That's Why I'm Here
Written June 2011
This is yet another version of the missing scenes between HOLE IN THE HEART and THE CHANGE IN THE GAME. More meat than sweet – fair warning.
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"You're staying at my apartment tonight," Booth said.
He was prepared for an argument. He was prepared for any number of logical, rational, practical reasons why it wouldn't be prudent for her to stay with him. None of that mattered. He was not about to let her be alone that night. It wasn't about her safety – at least not her physical safety. It was about her emotional safety. He knew Brennan. He knew her better than she knew herself. He had seen her changing. Hell, he was responsible for her changing. Seven years ago he walked into her life. She needed no one and didn't need him above a one night stand. It probably would have lasted a little longer than one night, but it damn sure wouldn't have lasted seven years. He asked for her professional help and she demanded all or nothing - professionally. She allowed him to teach her; to tutor her about his world from broiling a suspect to putting away psychotic serial killers bent on destruction. He taught her about murder; the victims, the murderers, the motives. She had killed for him - twice. Slowly, methodically, effectively he had broken down her walls brick by brick and exposed her to a world she had protected herself from for most of her life. An argument could be made that she wanted those walls to come down, but in the end it didn't matter who was more responsible. At this point she was defenseless and needed him. He damn sure wasn't going to allow her to crumble now. She would not admit it, at least not in the light of day, but she was going to have a reaction to Vincent's death. Booth couldn't … he wouldn't let her be alone to work her way through that.
Booth had seen death. He has caused death and he was helpless at time to prevent death. He had lost many friends in war but he was not so jaded as to feel nothing. He did feel responsible for Vincent's death in spite of his protestations, but it was not going to overwhelm him. Ultimately he wasn't the one who pulled the trigger or gave the order. There was a reason Booth was spared; it was hard to live with, but there was a reason. If Broadsky had killed Booth, who would be around to take Broadsky down? It rested on Booth's shoulders alone. He was the only one who could take care of Broadsky – but that was for tomorrow. For that night, he was the only one who could help Brennan over this next hurdle. He had left her alone way too long. She was going to need him, and he would be there. For the first time in too long, he was going to be there to catch her when she fell.
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"You're staying at my apartment tonight," Booth stated.
Brennan's first reaction was to say no. He was just trying to be nice. He had enough to focus on he didn't need to protect her. She shook her head and was about to protest but the look in his eye was earnest and immovable. It would be easier for him if he knew she was safe.
"OK," she said softly and nodded. She didn't want to argue with him. She didn't want to add to his burden any more than she already had. She looked away and walked away.
She was chiding herself for the blood on your hands comment. She needed to stop being so literal when it didn't matter. Who cares if he still had blood on his hands? She still had blood on hers. At least it felt that way even after repeated washings and she was wearing gloves. She had heard the idiom blood on your hands of course and actually knew the figurative meaning – to have caused someone's death. It didn't apply to Booth in this instance but she saw his face after she said it. She saw him start and wince and blanch. She saw him look away. He said that he didn't feel responsible, that he wasn't the one who pulled the trigger. Was that really true or was that just something he needed to believe? Or was it something he told them so they wouldn't try to shore him up?
Brennan heard Angela explain that she was being literal and saw Booth inspect his hands. He used to know her. He used to know that everything she said was literal. He used to appreciate that about her. They had grown so far apart. How would they ever get back on the same track if only to be partners? It was comments like those that widened the already widening gap between them. How could she have done that? He was being so strong, so patient, so kind to all of them. How could she have added to his burden like that? And then to have him want to protect her – she didn't deserve his kindness. She didn't deserve him. It was Booth who needed protection - protection from her.
She waited in his office for two hours and forty-five minutes as he attended to the FBI protocol when someone is killed in the course of an investigation. She stood looking out the window at the city below thinking that one of those people down there walking around was Broadsky, and none of them was Vincent Nigel Murray. She felt her heart start to race, there was a lump in her throat and her stomach tightened into a knot. Why Vincent? He had hurt no one. He had dedicated his life to science. He was earnestly working for good. He was an innocent. He didn't deserve to die. He shouldn't have died. It was all so tragic.
