Wow! Thank you all so much for the great response to this fic, I'm so happy! *grins!* I'm going to promise to respond to all your reviews personally very soon, as I'm working on a special Valentine's Day fanfic for Brennan and Booth to sink their teeth into. As always, I don't own a thing, although I wish I owned a certain Booth :P heh he's a dark hunk of salty goodness. Dedicated sweetly to my beta, all the people who've even glanced at this fic and liked what they saw. I hope you've enjoyed the ride. So here goes nothing, Part Three....
Waiting for the Light
Brennan's eyes shot open at the sound of the creak. She'd fallen asleep, fitfully, on Booth's couch, curled in on herself like she'd found too many of the victims on her table. She wasn't going to be a victim again. She glanced at the clock and noted it was near ten in the morning. The whole city buzzed outside and yet here she was, alone and very sore. Gingerly, she tried stretching her arms and wrists, noting how the joining bones in her wrists were particularly grating today. She must have been wrenched. Bones straightened her legs and peered into Booth's open bedroom door. She wanted a shower, almost desperately but knew that it would wake him and they'd have irrational conversations in which scenario he yelled at her. She didn't want to have to hurt him if he accosted her again. Temperance crept into the kitchen and ran the cold water tap, splashing it on her eyes, washing her hands with his antibacterial soap. She remembered that Rebecca insisted he use it on Parker, preventing him from getting any infections. Bones smiled as she also remembered telling Rebecca that exposing Parker to as little infectious diseases and germs would ultimately weaken his immune system, the body needed to fight off small amounts of germs so it could acclimatise to them and obliterate them all if need be. That had shut her up.
Brennan dried her face and hands on some kitchen towel and checked on Booth for one final time. She could compartmentalise her grief, her anger, her ... other feelings. But this? Trust was meant to be there between partners, between friends. Temperance had no idea what to feel, what to say or do. All she knew is that she wanted to get as far away from him as possible right that second. She needed to pull off these clothes and climb into a searing hot shower, wash it away. Too many bad memories, Booth had pulled from the deepest recesses of her frontal cortex and forced her to confront again and again. She could smell the acrid cigarette smoke at the end was pushed into her skin. She could feel the icy touch of the porcelain as her head was slammed into a sink. She could taste the copper of blood on her lips after she defied them once too many. Bones could be everything. Temperance was nothing.
Booth woke silently, noting every ache in his body as he had been made to do every morning in the army. It became habit, cataloguing injuries as if they were items on a grocery list that were sadly essential. He found the creaking of footsteps in the room just out of sight and swallowed. He couldn't remember, god, couldn't think of what had happened. There was just a white blank and intense anger, so fierce that he hadn't ever experienced. At least not since days of witnessing torture and violence. Not since she'd been beaten to blood and pulp in New Orleans while trying to identify the dead. That was when Booth had snapped, protected his Bones to the death if necessary. He would have killed. He had. Taken bullets, taken beatings and taken her from car wrecks. She was Bones. The bedroom was dark, all light shut out by thick blinds and drapes; he was such a light sleeper it was difficult not to rise with the sun unless it was blocked from him. Days on end, he might never know the sun existed unless it filled him with warmth. He rubbed his raw eyes chugged from the glass of water on his nightstand. It was 10am but it felt like he hadn't slept at all. It was fuzzy, snowy, and crippled inside his memory. He could feel shame, but had no idea why it was there. Another creak came from outside, louder and quicker footsteps as if someone were rushing to flee.
"Bones?" He climbed out of bed, dressed only in his pants and leaned out of his doorframe like ivy, creeping upwards. "What? Why are you here?"
She turned around sharply and he swear he caught her eyes fearful before her stoicism was turned on, "I fell asleep on your couch last night, I apologise if I woke you."
She turned and that was when he saw them. All she had was her halter top from the night before. Every mark that marred her skin was visible. He'd known those bruises on abuse victims that came into the Hoover looking for help. "What the hell are these, Temperance?"
She cringed slightly, imperceptibly, "They're contusions, they're an injury to biological tissue beneath the surface dermis in which the capillaries are damaged and allow blood to seep into the surrounding tissue, creating marks. Usually black, blue and purple, fading to a yellow green."
"Finger bruises, Bones." He came up to her slowly, gently, delicately tracing the marks with his eyes. "Who did this? Someone must have hurt you."
