Brennan opened her door. "I told you, Booth, I'm fine."
They stood looking at each other for a moment, Brennan's hand still on the doorknob and Booth's in his pockets. "I couldn't sleep. I'm still really wired. And since I could see that your lights were on, I thought maybe you'd keep me company," he said with a shrug.
He'd scrubbed his skin nearly raw in the shower, but he could still smell the dirt he'd clawed through to pull her from the ground.
He'd wanted to wrap himself around her and prove to himself that they'd beaten the odds, but he was hyper aware that they had an audience. As Cam made her rounds, playing Mother Hen, keeping everyone focused, he could feel her eyes on him. And so he'd watched them load Bones into the back of the ambulance with a wave and a promise to see her at the hospital.
She stepped back with a small nod and closed the door softly as Booth walked in and stood awkwardly in her entryway. "No Chinese food?" she asked with a smile.
"It's 3 am, Bones. All the good places are closed." They were both quiet, looking anywhere but at each other. Finally, Booth said, "Are you sure you're—"
"Booth. I was checked out by the EMTs. I was cleared by the ER doctor. Cam looked me over. They cleaned and dressed my burn, gave me something to help me sleep, and said that I could go home."
He looked around and took in the blanket on the couch, the fact that every light in the kitchen and living room was turned on, and the untouched wineglass on the coffee table, next to a glass of water sitting in a puddle of condensation.
"So why aren't you sleeping?" When she didn't answer, he picked up the prescription bottle from the end table and examined it. "Xanax, huh? I've taken this before. Knocked me out." He opened the bottle and shook the contents out onto his palm.
"Booth—" she tried to grab his hand, but he moved away fluidly.
They were all there. Fifteen blue ovals scattered haphazardly in his hand. He looked up at her. "You know you actually have to take these for them to work," he said drily. He carefully tipped them back into the bottle, save one.
He grabbed her hand and placed it in her palm, closing her fingers over it, then picked up the water glass and offered it to her. Reluctantly, she accepted the glass and swallowed the pill.
She made a face. "It's very bitter."
He smiled slightly and retrieved the wineglass, taking it into the kitchen and emptying it into the sink.
Brennan sat down on the couch, wondering just how long he planned to stay.
"When was the last time you ate?" he asked as he stuck his head into her living room.
"I'm not really hungry."
He retreated into the kitchen, ignoring the fact that she hadn't actually answered his question, and put the kettle on before rummaging in her freezer and discovering a cheese pizza. It was some swanky organic pizza that probably cost an arm and a leg, but it was well within its expiration date, so he turned on the oven.
While he waited for the oven to preheat, asked himself what the hell he was doing here.
He'd been flashing his badge, demanding the admissions nurse direct him to Dr. Temperance Brennan's room when he felt a hand on his arm. Turning, he was momentarily surprised to see Cam.
"C'mon, big man. I'll walk you to her room."
"How'd you get here before I did?"
"I rode in one of the ambulances. Just wanted to make sure everything went smoothly, so we can get Dr. Brennan out of here as quickly as possible. Hodgins will probably have to stay overnight. They're worried about secondary infection."
"Oh. Thanks, Cam."
"Mm?" he responded distractedly. She looked uncertain, which immediately made him worry. "Is everything okay? Have you heard something?"
"She's fine," Cam reassured him. "Actually, I just wanted to tell you…wait." She stopped him and they ducked into an empty waiting room. She stood close to him and spoke in a confidential tone, "Listen, this thing we've had going on…we both knew from the start that it wasn't anything serious. And I think we've…I think we've run our course."
"What?" At the moment, sex was the last thing on his mind. "Why are we talking about this right now?"
She reached up and kissed him on the cheek. "Because. You're a good man, Seeley," she said, smiling at him enigmatically. "C'mon. Let's go find your partner."
Hours later, after he'd been reassured by both the ER doctor and Cam that Bones was not injured, after he'd taken her home and heard her turn the deadbolt on her door, after he'd tried to exhaust himself with pull-ups and push-ups and a punching bag, after he'd showered and changed and run out of distractions, he'd finally asked himself what Cam had seen in him that made her feel like she needed to release him from his obligations to her. For that matter, what did she see that made her feel like an obligation?
The whistling of the teakettle roused him from his thoughts, and he mechanically poured water into two mugs, even though he really hated herbal tea.
"Booth?" Brennan came into the kitchen.
"Thought I'd make some pizza." He waved the carton. "And some chamomile tea." He offered a mug to her, which she accepted gratefully, curling herself around it as if she were trying to get warm.
He sipped his tea and made a face, prompting Brennan to fetch the sugar bowl from the counter next to the stove. He dumped three spoonfuls of sugar into his mug and tried it again, prompting another face. "Maybe I'll just have a beer," he said in response to her amused smile.
Later, after they'd polished off the pizza, Brennan said, "I believe I'm starting to feel the effects of the medication. I'm very drowsy. I should probably go to bed."
"Do you want me to stay? I could sleep on the couch," he offered.
She stood up, exasperated. "Booth. I'm not a child. I told you, I am fine. You—"
"Well, I'm not," he interrupted her.
She stopped and looked at him in surprise. His eyes were trained on his steepled hands, the pads of his index fingers tapping together nervously.
A moment passed during which neither of them moved or spoke.
Finally, Booth looked up at her. "I'm not fine, Bones. I haven't slept in thirty-six hours. I'm exhausted. But every time close my eyes, I see…I just…I don't want to be alone right now."
She sat on the couch facing him, curling her legs underneath her. "Why aren't you staying with Cam?"
He flicked his eyes at her, then leaned his head back against the couch and asked, "You knew about that?"
