A/N: So my Bones Soul Mate of Convenience had a birthday recently. And as her gift, she was able to give me limitless fic prompts. This is the first in a short series of those. This takes place in the stuff we missed between season six and seven, when Bren's about three months pregnant. Title and lyrics below come from a brilliant song by The Civil Wars.
Prompt: Booth has nightmares and Brennan has to make him feel better.
Poison and Wine
Oh your hands can heal, your hands can bruise
I don't have a choise but I'd still choose you
~Poison and Wine, The Civil Wars
"Hey, pass me some of that, Seel."
"Don't finish it off again."
"Aw, just water? I expected more from you."
"Just looking out for you, Ty. Lightweight like you, wouldn't make it through duty."
"Hold up, you guys hear that?
The hum of an engine.
Brennan jolted awake, and for a brief, bleary moment, she didn't understand what had woken her.
Then, she became aware of Booth muttering and jerking slightly in his sleep.
"Booth?" She shook him gently.
A hail of gunfire.
His vision clears momentarily. Finds the target.
"CEASE FIRE! HOLD YOUR FIRE!"
The shots are too loud for the order to reach everyone.
His arm on Tyler's; "STOP!"
He fires. A body crumples. They freeze.
Booth's whole body thrashed, a strangled yell erupting from his throat. Alarmed, Brennan sat up, flicking on the lamp beside their bed, raising her voice and shaking him again. "Booth, c'mon, wake up, it's just a dream…."
"God damn it, God damn it, God damn it…"
Tyler's trembling, his eyes wild and red, like a man possessed.
"Ty. Ty, look at me. Don't do this, don't blame yourself…"
"I pulled the trigger, Seeley. ME. Who else is there to blame?"
"You didn't know, it was chaos, there was no way-"
"I didn't…I didn't register it, I heard you, but I didn't even…"
"Collateral damage, it's…unavoidable sometimes."
Booth was mumbling, loud strings of unintelligible words. He jerked back and forth, shaking his head, his eyes darting beneath his eyelids.
Brennan gripped his shoulder with one hand, the other hand cupping his face, trying to still him. "Booth, wake up," she commanded forcefully. Brennan wasn't sure how to approach this; Booth wasn't typically a heavy sleeper.
In his sleep, he pulled away from her touch, shaking her off.
"Booth it's just me…"
"Don't give me that, you hate collateral damage-"
"That doesn't mean it isn't unavoidable-"
"This was avoidable!"
"Tyler, you can't-"
"EIGHT YEARS OLD."
"SHE COULDN'T HAVE BEEN MORE THAN EIGHT YEARS OLD."
Tyler lifts his gun. His face contorts. " I can't live with that."
"What the fuck-?"
Their hands on the gun, wrestling for control.
Booth's entire body was moving, his limbs thrashing. He screamed, a hollow, frightened sound.
"Let go, Seeley-"
He tightens his grips, wrenching the barrel away, but Tyler fights him. Desperate, he punches his friend blindly on the temple. Tyler doesn't let go.
He loses his grip briefly. The gun pivots.
With a final, frustrated roar, Booth wrenched his shoulder from Brennan's touch, and the back of his hand, clenched into a white knuckled fist, slammed against her cheek.
Brennan let out an inadvertent cry, reeling back from the shock as much as the pain of the impact.
It was this, finally, that pulled Booth back to consciousness.
He was flat on his back, tangled in sweat soaked sheets, chest heaving.
Then, his eyes landed on Brennan, her palm pressed against her cheek, eyes slightly unfocused.
In the next second, she met his eyes and immediately pulled herself together, sliding toward him, her eyes soft with concern. "Booth…"
Booth was staring, horrified, at Brennan's cheek, fiery red in the golden glow from the lamp. His voice a quaking, raspy mess, he managed, "B-Bones…"
"You're okay, it's alright…" Oblivious to his fixation on her face, Brennan wrapped a hand around the nape of Booth's neck, her finger stroking soothingly. "You were having a nightmare…"
"Bones what…." His voice cracked. "Did I…did I do that?"
Brennan shook her head, dismissive. "Booth, it's fine, you were jerking around a lot, just…tell me what happened."
But he was shaking his head, face twisting in self-revulsion.
The look on his face was scaring her; Brennan reached out, both hands cradling Booth's face, intent on drawing out the reason behind his screaming, the nightmare that had him thrashing with the need to escape it.
But the second she touched him, Booth drew back, clumsily standing up from the bed and stumbling into the bathroom.
He dropped hard on his knees and expelled the contents of the his stomach…but not before slamming the door and locking it behind him.
After, Booth sat crumpled on the bathroom floor, gazing down at his trembling hands as though they had been betrayed him.
His heart was suffocating in his chest. He could hear Brennan's increasingly frantic voice from the other side of the door, fist pounding out a command to be let in.
Eventually, Brennan fell quiet; seconds later, there was a fumbling of metal, and after a moment the door popped open, the lock picked.
Brennan sat down beside him. The need to touch him was overwhelming, and she couldn't resist resting a hand on his back, automatically tracing slow circles as she whispered, "Are you alright?"