She smiled lightly, but stepped back, "Really, it was no bother. Just a drunken guy who put his hands on me too tight. I remember that I, I think the correct terminology is, beat his ass."
There were her eyes. Those normally sparkling sapphire ocean blue were blocked by some force that scared him, "Bones, tell me. Who was he?"
She knew she had lost, all she wanted was to leave, "You don't want to know, Booth, just leave it, they're simple bruises. Not wounds or abrasions."
He caught her wrist as she made to leave and her breath caught the barest hint of fear, "Tell me."
She glanced at his face, uttering just one word that brought him down, "You."
He didn't know how long it took him to understand what she was saying. Simple words and phrases, promises of retribution and denial, or apology, were deemed useless. Pointless. Booth had the cold, hard truth staring him in the face, pummelling his eyes. Purple, black and blue. He never wanted to see her wear such colours, never wanted to, never. It made him heave dry vomit and bile burning his throat as sent by purest red. He had hurt, grabbed her, scared her beyond what he thought he would do under duress. "I..." words were always useless. He was led by his heart, but he didn't deserve one. "Temperance."
She couldn't break her gaze from him. "They'll heal Booth."
"Will you?" he managed, collapsing into some chair. Hard and cold, numbing his body. She slid down into the couch, her normal quizzical look, he loved that look. It made him think of her curiosity. Booth couldn't see her face now. Wrong.
She bit her lip, and stared at him, her head tilted slightly like he were remains, "They always heal. My muscles have developed a stronger resistance to bruising and the blood vessels are more free-flowing due to my diet so I heal remarkably quickly."
"I still hurt you."
She nodded slowly, "You did, but it wasn't the same."
Now he looked at her, confused, "The same as what?" Everything about him was screaming to go on bended knee and beg her or run away and never let her hurt again because of him.
Brennan thought for her phrasing, "I like to think that I know you very well, Booth. I know your past. What your father is or was like. It's not the same."
He scoffed and looked away, his hand on the arm of the seat, twitching, "You can't know that, Bones. You never knew him."
"That is correct but anthropologically speaking, children are influenced by parents in two major types. One, the child learns behaviour from the parent and emulates it. This is, what I think, you're thinking you are. Booth, you're not the first, you're the second. You saw what your father did and you knew it was wrong. That it hurt people he loved, that you loved. So you protect. That is who you are, what you always have been."
He wanted to pull her into his lap and cradle her against him, "I'm so sorry for hurting you. But I have to take responsibility for my actions. I could have broken your arm if I wanted to." Something was confusing him, he had a killer hangover, yeah but nothing was aching, "Why didn't you defend yourself against me when I came at you, Bones? Why didn't you stop me?"
She looked away, tears now pricking at the back of her eyes, not again, "I... I couldn't. I know that I would feel ashamed and confused if I hurt you. That's what you feel, isn't it?"
Too much. Too much right. He nodded slowly, "Yeah. You know, Sweets would be proud of you Bones, with the psychological assessment."
She smiled, "Hey, no insults. That was merely an observation based on personal experiences."
They were quiet as a small smile crept onto Booth's lips, "You know, he wasn't always like he was, my dad. He could be cool, the sort of father that showed you how to throw a good pass and block an opponent's move. But then, my mom had an affair," her eyes widened, "and that's when he changed. Maybe he was scared of her leaving him, I dunno, but he changed. So quick. I was thirteen when he first belted me across the face for watching movies on a school night. Absolutely stank of whiskey," his eyes glazed as he watched her face contort in anger and sadness, "By the time I was fifteen, there wasn't an inch of me that hadn't had a bruise at some point," his eyes dashed to her arms and back to his hands, "I protected mom and Jared as much as I could. I prayed a lot, I guess. More so than any other teenage kid. I don't know, it just didn't stop until he died a few years ago. Liver thing, I can't remember caring much."
She couldn't take it anymore. Temperance placed her hand over his and lightly wrapped them together, "Thank you for telling me. But that doesn't change my mind. I've seen what you feel. I've seen what you do for people who need help, how you're a protector. How you've saved my life on numerous occasions where my stubbornness put me in danger. And I know you, Booth. I know you. You were angry at me, at the world, I don't know but you are not your father. Scientifically, everybody is unique."