But if Booth had picked up the phone it would have been Booth who was killed. The bullet was meant for Booth. How would she have survived if Booth had been killed? The tears welled in her eyes. It wasn't Booth, she reminded herself. It was Vincent. It was Vincent and he didn't deserve to die. Broadsky was the cause. Broadsky was to blame and he was still out there. He was the one who could still cause more unnecessary deaths. He was the one that needed to be caught. He was a son of a bitch – not literally of course, but the figurative meaning applied.
Her thoughts turned again to Booth, about the days ahead. She would have to help him, do what she could to help him in the only way she knew how. She needed to give him information, help him to find Broadsky and if possible, bring him in alive. Booth hated killing people, even people who deserved it – and yes there were people who deserved it. She needed to help Booth; help him stay focused, help him complete his mission. She wished it were over. She wished it were all over and they could go back to their lives, but nothing would ever be the same. Her world was changing. Vincent was dead.
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"Bones, what the hell are you doing?" Booth barked, strode into the office and pulled her away from the window. He snapped the blinds closed. "Do you understand?" He softened his tone. "Broadsky tried to kill me today. When he finds out he missed, he will try again. I don't want you taking a bullet for me. I don't want anyone else to take a bullet for me."
"He didn't need a window to kill Mr. Nigel Murray."
"I know. I know. But, please … No widows, OK? … please." He put his hands through his hair and blew heavy breath out. He was wound tighter than a drum. He needed something ordinary to do. "Are you hungry?"
"No," she said quietly avoiding eye contact. "But you should eat."
"I'm not hungry," he dismissed. "Let's just go home, OK?"
She nodded trying not to meet his eyes any more than was necessary. She wanted to suggest that her apartment might be safer than his if indeed Broadsky were setting up to take another shot. It was logical, it was rational. She had two bedrooms, food in the refrigerator and a bottle of scotch that she kept for him. There was no reason for Broadsky to suspect that Booth would be there. He hadn't been there much in the past year or more. It made sense, but she didn't want to challenge him. She would do what she was told just to appease him.
Booth grabbed his coat and led her out of the office. He should have suggested her apartment rather than his. It was larger – two bedrooms anyway – and it was more likely that if Broadsky were going to go after him that night it would be at his apartment rather than hers. But it was too late to change the plans. Besides, Booth needed to be on his own ground. Brennan's place wasn't as familiar to him as it once was. So much had changed. So much time had been wasted. Too many lives wasted. And now Booth had Vincent Nigel Murray to add to his balance sheet.
The car ride was quiet. They were each in their own thoughts but there was a modicum of comfort that they were together.
His apartment was dark and cold and there was a musty smell. He hadn't been home much in the past few weeks either. There was no food in his refrigerator and no beer. Neither one wanted a drink so it really didn't matter. He offered to take the couch; she protested that it was more important that he get his sleep. She was so practical. Of course there was little chance either of them was going to sleep that night. He could feel how stiff and uncomfortable she was - more so than usual. He probably was off his game too. He studied her for a moment trying to decide if he should be the one to open the topic of Vincent's death but he could tell that she was not in a talking mood. To be honest, he needed some time to himself as well. So he said good night, went to his room and closed the door. He smirked at the absurdity: Brennan in his apartment, in his sweats and she was sleeping on the couch? There was a time in his youth when that never would have happened regardless of the events of the previous twenty-four hours or the woman in question.
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Brennan sat up for a long time in the darkened living room. She had heard him in the bathroom and saw the light go out from under his door. She heard him get into bed and check his weapon. And then all was still. He didn't toss or turn and he didn't stir. It was good that he could get some sleep. It was important for him to be rested. His sniper training would have taught him how to sleep or at least shut down and recharge in stressful situations. It wouldn't due for him to make a mistake because he was overtired. Brennan was wide awake. She thought about reading, she thought about writing, she thought about getting up and going home - anything to stop her mind from spinning – but she stayed as still as she could on the couch as not to disturb him. Reading was out, the light would bother him. Writing was out for the same reason. She couldn't go home for obvious reasons. Time passed slowly.
Please don't make me leave.
Her mind started spinning faster about the incidents of that day. Every detail was fresh in her mind: the sound of the breaking glass, the look on Mr. Nigel Murray's face, the pain in his voice as he begged her to let him stay.
Don't make me go. … I don't want to go … It's been lovely…
She wouldn't have made him go. She liked him. She respected his zeal, and she even liked his little bits of trivia as random as most of them were. Since coming back from Maluku she found she enjoyed her interns quite a bit and Mr. Nigel Murray really was her favorite.
