Author's Notes: This is set sometime in season three. Brennan holds all of her pain inside herself with no one to confide in. What really happened when Brennan was in the foster care system and what happens when Booth finds out? One-shot. Complete and total angst and hurt/comfort relation going on with a side of romance. Hope you like.

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Sick Days

I sat in my office in a dazed state of mind. The flashbacks of this day fifteen years in the past always come back to me on this particular day and I can't explain why. For the first time, it's impossible for me to rationalize what happened to me on that cold, raining night. I can't even find it in myself to compartmentalize. This is the only day that I ever request off work and being as I work ten hours a day, seven days a week, Cam is happy that I actually want a day off and Angela thinks I'm being 'normal' for once. If only they knew how I plan to spend today.

I know crying isn't rational, but this is the one time I can never help it. The pain is almost too excruciating to bear. I'll probably crawl out of bed, weary and cotton-mouthed, by noon. Then I crawl into the shower and turn on the water as hot as it'll go. I curl up into a ball on the floor and just let the water batter against me, battling the cold that I can't seem to shake. After an hour I'll wander into the kitchen and make myself a cup of tea. I never eat on this day without vomiting. This is the only day that I ever feel the urge to vomit. I almost think that it's reasonable now. I never did before. I do now. The rest of the day I lay on the couch thinking of what I could've done differently so it would never have happened. There are so many things that could've been.

At night, I try to remove any hint of weakness that might be left over. No one can ever see me like this. No one could ever understand the pain that I'm still in even to this day.

I'm still in bed, my usually neon blue eyes are dark and dreary as the tears blur my vision to beyond distinguishing shapes.

"No," I say aloud to the walls, "no one can ever see this."

***

"Hey, Squints!" Booth called into Cam's office where Angela, Hodgins, Zack and Cam were all gathered around a body. "Where's Bones?" he asked.

"Didn't she tell you? She took the day off today." Cam said while she removed one of the lungs from the rotting corpse.

Booth looked at Cam as though she spoke a foreign language. "I'm sorry, did I just hear you speak the words 'Brennan' and 'day off' in the same sentence? As in Temperance Brennan?" he asked.

"Yeah." Cam replied.

"This is the one day a year that she takes off. It's not like Cam can tell her no when she practically lives here." Angela defended her friend's decision to get out of the lab for a day.

"I agree, I was just wondering if she wanted to get lunch. I'll…talk to you guys later." Booth said awkwardly as he walked out of the lab and back to his car. He decided he'd just swing by her place and take her out to the diner.

He called her cell phone when he was en route, but she didn't have it turned on. This was weird. Bones had never dropped off the face of the Earth before without being in a complete slump. Booth considered his odds and decided to call Wung Foo's instead. Take-out seemed like the much better option.

***

Someone knocking on my front door was the first indication that I should pull myself together and scrub my face of the tears that had fallen down my cheeks. There was only one person that it could possibly be. The one man, it seemed like, who couldn't eat a meal alone. I looked at the clock and it was already one o' clock. I groaned as I hid the proof as well as I could while a certain partner continued trying to bang down my door. I finally got to answer it and who else should be there but my partner.

My know-all-see-all partner, Booth.

"Bones, you look like hell." he said softly. He walked into my apartment with armfuls of Thai food.

"I'm not hungry, Booth." I explain. My voice is gruff and dry.

"Jeez, Bones, you sound terrible. You coming down with a cold or something?" he asked. He looked at me like I grew a second head and like I was the most important thing in the world all at once. It made my stomach quiver.

"No, Booth, I'm fine. I don't wanna talk about it." I said sadly. I went to grab some plates and silverware, all the while feeling his gaze on my blanket-covered back.

"Alright, Brennan, if there was ever a time where I needed you at your toughest, it's right now." I shouted silently inside my head, "You cannot, I repeat CAN NOT allow Booth to think that there's something wrong with you. Knowing his alpha-male quirks, if he finds out something's not right he's going to wanna correct the problem. So there is no problem. It's just you and Booth eating Thai food like always." My speech did little to lift my heavy spirits.

