This is my tag for tonight's episode, The Doctor In The Den. It's getting to be a habit, doing these tags. I just want the stories to keep going and going. And, of course, there wasn't NEARLY enough BB for me tonight! I suggest watching the episode before you read this - it'll make more sense. And yes, apparently the angst is getting to be a habit, as well. But it's not all doom and gloom - I promise!


"Michelle is settling in…but it's hard for her. So much has happened in such a small amount of time. Booth, she's barely even had a chance to mourn her father. And then there's counseling - she'll have to have counseling to help her come to terms with all the upheaval…"

"It's going to be difficult at first, Cam. You have to give her time." Stretching my legs out in front of me, I watched her as she slowly paced the floor. Worry was all over her, in her tense posture, in the hands clenched tightly together. This was a tense Cam I hadn't seen in several years, if not longer. "There'll be good days and bad days. But you guys have a connection, a real connection. You said yourself, she was just lying before. She remembers you, she knows you love her. She has memories of you together. Just…you need to give her, and yourself, some time. And you need to be there for her." I rose, walking to her and taking her hands, working the rigidity out of them the best I could. "Speaking of which, why are you still here? Shouldn't you be home? I thought you took some time off to help get her settled."

She nodded wearily. "She's with social services now; they're conducting a final interview, making sure that this is what she wants. My presence was forbidden, so as not to pressure her." Her chocolate eyes flicked up to me. "I'm scared, Booth."

"Of course you are. You'd be a fool if you weren't scared."

"No, I'm really scared. I wasn't going to do this, not at first. What if this was the wrong decision? What if I can't cut it, can't raise her the way she should be raised? I don't have any experience with this. What if I get it all wrong?"

She was really scared. Scared-enough-to-run scared. I grabbed her shoulders and shook her. When she's like this, sometimes that's the only thing that works. "Cam, calm down, for heaven's sake. Why are you freaking this badly now? Didn't you think of all of this before, when you were deciding what you were going to do?"

She shuddered, her eyes nearly rolling in her head. "I – I did – sort of – but I wasn't going to do anything. But then we talked, and it seemed so right…"

"Wait, what? Who talked? You discussed this with someone? Who?" She was reluctant to say, I could see it plain as anything. Maybe because I was starting to get angry. Angry with her for making a choice without thinking it through thoroughly. Angry that a young girl's future was hanging in the balance, albeit unbeknown to her. And angry at whomever'd been filling Cam's head with ideas that hadn't been there before. "Was it Angela?"

"No, no. Booth, it doesn't matter."

"If it doesn't matter, then you won't mind telling me."

"She was just trying to help. I made up my mind all by myself, Seeley. Don't fly off the handle. And stop interrogating me."

She was beginning to calm down. My irritation dimmed somewhat, but didn't disappear completely. We weren't involved anymore, but she was still a friend, and it was hard to see her like this, so scared and unsure. With difficulty, I reined it in. Maybe if I joked with her, I could get her mind off her worries. I smiled and laughed. "I'm not interrogating you, but Jesus, Cam. You can't fix everyone's neurotic hang-ups. Since when do you pander to someone else's neediness? It was your sister – it had to be your sister. Where does Felicia get off, sticking her nose in like this?" It had to be Felicia. I couldn't think of anyone else who'd have stepped in like this. I'd always been able to make her laugh about her sister, so maybe...

Rather than answer me, she turned toward the door, blanching visibly. "Dr. Brennan."

She stood there like a wraith, as pale as I'd ever seen her, the case file held out in front of her. Even her lips were pale, leeched of their color and fullness. I automatically took a step forward in concerned response, because she looked about as bad as I'd ever seen her. "Bones, are you okay? What's wrong?" No answer. Her eyes darted to me and just as quickly away. She'd looked like this when she'd found out about that scum Vince McVicar. What the hell was wrong with her?