"Oh." He ran his hands along his thighs, smoothing the dark fabric of his jeans, and leaned forward. "Well, it's…over. It was never anything—"
"Booth. You don't owe me any explanations or justifications. Though I am curious about why you were being so secretive. You said that partners share things."
"I wasn't being secretive, I was being discreet," he said defensively. "A gentleman is discreet."
Brennan raised an eyebrow, but didn't respond. She reached across him to retrieve the prescription bottle. "Here." She handed him a pill and her glass of water. "Would you like to sleep with me?"
"Wh—what?" He coughed a mouthful of water onto his shirt.
"Booth," she looked at him sharply. "Don't be juvenile. I wasn't propositioning you. You said you didn't want to be alone. We shared a bed when we were undercover in Las Vegas."
Booth closed his eyes, trying to banish the image of her in that sinful red dress, kneeling in front of him, gently cleaning him up after his fight. He opened his eyes again. Even now, dressed in a t-shirt and knit pants she was inexplicably alluring.
"Yeah," he answered roughly. "I remember." Deflecting, he gestured to his now-wet t-shirt. "Do you have a shirt that might fit me?"
She frowned. "I'll see what I can find."
He shrugged and reached behind him, pulling his shirt off smoothly with one hand.
When he came out of the bathroom, she was sitting on the edge of her bed still wearing her pink t-shirt, but it was obvious that she'd divested herself of the bra, and she'd traded her knit pants for a pair of soft-looking shorts that showed too much of her legs for Booth's comfort. She was methodically rubbing lotion onto each arm, then her legs.
She nodded to the corner of the bed. "I found a shirt that ought to fit you."
He held it up by the shoulders. It certainly looked big enough for him. "Anthropologists do it in the dirt?" he asked her.
"I believe it's intended to be a humorous sexual reference. It was a gift."
He slipped it on, and then said, "Do you mind if I…" he gestured to his legs, "Jeans aren't exactly comfortable to sleep in."
"It's fine, Booth."
He turned around to take off his pants, and when he faced her again, she was under the covers, reading a book.
"Sex, Time, and Power," he read off the cover. "This is your bedtime reading?"
"It's not erotica, Booth. It's an exploration of why so many cultures are patriarchal rather than matriarchal, and—What?" she stopped.
"Nothing. It sounds fascinating," he answered with a crooked smile.
She closed the book and set it on her bedside table.
He hesitated, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, and just as he opened his mouth to ask her if she was sure, she said, "Just lie down."
He snapped his mouth shut and slid under the covers, feeling a strange mix of apprehension and solace.
She snapped off the lamp. He felt the tension in his body recede by degrees and just as he was almost relaxed enough to fall asleep, she said, "I thought we were going to die."
He had been curled on his side facing away from her, so he turned onto his back. Unsure of what to say, his right hand sought her left and he twined their fingers together.
"I knew—" her voice broke. "I knew you would find us. But I was afraid it would be too late."
He was surprised when she moved closer to him, and he raised his arm so she could put her head on his chest.
"Me too," he answered, thinking of watching the countdown hit zero, and the panic that would have consumed him if he hadn't had the text to decipher.
Finally, exhaustion caught up with both of them, and they fell asleep.
Booth woke first the next day, well into the afternoon, to find himself pressed against Brennan's backside and rock hard. The last thing he wanted was a lecture from her on the physiological function of morning wood, so he rolled away from her gently and climbed out of bed as quietly as possible.
He wasn't sure what he should do—hang out until she woke? Head home and just leave a note? He was looking for pen and paper when she emerged from her bedroom looking rumpled and sleepy.
"Good morning, sunshine."
"It's afternoon," she countered.
"Somebody woke up in the wrong side of the bed today."
"I never understood that expression."
"I was just about to head home and shower. You wanna meet at the diner in an hour or so?"
She shook her head. "I was going to go—"
"Do not say 'into the lab.'" He wagged a finger at her.
"But, Booth, I have a lot of—"
"Nope." He shook his head. "Go shower. I'll be back in an hour, then we're going to get something to eat and go see a movie."
"Booth—" she tried to protest.
"And if you're not here when I get back, I will come down to the lab and drag you out of there if I have to. You're not working today. You were kidnapped and—" he couldn't finish. Shaking his head, he continued, "You're taking the day off."
"That was an interesting film," Brennan remarked as she unlocked the door. "Completely unrealistic, of course, but—"
"What? The main character's life is being unknowingly controlled by an author and you find that unrealistic?" Both teased her with a smile, depositing a bag full of paper food cartons on her table.
"I thought it was very amusing. And I found it to be…"
"What?" He looked up from unloading the bag to see why she'd trailed off.
"Well," she turned away from him to retrieve plates from the cabinet. "I suppose I can relate to the main character to some extent."
She came to the table and began dishing food onto her plate, deliberately avoiding his eyes.
"Well, initially he's living a solitary life that he finds satisfactory, but then he comes to recognize the benefit of interpersonal connections and—" She glanced up to see Booth watching her intently, his eyes warm and affectionate. "What?"
They'd spent nearly the entire day together, and the more time he spent with her, the more he wanted to spend with her.
Booth put down his plate and, sucking sauce off of his thumb, rounded the table and stood so close to her that she had to lean back slightly to meet his eyes.
He raised his hand and traced the ridge of her collarbone with his fingertips. "I could…stay the night again?"
"What?" she asked in surprise.
"We could work on forging interpersonal connections," he said, suggestively wiggling his eyebrows.
She moved closer to him. "Is that a euphemism for—?"
"Yes it is," he murmured against her lips, wrapping his arms around her and pressing her against him.