Spoilers for "A Hole In the Heart", "Double Trouble on the Panhandle" and "The Parts In the Sum of the Whole"
She didn't cry for much longer, having done a lot of crying before she'd allowed herself to end the self-flagellation and do what she'd wanted to do for hours. Now, in his bed, in his arms, Brennan felt uncharacteristically foolish and fragile. "I'm sorry I woke you."
"Don't be." Booth pressed his lips to her temple in an easy gesture. "I'm glad you did."
There could have been many feelings attached to his discovery that she was gone from his bed and his home, and in the first few moments after waking he experienced the whole gamut, minus perhaps "surprise" and "relief". The latter would come later, as he slid behind the wheel of his SUV and considered what might have happened had she found the guts to stay and face him.
The former was never felt; he wasn't surprised she'd left before having to face him in the light.
A text to Cam was met with a quick reply – all had checked in and were safe, and Brennan was in her office. So for the time being Booth had one less thing to worry about.
After all that had happened, Booth found himself resenting Broadsky for some very selfish reasons, and no amount of chastisement could shake him free of it. But he would have to report to the FBI, meet with the tactical supervisor, check and recheck his equipment, and somehow get his head in the game. Somehow stop thinking there was somewhere else he really needed to be.
Brennan was a champion at compartmentalizing, or so it had always seemed. He envied her.
All he had to do was survive the day, Booth coached himself, figuratively and literally. And after that, he would... Well, he wasn't exactly sure. But maybe when he and Brennan finally had a chance to speak he would just know.
It took him a few moments to locate his ringing cell phone, and with his eyes on the road he didn't check the display before answering. "Booth."
"Hi. It's me."
If only the sound of her voice could have evoked some romantic response - a skipped beat of his heart, a fluttering like butterflies in his oesophagus, a warmth flooding through him. Anything other than his sudden need to throw up.
"Bones. Hi." A long silence followed. So much for just knowing. "Is everything okay? Are YOU okay?"
"Yes. Well... yes."
He understood that hesitation. Someone they cared about had died yesterday. Everything was definitely not "okay".
"I was just calling because I wanted to apologize. I should have left a note. So you wouldn't...think I was dead."
"I would have worried anyway. You shouldn't have gone off by yourself."
"I'm sorry." Quick and sincere.
"Good." Her tone clearly said the matter was closed. "Then I'll talk to you later?"
"Don't say it."
"How can you possibly know what I'm going to say when even I have no idea?" He chuckled in spite of himself.
"Because I've imagined variations of up to four distinct things you might wish to share at this juncture, and I'm not certain I'm ready to hear any one of them just yet."
Her innocent frankness never got old. "Fair enough. To be honest I'm not sure I'm ready to say any of them."
"Well," he echoed. "Listen, I'm going to pick up something to eat. Can I bring you something?"
"Yes," she answered, a little too quickly. "Anything."
"I'll be there in 15 minutes."
It was closer to 10, since in his haste to see her he'd forgotten to actually stop for food. She didn't seem to notice.
They weren't alone, and it was probably for the best. She immediately took both his hands in her own. "So. Maybe today's the day?"
He shifted from one foot to the other, a ball of nervous energy. "It's going to be soon. I can feel it." He could also feel her soft fingers squeezing his. "And when it's over..."
"When it's over, we'll have a lot to talk about."
Booth's phone rang, and they broke contact so he could answer. "Uh huh... Uh huh... I'm on my way." He snapped it shut. "I have to get to work. I'll see you later. Okay?" And with one last look, he was gone.
Her gaze, in contrast, followed him out the door. And she was still fixed on that spot, lost in thought, when Hodgins called to her from across the room. Back to work.
It didn't take long for her to feel completely at ease. Their friendship certainly allowed for this, a gesture of need and answering comfort. The fact that this was the first time it had occurred in a truly horizontal position was entirely beside the point.
His hands had stilled while continuing to rest on her, but she knew from his breathing that he wasn't yet asleep. She wondered if she was overstaying her welcome. "Booth, there's only a few hours left before daylight. Would it be preferable for me to return to the couch so you can rest?" She lifted her head from his chest and looked at him, wanting to gauge his expression.
