Title: Resonance (1/3)
Author: Anna (bite_or_avoid)
Pairing: Booth/Brennan, as always
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine, although I wouldn't turn down some of the proceeds. Or DB. One or the other. Or preferably both.

Spoilers: Everything through the season finale

AN: So, this is another post-EitB fic. But with a spin. There is no focus on the infamous question heard 'round the net, no mention of Booth's dream, and no struggle with their newly exposed attraction. This is something entirely different. It is much darker and more angsty than anything I've written for them in the past, and the style is a departure for me. I feel like it's a little OOC for Brennan at this stage in her emotional development, but the idea just wouldn't leave me alone. Just chalk it up to a reflection of my current pre-boards psychosis. :-(


Part 1~ Spectre

It isn't until later that Angela's words resonate.

She'd been too busy to let them touch her, then. After all, there had been a hastily formed plan for motherhood, not to mention a mostly liquefied human being.

And, as if to prove the truth in the artist's words, there was Booth's illness.

But even then, she hadn't let it penetrate. Not when she clutched his hand in pre-op. Not as she watched them drill holes in his skull with baited breath and unblinking eyes. Not when she sat a silent vigil at his bedside for four unbearable days that caused a shift in the foundations of everything she thought she knew. Not even when he had opened those eyes that so often bore down into the depths of her, now confused and uncertain and the complete antithesis of everything that was Booth.

It's only after-- after he sleeps and wakes again, the puzzlement clearing from his eyes; after he tells her 'Go eat something, Bones. And bring back pudding'; after he's home and him and she can breathe again-- that her friend's statement winds its way around her heart.

Constricting it. Smothering it.

And then she can hear nothing else.

You think feelings are ephemeral. So is life, Brennan.

We're here one minute and then we're gone the next.

With each syllable, she imagines him on that cold steel table, the anesthesiologist unable to slow his racing heart. The surgeon unable to extricate the culprit, a tumor the size of a button effectively removing him from this world.

How easily it could have happened. How easily he could have died.

She can see nothing else.

A world without Booth.

No more warm hand at the small of her back in that place he'd claimed as his, and his alone.

No more cocky grin across a table and a couple of beers.

No more reminding her to eat, challenging her with every breath and comforting her with every other.

No more breath.

No more Booth, with his childlike exuberance, to crowd her isolated existence and fill it with life and color.

No more flesh, or blood, or heart, or even brain.

All that's left of him, of her--- only bones.

No more Bones.

She can't breathe.

She shuts down.

***

It doesn't take him long to figure it out. Something is seriously wrong with her.

It's subtle at first.

She talks less. Spends more time in the lab. Insists she's too busy to grab dinner. When he does manage to coax her out, their friendly banter is perfunctory. Like an afterthought, leaving a bitter taste on his tongue.

"What's the matter, Bones?"

"Don't call me Bones."

That stings worse than a slap to the face.

"I always call you Bones, Bones."

"Well, it's about time you stopped."

She leaves the bar.

He doesn't see her for three days after that. Every time he comes down to the lab, she's MIA, and every time he braves her apartment it's empty.

On the fourth day, they have a case. He waltzes into her office with a file in his hand, grateful for the excuse to see her. She glances up to ask him about the remains, and his heart nearly stops.

The way she looks at him. Through him.

Eyes of clear, clear blue. Like ice.

When he tries to guide her with a hand on her back, she walks faster.

***

Cam corners him on the catwalk.

"There's something wrong with her."

"No kidding."

"Fix it, Seeley."

For the first time, he doesn't know how.

He doesn't know what's wrong with her. This isn't the Bones he knows. This isn't even the Bones he knew, the one that tilted her chin up in defiance and looked down her nose at him. Called him on his crap, called him a coward.

This isn't the reckless, fearless, genius woman who'd managed to permeate every aspect of his life. Every aspect of his damn being.

He has no clue who this is.

And frankly, it's starting to piss him off.

She's acting like he'd died for crying out loud.

Oh.

Dammit.

She's acting like he'd died.

And just like that, he understands.

***

He stakes out her apartment. It's not the most… rational thing to do. Certainly not the least disturbing. She hasn't really given him much of a choice though, so this is the way it's gonna have to be.

He sees her come home, struggling with the keys in a kind of daze. His chest feels heavy. He's done this to her, somehow, turned her into a shadow of her former self. To everyone else, she's just acting detached. But he can see how lost she is, how much this is costing her. How much she needs to make herself believe that she's alone in the world, and always will be. Because losing someone who matters to her is not a risk she's willing to take again.

He never thought anyone could break her. Least of all him.

He gives it thirty minutes, then grabs the food off the seat beside him and high-tails it up to her apartment.

He can help her. If she'll let him.

***

When she answers the door, the look of annoyance on her face is so familiar that he nearly laughs.

"What are you doing here?"

She sounds exhausted.

He holds up the bag in his hand and lets himself in.

"Figured you've probably starved yourself all day."

"I'm not a child, Booth. I'm perfectly capable of taking care of my own needs."

"I know you are. Maybe I'm not. Maybe I need you to make sure I eat."

"That's ridiculous."

She crosses her arms in a defensive posture, but doesn't tell him to leave. He figures, if she really wanted him outta there, she could have pulled out the flying monkey on him, or whatever crazy form of martial arts she prefers these days.

They eat in relative silence, speaking only to discuss the case.

This distance- it's the strangest feeling he's ever had.

His gut is all twisted up in knots, and the food tastes like ash.

More than that, he hurts for her.

Because she's all twisted up too, and doesn't even know it.

He holds her gaze across the table. Those few feet are the most treacherous terrain he's ever attempted to traverse. He does it now because he has to reach her.

Losing her; it just isn't an option for him.

She needs an anchor and he can do that for her. He can be anything she needs.

His voice is infused with all the things he cannot tell her.

He tells her the one thing she needs to know. The one thing she needs to believe.

"Bones, I'm right here."

"I know, Booth."

But she doesn't see him.

He presses a warm hand to her shoulder before letting himself out.

Yet no matter what he does, he can't touch her.

He wonders if he really is a ghost.

***

He haunts her every waking moment. The non-waking ones too. Which is absurd, because she told him herself once that there are no such things as ghosts. But she sees him, hears him, feels him everywhere, and it takes all her energy just to get through the day.

She straightens her back, drags in a breath, and locks the sensations away.

She's running out of places to store them.