Title: Lessons In Anatomy
Author: Anna (bite_or_avoid)
Word Count: 4,313
Disclaimer: Despite what some people have promised, no one has bought them for me yet :-(
Spoilers: Anything up to and including the season finale is fair game.
They made a transverse linear incision, first. The epicranial aponeurosis was reflected, exposing the occipital bone. Burr holes in the midline and over the parietal bones completed the external preparations.
That was what the surgeon said, and then he removed the bone flap while singing along to Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds emanating from the OR speakers.
She hadn't realized an occipital craniotomy could be such a commonplace affair. But Dr. Jersik's movements were fluid and practiced, and he gave no indication that this was something that affected him personally.
It was strange, she thought, because even when she stood over a specimen there was never this much… detachment.
She wondered if that was the difference between working with dead people and live ones; with the dead, what was most important was already lost. With the living, complete disassociation was an absolute necessity. Otherwise, the burden of life being dependent on the slightest tremor of the hand would be far too great.
She couldn't force herself to look at his hands, fearful of the slightest tremor.
She had simply stared at the monitors, attempting to understand how everything Booth was (father, brother, partner, friend) could be contained in that winding mass of gelatinous tissue, the cheerful voices of the Beatles falling on deaf ears.
She never tells him any of this.
It's a couple of weeks by the time he feels well enough to joke about it.
"Hey, Bones? I never got to ask you. How'd you like watching them poke around in my skull? Gordon Gordon always said you wanted to be inside my head. Well, this was your chance to see the ol' Seeley brain in action."
She doesn't answer, choosing instead to savagely attack the salad before her with a fork.
Expression puzzled, he scratches his head. In the back, over the occiput, where the healing incision itches. His hair is still short. She thinks it's strange, and wonders if this is what he looked like those years ago when his duty was to eliminate monsters instead of simply incapacitate them.
"I'm sorry. That was a dumb way to bring it up. I just… I wanted to know how you feel. You never talk about it."
She sighs, putting the fork down.
"There's ostensibly nothing to talk about. The procedure was a success and, aside from the adverse reaction to the anesthetic, you have been recovering at an admirable rate. Your neurological function appears to be completely intact. Barring any unforeseen events, you will be cleared for duty within the next month."
"Yeah, I know all that Bones. What I don't know is what it was like for you watching them stick sharp objects into my noggin'."
"It was… unpleasant."
"Unpleasant? That's it?"
"I'd really rather not discuss it, Booth."
He appears a little hurt, but he doesn't ask again.
"Booth. Stop sulking."
"I'm not sulking."
"You are. It's not the end of the world. Just a small tear in the supraspinatus muscle. It should heal in a few weeks."
"Yeah, and in the meantime I'm stuck wearing this."
He gesticulates to the immobilizer in which his left arm resides.
"Be grateful it's your non-dominant arm, Booth."
"Gee, thanks Bones. That makes me feel a lot better about being stuck on desk duty."
She doesn't say anything, chewing on her bottom lip pensively. In this moment, she's very grateful for the way his muscles and bones knit together, the strength and power in the fibers of actin and myosin that is above the average for a man even of his size.
"I'm sorry you were hurt," she manages. She's not sure how to verbalize the rest.
She looks up at him sharply, brows drawn together in confusion. There is no teasing in his tone, no charm smile on his face. He is utterly serious, and it seems unnatural to her that his mouth be set in such a grim line. It is the same sort of sensation that overwhelms her when confronted with a disarticulated skeleton. Her fingers itch to reconstruct it back into its natural state. At this moment, her fingers itch to wipe the somber cast off of his face.
"I don't understand. You've been sitting here complaining for the past thirty minutes. You are unable to work in the field, cannot coach Parker's baseball team, and must refrain from participating in your hockey contest."
"Hockey tournament. And, I know. But it doesn't matter."
"How can it not matter? These are major disruptions to your life, to planned events that…"
"Because you're sitting there, arguing with me. If I tore every damn muscle in my shoulder until there was nothing holding it in place but skin, I would have hung on. Even if it took hours."