Just when I began to wonder if she might simply crumple on the floor, she anticipated my second advance and snapped into motion, gently handing the folder to Cam. "I took the liberty of typing up all the reports, including yours, Dr. Saroyan. I hope you don't mind. I thought it might…hurt less." Again those haunted eyes slashed over to me. Her color was returning, the sharp slashes of crimson in her cheeks looking almost painful. She focused solely on Cam as she began to back away and out of the room. "I have to leave now. I have a seminar, over at Georgetown, I'm actually late, I have to go now…"

Quick as a flash she was gone from the doorway, and too late I registered that she'd headed out without her coat or briefcase. Now I was sure something was wrong. I knew damn well that there was no seminar. I knew about all of her engagements, and there was nothing tonight. I took two large steps toward the door and suddenly Cam's petite frame was blocking my way. "Cam, move, something's wrong, I have to find Bones."

"Damn right something's wrong with Dr. Brennan – she's the person I talked to, Seeley."

No. No fucking way. I did not just blurt that out in front of her. I'd only been joking, but I knew her – for all her tough, sandpaper exterior, she was still painfully raw about what she'd gone through when she was younger. It wouldn't ever be a joke to her. With barely a glance at Cam I was out the door after her. She'd gone in the direction of the street, and I sprinted down the hall, but she was nowhere to be seen. Damn it. No one could disappear like Bones. She sometimes seemed to simply cease to exist, she was gone so completely. She'd done it a couple of times since I'd known her, but I'd always eventually found her. I had to find her now, had to somehow wrench my favorite sneakers out of my mouth. They tasted like shit.

"Bones!" Leaving the building, I scanned the area but didn't see her anywhere. She couldn't have gotten far; somehow I doubted that she'd remained in the building. Following my instincts, I ran out onto the Mall, straining to catch a glimpse of her in the dark. The voice in my head was telling me I was an asshole, and that there was no way I was going to find her. I ignored it – I usually did - and kept jogging across the vast expanse of grass. At this time of night, there were far fewer people milling about; a small blessing. Even so, my chances of spotting her were slim. If she was huddled down somewhere –

But she wasn't. I was halfway to the Washington Monument when her ramrod–stiff silhouette became discernible among the deep shadows. I might have missed her if she hadn't had her arms wrapped tightly around her body. She stood as straight and lonely as the monument itself. It was a stance I'd seen on her only once or twice before. The thought that I'd caused it this time made my stomach clench. I slowed down, approaching her quietly. But I guess I'd become pretty predictable over the years, because she must have been expecting this. She flinched away from me before I'd even spoken. But I still had to try. "Bones…"

"Go away, Booth. I don't want to talk to you." Her shoulders managed to somehow pull even tighter together. God, I really was an asshole – that voice in my head had been right about that, at least.

"Bones – I'm sorry. It was just a joke, I was trying to help Cam –" Before I could finish explaining she rounded on me, her eyes burning and dry and fists clenched. I almost took a step in retreat, she was so furious.

I know what you all think of me, Booth, there's no need to explain, and I don't want to hear it anyway. I promise not to stick my nose in again." She turned away, but whirled quickly back. "I know that I have problems, issues – what did you call it? Neurotic hang-ups? I'm a mess, Booth. You should stay away from me." Her tone was shockingly bitter; the stored-up anguish a tangible thing that reached out and slapped at me.

"Bones, that wasn't what I meant..." But it was like trying to stop a tornado. I'd have to ride it out, and try to clean up the destruction afterward.

"Wasn't it? I know how that little girl feels, Booth. I know exactly how she feels. I was that little girl. Only nobody came for me. Nobody showed up and said they wanted me when my mother and father left, when…" Her breath was hitching now, and tears were finally beginning to fall. "Even Russ didn't want me, not then. You have no idea what that's like, to know that there isn't anyone for you. That you're alone, that – that no one loves you enough." Teeth gritted, she took one menacing step forward. "If I can save one child from that experience, then I will do whatever it takes to ensure a good outcome. Michelle is sixteen. Cam will only be responsible for her for two years – but it will make a lifetime's difference to Michelle. She'll have someone to whom she can tell her secrets, someone to give her guidance, someone to love her." She swallowed convulsively. "Someone to run in the park with her."

