Title: Resonance (3/3)
Author: Anna (bite_or_avoid)
Disclaimer: Not mine. Do I really need to say this every time?
Many thanks for the continued support everyone!
Part 3~ Existence
He wakes up face-first in the couch cushions, the quiet flicker of the TV bathing the room in an eerie glow.
Brushing a hand over his sleep-rumpled face, he pads over to the open window.
Forgot to close it earlier.
A shiver runs the length of his spine.
The boxers and old Nittany Lions t-shirt are doing nothing to protect him from the chilly breeze.
But that's not why he's shivering.
He just feels… cold.
Like there's some residual anesthetic still coursing through his veins. But without the pleasant side effects.
He looks out over the city and wonders where she is.
Maybe she can't sleep. Maybe she's looking out her window, at the same city, the same night sky, and wondering the same thing about him.
Finally meeting him halfway.
Maybe she's feeling the same kind of numb.
But that's stupid.
In reality, she's probably at the lab, poring over the remains of some dead guy found in a cave somewhere.
Doing what she did before he barged into her life.
Doing what she'll do after he's gone.
Not that he'd ever leave of his own volition. He wouldn't. She can freeze him out all she wants, protect herself all she wants.
He gets it.
He meant what he'd said to her.
He's right here.
Question is, how much damage will they do to each other before she realizes that?
Sighing, he slides the glass pane down, shuts off the TV, and makes the trek to the bedroom.
He lays in a cold bed, eyes open and unseeing.
Rubs at his chest, as if to dissipate the ache there.
Thinks about how much of what he is, is being denied.
Stretched to the breaking point.
He's a patient man. He's had to be; patient and calculating and precise.
He talks a good talk of being spontaneous and carefree and all that other fun guy crap. The reality is, if he hadn't possessed those qualities, hadn't honed and perfected them over long years doing things a human being should never have to do, he wouldn't have survived.
So, he's patient. Knows how to bide his time and wait for that perfect moment.
Knows when to take a chance. When to take the shot.
The waiting, he can handle. Hell, he's been waiting on her for four years.
If he were being totally honest, he always figured he'd have to wait at least a couple more.
It's the worst torture he's ever known.
He closes his eyes, pictures her face.
I'm right here.
He doesn't realize he's said it out loud.
The next time he wakes, face-first in a pillow, his internal radar is going off louder than the neighbor's car alarm.
He's not alone.
The gun hidden beneath the mattress is almost in his hand when he hears---
"Are you awake?"
Her voice is so soft, he wonders if he imagined it. But he can see her now, silhouetted against the doorframe to his room.
Standing at the threshold as if unsure if she wants to take a step forward, or take a step back.
He releases the breath he's been holding, and pushes himself up in the bed.
"Geez, Bones. You trying to get yourself shot?"
"I knocked. Repeatedly. You didn't answer. I was worried, so I used my emergency key." She pauses for a second, that familiar scolding affection weaving its way into her tone. "You know, for a former sniper, you're really a rather heavy sleeper. If this is our government training at work, I am immensely underwhelmed."
"Hey! I'll have you know no one, and I mean no one, has ever gotten the drop on me!"
"What about Hugh Kennedy?"
"Well, that doesn't count. I mean, the guy's nickname was Ice Pick for crying out loud. And besides, I wasn't sleeping. I was just… looking the wrong way."
He cringes, because that actually didn't sound much better.
And then he realizes what's happening.
She's here. In his apartment. Talking to him.
Talking to him like she used to.
They're both silent for a while.
There's a million questions running through his head, and he can't really make sense of any of them. For one thing, he's still fuzzy from just waking up. For another, he's kind of flabbergasted by the thought that she was just standing there, watching him sleep.
It's sort of a hoarse, strangled whisper, and he hears her make this strange little sound in response.
Like a burden released with her breath.
She hesitates for only an instant before taking a silent step towards him. Then a second. And a third. They're sure, easy steps. As if she finally knows exactly what she's walking towards.
She stops just short of the bed and simply…. looks at him. The lights outside his window dance across her face, and she looks like the most beautiful apparition.
He reaches out, extends his hand to see if it is an apparition he can touch. An experiment of sorts. He wonders, were he to call it that, if she'd be proud.
She doesn't take his hand. In fact, she takes a step back, and he clamps down his fist dejectedly. But her eyes are still focused on his face, and he looks back at her, questioning.
She steps out of her shoes.
Her hands undo the buttons of her shirt; that same careful precision with which she sorts through death to acknowledge life.
She moves on to her jeans, pushing them down the endless stretch of flawless pale legs.
She stands there in nothing but a camisole and string bikini, and all of a sudden he's pretty damn sure he's still dreaming.
There's no answer, not a verbal one anyway. But there's answer enough in the way she lifts up a corner of blanket and settles into the bed beside him, calm and composed and almost… familiar.
Yep, definitely a dream.
It's not like any dream he's ever had though.
She's just looking at him.
Tender and open like he hadn't been sure was possible.
But he knows: once she makes up that brilliant mind of hers, there is no such thing as halfway. Why should this be any different?