Slowly, painstakingly, Booth lifted a haunted gaze. "I'm sorry," Booth choked out in a small, weak voice he barely recognized. "I'm sorry."
Brennan's face fell into helplessness. "Booth, it doesn't matter. I'm fine-"
"I'm so sorry-"
"It was an accident, Booth, and there is no point-"
"Please, Booth, just tell me what you were dreaming about."
But Booth didn't seem to be hearing her, his apologies tumbling out with increased desperation. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm…sorry, sorry, I'm sorry…"
Finally, Brennan gave up and wrapped her arms around Booth, pulling him close until his 'sorry's were falling against her collarbone. They stayed like that, Booth shaking in her arms, until an hour later, when Booth's phone rang from the other room.
Slowly, Booth pulled away, a glazed, unfocused expression on his face. The implications of a four a.m. phone call was enough to get him standing, and he didn't glance at Brennan as he moved toward the bedroom.
Moments later, he hung up the phone, and intoned flatly, "We have a case, somebody found a body…" Booth didn't turn and look at Brennan, instead moving stiffly around the room, getting dressed.
Hesitantly, Brennan spoke for the first time in an hour. "Booth can you…can you tell me what the nightmare-"
"They said some kids were messing around in some half built house out in that new development…."
"Body was wrapped in tarp on the second floor…"
Again, Brennan fell silent, giving up for now. Without her interjections, Booth's mechanical recitations stopped, and the two moved around each other in silence.
An hour later, Brennan straightened up, standing from her crouched position over the body. "Alright, let's get the remains back to the Jeffersonian."
Across from her, Hodgins, too, stood, and for the first time, got a view of Brennan's face unobstructed by shadows. "Whoa, Dr. B, what happened?"
Pleased that she'd foreseen this question, Brennan replied, "It was a silly accident, entirely my fault. I left a cabinet entirely open in the kitchen, at about this height." She indicated with her hand and continued, "…and I was walking through the kitchen, turned around to talk to Booth, and my zygomatic collided with the cabinet at this angle…"
She trailed off slowly, glancing from Hodgins' amused expression to Booth's stormy one.
"Looks like it hurts," Hodgins observed sympathetically.
"No, not at all…" Brennan replied distractedly. "Booth!"
He barely turned without stopping his stride toward the SUV. "I…I gotta go, just…call me when you have an ID…"
Brennan stared after him, helpless and bewildered.
Booth reached the SUV, climbed into the driver's seat, and repeatedly drove his fist into the steering wheel, again and again, safe in the knowledge that he was only hurting himself.
Booth barely looked at her all day.
He stopped by the lab only once to get the information Angela had found on the victim, then abruptly left again to contact the family, giving no indication that Brennan was to follow him.
As Booth hurried off the platform and out of the lab, Angela caught a glance of Brennan's confused expression. "Sweetie?"
"Hmm?" Brennan tore her eyes away from Booth's retreating form.
"Did you two…have a fight or something?"
Brennan bit her lip, mutely shaking her head. Whatever had happened last night, it wasn't categorized as a fight.
"Well, maybe he just wants to go ahead and keep you out of the field when it's not totally necessary."
"I'm barely three months pregnant, Angela, that's ridiculous," Brennan murmured.
"Still, it's Booth. He's overprotective." When Brennan didn't answer, Angela smiled sympathetically. "Just ask him what's wrong, Bren. You mentioned he was acting strange yesterday, too."
Brennan nodded noncommittally, bending over the remains and quickly closing the subject.
"Are you angry with me?"
Booth woke from a fitful, shallow sleep to see Brennan standing over him on the couch, an intent look on her face. "Wha…?"
"Are you angry with me?" she repeated.
"Bones, of course not."
She gave him a doubtful look. "Then why are you sleeping out here? Doesn't that typically indicate some sort of fight?"
Booth stared up at her, his face etched with regret. "You really can't figure it out, Bones?"
She shook her head, waiting, and Booth squeezed his eyes shut.
"I…hit….you," he clenched out, a shudder of self-loathing overtaking him. The words seemed to hang between them, and Booth felt sick with the truth of them.
"Booth…." Brennan sat down beside him on the couch. "You were asleep. And I shouldn't-"
"No," he cut her off. "No, Bones, it doesn't…it doesn't matter why. I…I hurt you." Booth's face crumpled, voice breaking. "I never wanted to do that, Bones, I can't…I can't be my father…"
Just like that, Brennan's throat tightened, tears surging forward. It was ludicrous to her that Booth couldn't see what she saw, that he never seemed to understand that he was the furthest he could be from his dad.
"But I…I did that." Booth's eyes found the bruise on her cheek, and he lifted a hand as if to touch it, but abruptly froze, afraid. "And you lied about it, Bones, you had to…you had to lie. My mom, she…before she left, she used to say she fell down stairs, or, or that she ran into something. With me it was easier, I could just say it happened at some practice, like I got hit by a baseball or somebody's head…" Booth was shaking again, and saying more than she'd ever heard about his dad's abuse. "But it's all lies, Bones, they're all the same kind of lies…and I, I made you…I made you lie. I hurt you, and I made you lie."