"That's physiologically impossible. The glenohumeral joint was not intended to withstand…"
"See. This is why it doesn't matter. What would I do without you correcting my every word?"
She falls quiet again. She remembers the look on his face, in the midst of the woods hours earlier, when the bed of leaves concealing a killer's pit gave way beneath her feet. The way his arm shot out on instinct to grab onto hers. The way she could practically hear the muscles tearing as his hand maintained an iron grasp on her wrist, as he hung on to her far longer than her startled brain could have ever thought possible.
Shut up, Bones. I'm not letting go. Do you hear me? I'm not letting go!!!
And he hadn't.
As if to reciprocate, her arm shoots out on instinct to grab onto his good hand. It's warm, and strong, and his fingers hesitate for only a second before curling around hers.
"I'm not sorry I got hurt, Bones."
He's still serious.
It's worth it.
We agree to understand that this is worth it.
"I'm actually rather pleased it happened. Your ego regarding your physical prowess has been quite inflated lately. Perhaps this incident will remind you to respect the boundaries a man of your age must reconcile himself to."
His answering grin is more dazzling than even she intended.
"Perhaps this incident will remind you not to charge on ahead of me. What part of 'follow my lead' did you not understand?"
"The part that chose to address me with such superior chauvinistic derision!"
"Hey, trained sniper, remember? I would have seen that trap a mile away…"
Morning finds them asleep on his couch, her head resting against his good shoulder.
The sternum, a long flat bone consisting of three parts, is located in the center of the thorax. It connects to the ribs via cartilage, forming the anterior section of the rib cage and encasing within itself the lungs, heart and major blood vessels.
Although it is not commonly used in anatomy, the term "gladiolus" has been used to describe the sternal body, the central of these three bones. The term comes from the sword-like shape of the sternal body, and fits with the commonly used term to describe the part of the sternum that rests superiorly, the "manubrium", which has the shape of a shield.
She is not prone to metaphorical connotation, not even in her (best-selling) writing, but Brennan finds this ancient Latin terminology to be quite appropriate.
Her head rests on his chest, the steady drumbeat of his heart her nighttime lullaby. The fingers that have held so many shattered fragments trace patterns on his skin, naming the muscles and bones while secretly relishing in the feel of him. They had denied themselves this for so long, but tonight…
Tonight that stupid line had been obliterated with the flick of a wrist.
She taps lightly on his sternum and the quiet rumble of his laugh vibrates through her cheek.
The gladiolus and the manubrium. The sword and the shield.
Such as a knight would carry. Or… a warrior.
You don't play at being a warrior. You are a warrior.
You're definitely… a fully developed man.
And, after all, hadn't he only minutes ago proven the validity of that statement?
"Sternum. Even I know that one, Bones."
She smiles, turning into his chest and pressing her lips to it.
At the fourth intercostal space, just to the left of the midline.
When she meets his gaze, hot and dark and foreign from this man she knows so very, very well, her cheeks are flushed. But she keeps her tone even.
"It shields the intrathoracic organs from injury during trauma. The major vessels, the lungs, the… heart."
His hand makes contact with her bare shoulder. The sensation makes her tremble, even though she cannot quantify this response.
He's been evoking unquantifiable responses from her all night.
"I guess it needs lots of shielding, huh Bones? The heart I mean. Can't just have it hanging around out there unprotected."
For once, she knows exactly what he means.
"Not as much as you'd think, Booth. It is quite a resilient muscle."
He opens his mouth to say something, but all that is generated is a somewhat strangled sound. This pleases her, leaving him speechless.
He doesn't attempt to speak again, instead opting to let his mouth express itself in other ways. It sweeps across her lips, lingers on her neck, maps a trail of warmth and fire across her clavicle, skims along the valley between her breasts.
"Sternum," he whispers into her skin before resuming his exploration.
He leaves her breathless.
She uses her key to enter his apartment, after several (twelve) phone calls and a bout of frantic knocking (his neighbors had actually yelled at her) remain unanswered.
(She's had the key since his staged- death fiasco over a year ago. She had made an off-hand remark about how difficult it had been to gain access to his apartment, as she was neither his family nor his romantic partner. He hadn't asked why she had needed access to his apartment. He had merely presented her with a small white box three hours later, a single key attached to a key-ring holding a tiny plastic skull ensconced within its depths.