We ate mostly in silence with me actually enjoying his presence. Any other time on this day every year, I kept to myself by shutting all the curtains, unplugging the phones, and wallowed in my self-pity. But with Booth there, not asking any questions as to my odd behavior, made me feel a little deep inside my tormented soul.

That is, of course, until I went racing for the bathroom. Damn it, I muttered. Just when I thought this day was looking up a little, he gets to see the two things I never wanted him to see: me in this fragile, semi-catatonic state, and me vomiting.

To my surprise, he didn't have a smart remark or bringing up the fact that I said I never vomit a few months back. Total silence as he held my hair up and ran his hand around in soothing circles on my back until I'd completed emptying out my intestines. This was my break down, the undoing of everything that I'd been keeping hidden inside from everyone for so long. I choked on a sob while trying to muffle it with my hand. It didn't escape his ears or the sight of the shake that came with it. Booth sat against the wall and pulled me into his arms, providing as much comfort as he could.

I cried openly now, feeling the hot tears streaming down my face and disappear into his t-shirt. He rubbed my arms gently, soothing the tension that had built up there. This only made me cry harder, feeling one of the few people that actually seemed to care about me trying to make me feel better. Booth has done so much for me. From saving me from a psychotic murder with a pack of cannibalistic dogs to just recently pulling me from our rolled, undercover taxi-cab, Booth had always stuck by me through…I'm told the phrase is called 'through thick and thin', which metaphorically makes sense.

He seemed unfazed by my sobbing fit, simply holding me until my saline ducts dried out. Even when I was done crying, there wasn't a chance in hell that I was feeling better. I just clung to him an muttered incoherently until he spoke.

"You wanna tell me what's got you so worked up?" he whispered. There was no reason to speak any louder.

"No, it doesn't matter." I tried to get up and move out of his arms, but he wouldn't budge.

"Temperance, I know you. Things don't get to you very often. What makes this one different then the other times?" he stroked my back like he might a soft kitten.

I shivered. I wasn't really prepared to tell Booth the extent of what happened to me in the foster system, wasn't ready to tell ANYONE what had happened in that house from hell. But then I thought about what Angela had told me about things actually hurting less if you told someone that you trusted and who swore not to say anything about it. It sounded like a burden might be lifted from my shoulders.

I shifted and closed my eyes, "What I'm about to tell you absolutely never, ever leaves this room. No one else knows about this. Cross your heart and take it to your grave?"

He changed positions slightly, as if adjusting to accept the weight of my words along with the weight of my body that he held so snugly. I could hear the smile in his voice as he said, "It's 'cross your heart and hope to die', Bones. And yes, I'll take it to my grave if you want me to."

"I do," I said groggily as I flashed back to that dark night all those years back.

"It was my seventeenth birthday. My foster family at the time had tried to make it really nice, make me forget about what had happened. But that night, I started thinking about my mom and dad…where they were, whether or not they were alive." I shakily sighed. "It was about one in the morning and someone was knocking on my door. I told them to come in, not thinking any better than I should've. It was my foster father, and he asked if I had a nice birthday. I…" fresh tears sprang to my eyes, "I said yes it was and thank you, and he asked if I wanted it to be better." I choked a few sobs. "I didn't even know what happened until he left and I was hurting everywhere. Once I could move, I packed up what I could and ran away. Child Protective Services found me and I told them, but the word of a foster kid doesn't get you very far. I still blame myself."

My sobs returned full force. Booth had pulled me closer until I sat on his thigh and buried my face in his neck. I noticed the rise in blood pressure; I could feel it racing through his carotid artery. His hand also clenched subconsciously around my waist while the others soothing strokes became quicker and a little rougher. Booth was angry, and some miniscule part of me liked the fact that his alpha-male protected me like the alpha-female. When I'd stopped crying for the third time that day, he pressed his lips to my ear and whispered.

"What's his name?" Booth asked, his voice filled with venom and hatred.