Suddenly, Brennan's hand closed around Booth's, the hand that was still hovering between them like he was afraid to touch her. There were tears on her cheeks, sliding over the bruise. The thing that hurt her more than anything was hearing Booth's rage against himself. "Booth…please listen to me. Please. I could never be afraid of you. Ever. Just like Parker has never been afraid of you." She guided his hand and settled it on her stomach, which was just beginning to swell. "Just like our child will never be afraid of you."
Booth ducked his head, hiding the tears he was desperately battling back, but he didn't move his hand underneath hers from Brennan's stomach. After a moment, his lifted his fingers, entwining with Brennan's.
"You are not your father," Brennan stated with a fierce conviction. "You're nothing like him. And there's no gene for violence, Booth. You had a nightmare. You were asleep. That's not your fault."
Booth kept his head down as Brennan feel silent, waiting. Then, he looked up and immediately leaned forward, catching her lips in his, the kiss both a thanks and an apology.
As he pulled back, Booth whispered, "I'm sorry," one last time against her lips. Then his head dropped, as though with exhaustion, against Brennan's shoulder. She felt tears against her skin but said nothing, just held him close until he sat up. "I love you."
"I know," Brennan replied gently, knowing how relieved she always felt when Booth gave that to her, the reassurance that he'd never questioned how she felt. "I love you, too, Booth."
Their hands were still joined between them, and Booth squeezed hers gently, finally managing a small, tired smile.
"Now will you come to bed?" Brennan asked anxiously. "I find I've…I've grown accustomed to you being there, and I don't…I don't like the absence."
Booth hesitated. "Bones, I…I have nightmares, sometimes. Not just last night, not just once, I…I don't think they're that bad, usually, but…but if it happens again, Bones, I…I can't…"
"It's okay," she assured him immediately. "I…I know now I shouldn't to try to grab you, Booth. Next time, I'll know.
Brennan had slid against him in bed, sensing Booth's continued worry. She pillowed her head against his chest, and gradually felt him relax as he wrapped an arm around her, fingers slowly stroking her hair.
"Can you…can you promise me something?"
"When…if you have nightmares…will you tell me what's wrong?" He looked down at her, not speaking for a moment. "I was…I was worried last night, Booth. And I don't like not knowing things."
He smiled a little. "I know you don't."
"Especially about you."
The smile faded, then, and Booth regarded Brennan seriously. Finally, he began to speak.
"A buddy of mine, Tyler Harrison…he died thirteen years ago yesterday." Booth paused. "Two days ago, technically, I guess, but anyway…we went to college together, he was in my frat. And then we enlisted together.
"It was kind of crazy, really, the way we kind of…moved up the ranks together. Most of the time it was just luck, you know? Being in the same unit. But we..we served together for years.
"This one night…it should have been a quiet night. Easy, just…half a dozen of us or so, were guarding a US checkpoint and…these three guys, they tried to bust through…they were armed, so we opened fire, and they fired back…the three guys went down, but in the confusion…there was this family, trying to cross the checkpoint. And during all the confusion…they were just trying to get away from it all, and they panicked and ran and…it was dark, it was late and no one could see for sure who had dropped. And I noticed…I saw the three guys, the ones who tried to run, they were all taken down. So I called for cease fire but it was…it was too late to stop Tyler, he…he shot an eight year old girl. Half that family ended up dead, but he…he shot the youngest girl."
Brennan was listening intently, her hand laced with Booth's, a silent comfort.
"He just…he couldn't believe what he did." Booth's face tightened, and he shook his head slightly. "He was such a good guy, you know? And he was just…he was freaking out. Ty had...he had four younger sisters and just…looking at that little girl….he couldn't handle what he'd done." Booth's expression darkened suddenly, eyes flickering again to the bruise on Brennan's cheek.
"Booth." She prompted gently when he'd been quiet for too long.
"I…I kept trying to tell him he couldn't blame himself, that it was an accident, but…he wouldn't listen. He said he couldn't live with it, and…he meant it." Booth drew in a long, steadying breath, the scent of Brennan's hair somehow calming him. "So he gets out his gun…tries to turn it on himself, right there. I grabbed it, tried to get away from him but I couldn't…couldn't stop him. Ty, he…he blew his own head half off, right there outside base camp. And I…couldn't stop him."
Brennan swallowed against the lump in her throat, sitting up just enough to meet Booth's eyes. "I'm sorry, Booth. I'm sorry that happened to you." He forced a smile, brushing his lips against her forehead. "Booth? You…are a very good man."
He raised an eyebrow, surprised.
"For trying to save your friend…and trying to tell him it wasn't his fault. That…that accidents happen, sometimes, and no one's to blame." She cupped his cheek in her hand. "You remember that, too. Alright?"
"I'll try," he replied softly, staring down into the familiar, depthless blue of Brennan's eyes. It was one of those moments, when he was so overwhelmed with how much he loved her, how deeply he need her, that his heart felt full to bursting with the weight of it. He kissed her, and softly murmured, "Thanks, Bones," meaning a million things that made him grateful.