Disclaimer: Don't own Bones.
A/n: Special update in honor of pal Dispatch's birthday. Happy Birthday! :)
Exactly like the last time, her screams sent him running straight to her room, but this time, he found she had locked the door.
With a growl, he pounded against the barrier. "Brennan! Wake up!" She screamed again and Booth felt on the verge of knocking down the damn thing. "Brennan, c'mon!" he yelled, hoping she could hear him clear enough through the door to snap out of the nightmare. "God, Brennan … Wake up! Please, wake up!"
There was blessed silence and he listened for any sounds from inside the room. "Brennan?" His voice nearly wavered on her name, the feeling of helplessness that hit him nearly making him want to puke.
"I'm awake." The reply was faint, but then she was repeating the words and they sounded much stronger. "I'm awake, Booth. I'm awake."
"Open the door."
"I'm fine," she called back firmly. "Just go back to sleep."
"Open the door. Now."
Oh, she was so damn stubborn. "Brennan, I swear to god, I will bust it down."
He heard the rustling of bed sheets and then she was turning the knob. She didn't look happy with him and her chin tilted up defiantly. "What? Look, I'm sorry I woke you … obviously it's a problem, so it may be time to reconsider—"
"Shut up." He couldn't believe her. Booth could see the nightmare still in her eyes and she was rambling about waking him up. "Shut up and come here." On the words, his arms were already going around her, enveloping her in the warmest hug Brennan could ever remember receiving.
A tremor went through her and she wasn't sure whether it was a vestige of the nightmare or a response to his arms holding her so tightly. "Booth …"
"You don't have to tell me," he whispered. "I promise I'm not going to ask, just let me … everyone should get a hug after a bad dream, Brennan."
He sounded so gentle, she didn't have the strength to put up a fight. "Do you have bad dreams?"
"I used to," Booth admitted. "Right after I got out of the army. I haven't in a long time. But if I ever have one, I fully expect a hug, all right?"
Relaxing against him, she smiled. "Is that some kind of rule?"
"Of course." His hands moved in a light, soothing motion, up and down her back. "I'm a judge. Do you know how much we love rules? Nothing like a good bright-line rule to make me smile all day." Booth could feel her relaxing against him and he kept talking trying to keep her that way. "Of course, there's also some really bad bright-line rules that make no damn sense and those make me really cranky. Especially when some smart-ass attorney tries to sell it to me."
"You do know I have no idea what you're talking about, right?"
He chuckled. "The point is, bad dream equals hug, that's the rule."
For a while, she said nothing, but her arms were wrapped around him and her head was tucked neatly under his chin. He was prepared to stand there, holding her, for the rest of the night, but eventually she pulled back, her hands resting lightly on his chest.
"I can't stay here if I'm going to keep waking you."
"Oh yeah? What happened to round-the-clock-security?" he shot back quickly. From her frown, Booth could see she was trying to figure out a way to keep her eye on him twenty-four seven without actually living in his house. "Brennan, I really don't care how many times you wake me up."
"Sometimes I go months without having one," she murmured pensively. "Other times, I go an entire week unable to really sleep. I never know what's going to …" Her voice trailed off, realizing just how much she was revealing. "Maybe, I could sleep in another room, one that's farther away and—"
"The screams are loud enough that you can probably hear them through the entire house," he said quietly. She went pale and he cupped her face in his hands. "Doesn't matter. I'm not going to let you wake up screaming alone."
"You should stay away," Brennan said softly and he wasn't sure whether she meant in general or just during her nightmares. Neither one was an option, but he chose to address the latter, rather than the former, since it seemed a lot less dangerous.
"Is that why you locked the door?"
"I was afraid you'd come barging in again and I'd accidentally shoot you," she admitted. "Just stay in your room, Booth."
His thumbs brushed her cheeks, soft and still so pale. "Not gonna happen."
"You're so stubborn," she growled, taking a step back and slipping out of his hands. She turned around, putting distance between them and not just the literal kind.
"Look who's talking." Her shoulders went stiff and he had to bite back a smile. His little warrior didn't like to be called stubborn. Unbelievable, considering she personified the word. "Feel free to lock the door if you want, but it's not going to stop me from pounding on it."
"Good night, Booth."
