Rating: K (General)
Beta: Mucho thanks to SeattleCSIFan for going over this for me. As always, it was greatly appreciated!
Disclaimer: I don't own Bones. I just really like the show and am borrowing the characters.
Summary: Sweets visits Booth in the hospital and has a conversation with Dr. Brennan. (One Shot)
X X X
Standing in the open doorway, FBI Psychologist Dr. Lance Sweets surveyed FBI Agent Seeley Booth's hospital room. And its occupants.
Dr. Brennan sat with her back to him, holding Booth's hand as the man slept. Two days ago, the agent had awoken, asked Dr. Brennan who she was, and promptly fallen asleep once again. This had continued to happen every few hours. Twice, Sweets had been there to see it occur.
The first time, he'd been taken so by surprise that he hadn't even considered looking at Dr. Brennan. He'd watched the second time, though. While her face had remained neutral, there'd been a flicker of pain across her eyes. It had been so fleeting that Sweets waffled on whether or not he'd really seen it.
"He's not awake," she murmured, with her back still to the door, making Sweets stand up straight from where he'd propped his shoulder against the door frame. She continued, "He's been asleep for six or seven hours now."
"The sleep's good for him," Sweets remarked, tentatively stepping into the room. Most who wandered in didn't stay long; feeling like intruders they tended to wander out rapidly. Concerned at her pallor, he said, "You should really try to eat and sleep."
"I'm fine," she replied, her voice a low monotone.
"May I?" he asked from the foot of the bed, pointing to the chair on Booth's other side.
"Of course," she responded, again her voice barely above a whisper.
Easing into the hard chair, Sweets concentrated on Booth's face. The panic everyone had felt during the surgery had ebbed; Booth would live. Of course everyone was concerned about the memory loss, but Sweets couldn't help but feel glad over the outcome. The tumor hadn't been malignant.
Sitting directly across from Dr. Brennan, he stole occasional glances, making sure she didn't notice. The dark smudges under her eyes clashed against her pale skin, giving evidence to her dedication to the man in the bed. But at what cost?
"You're staring," Dr. Brennan murmured, returning the young man's gaze.
His cheeks grew warm and Sweets said, "Sorry," before dropping his eyes back to the FBI agent. And to the hands entwined on the opposite side of the bed.
Even at the lowest moments, Agent Booth and Dr. Brennan were a team – a partnership forged in time and tempered through dedication. Anyone within ten feet of the duo could just about taste the powerful current that ran between them.
Sweets' thoughts were drawn back to something Dr. Gordon Wyatt had told him not long ago. While Sweets had argued that the partners deferred their attraction for the sake of their positions as agent and anthropologist, Dr. Wyatt had smiles and told the young psychologist he was wrong. In fact, the older man explained to Sweets that one of them was acutely aware of the constant attraction, and fought it daily – a statement Sweets had nearly brushed off.
Raising his eyes to meet Dr. Brennan's once again, he steeled himself and gently said, "Some day you need to tell him."
"What are you talking about?" she asked, her voice rising with annoyance.
"You should tell him how you feel," Sweets continued, gesturing to the man that lay prone between them. He didn't know if it was good or bad, but he definitely had Dr. Brennan's attention – and she was glaring at him.
"What I feel is really none of your business," she muttered petulantly, and went back to concentrating on Booth's face.
"I know, I know," Sweets replied, feeling more than a little petulant himself. "However, it's not really fair for either of you if you continue to hold yourself back. He deserves to know that you love him."
"I never said that," she shot back. The quick denial didn't faze Sweets. He'd expected the reaction. The sudden flush to her cheeks and the way her voice pitched slightly upward gave him all the insight he needed, though. He hadn't been wrong. Heck, it was nice to have the confirmation. When her eyes narrowed, he remembered just how easily she could read him, and winced.
"We are not your experiment anymore, Dr. Sweets. If you continue to treat us as such, then I'll have to ask you to leave."
She had a point. Most of the time, he did treat them like a grand experiment – something to study. What psychologist wouldn't? They were a fascinating pair. However, irritation from her comment slid over him. It really was annoying to constantly be treated like a child, and his lips fell into a frown before he said, "You know what? I consider Agent Booth a friend. If you have a problem with that, too bad."
Then he waited. One did not piss off Dr. Brennan and expect to come out unscathed. So when she sighed and her face turned pale once again, he felt like a complete ass.
"Can I ask you one thing?" he hesitantly asked, and waited until her eyes flicked up to meet his. Taking this as a sign of assent, he said, "You've been friends for several years. Why won't you tell him?"
The last thing he expected to hear was quiet defeat.
"I can't give him what he needs. I can't protect him," she stated. "He protects me, but I can't protect him."
Confusion showed on Sweets' brow, when he scrunched his forehead and leaned forward. "What do you mean?" he asked. "What can't you protect him from?"
"Me," she replied. "I can't protect him from loving me, and I can't guarantee I won't hurt him."
Leaning back in his chair, Sweets just stared at Dr. Brennan in wonder. When Dr. Wyatt had given him insight into the pair's relationship, Sweets' first instinct had been to look at Booth – the typical alpha male. It hadn't been until he'd really watched them that he'd seen the signs – the way she held herself constantly check, the way she prodded Booth into accepting new things, the way she propped up his insecurities, and the way she let him play the part of hero even though it went against her nature. Little things Sweets had witnessed over time coalesced until he could see what Dr. Wyatt had seen.
"People come and go in our lives," Sweets solemnly stated. "Parents, siblings, lovers, friends… they can be transient. Sometimes they come back and sometimes they don't."
Dr. Brennan turned her face away from Sweets to stare intently at the man in the bed. Studying her profile, Sweets noted the way she rarely so much as blinked; as if willing herself into Booth. "Dr. Brennan, if you live your life in a bubble, you're not protecting him. In fact, you might end up hurting him," Sweets said.
When Dr. Brennan didn't reply, he rose. At times, she pissed him off; at others she merely perplexed him, like right now. As he slowly made his way around the bed toward the door, he leaned down and whispered, "I think you both deserve better."
He'd barely reached the door when she voiced her greatest fear, "What if he never remembers?"
It ached that Booth might not recall anything – that the amnesia could be permanent. But Sweets had faith, and so replied, "Then remind him. It can't be that hard. Most might think of you as the brains of the relationship, but they'd wrong."
She finally turned her head to stare at the young psychologist, and asked, "Then what am I?"
Feeling his stomach clench at the moisture in her eyes, Sweets smiled softly and replied, "The heart."