You're getting this on the condition that you never barge in on me in the bathroom again, ok Bones?
I had a very valid reason for doing that, and…
For once, can't you just say thank you?
This is the second time she's used it. The first had been on a night she was meant to get an award, and ended up on a helicopter instead.)
She rushes in, uncertain what to expect. Whatever worrisome things run through her mind, however, certainly do not include finding Booth sprawled on his back across the living-room floor, laughing quietly at a bizarre looking cartoon sponge portrayed on the television screen.
She kneels by him, uncertain whether she's more angered or relieved.
"Booth, what are you doing?"
"Oh, hiya Bones."
His words are slightly slurred, his pupils mildly dilated. She notices the prescription bottle on the coffee table beside him; his phone is nowhere to be found.
"Have you injured your back again?"
"That's why you're a genius, Bones."
"You need to see a doctor."
He turns to look more fully towards her, head lolling.
"You're a doctor. Can I see you?"
"I mean, a medical doctor. You know you have a low tolerance for narcotics, and there could be disc herniation or some other serious damage that you're masking by nullifying the pain. You need some X-rays, or perhaps an MRI…"
"What I need are your magic knuckles."
He punctuates the words with a flourish of his arms and a wiggling of his fingers, before wincing from the sudden movement.
"No. Absolutely not. Have you forgotten what happened the last time I let you talk me into doing that against my better judgment? I caused more harm than good."
"T's not true Bones. You always make me feel good."
His voice has a lyrical, dreamlike quality, and she wonders if he even realizes what he's saying.
She can't really account for how he's making her feel.
He really should go to the doctor, she thinks. But he's a frustrating, obstinate, pig-headed man, and he's far too big for her to physically force him to do anything he is not inclined to do on his own. Logically, she has only two options.
Stay or leave.
And she can't leave.
She doesn't want to leave.
"You gonna do the thingie to my back? Please?"
He flashes a pleading, lopsided grin, and suddenly she wants to laugh, because this is the exact face that Parker makes when he's trying to talk the other children into doing something he knows they shouldn't be doing.
It's extremely irritating that she apparently has no more control over her actions in the face of that smile than an eight year old.
"Alright. But nothing extreme. Just some muscle energy techniques to relieve the tension in your erector spinae muscles."
He must find something she has said inexplicably amusing, because he snickers while attempting to roll over.
"Erector spinae," she hears him muttering between hisses of pain. "Sounds kinda dirty, Bones."
Finally, with all the grace of a beached whale, he lies prone before her.
She allows herself a moment of appreciation at the way he is structured, toned muscles molded to long bones, before straddling his upper thighs. Allowing most of the weight to be supported by her knees, she runs her hands over him in an experimental fashion.
A slight tremble runs through him.
Systematically, she finds the points of tension, kneading, probing, loosening the culprits of his pain. His broad back relaxes beneath her ministrations, deep even breaths laced with the occasional moan.
She finds she enjoys doing this for him.
The sense of intimacy is rather fulfilling.
Not that she'd ever tell him that.
He is still and silent beneath her when she runs her fingers over the much improved areas one last time.
She stands, straightens her shirt, smoothing her palms out over the fabric. He makes no effort to move.
"Booth, are you alright?"
"Yeah, yeah, I'm great, Bones. Can you just uh…. just gimme a minute."
She doesn't quite understand what he's referring to because, after all, he did seem to be enjoying himself and not experiencing any pain a moment ago so…
Then she notices the way he shifts his hips, lifting them a little from their press into the wooden floor.
Oh. Erector spinae, indeed.
And she's certainly never been shy about sex, or attraction, or natural biological responses, and she's not shy now, not really, but it still feels… novel.
Because this is Booth, and in all the ways she has known him, he has never allowed himself to lose this much control before. Has never allowed her to witness the effect she has on him before. Would never have allowed her to witness it now, if not for the analgesic loosening his inhibitions.
She wonders if he'll be mortified tomorrow.
She wonders why she isn't mortified now.