His face didn't change. He didn't even open his eyes. "You know, Bones, for someone so brilliant you sometimes make the stupidist suggestions."
"'Most stupid'," she corrected. " 'Stupidist' is not a real word."
"What, are you calling ME stupid?" He was moving now, rolling her off of him so he could position himself on his side, facing her.
"You called ME stupid," she pointed out, suddenly self-conscious again as she assumed how terrible she must look, tear-stained and mussed, even in the low light. She turned her back to him, lifting her head as he slipped his arm under it. Lifting the oversized shirt as his hand sought skin. THAT was new.
"No, I called you brilliant," he clarified, fingers coming to rest on her hip, his pinkie sneaking innocently under the waist of her pants.
If he'd know for sure that today would be the day, he would have been wise to take her up on her offer to let him sleep. But he realized as he drove to the port that the determination that flowed through him stronger than ever before and made him utterly unaware of any weariness came more from her than anything else. His mind might have been screaming for revenge, but his heart just needed this to be over and done so that more important matters could be attended to.
No, he'd made the right choice.
"This is nice," she mused aloud, sliding her toes along his legs as she stretched. Her feet meeting his and staying there, skin to skin. "Why haven't we done this before?"
"Whaddya mean?" he mumbled against her hair. "We've shared a bed before." He'd been dozing peacefully but didn't begrudge her the conversation. Quite frankly, he DID need sleep, but he didn't want to miss a moment of this experience, either.
"It's not the same." She smiled as she recollected their brief undercover stint in the circus. "I can recount numerous times when this would have been a preferable outcome to a difficult day. Preferable to being alone, I mean."
A hearty "Amen" welled up within him, but he repressed it. "You've always been welcome here."
"I know." But did she know? "Except when..."
He responded so quickly it surprised her. "No, even then."
She made an incredulous noise. "I'm fairly certain that not one of your girlfriends would have approved of me climbing into bed with the two of you in the middle of the night." There were a few off-colour jokes that either could have inserted here. But it was five in the morning. And Vincent was dead.
"I never want you to feel like you can't come to me. For whatever you need."
She craned her neck to look at him, her arm raised above her so she could slip her hand behind his head. An intimate gesture worthy of the moment. "I know. But keep reminding me, okay?"
When she touched her lips to his, she'd meant it only as a chaste thanks. But when a moment stretched to a minute and the definition of chaste was stretched to its limit by their soft exploration, it was him that was first to break away. "Bones..." What was meant as a warning came out quite differently. He may as well have said "I love you". And that was what she heard.
She turned her whole body to face him, propping herself up on one elbow, tears returning to her eyes. "For whatever I need, right?"
Angela's joy served to make her own complete. And when Hodgins was ordered out of the room and she found herself stared down by her best friend, the details flowed out.
"Bones..." he said again, this time achieving the desired inflection. But not the desired effect; she was already removing her pants.
"Ange, why are you crying?"
"I'm crying because I'm hormonal. And because yesterday was such a horrific day but something so wonderful came out of it." Then she hugged Brennan, hard. "And because I'm so happy for you."
She had often speculated what their first time would be like, should it ever happen. Laughter and fun had always factored in; an entertaining exploration without embarrassment, possible only for two people who were completely comfortable with each other in every other sense. Two people who had nothing to prove to each other about how they felt or who they were.
It turned out altogether different then she had ever imagined.
They made love as though it was their 500th time instead of their first. Not hurried, not aerobic, not carnal. Like a "good night". Like a "good morning". They didn't disrobe, only moving or removing the essentials. There was no frenzied clash of lips and tongues, only soft touches and softer sighs. There was no groping or even exploring. Just contact.
Which was what she needed. And what he had promised.
Their bodies were ready; they'd had years of foreplay, after all. She turned from him, spooned against him, guided him into her. And for a long time he just held her, and she clung to the arms that surrounded her. And they listened to their breathing, felt their hearts beating.
When they could take the stillness no more, they found their rhythm. And when they could take the rhythm no more, they found their release.