Raw didn't even begin to describe the gaping wound my partner was baring to me. I'd known it was there, but I'd had no idea it was still so devastating. My throat was aching in sympathy, sympathy I knew I couldn't express. She wouldn't accept it. "Bones. I'm so sorry. I was – Cam, she was scared, because it's a big deal, it's important, and I was just trying to make her laugh. But I shouldn't have said what I did; I should've thought before I spoke, before…"

"Before you hurt your damaged partner's feelings? Don't worry about me, I'll be fine. I always am." Her tear-streaked cheeks were illuminated for a moment by the glow from the monument's floodlights. But as she turned to face me, the shadows took her again, and I was unable to see her face.

I began to walk toward her. This had to stop, I had to stop it. "You don't get it, Bones. I don't think you're damaged, or a mess. I think you're amazing." I saw I had her attention, and pressed my advantage. "The absolute worst hand was dealt to you when you were young, but you didn't let it break you, or take your strength." She was still listening. I couldn't see her face, but I could read her body. Without warning, her shoulders slumped and a wretched sob burst from her. I was by her side then; nothing could have kept me from her. "Bones, don't…" She just stood there, allowing me to hold her close while she cried, until at last she found a semblance of her voice.

"I didn't make it, Booth. What happened to me - it broke me completely, broke me into little pieces. I'm not the person I was before it happened. I'll never be that person again."

She was mourning for who she'd been, mourning the loss of that child who'd been left behind in every possible way. "Okay, Bones, you know what? Maybe you were broken. But you found all the pieces, and you gathered them, and you carefully glued them all back into place, just like you do with your bones. With care and love. If you're never that person again? You're different now than you ever were then. Different, but just as good." I swiped my fingers down her cheeks, stroking away the worst of the tears until she looked questioningly at me. "The person you are now? This person, right here," I stated firmly, tightening my grip on her, "is wonderful. This person catches murderers, and helps children avoid what happened to her. This person is a good friend and an even better partner. I believe those things with all my heart. The question is - do you believe those things?"

She was silent for a long time, thinking through what I'd said. I would've held my breath, but I couldn't hold it for that long. At last, she glanced quietly up at me, a glimmer of her usual spirit on her face. "I guess I do."

I nudged her hip playfully, hoping the worst was past, and wanting desperately to see her smile. "You guess? That's it, just a guess?" I nudged her again, and at last, at long last, that tentative, beautiful smile finally appeared. Thank God.

"Yes. I do believe them." Almost shyly, she looked at me. "I'm sorry about before, Booth."

I'd messed up, just about as badly as I could, and she was apologizing to me. Shaking off the sudden jab of pain in my heart, I made a big show of waving her off, making a face in the process. "Nah, don't worry about it – I'm the one with the size elevens in his yap." I stared at her in amazement when a small, almost inaudible laugh escaped her lips. "You just giggled."

"No, I didn't." Stubbornly denying it, she nonetheless allowed me to tug her back toward the Jeffersonian. Somehow, the distance seemed twice as long as it had when I was looking for her. It was a wonderful thing. I found myself wishing it was four times as long.

"Yes, you did. Don't pretend you didn't giggle. It was cute." An idea flared slowly in my head, moving through me until my heart was pounding madly. I began to walk faster and faster, keeping her hand clutched in mine, until finally she noticed.

"Booth, what are you doing? Slow down!" Instead of listening to her, I began to jog, pulling her with me. "Booth?"

I stopped abruptly. Looking at the vast expanse of grass spread out before us under the starry sky, I smiled down into her questioning eyes. "Bones," I whispered softly, "Run with me." I started loping slowly, increasing my speed until I was sprinting across the field. She kept pace with me, stride for stride, her hand gripping mine tightly as the speed of our passing stirred the air. Our laughter broke the silence and echoed back to us across the lawn. She was with me again. Everything would be alright.

Okay. I think now I might be able to survive until the next episode of Bones. Maybe...

I hope you enjoyed this - if you're like me, there can never be enough BB!