Why she's suddenly strangely… pleased.
She uses the restroom to give him time to compose himself. Then she helps him settle into bed and leaves, her arm branded by where his hand had lingered.
She doesn't know it yet, but this will be the last time she helps him settle into bed while she's not in it.
She is invited to a late dinner.
It is not the first late dinner "á la Booth" (apparently he is under the impression that day- old Chinese food sounds more appealing when offered in French), nor is it the hundredth. But this dinner, this dinner, feels different. And perhaps it is because there is no paperwork for once, no case that needs discussing, no work-related issues to resolve. Perhaps it is the fact that this is a late dinner on a Friday night, and even she is not unaware of the social implications of such an invitation. She tells herself that she is simply imagining it, that there is no reason to believe tonight is any different from last night or the night before, and yet…
And yet it feels like a stepping stone to something greater.
But that's ridiculous. They're just partners.
Still, the word partners does not carry the same denotation that it did just a year ago.
"I wasn't aware you knew how to cook."
She is surprised to find him puttering around in the kitchen. Even more surprised at how appealing he looks to her, dressed casually in his dark jeans and navy blue shirt, sleeves rolled up to the elbows, the tendons of his arms contracting as he stirs the sauce.
"Come on, Bones. Any self- respecting bachelor is capable of whipping up something."
"What are you making?"
"That's for me to know, and for you to be amazed."
He proceeds to pour her another glass of wine and shoo her out of the kitchen.
She stands by the open window, breathing in the cool night air, sipping her wine and sneaking glances at him in the kitchen, and thinks that she can't remember the last time she felt this content.
She closes her eyes, absorbing this feeling she so rarely experiences. The soft sounds emanating from the stereo are soothing, amplifying this strange sensation of calm until…
Picture yourself in a boat on a river,
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies.
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly,
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes.
Contentment abandons her as it always has when noticed for too long, wafting away through the window into the night.
And she's not here, in his living room, enjoying a glass of wine and his presence, but there, there in that sterile white expanse of monitors and machines, and Dr. Jersik is saying "Lets lock'n'load" and singing along with John Lennon about a girl named Lucy, and inserting probes into Booth's brain.
And she can't force herself to look at his hands, fearful of the slightest tremor.
She simply stares at the monitors, certain that everything Booth is (patient, caring, loyal, brave) cannot possibly be contained in that winding mass of gelatinous tissue.
There must, there must be more than this.
She feels an overwhelming sense of something wash over her, finding it necessary to grab onto the windowsill to keep her balance. The goblet clatters to the floor in a jumble of sticky-sweet wine and shards of glass, and she just tilts her head, watching the stain of red red red spread out over the wooden planks.
"Bones? What happened?"
She must look strange, because he's observing her with a worried expression.
She manages a nod.
"Ok. Stay right there. I'll get something to clean that mess up."
But she doesn't listen to him (since when does she ever listen?), bending to pick up the scattered pieces. This is one thing she can't reassemble and …
The glass bites sharp and deep, and the red red red from the wine mixes with the red red red of her blood and she's still dazed even though the pain is starting to bring her back to reality.
Booth is hovering over her with a towel, leading her over to the sink, running her hand under the cold stream of water.
"Why don't you ever listen to me, Bones? Is it a Mars/Venus thing, or do you just constantly have to prove that you know better than I do?"
But she's not paying attention to the words for once; only the fact that his hand is warm and firm on hers, only the way he is staring in concentration at her finger, as if he could staunch the flow of blood with sheer force of will.
"What's going on in that genius brain of yours?"
She isn't sure how to answer that question.
"Oh, come on! Even you can't have anything bad to say about the Beatles! I mean, I can't ever watch Yellow Submarine again after the thing with the Gravedigger, but…"
"No, Booth. The song… it was the same song they were playing in the operating room. When they…"
It's a whole sentence, a whole statement, whispered on a breath.
He is not asking. He will never ask again. But he deserves to have his question answered. Perhaps she deserves to have him know the truth.
"You wanted to know how it felt…"
"Bones, you don't have to…"
"No, I… I was unable to compartmentalize. In that room, I couldn't find a single logical thought to hold on to. It was disorienting. I just… I just wanted you to be alright."
