The first night without him was harder than I had foreseen.
I lay awake for hours, dreading the horrifying nightmares I knew were waiting for me on the borders of my subconscious. Dreading waking up alone.
It was then that I realized that, with the exception of the first night, I hadn't had a single nightmare since I'd been with Booth. While two nights in a row may not be a record for some, it is for me. In fact I normally wake two, three, four times in a night, before I eventually give up and work on my novel.
Which is exactly what I did after the second time I woke in a sheen of sweat, adrenaline pumping through my body as the effects of the nightmare swept through my bloodstream. When you've seen as much as I have, there is a lot to have nightmares about.
The nights after that were no better. In the span of seven days I got a total of eleven hours of sleep. I could have gone longer, but the effects were starting to show in my work. One particular day I found myself cataloguing a cervical vertebra as a thoracic one, a mistake that even a layperson with a limited knowledge of forensic television shows could have pointed out.
Another day I very nearly mistook a vial of Hodgin's pond scum as my cup of coffee, a near-disaster that resulted in him knocking the jar out of my hands and sending it flying down the front of my shirt. It was then that Angela took me aside and demanded to know why I had dark circles under my eyes the "size of Kansas" – she was exaggerating – before I admitted to her, and to myself, the situation.
"I just got used to sleeping next to someone, Ange, that's all. I adapted. And now I have to readapt to sleeping on my own, it's just going to take some time."
She leveled her brown eyes at me in a way that I have discovered means she is going to tell me something she thinks I should already know. "Brennan, you haven't slept in a week. You look like the walking dead, and you very nearly drank evidence in an upcoming murder investigation."
"There's an entire pond full of scum Angela, it's not like we can't just procure some more for Hodgin's anaylsis," I countered. Though admittedly even I knew it was a weak argument.
"You're missing the point. You liked sleeping with Booth because you love him-"
"But I-" she lifted her hand to tell me that she wasn't done.
"and because you trust him, and because he makes you feel safe. And you know what that means, right?"
I gave her a look that told her I did not.
She sighed. "It means you have to sleep with Booth."
I felt as though she'd said it loud enough for the entire lab to hear, though in retrospect she was probably speaking at a normal decibel.
"Face it, Brennan. You have no choice. You can't keep working like this or you're going to make a mistake that will cost us a case. Or you're going to poison yourself. Either way, you know that logically there's only one way to solve this problem."
"Yes, a sleeping pill."
"No. Booth," she insisted.
"What about me?" Booth's voice echoed across the lab.
I felt the color drain out of my face, and as I turned around the color drained out of his. "Did you catch any of that Booth?" Angela asked, and I detected a hint of hopefulness in her voice.
"No, I didn't," he answered, and he seemed distracted by something. By me. "Bones are you okay? You look…like hell. Are you feeling alright?" he put a hand on my forehead and the "butterflies" were back.
"Yes, I think she may have a fever," Angela emphasized.
I glared at her and she got the hint.
"I'm fine Booth."
I avoided looking at him, as I know that Booth is incredibly gifted at reading people, and I didn't want him to know about my insomnia. In fact I avoided him for most of the day, but I could feel him watching me, the same way I can feel him when he walks in the room. Normally I wouldn't believe in one person being able to sense another, but as I have had first hand experience of this phenomenon I'm inclined to argue that it is possible; though I'm convinced there's a rational explanation for this kind of connection.
That night at home, I paced the floor of my apartment. I'd taken a sleeping pill, at my own suggestion, but so far it was ineffective. As with any problem, my mind was meticulously working to find a solution. But I could come to no conclusion other than that which Angela had already presented me with that afternoon.
And that solution was not reasonable.
So I tried again.
Contributing factors: Nightmares.
What is the source of the nightmares? Fear.
What is the source of the fear? Undetermined. (Loneliness? Losing Booth?)
Factors that achieve abatement of fear and subsequent nightmares? Booth.
Insomnia caused by nightmares and additional restlessness are due to
an unknown fear within subject, said fear being diminished only when
in presence of Booth.
Conclusion: To sleep, I need Booth.
I groaned in frustration. I had lived my entire life without sleeping next to him; therefore it only makes sense that I could live the rest of it without sleeping next to him as well. I paused, my body lurching from the sudden cessation in movement. Maybe that was it. Maybe I didn't want to live the rest of my life without him at my side every night. And this is my subconscious's way of telling me so. But I don't believe in psychology. Perhaps Sweets is having an effect on me. Perhaps he'd be proud of me for coming to this conclusion. Or perhaps he'd tell me to stick to bones and leave the psychology to him.
