I DO NOT OWN BONES OR THE CHARACTERS ASSOCIATED WITH IT. Although that would be pretty fucking cool.

A/N: Wait, there are still people reading this?

But seriously, thank you, you kind people. You've seen what kind of ridiculous things I've written and you've read it anyway. A special few of you have even reviewed! It means more than you know to see that people are enjoying something that I have put effort into. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Sadly, this will be the last chapter of Pain in the Past. This update was incredibly delayed due to the unexpected turn in my (now husband!)'s health. He was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia just last week - we are in the process of finding healthcare, a new home, and a big screen TV, so life has been a little wild.

However, I do have another story in the works... until I can work out what I feel is a viable plot, I refuse to release it. If you're interested in some more Broil-y goodness, review and sign up for my author alerts, or follow me on twitter! (same exact username)

Please enjoy this chapter. I have written it longer and have even had some help from a friend *cough* dharmamonkey *cough* doing some edits to go out with PitP with a BANG!

Love to you all!

-Broil


"I'm not feeble, Booth. I can feed myself." Brennan wrenched her head away from the proffered spoon.

"Bones, I'm tellin' ya, this is THE best pudding I've had since my mom's."

She shook her head adamantly. "I don't need to be spoon-fed. My fine motor skills are functioning as well as before the accident."

"You know, Bones, you're allowed to just be pitiful, you know. How about Jello? Parker's favorite was the blue kind, but the caf didn't have it so I got you red…"

"Do you even know what's in Jello, Booth? In order to acquire the collagen required to make gelatin, the bones and hides of cows and pigs are boiled. The process is not dissimilar to that which we use to clean the bones during an investigation."

Booth's face grew progressively scrunched in the process of listening to her speak. Booth clapped the spoon and cup down on the bedside table. "You have to eat something, Bones." She recognized the look he gave her. Protective, not quite fatherly, but certainly filled with more concern than that of someone who was simply a 'partner.' She'd grown fond of it.

"Angela is coming later and is bringing a salad to me. Happy?" She pursed her lips and cocked her head to one side, inciting a weak but lopsided grin from her partner.

"So you're too good for hospital food? Where was my gourmet-fancy-pants salad when I was in the hospital, huh?" He joked, though it was only a convenient façade. In the days after Brennan was attacked, Booth had replayed the day over and over.

What if I'd gotten Parker's birthday gift ahead of time? Or if we'd had the party at my place. If I'd just seen through my father. If I'd not been so concerned with what I was going to wear. If I hadn't made that last minute stop outside Brennan's apartment… The thoughts went on like that until distractions eventually took hold of him otherwise. In this case, it was Brennan's rationalization of Booth's 'sub-par' experience in the hospital.

"… if you'd only asked, I would have brought you something more to your liking. Angela too."

Booth smiled shrewdly. If given the opportunity to rank his personal specialties, Booth figured that teasing could easily be in the top ten. Marksmanship, he thought, mentally counting off. The sack, gambling, hockey, cooking Italian, identifying a lie, fixing cars - among others. He often used his teasing to amuse himself, and there was no better target than one Temperance Brennan.

"I didn't have to ask Perotta to bring me chili when I was out of work with my back! " He used his index finger to emphasize his point. For a split second, Booth saw something. He used another of his top skills, reading body language, to interpret its meaning. At the mention of Agent Perotta, Brennan's nose wrinkled ever-so-slightly.

"Something wrong, there Bones? Got somethin' wrong with Agent Perotta?"

Brennan quickly recovered, rolling her eyes skyward and shaking her head quickly. "No, but I've made it very clear that I would not enjoy working with another agent."

"Well maybe I want a new anthropologist, huh? Maybe I want to change it up a bit, get a change of scenery." He looked her up and down, demonstrating just what he meant by 'scenery.'