Her hand reaches for him, to the back of his head, seeking out the burr holes. It rests there for a moment. Traces the indentations. Winds its way down his neck to the front of his body. Comes to rest on a spot just above his right pectoral.
The t-shirt can't hide what they both know is there.
It's barely discernible through the fabric, merely a slight puckering of the skin.
From beneath the skin, beneath the wall of muscle, beneath the bone of ribcage, the reverberations echo into her hand.
The thump thump thump of his heart, sure and steady.
He covers her hand with his own. She leans into him, her hand still trapped in its Booth-shaped prison.
He can feel her gripping the muscles of his back with her free arm. Can swear she drops a brief kiss against his chest as she burrows her face into it.
That small gesture is nearly his undoing.
She pulls him impossibly closer as if to squeeze the life from his body into hers, and she doesn't make a sound. But she lets the tears fall.
"I apologize for acting irrationally."
They're lying side by side, heads propped up on their arms, facing each other. Her eyes are red-rimmed and watery. They're a kind of blue he has only ever seen tucked away in the far corners of the world.
The sky three days on foot into the desert.
The lagoons within coral atolls off the coast of Belize.
The Logan sapphire she herself dragged him to see.
He never imagined that color could exist in a human being.
He glances down at his damp shirt and raises an eyebrow.
"Just now, or before?"
She smiles, that soft barely- there quirk of her lips that she saves just for him.
At least, he likes to think it's just for him.
"Now that you mention it, both. But I was really referring to the way I have been treating you these last few weeks. I can't account for my actions, Booth. I can't even really explain…"
"Hey." He lifts her chin with a careful finger. "You don't have to justify yourself to me, Bones. Not ever."
She nods silently, chewing on her bottom lip.
"I know that. But I believe you deserve some sort of explanation."
He shrugs, attempts to lighten the mood.
"Most of your explanations are way over my head anyway."
"Don't do that, Booth. Don't downplay your intelligence for my benefit."
"I don't. Thought we'd covered that already."
She eyes him speculatively, forging ahead.
"Objectively speaking, I believe that the impetus for my recent behavior was… fear."
The last word is nearly a whisper.
A hesitant admission of such an utterly human emotion.
He doesn't respond. He's afraid she'll stop talking if he does.
"I was afraid, Booth. And I was ashamed of that fear."
He laces his fingers with hers, prompting her to continue.
"I was ashamed because it wasn't something I could rationalize. Or control. I thought about how easily I could have lost you and I realized… I realized that I've taken for granted your place in my life. I realized that if I continued to do so, losing you would change me. Irrevocably. In ways I can't conceive of."
At this, he can't remain silent.
"So you decided to lose me on your own terms. As if you had a say in the matter."
"Yes. But that did not to turn out the way I had anticipated. I think… Do you remember what you told me once, the first year we worked together? That it's never just the one person who dies?"
He nods. He laid himself bare before her that day.
Yeah, he remembers.
"I know you were speaking of war, of the things you had done. This is an utterly different situation. But I believe… I believe that statement is applicable here as well. To you and me. To us."
"What are you saying, Bones?"
"The way I tried to deal with the situation, acting as if you were… It is not something I wish to experience again. I did not feel like a whole person. It was… unbearable."
He stares at her, taking in the emotions flittering across her face.
Her walls have been stripped to the very foundations.
It scares him, a little.
Tomorrow, he thinks. Tomorrow she'll be herself again.
But tonight… tonight she's allowing herself to need him.
And he won't disappoint her.
"Bones?" he breathes.
"We're both alive."
And the words must have some meaning to her that even he hadn't intended, because a full smile adorns her face.
"Yes," she says with a laugh. He laughs too, because, lets face it, when she laughs like that it's kind of infectious.
They're looking at each other in a dark room at three in the morning, and laughing like lunatics.
He doesn't care. He hasn't felt this good in years. Maybe ever.
To see her like this… it's indescribable.
His thumb brushes across her cheek, and she just leans in and kisses him.
It's not a long kiss.
There's no fireworks or explosions or unrestrained passion.
But she kisses him like it's the most natural thing in the world for her to do.
She kisses him like she means it.
And that's more than enough.
It isn't until later that Angela's words resonate.
She'd been too overwhelmed to let them touch her, then. After all, there had been a hastily constructed emotional vault, not to mention a rapidly dissolving partnership.
And, as if to prove the truth in the artist's words, there was her own barely suppressed conscience.
Then, she had barely let it penetrate.
It's only after-- after she comes to him in the night; after they sleep and wake again, the fear clearing from her mind; after he tells her 'You're not gonna get rid of me, Bones. Not even when you'll want to'; after they're back to being them and she can breathe again-- that her friend's statement winds its way around her heart.
Bolstering it. Emboldening it.
And then she can hear nothing else.
Booth? His feelings aren't transient.
That man loves you. He would do anything for you.
With each syllable, she looks up to see him beside her, offering a charming smile. Reaching out for her with tenderness.
How easily he offers himself up to her.
She can see nothing else.
Encouraging her to be fearless again.
Enriching her life.
Making it feel like more. More.
The brain and the heart. Showing her the balance between them.
She breathes in.
She knows love.