"I decline to tell you." I said clear and simple.

He tried to maintain control, "Bones, you know I'll find out one way or another so tell me, what's his name?" he drew out the last three words like he were summoning the devil, harsh and stretched.

"Booth, I know you feel the need to protect me, but…" I didn't know why I'd started that sentence, and he didn't give me an out. It didn't matter anymore, nothing mattered. The only thing that I wanted in that second was to finish that sentence. "but I don't want a defender, I want something more than that, if you know what I mean."

I unwrapped myself from him and stared at the tile. I felt his eyes, brown blackened out by rage, watching my face like he'd turned to stone. He cleared his throat before he joined her gaze on the beige tile floor.

"What does 'something more' entail?" he croaked out. His mouth had apparently ran dry.

"I think that it's the same 'something more' that you drew the line against." I replied deftly. What the hell I was thinking at this point I don't think will ever be completely clear.

"What do you mean? Like…you know…" Booth made hand gestures to illustrate his words without saying them.

"No, Booth, I don't mean as in sex. I-I've denied myself a lot of things before Booth, but the biggest one was to be able to let people into my life. Angela said that if I'd just open myself up to the possibility of getting hurt, than a lot of happiness can come from it. I realized that…I love you, Booth, and not just as a friend."

My words, which I surprised myself with, seemed to light up his face as he pulled me close again. "Bones, I've loved you for as long as I can remember. I can't believe that you feel the same way."

"Booth, that would mean that you can't remember anything beyond two and a half years ago, which I'm sure…" He cut me off with the most mind-blowing kiss I'd ever received. He was a very practiced kisser, strong while at the same time being so gentle. When he released my lips, for the first time in my life, I was speechless. I liked the feeling. I nuzzled myself into him once again and I was content and…happy.

*-Epilogue-*

A month went by. For reasons I could hardly explain, I was deliriously happy. There were only three nights that Booth and I'd spent apart and those were the last few; he'd been on a trip to Chicago for to train some F.B.I agents over at their branch. I was so happy to see him when I went to the airport to pick him up that I raced to him and basically threw myself at him. He simply laughed as he caught me halfway and said 'Miss me much?'.

I returned the favor with a smile. I dropped him off at his apartment and kissed him a good-bye and a 'see you tonight'. I went back to the lab and was flagged down by my team in Cam's office. I peaked around the corner to see what all the fuss was about, when I saw them huddled around a television that was set to CNN. The report was read off.

"Police are still searching for this man, age 59. We haven't found anyone that has provided a name yet, but this man disappeared three days ago from a slummy apartment complex in a bad part of Chicago and we don't know if foul play is suspected yet. Back over to you in the studio."

I stood there, as frozen as a statue. The architecture of the bones was the same as that of her attacker nearly fifteen years ago. I knew, after being around us for the last two years, there's only one person that could probably get away with the perfect crime and wouldn't be caught. I turned and headed towards my office.

When I got there, who else would be there waiting for me with a long-stemmed red rose. I surprised myself by not feeling any anger, distress, or indifference. I know that he would've made sure that no one ever found out what happened to the wretched man that had done so much damage to my mind.

"He was invisible to begin with, Bones, I just cleaned up the mess." Booth stated simply. I searched his eyes. There was no remorse and no regret. I was glad.

I wrapped my arms around his neck and leaned my forehead into his. "I probably would've done the exact same thing." I was completely truthful in my confession. I trusted him, or as others called it, I had faith in him.

Cam knocked on my doorframe, looking saddened by either breaking up the cute moment, or not having her camera to freeze the image. She was amazingly fine with the pair's union, actually ecstatic that she could collect on the betting pool. "We've got a dead body to examine." she stated with a smile.

I nodded and grabbed my lab coat. Yes, everything would go back to normal except for one thing. The only thing that I could see changing from all of this was the reason that I took sick days.

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I.e. none of it was based on fact, show or otherwise. My first angst…how'd I do? Click the green button and please let me know.