Brennan pulled herself up in the bed, pressing her palms into the mattress. "There are far more candidates to replace you than could replace me, Booth," she scoffed. "Although, you could work with Dr. Edison or Dr. Stires…"

Brennan watched as Booth's demeanor changed instantly. From working so closely with Booth over the years, she learned that not many things made him as angry as being reminded of the ex-boyfriends of Brennan's that he had staunchly not approved.

Booth's sternocleidomastoid tensed in synchronization with his jaw. "Huh-uh," he said, his forearms tightened and fists formed in resolute anger. "No way, no how. Not that jagoff."

"I hardly believe Michael is worthy of such a title, Booth."

You hardly believe? he thought. What's not to believe? The asshole was under oath for the majority of the time he was screwing with your feelings. Hah. And to think people call you 'disconnected' from the world. How does she have the patience to continuously deal with guys like this? She's gorgeous, anyone can see that – so why is it that all the bottom-feeders have to come calling?

He moved closer, crossing his arms. "Listen, any guy…" He paused unsure of how to phrase his opinion without either lying to his partner. "…Any guy who treats a woman the way he treated you is unworthy to be anyone's partner."

"If I recall, you were not as gentlemanly as usual during that case either." She mirrored him, crossing her arms. "You betrayed confidences just like Michael did."

Booth snapped his arm at the elbow and jabbed his index finger at Brennan once again. "You said my choice was rational." He nearly spit the word, eager to have her understand just how ridiculous she sounded. "That you would have done the same thing given that you were in my position." He gave a waggle of his eyebrows, knowing that he'd remembered this detail in exacting clarity. She basically said I was right. That doesn't happen every day.

Her eyes narrowed and she pursed her lips. "While that may be true, you were just as guilty as he was-"

He interrupted her suddenly, bringing up what neither of them seemed to want to, arms open at his sides as if offering all of the truth he had. "But I wasn't sleeping with you!" I sure as hell wanted to be, but no, we're partners. He could feel his insides exploding, as if someone had unleashed the contents of Pandora's box in his chest.

Brennan's jaw dropped, and her black and blue forehead crinkled at his admission. "He had no right to betray you," he growled, "getting information out of you about the case when he knew well that he would be testifying for the defense. What I did was to humanize you, to help the jury see that you were not just some cold fish!" His words grew progressively breathless yet more emphatic as he spoke. "I did you a favor. That – that jackass had no right to get close to you personally in order to fuck with you professionally. I would never manipulate you like that."

Brennan sat still, her arms still crossed over her gown-clad chest. She watched as Booth breathed in and out with ragged breath, attempting to recapture some sort of rhythm. She wondered how this topic had become such a hot button for Booth. Had I missed something during the case? she wondered. I've known Michael for years but I never imagined that would happen. Sometimes things don't go as we've planned, but why is Booth so irate about something that was simply another minute event in my life? "Booth, why are…"

Again, he didn't allow her to finish. "Angry? Why am I angry? I think the real question is why aren't you angry, Bones? For the last three days, I've watched you laugh with Angela, watch meaningless television shows, and joke about shit that shouldn't be joked about." His hands moved wildly, accenting each syllable he flung into the air. "You had intracranial swelling that could have been fatal. Thank God you were okay, because I think there would have been a lot of angry people if one of the most talented brains on Earth were damaged."

She smiled, the compliment pleasing her. It was not often she was told her value; typically she would assert her own importance more to inform than to brag.

"I don't know why you're smiling," he said, frustrated by her seemingly oblivious attitude. "How is it that all your life you've been shit on by the people that supposedly love you and you're still here? How can you handle all of this? There have been people that abandoned you, torn you apart, abused you, wanted you dead, tried to kill you… how have you not given up?" His voice cracked; its edges laced with the beginnings of tears.

Brennan uncrossed her arms and placed one hand gingerly on Booth's forearm. "Booth, are you alright?" He sighed shakily, sitting abruptly in the chair situated by her bedside. He let his elbows be supported on his knees but allowed her hand to rest on his arm. His head dropped and he shook it slightly, focusing on the thumb Brennan gently smoothed back and forth over his arm.

