Title: Any Two Points
Summary: After her confession to Booth, Brennan decides that she doesn't believe in second chances anymore.
Disclaimer: Bones belongs to FOX, Hart Hanson, and everyone else who works for the show. I make no profit in writing this story.
Spoilers: Speculation surrounding 06x09. No spoilers for future episodes.
Author's Notes: I know, I know, it's been ages! :( I've been held up by a lot of real-life things: being sick with a cough and a throat infection, shuttling back and forth from my home country to the country where I work, and to top it all off, as soon as I arrive, my boss tells me we're moving offices! So yeah, I spent most of last week packing up file folders into boxes, accidentally hammering my thumb while assembling Ikea shelves, and other exciting things that you do when you move.
Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed this little offering of mine. Thanks once more for all your kind comments and reviews, and know that I appreciate each and every single one of them. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Tonight, she dreams about losing him again. It begins the same way: they are walking down a dark alley and is in front of her, his hands cradling his gun like a lover's caress. His finger is negligently on the trigger, ready for the monsters that jump out of the shadows. Their footsteps are loud in the darkness: steam rises from the vents on the ground, and wet puddles from a recent rain shower reflects orbs of lights from the distant streetlamps.
Then they hear it. The unmistakable sound of feet pounding on the pavement. They move in closer, a synchronized unit. Booth trains his gun directly into the darkened alley, eyes and ears alert for any movement. She stands behind him, looking over his shoulder, wishing that she had brought her own gun and didn't leave it in the car. Booth turns, locks eyes with her, and then takes off into the alley.
She shouts his name, runs after him, but the alley is cold and unforgiving, and she stumbles over upturned garbage cans and the bodies of dead rats. Above her, apartment buildings criss-cross the sky, giving her only glimpses of the night. She fumbles for her cellphone, dials for backup, and gives them the coordinates of their whereabouts.
She hears a shot ring out, shockingly loud in the still December air, and she rushes forward to where she sees a body drop on the pavement. But there is something in front of her, stopping her from getting there - a glass wall, thick as her arm and yet clear as the surface of a virgin spring - and she pounds her fists against the glass, screaming his name, and she sees Booth's body, seemingly illuminated by the city lights, tumbling to the ground, a red strain blossoming on his white dress shirt. His eyes are open, blank, like camera lenses trained towards the sky. His hand relaxes, releasing the gun, and she is panicking now, slamming her palms against the glass, pleading, crying, no no no...
"No, no, no, Booth..."
"Bones, wake up."
"Please don't leave me again," she sobs, her body trembling. She feels something warm - skin, cotton, love - wrap around her shoulders and she stills, whimpering. As she surfaces from her dream, she realizes that she is in bed, and that she's not alone. Brennan cracks open an eye and registers Booth's concerned face looking down at her. Embarrassed, she wipes away a stray tear and turns around to lie on her back. A lone vehicle trundles past her apartment building, the car lights sweeping across the window and throwing shadows on the ceiling. The digital clock read-out tells her that it's 20 past three. She feels a migraine coming on, and rubs her fingers against her temples wearily.
"Here, let me do that." Booth reaches out and his callused fingers start rubbing concentric circles against her skin, trying to soothe away the undercurrent of pain. He is close to her now, their bodies sliding against each other as he moves next to her. She shuts her eyes, trying to quiet the voice in her head that they were treading dangerously close to the line that separated friends and lovers.
"Bad dream?" he asks quietly.
"I'm accustomed to it," she replies, trying to salvage the shreds of her dignity.
"It's okay to be afraid, Bones."
She twists slightly, allowing his hands to fall away from her temples, looking into his eyes. After seven years of partnership, she's seen him in almost every imaginable situation, has seen his reaction to everything from being inebriated to near-death. And yet she's never seen this expression on him before - like he's seeing her for the first time, like he's witnessing the birth of a new star, an entire galaxy of stars. There is a light of wonder and fear in his eyes, and she's unsure why. "Booth," she begins, wondering what on earth she could tell him. "I... "
And then the fear takes hold of her heart again, her metaphorical heart, and she chokes on her on words. How could she divulge her feelings for this man - this man, who had all but abandoned her, had exchanged her for another woman? This man, who talked about breaking the laws of physics, of keeping what's between them as theirs, of knowing that he was that guy who would love her - this man who decided that she was better off alone? Suddenly, she feels trapped and moves towards the edge of the bed, kicking off the blankets and the duvet in panic.
He rises up from the sheets. "Bones, Bones, what's - "
"Get away from me." The floor is cold underneath her bare feet, and she stumbles further away from the bed. She needs to get her bearings. When she crawled into the guest bed tonight, it was only for the intention of checking to see whether or not Booth was okay after Hannah's abrupt exit. But weariness caught up with her, and before she knew it, she had drifted off. But now she is wide awake, and she sees him looking at her, his brown eyes soft and sad. "I should get back to my own bed," she says weakly, straightening herself up. She's gone and made a complete fool of herself. Temperance Brennan did not cry in the arms of any man, and she certainly did not show her weakness to any man.
At least, not anymore.