It's been lovely … lovely here with you.
Why would he plead with her to let him stay? Did he think it was her fault? Did he think that she wanted him to go? What kind of person did that make her?
Please don't make me leave.
She wasn't a cold fish; she wasn't a robot. She had feelings and she cared – she cared about all of them. Why would he ask her not to make him leave?
It doesn't … It … It doesn't hurt. … Please … Please don't … Please don't make me leave. … I love … I love being here. … Don't … Just don't make me leave. … Please … Please don't … Just don't make me go. … I don't want to go … It's been lovely … lovely here with you.
Brennan got up to pace. She tried to do it quietly, but she felt trapped in Booth's apartment. She was becoming more anxious, panicked even. She saw Mr. Nigel Murray's face every time she closed her eyes.
I love … I love being here.
She was still seeing him when they were wide open in the dark. She didn't understand.
It doesn't hurt. … Please … Please don't … Please don't make me leave.
She heard his voice. She felt his plea to her. She didn't understand.
Please don't … Just don't make me go.
Did he really think she was responsible? Were those his last thoughts before he died, that Brennan was responsible? Why would he think she would want him to leave? Was she that horrible?
She knocked into an end table and upset the lamp catching it before it hit the floor. She turned quickly to see if Booth's lights came on; they didn't. As quietly as she could she righted the table and picked up the lamp. She tried to sit down on the couch. She tried to stay still. She tried to stop herself from thinking. It wasn't working. She needed to understand. She needed to talk to Booth. He was the person she talked to about stuff like this. She got up and moved silently to his door and put her ear against it trying to determine if he was awake.
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Booth lay in the dark with only the street lights streaming through the slits in the blinds. He didn't move. He slowed his breathing. He focused on each muscle group - tensed and relaxed – or at least un-tensed. Tomorrow was tomorrow and would take care of itself as far as Broadsky was concerned. Vincent Nigel Murray filled his mind a lot – just one more kid that died in his hands. How many more would he see die? How much death could one man be expected to take?
He focused on his breathing again. In … Out … In … Out … slow … shallow … barely there.
He forced his mind to Brennan. She was not as accustomed to death as he was that much was evident by her except to Maluku. But this time it was someone she knew. Someone she liked. Someone she was responsible for. This was going to hit her hard. He knew Brennan wasn't sleeping. He assumed it from what he knew from her, but he also had a sense that she was awake – his sniper sense. He thought about getting up and going to her. He thought about bringing her to his bed. He thought about their past. You don't push Brennan. He had scolded Sweets about that how many times? And the first two months in Afghanistan he scolded himself too. No, he would have to let her come to him no matter how long it took. This time he would be there waiting.
The state of their relationship - or lack thereof - was not entirely her fault. He had made mistakes too but she could be very frustrating. Frustrating like no other woman he had ever known. His romantic belief that she was 'the one,' that 'he knew' from the beginning, that they were 'fated' had been shaken, rattled and rolled beyond hope. Not for want of love or commitment on his part in spite of Hannah; but he had finally accepted that she was as immovable on certain subjects as ... well, as the pyramids - or so he thought. For all intents and purposes they were at an impasse and had been for over a year before the night she refused him. How many times he wished he had a chance to relive that night or any of a thousand plus nights that lead up to that night. He had pushed her too hard, too fast and didn't give her time to adapt. He pushed her; she said no and ran away. He ran too - ran right into the arms of someone he decided to love. He tried to console himself with the idea that Brennan probably refused him through some misguided notion of protecting him; she said as much. She didn't lie, fabricate or embellish. At the time it didn't matter why. She said no and it was final. He walked away romantically and didn't look back; partners would be enough if that was all she had to offer. Up until the scheme for Maluku was broached, he truly believed that he could be just her partner but he still harbored the smallest hope that she might change her mind. He was convinced her no meant no when day after day, week after week, month after month went by and she didn't contact him. She said no and it was final - or so he thought. Sometime time during the seven months they were parted he got hurt, he got bitter, he got angry and he got Hannah.
His eyes snapped opened in the dark. He thought he heard something. Nothing. No sound. No movement. It was quiet but not too quiet. He got up and listened at the door to see if Brennan were awake. He expected that she would cry at some point and he would be there to give her a shoulder and dry her tears. Nothing, but he still didn't think she was sleeping. He went back to bed and resumed his position his head again full of Brennan.