"I can't do it, Bones," he said dejectedly. "I can't watch these things happen to you. And this time was worse than it has been. It was my own father, for God's sake. The one who beat me! Left me! And I allowed him into my life and my son's life with little hesitation. I can't – "

It was her turn. "What you can't do, Booth, is blame yourself," she said quietly. Not for what happened to me as a child, and not what happened to me with your father. If you remember correctly, I was the one that convinced you to give him a chance, the way you told me to give my father a chance. I thought I was doing the right thing by encouraging you – but as it turns out, you're infinitely better at reading people than I am. You saw through your father, but for some reason, you listened to me."

A moment passed in silence as Booth considered her words. His right leg bounced feverishly and his heart pounded. Her eyes did not leave the top of his head, waiting for a response of any sort. It was then that he slowly moved his hand to cover hers on his arm. In reaction to his touch, she curled her fingers to grip the tips of his and he squeezed back.

His leg stilled and his head shook slowly side to side. He clutched her hand as the only thing holding him together in this moment, the only thing that prevented a total breakdown. Slowly he lifted his head so that his eyes faced the edge of the sheet that covered Brennan's body. He spoke almost timidly, afraid his words would shatter what little composure he still maintained.

"I worry, Bones. I've worried about you since the day we became partners." He drew another ragged breath and released a sigh. "It's what I'm good at… protecting people I mean. I… I worry about you and about Parker, and even about all those goofy squints at the lab." He smiled for but a moment, thinking of the geeks he had to work with. The smile faded. "And what we do, it's… it's great, don't get me wrong," he shrugged. "But sometimes it is incredibly hard to take you into the field knowing that these people we are supposed to bring in obviously had no problem killing someone already."

Brennan turned her body so that her legs were hanging off the side of the bed closest to Booth. She dipped her head in an attempt to make eye contact. "You're forgetting one thing," she said. He lifted his head. He matched her gaze with glistening eyes. His jaw was clenched tightly and his lips quivered ever-so-slightly. She continued, "I was the one that made you take me out in the field, remember?"

He did remember.

She stormed away from the vehicle, and from him. "I'm the one with the badge and the gun," he said, jogging after her. "You know, you're not the only forensic anthropologist in town." She laughed at his obvious stupidity. "Yes, I am. The next nearest is in Montreal. Parlez-vous Français?"

I know enough French to know you're mocking me, he thought. He stopped in his tracks, determined not to let such a talented woman slip from his grasp. Er, the FBI's grasp, that is. He knew how difficult she could be. "What's it gonna take?"

She turned and smiled.

"I do remember," he said, smiling at the memory. He'd gotten her back in the car, and from that point on he'd been able to call her his partner. He sniffed, finding that moisture was escaping from his eyes and nose now. The memory faded back into the depths of his mind as he remembered the conversation at hand. "But so many times, Bones. So many times I could have lost you… we could have lost you." He gazed into her eyes once more and continued, "They play over and over some times when I can't sleep – a hit put out by that gang leader, Kenton kidnapping you, getting attacked in Louisiana, Taffet burying you and Hodgins alive, Fat Pam trying to shoot you…" his voice trailed off.

His head dropped once again, this time signifying his surrender to his own emotions. He began to sob silently, although his back and shoulders shook violently with his rapid intakes of breath. Brennan squeezed his hand tightly. He wiped his eyes and joined his hand with his other and hers. He inhaled sharply. "I can't… do this anymore."

Brennan's eyes became glassy with tears and confusion. Can't do what? Be partners? She had a good idea about where he was going with this, but dared not to interrupt him. She pulled away slightly, retreating to the safer confines of her hospital bed.

"No, no, I mean…" Booth started, reaching again for her hand. "I don't mean with you. I mean…" Angry at himself, he stood. Booth nervously ran his hand over his hair. The frustration at his own misspoken words seeped through his every pore.

"I…" Brennan began. She looked down at her hands. "…don't understand."