Booth slips off the bed and pads towards her. The old rugby shirt that he'd left behind a long time ago (before the Malukus, before he gambled on them) now fit snugly across his chest and shoulders, outlining his bulk. He towers over her. "Do you want me to leave, Bones?" he asks, his voice rumbly with sleep.
"No, I..." She takes a deep breath. "You are welcome to stay. I'm certain that you would not want to be alone tonight." She moves towards the door. "Good night."
But before she could even open the door, he reaches out and wraps his hand around her wrist, effectively tugging her towards him. "Bones," he says. "I'm sorry."
Her forehead wrinkles. "For what? I don't understand."
"That night, in the car, after Lauren's case... I should've stayed with you. I shouldn't have let you be alone."
She purses her lips. Breathe in. Breathe out. "It's all right. I'm used to being alone."
"You don't have to. You're not supposed to." He steps closer, until they are mere centimeters away from each other. "Everyone needs somebody, Bones. Even you."
"Well," she says quietly. "I didn't have anyone."
"You have me."
She looks up. "No. I don't have you, Booth. I understand that I hurt you, that night, when I said no. And believe me when I say that I never intended to hurt you in that way. But I was afraid. I'm still afraid. And you proved me right. Feelings are ephemeral. One moment, you tell me that you know that we're meant to be together. And then, the next moment, I see you and you're with..." She lets her voice trail away. The wound is too raw, too fresh. "And I could see that she was good for you, that she could give you what you wanted without complications, without fear. She was everything I could never be to you. She has your kind of open heart."
"Bones." He grips her tightly, his hands sliding up her arms. "If she had my kind of open heart - your kind of open heart - she wouldn't have left the way she did. It's the coward's way out."
Brennan shakes her head. She doesn't want to go through this again. She's already mourned him twice. She needs to move beyond this. "I don't know what else you want from me," she whispers.
He closes in on her: toes touching, arms around her slight body, forehead pressing against hers. She smells of warm summer nights and some kind of faint, flowery scent. "Just you, Bones. I just want you."
She sighs in his arms, her limbs slack. "I can't give you what you want, Booth."
He chuckles softly. "You mean, you're just somebody wearing Temperance Brennan's face and clothes and voice? Give me back my Bones then, impostor."
She smiles begrudgingly. "That was... amusing." She looks up at him, all shadow and form, malleable as flesh and blood and truth. "But Booth. We can't go back to the way we were."
He presses a gentle kiss on her forehead. "Sure we can, Bones. Baby steps."
"Sweets was right. We have a surrogate relationship."
"There's nothing surrogate about this relationship."
"I don't know what that means."
"It means, I'm done looking. I tried, and it failed. I gave it my best, but underneath it all, Hannah and I were just not right for each other. We found each other at a time when we needed comforting, when we were hurt by the people we truly loved. And I'm sorry for that, Bones, I really am." He tightens his hold on her, as though she was going to vanish at any moment. "And I'm going to spend forever trying to make up for the fact that I made you stop believing in love."
"What made you think I ever believed in it, anyway?" she asks, laying her head gently on his chest. His heartbeat is strong and sure, the rhythm a counterpoint to her own breathing.
"Oh Bones. If you didn't believe in love, you wouldn't have turned me down the first time. The fact is, even back then, you cared enough about my own happiness to sacrifice your own. And even when I came back and you were hurt, you never stopped being my friend, my partner. If that's not love, I'm not sure what is."
She allows him to lead her back to bed, turning the rumpled covers over and crowding her towards her own side. She shifts and settles her body as he climbs in after her. "What do we do now?" she asks. Her hands move towards him out of their own accord and she finds herself enveloped in his arms as he pulls the blankets over them.
"Well, tonight, we sleep. Tomorrow, we'll grab breakfast at the diner, talk about stuff. Figure things out. We're good at that, right?"
The fear has quieted down in her chest, to be replaced by a sense of safety, of warmth. "Yes," she says drowsily. "We're good at that."
She wakes up to his arms around her waist, her bottom against his hip, his mouth pressed in a small "O" against the back of her neck. For a moment, she just wants to lie in bed with this man and savor the warmth of his body against hers. But there is an invisible chasm between them now: ever since that night in the car, when he allowed her to be alone, they've moved away from each other. She cannot remember the last time she shared a meal with him, or spoke to him about something other than work (and even those conversations were fast and fleeting), or visited his apartment. She does not know if they can ever get these things back.
She feels his breath on her bare skin as he slowly rises back to consciousness. "What time is it?" he asks groggily.
"Thank God it's a Saturday."
"You don't have to thank an invisible being for the regulated pattern of time, Booth."
He laughs, a short, breathless laugh like he's relieved of some terrible burden. "I gotta say, Bones, you've definitely got to work on your pillow talk."
"I haven't had the opportunity to engage in sexual activity for almost two years, so my skills are bound to be a bit rusty."
Booth looks at her, surprised. "Two years? Whatever happened to biological urges and all that stuff you were spouting on and on about?"