He had to kiss her. Kiss her lips. Kiss her, kiss her. He couldn't. "Yeah, good old reliable science." He could feel her pulse beneath his palm, her tiny wrists that must be sore, "Let me help you..." he murmured as their hands disconnected. Booth rummaged through his freezer, grabbing a dish towel and wrapping ice inside it. Kneeling before her, he placed it gently on the abrasions on her arms, alternating. She stared at him. Intense. Searing. Mesmerising. That feeling of soothing cool, spreading through her body, cut by heat. "Feel better?"
"Yeah..." she placed her hand on his shoulder and felt his muscle. "The ice constricts the nerves endings and-"
"Numbs the pain." He smiled, eyes darker, softer, "I know, Bones."
She wanted him, that primal part of her brain that told her to lean and kiss his soft lips. "I want to tell you something but, promise me, you won't turn into Alpha Male, hero protector on me? It's not what I want."
He kept icing her arms, his brows crossed in confusion, "Yeah, course. I promise."
She swallowed and breathed in as the ice chilled her flesh, "When I was fifteen, the foster care system was radically different to how it is now. Very different. There were no such things as background checks, not legitimate ones and it was easy to fool the government and take in foster children for the money allowances. So, the families I was housed with weren't all good." She shifted, almost terrified at what she'd feel, "I was in three violent homes, out of eleven in total." Brennan noted him stiffening but he kept his gentle ministrations on her arms, "Two were nothing really, just the occasional slap or belting for insolence, nothing-"
"Not nothing, Bones. It's never nothing."
She laughed lightly and smiled, "It was okay, really, not a huge deal. But there was one home, the Markson's, which I went to, was a nightmare. Figuratively, of course. The woman was kind enough, very timid and afraid. You could see it in her body language as soon as look at her, Booth. I was scared for her and she was scared for me. They didn't have any other children but he was fired by his company two weeks after I got there. It wasn't much at first, the same as the others, a slap or two, but then he got worse. He lay around the house, out of work, I was basically their only source of income and that wasn't much. Once, he caught me, looking at pictures of my parents and Russ, real late night, going on two in the morning." Her eyes became distant, it's nothing, I swear, please, I'm sorry, "He tore them up, in front of my eyes and dumped them in the trash."
Booth wanted to kill this guy already. But there was something in her face, how she was holding herself that told him she couldn't be cut off any more. He listened intently, carefully padding the ice on her arms. She was so fragile, really, but so strong. Amazing.
She stared at his neck, wondering what to phrase her words, shape them, as, "It was very painful, almost physically so. I hit him, punched him square in the jaw." She caught his proud smile, "But I was only fifteen, no real power behind it. He barely flinched. That rage, he beat me with, if you understand. Backhandedly slapped my face, split my lip. Slammed me against the bedroom wall and screamed, 'you'll never see them again. Why would they want a garbage kid? Pathetic.' And my head went blank. I must have collapsed on the floor because then I remember him kicking my ribs, felt one break and it was hard to breathe. Next morning, his wife, Karen, she had wrapped my torso in bandages, I'd guess she had a lot of practice. I healed slowly, then he couldn't stop himself. Two months, I was there. Living with them, I'd never been so relieved to get out."
"God." Was all he could say, mesmerised by her tears, by her eyes, by her bruises, "I'm sorry that happened to you."
"Yeah. But it was never as bad as yours Booth. He wasn't my father, wasn't my mother or my brother. I just wanted you to know, that... I know."
Booth knelt still, before her. He dumped the ice on the table behind him and pulled her into a tight hug, wrapping his arms around her, "We're safe. I'll never hurt you again, I promise. Temperance..." she had encased him in her body, clinging to him for every bit of strength she had left. "Thank you."
Tears streamed silently down her face, "Booth, I... you know, about the stories? About that TV show?"
He broke back a little, to cup her face delicately, "Yeah, I remember, about the roles?"
She nodded, "I think we're both the protectors, you know? I shelter the dead and you protect the living."
He smiled and run his fingers through her hair, placing a small, daring kiss on her lips, "No, Bones, I protect us."
God, when he'd kissed her, that split second, everything else was inconsequential. Inanimate. She wanted it again. Now. Brennan stared at his lips and tasted him, frightened, "I..."
"Don't. I'm not leaving you."
She grinned and pulled his head back in, their lips fastening, "You're not going anywhere."
He pulled away slightly, "Bones, I-"
Well, what did you think, guys, did I get it right? All you gotta do it click that little green button and leave me some nice words :D THANK YOU!