt. With ragged breathing, I arrested him that one last time, all the while feeling like I'd failed you completely.

Part of me can't regret what I did, though. It gave me a chance to give him what he'd earned – something for which I think maybe he was grateful.

One day, when he's old and feeble, and his bravado has died away, he may admit it. But I think Max took the first punch for you and the second for Russ. The third, I will bet he took for your mother.

I may think he's a murdering bastard, but he loves his family. After that, I think each time I hit him, he accepted the shocking strike with a reverence few could understand. I know I did.

I just really need you to understand that I'm sorry.

Your Partner,
S. Booth

XXX

Maybe it made her a little twisted, that somehow two men showing off their alpha-male tendencies could make her feel so wanted, yet it did. In the end, what she really read within the missive was something exceedingly simple. They loved her.