She shrugs, extricating herself from his arms. "I haven't felt the need. And I'm perfectly capable of pleasuring myself. At any rate, you're welcome to stay here as long as you like. I'll just be in my own bathroom, getting ready." And with that, she walks towards the door and slips out before Booth could even take a breath and ask her to stay.
After a few minutes, he gets up from the Brennan-warmed bed and makes his way blearily down to his SUV, where he keeps a change of clothes for the gym. They're nothing fancy: black gym pants and an old gray cotton FBI Academy shirt that clings to his shoulders and abdomen when he's soaked in sweat. But when Brennan emerges from the room in jeans and a red blouse that shows off her figure just so, she gives him an appraising look. The latent heat between them springs to life.
"So," he says, trying to break the silence that seems to have sprung up between them, "shall we?"
They walk towards his car together, shoulders bumping against each other. The elevator descends to the lobby and the new doorman tips his hat as they exit. "Good to see you, Agent Booth, Dr. Brennan," he says amiably. Brennan does a double take - she's certain he's the spitting image of Micah - but before she can confirm, Booth sweeps her down the short flight of steps and towards the gleaming black SUV parked at the curb. She slides into the passenger side of the vehicle like she's done dozens of times in the past, but somehow, this feels new. Booth has spent nights at her apartment before, but never have they occupied the same bed, the same space. It's as though the line connecting their two points has become shorter and shorter i in the span of one night. She welcomes the clarity as Booth revves up the engine and follows the familiar path towards the diner.
They do not sit at their usual table - it seems that a young family has taken residence there. The father and the mother sit side by side, sharing a plate of waffles, while their children, a young boy at the cusp of adolescence and his serious-looking younger sister, dug into bowls of cereal and fruit. A stack of pancakes, cut into quarters, sits at the middle of the table, bright and fluffy for the taking. Brennan observes them quietly as they approach the counter and place their orders.
"Earth to Bones." She looks over her shoulder and Booth is there, looking at her with questioning eyes. "You okay?"
"Oh. I was just..." He follows her line of vision and sees the family at their table. His next words are whispered in her ear, sending a thrill down her spine.
"We can have a family like that, you know," he says quietly, his breath caressing the shell of her ear.
She turns around and faces him, just as their coffees are brought to the counter, along with their breakfasts. "Booth." She tries to keep her body from reacting to his words. When did the walls come down? When did she start believing in him without the empirical evidence to support his claims?
(Ever since the beginning, she supposes.)
"We need to talk." Steam rises from her coffee cup as she encircles the ceramic with her hands.
"About a lot of things."
"I know." His eyes are shining, twin orbs of hope.
"I'm very different, you know. I can't just accept your sweeping statements about intangible things. I need proof."
"I have the rest of my life to prove that I love you, Bones."
She releases the breath she isn't even aware she is holding back. "You... you don't love me. You love Hannah."
"Correction: I loved Hannah. And what I felt for her couldn't even possibly compare... never even reached a fifth of what I feel for you. And you're right - we need to talk. About a lot of things. About how I messed up a perfectly good relationship between us because I was hurt that you ran away, that you said no. And maybe if I'd never decided to save the idiot reporter who ran into a kill zone, I would have realized that you're still the one for me. But I was stupid, and blinded, and I'm sorry for that. So, so sorry for that." He reaches across and takes her hands between his, where they are sheltered and warm. "Please. Let me try."
She tries to give him a smile through the tears that threaten to gather across her field of vision. "Booth, I can't promise I won't run away again. This is frightening for me. You are, perhaps, the only person in the world I can't bear losing."
He gives her his patented charm smile. "I'll follow you then. That was my mistake the last time. I should've followed you. I shouldn't have run away in the opposite direction."
"It was a classic fight-or-flight response, Booth. There's no need to apologize."
"Well, I'm a fighter. And I should have fought for you." He leans forward now, as though he wants to share a secret with her. "So here's the deal, Bones: I want to fight for you. I want you to know that, from here on in, this is me fighting for you, being on your side, reminding you that yes, you are loved by someone else and that you are treasured and cherished in every way you deserve. Now, I may not be able to keep that promise all the time, and there will probably be days when you have to remind me because I'm only human, but yeah, there. I will fight for you."
She is surprised at the depth of the emotion that underscores Booth's every word. She finds herself suddenly calm, a pool of stillness in the maelstrom of his revelations. And even though it goes against what is ingrained in her nature, she believes him. She knows the truth of his words. She knows the truth of him.
Brennan is the one who initiates the kiss. She propels forward unerringly, her lips meeting his midway. It is only the fourth time they have kissed - the first one was one of promise, the second one was done under extenuating circumstances, and the third... well, the third was borne out of tears and heartbreak. It seems they have come full circle: she tastes the coffee on his tongue and beneath that, she tastes him. His lips are warm and pliable and, oh, he knows just what to do with his tongue and teeth and mouth that makes her want to throw caution to the wind and drag him to the bathroom stalls at the back. She thinks about the fact that while geometry states that the closest path between any two points is a line, she knows that it is not true. It is a circle, with both points occupying the center, neither one existing without the other.
A/N: And that's a wrap! Comments, constructive criticisms, and reviews are most welcome. :)