I frowned. I couldn't tell if my revelation made sense or not. It didn't seem wrong. But my brain was so addled with lack of sleep I couldn't tell a rational conclusion from a wild supposition. And that was my deciding factor. I had my keys in my hand before I'd even consciously made the decision to go.
I tore open the door, my heart pounding with excitement and relief at finally having come to a decision, and walked straight into Booth. I bounced off his chest with a shocked cry and took a startled step backwards; the hand that he'd raised to knock on my door came out to steady me. "Booth!" I exclaimed, the surprise evident in my face. "What are you doing here? I was just coming to see you."
He pushed past me into my apartment, a large paper bag tucked under one arm, and I noticed he was wearing flannel pajama pants. "You were?" he asked, "What for?"
"I asked you first," I answered. "And why are you in your pajamas?"
He set the paper bag down on the counter and pulled out a box of tea, a DVD, and a small blanket. "What's all this for?" I asked, picking up the box of tea.
"That," he answered, taking the box from me, "is an old Booth secret. Been in the family for years, it's a great sleeping remedy." He went into my kitchen and started pulling out coffee mugs from the cupboard, setting the kettle on the stove. I realized that he's the only person who knows the set up of my kitchen. I like that.
I took the box back from him and read it again. "Booth, this says Celestial Seasonings tea, how can it be an old family secret? And who says I'm having trouble sleeping?"
He scowled and took the box back, but I've learned that this type of scowl doesn't actually indicate animosity. He was joking. "I didn't say we created it, Bones. I just said it's been in the family for years. And it has, my mom used to give me this stuff when I couldn't sleep, it works like a dream." He nudged me then, wiggling his eyebrows at me in that way that always makes me smile. "Get it, Bones, dream?"
"Yes, Booth, I get it," I answered. "And again, who says I'm having trouble sleeping?"
"Maybe it was the pond scum on your t-shirt today Bones, or maybe it was the bags beneath your eyes, or the fact that you nearly knocked yourself unconscious on the glass door to your office, but eventually I got the message."
"And what message was that?" I asked, crossing my arms. Sweets would call this a "defensive stance".
"That once you go Booth, you never go back, baby," he smiled at me as he took the kettle off the burner and poured some water in the teapot for the tea to steep.
"What?" I really had no idea what he meant.
"Face it, Bones. You got used to having me hold you all night, chase away your bad dreams, and keep you safe, and now you can't live without it."
I could feel myself going red in the face. It's the one physiological response that I hate. And for whatever reason, the fact that Booth knew exactly what I was about to come over and confess to him, and told me so, made me want to deny it. "Booth, that's ridiculous."
"Oh yeah?" he asked, and his face was so smug I wanted to slap him. Or perhaps kiss him, I'm still not sure which. "Then why were you headed over to my house tonight, Bones?"
"I…had a file to deliver," I lied. I'm a terrible liar, and we both know it.
"Bones, you're a terrible liar, and we both know it." See?
I was about to open my mouth to protest some more, when he stepped forward and put his hand over my lips. I had to fight not to close my eyes with the pleasure of having him so close to me again. "There's nothing to be ashamed of Bones. The truth is…I really liked being the one to hold you. Loved it, actually. I haven't slept so good without you myself. So what do you say, for old time's sake, we have a slumber party tonight? Then we can get our much, or in your case much, much needed rest, and we can get back to work without having you smell like algae the whole day."
He still hadn't taken his hand away, so I nodded slowly. He was right; it was completely illogical for me to deny exactly that which I'd been about to tell him. And I wanted what he was offering so badly I would have been a fool to decline. He took his hand away from my mouth and cupped my cheek for a moment. I think he could see the gratitude written all over my face, because he leaned over and kissed me very gently on the forehead. The butterflies were back with a vengeance.
After a moment he let me go, and went to poor the tea. I wandered to the counter, watching him make my tea exactly the way that I like it. I picked up the DVD and read the cover. "Why did you bring Planet Earth: Deep Oceans?"
He smiled at me over his shoulder. "Every time Parker and I watch that together we both fall asleep."
"Wh- how could you fall asleep? These documentaries are completely fascinating, did you see the one about the emperor penguins that huddle together through months of darkness in extreme temperatures, all the while protecting their eggs from the elements?"