Now he did smile, knowing that round had gone to him. Grudgingly, maybe, but she'd accepted he wasn't going to back down on this and was done fighting him on it. "Good night, doc."
"Where is he?"
"And hello to you too," Angela greeted, kissing him on the cheek before sweeping inside the house. "Jack has him."
"Hey, buddy," Booth said happily, going down on one knee to pet the adorable puppy running to the front entrance. "Oh, my god, you've gotten so big."
"Well, I am a growing boy," Hodgins joked, walking in with a Tupperware container in his hands. "Here's your precious potato salad."
"Great." Booth rose from the floor and took the salad from Hodgins. "Man, I have got to talk Angela into giving me this recipe."
"Yeah, good luck with that," Hodgins laughed, following his wife inside the house. Booth promptly closed the door behind him before Brennan could have a fit over his exposed position in front of the open door. It was one of her many rules. Along with never standing in front of a window or going anywhere without her. She had so many; it would be easy to forget a few, except she insisted on going over them with alarming regularity.
"We've already gone over this, Brennan."
"Well, I find you don't listen, Booth."
Usually, that exchange was prompted when he failed to adhere to what she called 'standard security protocol' and was followed with her reading him the riot act. In just a week, he'd managed to get himself lectured quite a few times. He just kept forgetting some of the damn rules.
"Booth, I think your steaks are almost done," Brennan yelled from the kitchen.
He smiled when he saw her at the archway between the kitchen and the dining hall. She had one hand extended carefully in the puppy's direction, who was sniffing her curiously. Apparently he was satisfied because he raised his little paws and began to lick any part of her that he could reach.
"He's very friendly," she observed, tilting her head for a moment and studying the dog. "What's his name?"
"Ah, well …" Booth walked forward, giving a wide, satisfied smile. "Angela wanted to name him Picasso. Hodgins was pushing for Ralph …"
"Yeah, for Ralph Nader." Booth shrugged and scooped up the deliriously happy puppy. "And since they couldn't agree, as a compromise, they decided I could name him."
"Ah." Brennan smirked, understanding his cocky grin. "Well, what did you name him?"
Booth paused dramatically for a second. "Ripken." Her blank look made him groan. "After Cal Ripken, Jr.? The Iron Man? Greatest defensive … oh, you know what, never mind. You can call him Rip."
Brennan made a face and took the puppy from Booth. "Rip?"
He crossed his arms in front of him. "Oh, all right, what's with the pinchy face … what would you have named him?"
"Jasper, of course."
"Of course," he deadpanned. "Seriously, Jasper? No. No dog of mine is ever going to be called Jasper."
"Well, since we're not getting a dog together, Booth," Brennan replied calmly, "I don't foresee this being a point of contention."
"Right." Booth rocked back on his heels, feeling awkward. "Good point."
Brennan turned around, puppy still in hand and made her way towards Angela, who was picking at the spread of cheese and crackers on the table. Booth rolled his shoulders, trying to shake the strange itch he was suddenly feeling between his shoulder blades. With a slight grunt, he went to wash his hands and check on his steaks.
Angela rose from the table and went to make herself a second plate. Booth gave a whistle at her heaping plate and chuckled.
"Wow, Ange, definitely eating for two now, huh?"
Hodgins was frantically shaking his head, but it was too late.
"Did you just call me fat?"
"You did," she hissed, giving him a killer look.
"Ange, no, I—"
"Idiot," Hodgins muttered under his breath.
"You listen to me, Seeley Booth, I am growing a human being. Do you have any possible idea what that is like?"
"No, not at all," he said quickly, slightly terrified. "I can't even imagine, Angela. And you look absolutely gorgeous." He gave her his best smile. "Really, Ange, you have that whole pregnant woman glow going."
"You really do, honey," Hodgins piped in, leaning over and giving her a kiss on the cheek.
"Nice save," Angela conceded, digging into her food. "And you made these delicious steaks. So I am willing to be forgiving. And this mac and cheese is fantastic."
"Brennan here made that," Booth said, smiling in relief that he wasn't going to get his eyes ripped out. "It is really delicious, doc."
She shrugged, giving a pointed look at what was left of the fish on her plate. "It was the least I could do after you had to go grocery shopping for me last night."
"Ah, no, that was no problem," Booth waved away the words. "Gotta have more than red meat in the fridge, you know." He gave her a soft smile. "Plus, we were out of eggs."