Booth dragged his hands down his sleep-deprived face. Its lines were worn and tired from days of sleeping upright in a plastic-covered hospital chair. Terrible excuse for furniture, Booth thought. He let out a labored sigh. Turning back to Brennan, it was all he could do to avoid crying again.

This woman, he thought. This woman will be the death of me. The death of both of us. She jokes about all of the things that attract men to her, but she doesn't understand how much it really affects them. Affects me. This woman, intelligent, beautiful, influential, intimidating. Honestly, I'm surprised it took me as long as it did to say something about it. Break the 'stalemate' as Sweets called it. Hell, it took a damn brain tumor to figure out I loved her. Love her.

"Booth?" Brennan questioned, pulling Booth out of his own headspace. "What can't you do?"

Booth again stepped to her bedside where she remained with her legs thrown over the side. He sat heavily in the chair across from her. Hands clasped together, he began to recount the story he'd kept under lock and key.

"Do you remember the night I came to get you in the rain? When you…"

"When I told you that I didn't want to have regrets and I wanted to correct my error?" Booth snickered at her use of such clinical language for an evening that was far from it.

"If you want to put it that way." He flashed her a charm smile, not masking his amusement at her candor. "Well, you know I was with Hannah – and I've… well, I've fucked up in my life, Bones, but I really wanted it to work with her." He paused, unintentionally allowing another wave of discomfort to wash over the room. Exasperated, he continued. "I wanted that to be it – I wanted the search to be over – for my life to finally be completed by her. I wanted to get married, maybe have a kid with her…"

Brennan's confusion came to a head. "Why are you telling me this, Booth? I know about Hannah. You know, figs, not the marrying type, Afghanistan, you didn't listen, proposal, denial…" Booth cringed as she continued, "…the whole ten yards." She shook her head, frankly annoyed that this chapter of their lives need be rehashed.

"Nine, Bones. The whole nine yards." Her lips pressed together in a line and she tilted her head.

"But you said that a first down was a whole ten yards."

"First down is football, Bones." He laughed to himself. "Two different things." He smiled genuinely and scooted his chair closer to her bed. He took her hand in his and admired it as he spoke. "You're right about all of that. But I didn't want to bring it up to irritate you." Although, clearly she's pissed, he thought. "I brought it up because you have to know it was a mistake." It was Brennan's turn to look away. Booth inched his head closer to hers and explained, "You see, Bones, the world isn't black and white like you seem to think sometimes. I loved Hannah, don't get me wrong. I was obviously upset when we broke up…" He immediately stopped, knowing he'd gone about it in the wrong way then she interrupted.

"I know, Booth," she asserted calmly, turned from him. "Remember, Hannah called me to come deal with you." There was a twinge of resentment in her tone, Booth noted. Maintaining hold of her hand, he smilled and gazed at her turned face.

"You know why she did that, don't you?"

She snorted incredulously. "Most likely on account of the fact that I was one of her only friends or that I was the first one she could find in her contacts." Truth be told, Brennan had thought about this very question before. It seemed to her that a male friend like Sweets or Hodgins would be better suited for the job.

Booth gave a quick laugh and squeezed her hand. "As adorable as it is to hear your squinty brain attempt to figure out why humans do things, I'll save you some time." He moved his head to the side to try to find eye contact. Her eyes were closed.

Booth continued, his voice soft and barely audible. "She called you because she knew. Hannah knew. Cam knew. Hodgins knew. Lord knows, Angela knew. Max, Pops, Caroline, and Sweets all knew."

Brennan's eyes were tightly closed; her last defense from attack. Booth stood and propped one arm across the bed beside Brennan's hip and softly placed a single finger under her chin and tilted her head up. Her icy blue-green eyes now opened and fixated on his brown ones. "I knew. You knew. I don't care that you don't believe in fate. I know you believe in, what? A bunch of variables that randomly occur? I don't buy it. You… and I? That isn't random. It's not just luck. You and I, we belong together." He held her gaze, desperately clinging to the hope that she'd abandon her qualms for a moment to hear him out.