Brennan had always been a great partner. There was no one else he wanted in his corner, no one would have his back the way she did. But the last nine months she had proven that she was a great friend - more than a friend - in spite of the way he was treating her. She had proven how much she loved him - romantically probably if he would have allowed it – but she loved him as a person. She was selfless and put his happiness above her own. She would have watched him marry Hannah, raise kids with Hannah, grow old with Hannah – Hannah couldn't see that but Brennan did. She would have supported him every step of the way of that ill conceived foray into domestic bliss. Could he have said as much? Probably not. She was loyal, forgiving, understanding, patient, tolerant, and kind all without pushing her own agenda. He was confused at first when she revealed that she had discovered that she made a mistake. Why would she say such a thing to him when he was involved with Hannah? Why would she force him to hurt her like that? He easily for gave her in time. She did not seek him out, he sought her. She did not come to him; he was just there when the light dawned. She had done nothing and had not treated him any differently after he rejected her than she had before. She was steady and constant, but he did see hurt in her eyes on occasion. Her only agenda ever was to keep him in her life in any way she could; there were times when that was annoying, painful and awkward. He felt it if she didn't. If the tables were reversed, if she had been the one to come home with a lover would he have done as much? He wanted to believe that he would, but he knew that wasn't true.
When Brennan came back she was changed too. If he had only waited, what would have happened for them? If only ... too many ifs. It didn't matter. Shit happened and life went on. They were both still standing, they were a version of partners and they had an expectation for someday. That was one hundred and eighty degrees from where they were sixteen months prior. A hell of a place to be. She was waiting for him and he was waiting for the right time. He wasn't being mean or rude or proving a point - he just wanted to feel about her they way he felt about her so many months ago. He knew in his head he loved her; he knew in his mind that he had never stopped. He knew in his head that she would be with him until the day he died and that day would be years off. He just wanted to feel it, feel it in his heart, feel it in his bones. For that he needed to let go of his anger. He was using his anger to go after Broadsky, he needed it. When this was over, when Broadsky was captured or killed, then he would let it go. Then he would allow himself to feel something other than anger.
Since her heart felt reveal to him last December he had seen her retreat behind the safety of her science again. He was sorry for that. Since the night Hannah left and he gave Brennan no other option than to be his partner only, he saw her weak and tentative around him. He was sorry for that too. The night they got stuck in the elevator, the night they shared a wish for someday, the night they burned their wishes and let them free to the universe was a new day for them. It was that night when he knew -
The door opened. Booth shot up in bed, grabbed his gun and trained it on the person in the door way. He hadn't realized that he wasn't sleeping, that every muscle in his body was on hyper alert. He would have shot but he saw her face and stopped himself.
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"I'm sorry," she stumbled with her hands up in his door way.
"No, I'm sorry." He sat up and threw his legs over the side of the bed trying to clear his head. "I'm sorry. Did you hear something?"
"No." She looked back to the living room sorry that she woke him.
"Do you want me to put the gun away?"
Booth put the gun down and asked what was wrong. This was what he had expected. This was why she was in his apartment and on his couch. This was why she was there. Booth let her come in and talk. She needed answers that were not easily given. She needed answers that no one had except people of faith. Brennan didn't like those answers. And then came the tears. He hadn't seen her break down often in their six year partnership - maybe a handful of times. The last time nearly broke his heart because he was the object of her pain and he couldn't comfort her. This time he would. She asked for his shoulder. This time she actually asked for his shoulder and he was ready, willing and able to give it to her.
He wrapped his arms around her, drew her close and pulled down on the bed allowing her to cry into his shoulder.
"That's why I'm here," he said tenderly. "I'm right here. ... I know. ... It's hard."
She cried herself out as if the crying alone was enough. He was struck again by how unlike any other woman she was. Booth had comforted many women in his life. Some would rant; some would scream, some would demand answers that would never come. Some would fight, hit and need to physically vent the pain. Some would even use it as an excuse to have sex just so they could feel something other than the pain they were in. Booth had seen it all. But Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan of the Jeffersonian Institution was different. She just cried quietly and allowed him to hold her. She didn't say anything. She didn't try to pull away; she didn't try to get any closer. She was just there in his arms crying. It was such a huge step for her to allow herself to be comforted, to allow him to comfort her. She had said months before that she was improving, that she was losing her imperviousness. She was right. Impervious people don't cry. He was touched. He was honored that she was able to be so vulnerable with him. He loved her – come what may - he loved her. He knew it. He felt it - in his heart, in his bones, in his soul, in every fiber of his being. He felt his love for her and it nearly overwhelmed him.