When Brennan had told him that she'd prefer not to eat meat, Booth had realized, he didn't really have any healthy, green stuff in the house, which was apparently high on her list of food preferences. During the week, they had mostly been ordering take-out, but they couldn't live on take out forever. It'd occurred to him that beef and pork wasn't going to cut it for her, so despite her protests, he had hustled her into the car last night and they'd gone grocery shopping. His fridge was now stocked with a variety of seafood, as well as assorted fruits and vegetables. And two different kinds of oatmeal because she liked a different brand than his.
"Booth …" Angela said softly. "Is Parker staying in Florida with Rebecca for the rest of the summer?"
The question told Booth that even though they'd all been trying to avoid talking about the fact that someone had tried to kill him, avoidance time was over. "Yes," he sighed. "I want him as far away from here as possible while this psycho is on the loose."
"Well, I made some calls and did some digging," Hodgins offered, "and while I can't be a hundred percent certain, I don't think it's the government trying to kill you."
"The government?" he gaped. "The U.S. government? Yeah, no, Hodgins, I don't think they were ever on the suspect list."
"Hey, man, you don't think the government puts out hits on political figures?" Booth and Angela groaned, but Hodgins' large blue eyes were already going fever bright. "You're so naïve, my friend."
"You're a U.S. Senator, for Christ's sake," Booth reminded him. "Shouldn't you be reassuring me that democracy and transparency is alive and stronger than ever?"
"Sure, if you want me to lie." With a shrug, he leaned back. "You know, as well as I, that the FBI, the NSA, the CIA, they all have off the grid divisions for the kind of stuff that Congress would never sanction."
"Yeah, that's great, Hodgins," Booth said mildly. "So, should I be concerned that the good doctor here, who happens to be an ex-CIA operative was sent here by you, trusty government representative?"
"That's not funny, Booth," Angela chastised.
"I concur," Brennan agreed evenly. "If I was here to kill you, I assure you that you would have been dead seven days ago."
"Good to know there." Booth rolled his eyes at the two women frowning at him. "Hey, I was just playing along with Hodgins' government conspiracy."
"Even if the government was trying to kill you," Angela sniffed. "Jack most certainly is not."
"I'm pretty sure the government is not, either," Hodgins repeated. "Again, not a hundred percent, but a solid, ninety-eight point five."
"Oh, my god, stop. The government is not after me. " Booth rose from the table, done with the conversation. "Hodgins, go put the game on or something, man."
Angela got up to go to the bathroom for the fifth time and Brennan helped Booth clear the table and load the dishes in the dishwasher.
"You know I'm here to keep you alive, right?" Brennan suddenly blurted out. "It wasn't even Hodgins who sent me, it was Angela."
Booth froze in the act of drying his damp hands with a dishtowel. "I know." Without even realizing it, he was standing in front of her. "Hey, I know. I was just giving Hodgins a hard time because he can be a little nuts."
"He's not completely wrong. About the CIA, at least." Brennan's gaze skittered to his for a moment and then she was looking at a spot above his shoulder. "I don't know how much information the file Hodgins gave you on me contains, but I can tell you that operatives carry out government-sanctioned assassinations."
"On potential threats, am I right?"
"Brennan, it's the CIA," Booth said softly, using a hand to tilt her chin and meet his gaze. "I'm not naïve enough to believe that this country's counter-intelligence program always operates within the letter of the Constitution. But I'm sure the CIA or any other government agency, for that matter, is not going around targeting Supreme Court justices." His lips quirked. "Hey, my jurisprudence is not even particularly controversial."
"Was that a joke?" Brennan snapped the dishtowel out of his hand.
"Yes," Booth smiled. "But it's true. Otherwise, I would have never even been appointed."
"I could really go for some ice cream," Angela announced, eyebrows going up at how close her two friends were standing together. They took hasty steps back at her voice and she stifled a smile.
"Hey, you know what, me too," Booth agreed. "I've got some in the fridge. You want some, doc?"
"No, thank you." She walked out of the kitchen, leaving Angela and Booth to their ice cream.
"So, you two are getting along better, right?"
Booth retrieved the ice cream and shrugged. "Sure," he said neutrally. "The desire to kill each other is fairly sporadic now. You know, only every couple of hours or so."