Cam had called in two ME friends to get what was needed for the investigation and get Mr. Nigel-Murray ready for home. And so the very day his murderer was apprehended, his friends gathered to say their final goodbyes.
Booth had been busy all day with Broadsky and with getting the details of his part of the case ready to hand off to Caroline. Done and over with – that was what he had wanted. He wasn't quite there, but he was close. Close enough.
He'd seen Brennan only once since not bringing her breakfast that morning. He'd come to the Jeffersonian himself to pick up hard copies of their notes, turning down his bosses' offer to send a runner. Andrew had just smiled knowingly, and told him to hurry back.
Upon his arrival he was swarmed by his friends, embraced, clapped on the shoulder, all of them talking at once. Brennan had held back impatiently; the greeting she wanted to give him required more privacy than the platform would allow.
But instead of getting the chance to pull him away, she herself was called from the room by one of the three interns she'd assigned to bone storage that day. A problem had been identified and they needed her input before they continued; could she come and straighten things out? "Yes, of course." Ever the professional.
She joined the circle of Booth's admirers, added her congratulations and thanks, and then excused herself. As she stood in the elevator, she pulled out her cell phone and sent a quick text: "Sorry. Later?"
She blushed at his response. "Whatever you need."
No words followed; none were necessary. She'd become like a rag-doll in his arms, all the tension of the last few days ( - the last few years - ) having left her. And he couldn't hold her close enough, no matter how hard he tried.
They fell asleep.
And with the body of the fallen "squintern" on his way to his family and final resting place, they departed for the Founding Fathers to drink and to remember. Angela and Hodgins had taken their car, her pregnancy making her their default designated driver. The others left their vehicles and shared a cab, knowing full well they'd all need to take one home.
Booth had abdicated the front seat to Cam, who had argued he needed the room for his larger build. But he was happy to endure inadequate leg room in the back seat since it meant that Brennan's legs were pressed up against his, along with the rest of her. She had taken his arm again, and wasn't letting go.
Even Sweets thought nothing of it. These kinds of public displays, especially in the aftermath of a trauma, had been an evolving part of their relationship for as long as he'd known them.
Crowded into a round booth meant for two less than they made it hold, Booth was all over her, and no one noticed. Except Brennan, of course, who accepted it willingly. And except for Angela - both completely sober and holding the knowledge that made her know what to look for - who kept forgetting to be sad.
Tears were shed, laughter was ruckus, countless toasts were made, and the alcohol kept coming.
And when it was over, the others had departed and the two of them found themselves standing out front in the rain, as though they'd jumped back in time. They both recognized the comparison.
"Do you have anything to confess?" she teased him, fingering his lapels coyly. "I already know you're a gambler."
His hands went to her waist. "I can think of a few other things..." But her tongue was in his mouth before he had a chance to voice them.
Breaking apart, breathless and grinning, she looked up at him with eyes full of lust. "My place or yours?"
And meeting those beautiful eyes, savoring the taste of her, the feel of her, he had a moment of clarity. "Both."
She raised an eyebrow as he hailed an approaching cab.
"Because I do have a confession. And it's that I don't want to start something you can't finish."
"I'm pretty sure we've already started something." She leaned in to kiss him again, but he stopped her.
"I love you, Bones, but you know what's happened to me this past year, and there's a conversation we need to have before this goes any further." The alcohol was making him brave. "And we need to have it sober."
She knew immediately he was referring to Hannah's rejection, so she just smiled and put her hand in his, fingers entwined, to show him it was alright and she understood. She allowed herself to be placed in the cab and told the driver to wait, rolling down the window. "So we're not having sex tonight?" she called with a grin, bringing things full circle.
"Blame the tequila," he replied. "Again."
He could hear her laughing as the cab drove away.
A/N - Thank you for reading! This is my first story in the Bones universe, and I would very much appreciate your feedback - positive or negative. While I have labeled this story "complete", please add me to your author alert list if you'd like to see more; I find my own imagination wondering about "the next day", and I may be forced to explore it for my own peace of mind. I'd be happy to have you join me on that journey.