This isn't happening, she thought. After what we've been through, the whiplash of confessions of love and missed opportunities, this simply isn't happening.

Her disbelief must have been evident. Booth immediately read and comprehended her distress. "Bones, tell me you know."

At the mention of the nickname he'd given her, she closed her eyes once more, releasing several rogue tears to slip down her face. Her breathing stuttered and she opened her eyes. There was a sudden resignation, a surrender to the features of her face.

She did what she never thought she would again. She leaned in to him and placed a chaste kiss delicately on his lips. She pulled her head back and looked at him once more. "I know."

He took her words to be an express permission for what was to follow. He cupped his other hand around her other cheek and pulled her into him. Their lips met in a frenzy - years of suppressed feelings intermingling with raw passion. She skated her tongue over his lips and was granted access immediately. He ran his tongue over her teeth and twisted it ferociously around hers. Her arm unencumbered by an IV left her side and settled on his broad shoulder. Through the crisp material of his dress shirt, she could feel his deltoids tensed from what she imagined to be pent-up sexual energy. He shivered slightly at the feel of her hand sliding up his neck and behind his ears.

Booth propped himself on the bed on his palms as Brennan grazed her nails over his french blue-clad chest. She gripped a handful of his shirt in her fist and pulled him closer, if it was even possible. The two alternated in a nearly coordinated dance for dominance. Brennan bit his lip and Booth released a guttural growl. He responded by drawing a line from the corner of her upturned mouth to the lobe of her ear with his tongue. Her back arched off the mattress in pure pleasure and anticipation. Booth slipped a hand beneath the thin material of her hospital gown, moving slowly to ensure her comfort in the ever-escalating situation. Just as Brennan's fingers began to deftly loosen the tie around his neck, there was a knock on the door, followed by its abrupt opening followed by a mock-enthused voice.

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you…" Angela walked into the room, but stopped abruptly soon thereafter. She sighted Brennan's head, neck craned to see her best friend over Booth's shoulder. Booth's back rose and fell as he breathed heavily leaned over Brennan.

"Ange!" cried Brennan. "We were just…" Her tone was not panicked, simply shocked. Booth stood erect and whipped around, adjusting his tie and folding his collar back down around his neck.

"No need to explain to me, Sweetie," Angela smiled. "This," she gestured between them with her index finger, "I understand." She set the takeout bag on the nightstand beside the bed. As she passed Booth as she exited, she placed a hand on his bicep. "Thank God you finally came to your senses. That small mid-western town was starting to look a little like Shanghai." She patted his arm and headed out the door.

Booth's brows furrowed; he was unable to discern Angela's meaning but assumed it was along the lines of 'long time coming.' As he turned back towards his partner, he rubbed a circle in the back of his head nervously. My partner, he mused. My Bones. What is this now? His eyes betrayed his wariness in the moment. "I don't know what to say…" he trailed off, maintaining eye contact with Brennan. "I…" a lopsided smile slowly creeped across his face as reality set in. He stepped closer to Brennan. "…just don't know."

Her cheeks flushed. "Of course you do," she replied. She reached for his hand. He leaned in and kissed her yet again, this time confident in its meaning. As he leaned back to look at her, she beamed. He kissed her forehead and released her hand. "I think I'm going to go find the doctor so we can get you discharged and… uh… continue where we left off – somewhere more private." He winked at her, sending more rosy hues to the tips of her ears, nose, and the rounds of her cheeks.

He turned and strolled towards the door. When he reached the threshold, he paused for a moment and asked simply, "So now do you believe in fate?" He turned his head slightly to hear her answer.

She answered matter-of-factly, causing a smile to emerge on Booth's face.

"Of course not, ludicrous."


SO, what did you think? Did it finish how you wanted it? Did you really think I would leave you all without a LITTLE romance? Pish posh...