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Brennan sobbed into his shoulder and found safety in his arms. She felt the loss of Mr. Vincent Nigel Murray and the injustice of his loss. She felt the fear and relief that it wasn't Booth who was killed. She felt the dread that as long as Broadsky was still out there no one was safe. She felt sad, sadder than she had ever felt. She allowed herself to feel the depth of her sadness and that was as much as she could bear. She cried for Vincent. She cried for Booth. She cried for herself. She cried for them all. She hadn't cried like that since she was fifteen.
Once she had cried herself out and gained her composure, she tried to pull away.
"Thank you," she said with her voice cracking. "I'm sorry. I didn't want to burden you. You have to catch Broadsky tomorrow. You need your sleep. I'll go back out to the couch."
He allowed her to sit up but didn't allow her to get up. He held her hand to keep her next to him. "You OK?" he asked sweetly brushing the last of her tears away with his thumb.
"Yes," she said bravely. "Thank you."
"That's why I'm here. That's why you're here."
She didn't quite understand but she nodded and smiled weakly at him.
He couldn't let her go. "We have lost so much, Bones," he went on searching her eyes.
She nodded still not understanding what he meant.
"We have lost so much time - being independent, being bitter, being impervious, being angry. Such a colossal waste of time. That's all Vincent wanted was more time and we have it. You and I – we have been given more time. If we learn nothing else from his death we should learn that time is precious and shouldn't be wasted. We only have a short time to walk this life - it shouldn't be squandered."
"Booth, I don't -." She had no idea what she was going to say but she didn't need to.
"I love you, Bones," he said calmly almost sadly. He was resigned to the truth of it. He shrugged his shoulder. "There it is - raw, naked honesty. I love you and I don't want to miss another moment with you."
"Booth?" She was still unclear.
"Do you love me?"
On that she was very clear. "Yes."
"That's all that matters."
"You know that's not true," she protested.
"That's all the matters right here, right now, in this room, with you and me just before dawn." He pulled her down to kiss her. He slipped her arm out of the way and rolled her on to her back deepening the kiss. "Too much wasted time," he mumbled into her neck. He pulled back to look into her soft eyes. "I'm not angry anymore," he admitted even though the tiny voice in his head screamed out that he needed that anger to kill Broadsky. "I'm not angry. I love you." He slipped his hand under the sweatshirt so he could feel her soft smooth skin.
She responded to his kiss. She nearly exploded at his caress. She was exhausted from lack of sleep, from too many tears shed, from holding on so tightly to a hope that she didn't dare have. But it was beginning to look like all her hopes were about to be realized. She started to really respond but the image of Vincent lying in a pool of his own blood flashed through her mind. She stopped and protested. "We shouldn't."
"We owe it to Vincent," he said gently. "We owe it to ourselves not to waste any more time."
"Booth?" She wasn't saying no, she was merely trying to ascertain if he was sure. "Booth?"
She was answered with a kiss. No more words were needed. Too much time had been wasted and there was no guarantee what tomorrow would bring. They made love. It wasn't the high stamina athletic romp that they had expected since that discussion the night of the blizzard. It was loving, tender, soft and sweet. It was more than comforting; it was a promise for a new beginning, a better understanding and a future for them together, a future that was yet unclear but it was there. The future was being shaped with every kiss and caress more so than even they understood.
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A/N: There are probably a hundred of these stories out there – or more. I must admit I have only read one. So anyone interested in this one? The plan is to take it from the night of the DISSOLVE TO BLACK to the night of the B Bomb. This will not be one of those hearts and flowers stories. Booth and Brennan were clearly still not fully on the same page when she told him about the conception. I expect to broach some of the Maluku/Afghanistan fall out but not resolve it. They will still have a lot of work to do and with a baby coming, they will need to put aside some of the petty BS. I will leave a lot of it up to the boys and girls in the BIG LEAGUES should they deign to actually write it for our viewing pleasure but have little faith in their use of flashbacks or working through the real dirt. So, if you are interested, drop a comment or add an alert. This might be enough as a one shot, who knows. You tell me.