"I don't know, it's interesting and stuff, but the guy's voice is so soothing, it puts us to sleep every time. But if you're going to get too wound up, we don't have to watch it."
"Booth, I'm not a child."
He smiled and handed me the tea, guiding me to the living room. "Go get in your pajamas and meet me on the couch in five." I sipped the tea and headed to my bedroom to change. Already a pool of warmth was flowing through my body. It was as though every muscle was relaxing one by one. Maybe it was the tea. Though I doubt that a simple infusion of chamomile and lavender could have such a profound and immediate effect on the body.
When I came into the living room the movie was starting and Booth was sitting on the couch, the blanket he'd brought sitting in his lap. I sank down beside him and immediately nestled against his body, waiting for him to put his arm around me. It's strange that I wasn't the slightest bit embarrassed about the need I seemed to have developed for him. "What's that?" I asked, gesturing to the blanket.
"This," he answered, spreading it over us before snaking his arm around me, "is Parker's favorite blanket when he sleeps at my place. He says it's the softest thing he's ever felt. I thought maybe it would help."
I spread my fingers across the blanket. Parker was correct it was very soft. I lifted my head from his shoulder and said, "Thank you, Booth," because it was the only thing I could think of to say. I wanted to convey so much more to him than a simple thank you, but I can never articulate things like that in a way that satisfies me. Somehow, though, I got the impression that he understood what I meant. He smiled at me, put his hand on my face, and said, "You're welcome, Bones."
I leaned forward and kissed him on the mouth, briefly, to show my appreciation. I lay my head back down on him; I could already feel my eyes becoming blissfully heavy. He didn't move for a moment, and at first I was afraid that perhaps I'd offended him, but then he leaned his head on mine, and I knew that he wasn't.
I don't know how long I lasted before I felt myself nodding off, but it can't have been very long. Suddenly I was aware that everything was turned off and Booth was pulling me to my feet. "Come on, Bones, time for bed." He picked up Parker's blanket and led me by the hand to my bedroom.
I reached to set my alarm but he put his hand on mine. "Uh-uh, Bones. You're going to sleep as long as you can. You need it."
Normally I would have protested but I knew that he was right. Crawling in to bed, I collapsed on my side, and I felt him come up behind me and press his body tightly against my back. Angela informs me this is called "spooning". It's a rather clever term. He pulled the blankets up over us, and I reached behind me and felt for his hand, pulling his arm around me. He laughed into my neck at my impatience, and without opening my eyes, I smiled. I continued to hold his hand in mine as I immediately fell into a deep, satisfying sleep. The last thing I remember before I drifted off was him kissing my neck, twice.
After that, we agreed that until I got over my…insomnia, we would stay together one night per week. Fridays, usually, as the weekend allowed a late sleep-in. Often we'd rent a movie, usually something that Booth was appalled I hadn't seen yet. Sometimes we'd go to my house, other nights we'd stay at his, there was never really a set schedule. Those nights with him were what got me through the other six.
After a while we came to the mutual decision that, since my sleep problems weren't improving, perhaps increasing the numbers of nights per week would be beneficial. So it was two. And then three.
We became even more comfortable with each other. I learned about his habits, and he mine. We became generous with our bodies, the need for personal space becoming less and less necessary, sometimes even while at work. It became normal for him to run his fingers through my hair, press his face to my neck as I inspected bones in limbo, kiss me when he could tell I wanted him to.
I would find myself reaching for his hand as we went to lunch, curling in his lap with a file while he sat on the couch in my office, kissing him when I could tell he wanted me to. Often if I was having a hard time with a case I would stand in my office, with the blinds drawn, they were nearly always drawn now, and wait for him to come so I could close my eyes against his chest and remember what it was like to feel safe.
Over time, the addiction became worse instead of better. The more time we spent together, the harder it was for me to be without him, until the point where I would feel my body aching for him when I was alone in my bed. And though I know this to be impossible, it felt as though I could sense him across the city, aching for me.
The first time we made love (I use Booth's term now), I knew I would never be free from this addiction. The need for him was constant, immediate, alive. It didn't frighten me to need someone; because this was Booth, and I knew that he needed me too.
But perhaps I've been using the term "addiction" incorrectly. Though it does fit the situation in the sense that I feel dependent upon Booth, I think that there is another, more fitting word for this connection I have to him. I never used to believe in the concept, but then, like so many other things, Booth has taught me to see it in a way I was never able to understand previously. What I feel for him is not an addiction.