It's a relief, to have said it. To know that she's capable of this moment of perfect and completely unfiltered honesty.
The way he's looking at her, tender and affectionate and a little bewildered…
That's disorienting too.
She sways a little, from the blood-loss or from his gaze or from the overall shock to her system, and his hand falls to her hip to steady her.
And she feels it all the way down to her bones, even though she knows that this is impossible.
She looks down at his hand where it rests on her ilium with the ease of belonging, and has the sudden realization that she had been right about tonight.
As far as she's concerned, that stupid line has been obliterated with the flick of his wrist.
She reaches for his shirt, fingers twisting into the soft fabric, pulling him, pulling herself, eradicating the distance between them. Her mouth devours his in a life affirming frenzy, and he's reciprocating, proving that he's warm and alive and here.
He's always proving things to her.
She feels him pressing into her, holding on to her. He tastes spicy, and sweet, and like Booth, and there'ssomeoneoutthereforeveryone, and suddenly she wants nothing more than to be closer, to climb inside his skin and have him climb into hers.
But making love? Making love- that's when two people become one.
And maybe it doesn't matter that she still isn't certain she believes that's possible. Because he believes it.
Maybe he can prove it to her.
He pulls away a little, panting, resting his forehead against hers.
"You won't get hurt, Booth."
Amazement is evident on his face. Hope, too. His eyes search hers for an eternity, and she's not sure what he's looking for, but whatever she's conveying must satisfy him.
"It doesn't matter if I do, as long as you don't."
She smiles, running a hand along the length of his mandible, and (for once) lets him lead the way.
Of the 26 bones of the foot, this one is the largest. Forming the projection on the heel behind the foot, it articulates with the cuboid in the front and the talus above. Brennan has always liked this bone. It is solid, sturdy and distinctive.
She supposes those same attributes are why she has always liked Booth (even when she thought she hated him).
Presently, the calcaneous of her left lower extremity strikes out of its own accord, connecting with his recently healed shoulder.
"Hey! Watch it on my poor bones, Bones!"
It's somewhere between a yelp and a whine, and she can't restrain the slight quirk of her lips at his overreaction.
"If you would kindly cease and desist what you're doing, your skeletal structure would be spared."
He studies her foot contemplatively for a moment, brushing his fingers lightly against the instep once again. She pulls away. He grins, a full bright grin that makes her scowl and ache and desire to throttle him as much as desire to straddle him all at once.
"You ticklish, Bones?"
She doesn't answer. Instead, she hooks her leg over the arch of his shoulder, rubbing her heel over his trapezius. She nudges him slightly, and he raises an eyebrow.
Booth is not a man who needs to be nudged twice.
He moves upwards, skimming a hand over her ribs. Looming over her, weight braced on his elbows, his pelvis is flush against hers.
There is a distinctly predatory gleam in his eyes.
Even now, when she finds him to be the most desirable thing she's ever seen, she has to needle him. She just can't help herself.
"Are you sure you're ready? The average refractory period for a male of your age is somewhere in the vicinity of thirty minutes. It has only been ten."
"You sure know how to romance the hell out of a guy, Bones."
"I was merely stating…"
"I know exactly what you were doing."
And she knows now that he doesn't twinkle at everybody, that it's just for her, and that she's thought of him as hers for a very long time.
Even though the notion of owning, of possessing another human being is utterly ludicrous.
However she's not sure that this has been sufficiently explained to Booth, because he seems very intent at the moment on marking her as his.
She opens her mouth to answer him, because she's never backed down and she never will, not even now, especially not now. But he's covering her lips with his, insistent and definitely possessive, and he's so skilled at this that she drops the pretense of needing anything else.
She really hopes this won't be his strategy for winning arguments in the future, but knowing Booth, it probably will.
She arches up into him, demanding more, always more, daring and challenging him with her body as she always has with her mind. He meets her head on, halfway, with the whole of his being. They strain, and reach, and fill each other, bones, muscles, nerves working in tandem to achieve bliss.
Together, they are more than the sum of their parts.