"Right," Angela smirked as he served their ice cream and her mind whirled. She'd caught the vibe when they'd started talking about groceries, but it still surprised her to find them standing so very close. "Is there something you want to tell me?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Don't play innocent." They dug into their bowls of strawberry ice cream, standing side by side and looking into the living room from their kitchen vantage point. Hodgins was perched in front of the TV and Brennan was sitting, crossed-legged on the floor, playing with the puppy. "I caught the vibe."
"The I-want-to-jump-your-bones vibe."
Booth sighed, watching Brennan laugh softly as Rip climbed on her lap and licked at her face.
"Half the time, I don't know whether I'm going to strangle her or kiss her." He couldn't stop staring as she played with the puppy, petting him until he was practically delirious. This was the most relaxed Booth had ever seen her, soft and unguarded. "Damn it, look at her. It kills me how she can go from this harsh, abrasive person to the most innocent, vulnerable thing I've ever seen. And, you know, it's really unfair that she looks like that," he murmured, almost to himself.
"Like what?" Angela breathed softly, afraid to wake him up from whatever trance he'd gone into that had him blurting out so much revealing information.
"Like that. So beautiful I can't think. So very gorgeous, all the damn time. It's just not fair."
"Oh my God." Angela stared, wide-eyed, at Booth and he blinked, the back of his neck heating up. "Please, tell me you're going to do something about it."
"Do what, Ange?" He shook his head, reality hitting him in the face. "There's a reason she's here and that reason is that someone is trying to kill me."
"Just drop it, okay?" Booth's tone was adamant and even though Angela was tempted to keep arguing, she held her tongue. After a few minutes, he said starkly into the silence, "She has nightmares."
"Are you asking me?"
It was so tempting to say yes because Booth wasn't sure Brennan would ever tell him herself and it was driving him crazy that he didn't know how to help her. But, he'd been angry when she'd asked Angela for information and knew the same policy applied to him. If he wanted to learn about her then he had to go to her. And if she chose to keep her secrets, then he had to accept it.
"I'm not, Angela." Resolutely, he spooned some of his melting ice cream and gave her a smile. "This is good, right?"
Angela just nodded and followed his lead. Still, she wondered and worried.
A few hours later, Hodgins and Angela were getting ready to leave and Brennan was as reluctant to hand over the dog as Booth had been the first time he'd had to give him up. Even now, he stood next to Brennan, petting the shaggy head nestled in the crook of her arm and looking mournful. "Bye, buddy."
"All right, he's coming with us, Brennan," Hodgins declared, reaching for the puppy drowsily sleeping in her arms. She gave him a disgruntled look, but returned him to his owner. "Man, what is it with you two?" He shook his head in amusement. "Get your own dog."
"Get away from the doorway, Booth," she whispered to him.
Saying goodbye to his friends, Booth watched her as she closed the door, meticulously setting the alarm.
"Hey, come to my office for a sec?" he asked, softly. "I want to give you something."
"What is this?"
"Your file. Well, I'm sure not everything, but it's what Hodgins sent Cam on you." Booth leaned back against his desk. "I never read it. I know Cam did because she told me you were ex-CIA with a seriously deadly skill set."
"Why are you giving me this?"
"Because." He shrugged casually. "Because if I want to know something, I'll ask you."
Brennan opened the folder for a moment, before closing it again and dropping it back on the desk. "A considerable portion of my record is classified, I doubt even Hodgins could access it. You can read the file—"
"Why would I?" he cut in calmly. "When I can just ask you."
Her eyes narrowed. "You're assuming that I'll answer your questions and that I'll answer them truthfully."
"I guess I am." Pushing off the desk, Booth moved to stand in front of her, his eyes serious. "And I guess you'll have to make the same assumptions about me."
"You're a public figure, there's a lot of information about you in the public domain."
"Exactly. Public, Brennan. Like where I got my degree or my published opinions." His voice, soft and low, washed over her like a caress. "But just like that file won't tell me anything truly personal about you, googling my name won't tell you anything all that personal about me."
"Personal is not relevant to—"
"Stop right there before you start lying to me." She frowned up at him and he was helpless not to smooth a finger over her brow. "Don't frown. I promise I won't lie to you either."