Author's Note: Sort of a companion piece to the first oneshot. All other oneshots in this entry will probably be more separate.
Speculation on S5 premiere, I guess. But callbacks to S3 and S4 finales. I'm in a very dramatic mood, apparently. Still, not really pleased with the way this came out. Could just be me being an annoying perfectionist again though.
"You didn't remember me," she says.
And he can't ignore the accusing edge to her tone.
"You couldn't stop talking about that stupid dream, and didn't remember me."
"The dream you wrote, you mean?" he fires back. Frustration curls in overbearing sinews across his broad frame, constricting his lungs, his ability to think.
Discomfort burrows into his chest, despair's nasty claws penetrating like thorns in him.
This isn't fair, a voice in his head whispers. He tries to ignore it. She's right, she's right, she's right, he fires back. She's a genius—isn't she always?
She's not finished though, and is laying it on thick. He'd been waiting for her to just talk to him, begging for it, and now here it is. He just wishes she'd stop hurting him. She's a writer, and very articulate and brilliant with words. And he knows the sharpness her tongue can carry, he just doesn't like it when he's on the receiving end.
All this blameworthiness and responsibility has been getting to him lately. It's affecting his job performance, his mood, his life. He's exhausted all the time—she'd been berating him for his apparent and unprofessional fatigue for days now—and that burgeoning weight he always carries on his shoulders has become almost unbearable.
He knows that how she'd usually express deep concern over his uncharacteristic lack of energy is overruled and forgotten because she won't stop being angry with him. Won't listen to him.
He knows he's hurt her, and that twists the knife in his gut already. But, dammit, he's tired of accepting the blame all the time. He can't do it anymore, can't focus on anything important because he's been so miserable all the time. Wracked with self-loathing. That stupid dream—she's right about that—warped his mind and identity for God's sake. He's not sure who he is anymore either.
How is anyone supposed to live like that?
"It isn't my fault," he hears a voice say, and it sounds suspiciously like his own.
She stops talking, and he frowns. He'd been so glad she'd been opening up to him—so relieved—but it kills him when she does it like this. She blinks. "What?"
It must have been him talking then.
"It isn't my fault," he repeats quietly. Terrified of pushing her away, but loathe to be the brunt of her frustration anymore.
She stares at him, abruptly still, lost and hurting expression marring her lovely face like a sad affliction. "You forgot me," she repeats in a faint whisper. Emotion clogs his throat. He wants to hold her, hug her, make it better. But he can't if she won't listen.
"I'm sorry for that, so… sorry," he tells her, every line of his face dedicated to that apology. He can't begin to imagine the way that would destroy her, after all they've edured together, after everything she's shared with him. It mortifies him that his mind could possibly lose sight of her in any way. He takes a careful step forward. "But it wasn't my fault that I did, and you know that. You heard what the doctor said, and you know how poorly I respond to medication. It wasn't my fault," he has to say it again, a barely-there assertion. Something he's been wanting to say for so long, not just to her, but to everyone, to no one. Some nights he'd wanted to curl in on himself on the floor of his home, and repeat that for hours. For minutes, for anything. He'd never do so, of course. That just wasn't who he was, who he was taught to be.
But the desire was always tempting.
His priest had always told him it wasn't natural for one single man to carry all that burden alone aside from Christ. Humans, by nature, weren't fitted to bear such incredible weight, such suffering.
And he can't do it anymore. He wants to be able to breathe again. And she's always helped him with that. He needs them to be okay again.
He can't be that depressed boy anymore contemplating the worth of his life in the shelter of his garage. Blamed for everything by his father and others for their own troubles. He can't.
He has a son. He has this beautiful woman—whatever she is to him. He doesn't know, but he's certain that he needs her in his life in any form that's available. He'll take it all, or as little as she's willing to offer up.
He's on a roll now, or finally tumbling down that perilous ledge like the single stone he feels he's become. He can stand up to her for almost anything but this, or it had been that way. He's never not enjoyed their banter, but when her barbs become sharper because of her own world turned on its axis, that's when things become more painful. He wants to help her, support her, when she doesn't know up from down. Not be the object of her frustrations. That's not how it's supposed to work.
Still, he knows she cares for him. That's the only explanation that makes sense. He dares to believe that maybe she might even feel something more.
"And it wasn't my fault you didn't know I wasn't dead, either."
There it is.
She blinks at the sharp turn of discussion, unprepared for that.
"We never talk about it," he despairs. "You thought I was dead for two weeks, and we never talk about it."
She's so still. He wants to reach out and touch her to make sure she's still there, still with him. He can't read her expression, her thoughts. He's been so out of it lately he isn't himself. He can't perform things like he used to. He wants that back. He wants to know her again.
"You should have called me." Her ever-ready response to each time he'd dared broach the subject. That had always signified the end of the discussion and, after a while, he'd finally stopped bringing it up.
But he couldn't do that anymore.
"Bones, I wasn't even conscious for most of that time. I was in a bed in the middle of nowhere with dozens of tubes coming out of me, recovering from a gunshot wound," he reminds almost hysterically. "I hardly even knew what the hell was going on with me, other than I was to be part of some national security operation. I didn't know why you weren't there with me, why Parker wasn't there.
When I could finally form half a sentence together, they explained things more clearly and I made a list. I couldn't just not call you, I couldn't call my son, my family, my friends. No one. The next day they told me everyone on that list was informed. I had no idea you didn't know."
She isn't saying anything, so he continues more gently.
"You think that if I'd had any idea you believed I was dead, I wouldn't have made every effort—moved mountains—to get into contact with you?" He lets the question permeate the air, lets it sink in. Because he wants to know her answer. He needs to know if that's what she'd really believed of him, thinks of him even now. That he could really do that to her without hating himself in the process.
She still hasn't said anything, and that same unreadable expression continues to assume her every vibrant feature. Her eyes are just as unreadable, but there's a film of wetness over their surface.
He really could kill Sweets. But dammit, he kind of liked the kid.
Still... he could.
His heart sinks at her lack of response, and his burdened shoulders sag even more. He shakes his head in defeat, expression torn. "Do you really think…?" He sighs, and looks away from her because he has to. He can't meet those eyes for once. "Don't you know me better than that?"
He couldn't stand it if she forgot who he was, too.
It's so quiet where they are, where they stand—just feet from each other. His throat catches, and he forcibly blinks away the unshed tears forming rebelliously in his eyes, blurring his vision. Not caring anymore how she sees him, but desperate to know what she thinks of him, he reaffirms their eye contact.
"Or do you still think I'm a loser?"
She inhales quietly a little as if struck. The profound intensity in her eyes now becomes almost too much. She'd been about to speak, but had been startled into silence by his words.
He suddenly won't look at her now, stung by her lack of response just like he'd been in the observatory room that day. Aching, appalled by his fear of her opinion of him, she steps over to him and takes his hand.
Tells him, finally, "You're not a loser."
As easy as a lightswitch, he can breathe again.