A/N: If any of you are wondering what the title means, I'm not sure it's possible to explain, but I'll try anyway. In Hindi, 'pura' means whole, so 'purak' would be the person-or thing-that completes another person-or thing….Something or someone without which it isn't possible to be whole. Picture Tom Cruise (hell, if your imagination can conjure up a Booth, lose the floppy hair and bobbing Adam's apple, add several inches and a few pounds of gorgeous, and sit back happily as the scene unfolds) in Jerry Maguire, choking over those three words-'you…complete me'. Or Phoebe declaring that Ross is Rachel's lobster. The word 'lobster' in this instance would be synonymous with 'purak'. In any case, purak didn't make it to the Guinness list of words that are hardest to translate, but it sure has a place in my book. Speaking of the Guinness Book, the title of the first chapter-mamihlapinatapai-did make it on to that list. Both words are extremely fitting when used in the context of the unique Booth-Brennan dynamic.
When the story begins, Brennan is fourteen going on fifteen. Booth is nineteen, and Russ is around his age or a couple of years older. They're both serving in the Rangers together. Now I'm not going to get into the politics of war, and I don't believe that the United States army is responsible for much more than furthering the government's imperialist interests overseas, but this is a completely fictional story, so I'll be remaining completely neutral on that front. If anything, the whole institution of war might be somewhat glorified so Booth can justify his existence, even while he's smart enough to know that he's shielding himself from the truth. That's how it's handled on the show, after all.
The premise for this chapter-and this chapter alone-is loosely borrowed from Mis Chi Evous' Burdens Which Allow Us To Fly, so thanks, I suppose.
Mamihlapinatapai. A look shared by two people, each wishing that the other would offer something that they both desire, but are unwilling to offer or suggest themselves.
Chicago, some time between 1990-92
Stepping out on to the front stoop, Tempe Brennan squinted against the glare of the midday sun. With a robotic sigh, she wrapped her arms around herself-a relatively new but comforting habit she had developed over the course of the last two weeks. Two weeks. Two weeks since her parents had abandoned her, leaving behind no explanation for their disappearance; two weeks since her life had been upended and ripped apart like some cruel joke; two weeks since her world had come crumbling down around her without the slightest warning. Although she very much doubted that any number of warnings of any nature or intent could have prepared her for this. She felt like one of those little figurines within the snow globe that her father had gotten last Christmas whose entire world was turned upside down for someone else's amusement-and then shaken up a bit for good measure.
Russ stepped out of the house and came forward to stand next to his little sister, dropping a large cardboard box at his feet. Tempe gave him a soft nod but neither of them broke the silence. After a few minutes of just standing there motionless, side by side, Russ stuffed his hands into his pockets and rocked back onto his heels. 'Well, that's everything.' It certainly was.
Tempe turned to her brother with a small, sad smile on her lips, and then promptly resumed staring into the distance.
Russ sighed and with a little shake of his head, lifted the last box and walked towards the car. He deposited it in the trunk with all the others, and then leaned heavily against the open hood.
Closing her eyes tightly, Tempe took a deep breath and then turned to the warm-brick house behind her. She wasn't sure what she was supposed to feel, so she allowed the sensations to crash over her in waves, only for a moment. Memories flashed through her mind, some old, others painfully fresh. Her mother baking cookies in the kitchen, rolling out the dough as a five year old version of herself ran circles around the dining table, Russ close at her heels; her father tucking her in to bed, reading her one of the many bedtime stories she'd enjoyed as a child; Russ, in his fatigues, standing in the doorway as their mother clutched him tightly and sobbed, begging him to be careful when he was deployed; her parents sitting out on the front porch sipping flutes of wine, neither of them aware that their daughter had her face pressed against the kitchen window, watching as her mother smiled softly and her father regarded his wife with a look in his eyes that Temperance promised herself she would see one day in the eyes of the man she loved; Russ stepping through the doorway once more-this time into the house-as her mother sobbed-this time in joy-at the fact that her son was back, two days before his planned visit as a Christmas surprise; Russ dangling from a tree branch out in the yard, much too old to be climbing trees but willing to do anything to coax his little sister to pull her nose out of her book and 'live a little' …Russ. She still had Russ. She let her eyes remain closed for a moment longer. She could still hear the playful shrieks and open childlike laughter as her brother chased her around the kitchen table, still feel the tears from the time she had fallen off the swing in the backyard. Only now her mother wouldn't be around to dry them, and her father wouldn't be there to pick her up and dust her off. Slowly opening her eyes, Temperance took one last look at the house she had called a home for as long as she could remember. Determined not to let the tears fall, she stared straight ahead and squared her jaw, making a silent vow to herself-she was never coming back. A gentle hand came up to rest upon her back. 'C'mon, Tempe. It's time to go.'
It certainly was.
The drive to the new house was spent in silence. Temperance rested her head against the window of the car as she gazed unseeingly at the world outside. They were going to stay with one of Russ' army buddies for a while, atleast until all the legal hassles regarding Tempe's guardianship were sorted out. Russ was more than old enough to be considered an independent citizen, but Tempe was still a minor. Once the documents were processed, she would officially be his ward. The thought almost brought a smile to her face. Almost. Her eyes drifted shut as the warm blast from the heater lulled her to sleep.
'Wake up, sleepyhead. We're almost there.' Temperance had no way of knowing how much time had passed when the hand on her shoulder gently nudged her to wakefulness. 'Mom?' she mumbled sleepily. As she realised her error, Temperance jolted straight up in her seat, turning to her brother in wide-eyed horror. Every single time she had managed to fall asleep in the past two weeks, she had woken with the same word on her lips, and the idea that it had all been one very bad dream. Her parents' disappearance, their abandoned car discovered on a deserted street not far from home with 'traced of blood on the front seat', all of it. She was about to mumble an apology and turn away, but when her brother looked at her, the pain in his eyes reflecting her own, she found that words were unnecessary. Shooting her a small, sad smile, Russ turned the key in the ignition as the car came to a halt, and pulled open his door. Taking a deep, calming breath, Temperance did the same. She stepped outside and squinted up at the house in front of her. It was a largish white structure, with lifeless pink paint peeling off the walls along the side. She grimaced in disgust. It looked like an abandoned dollhouse. 'Not too bad now, is it?' Her brother's voice carried over to her. Plastering a fake smile on her face, Temperance turned towards him. He had done so much for her, putting his own life on hold to come back and take care of her, and the least she could do was express her gratitude. Preparing to meet his eyes and tell him how wonderful the house looked, she turned around-only to find him facing aware from her and gesturing towards a house across the street from where they had parked. It had a wooden porch with tall support beams that held up a slanting roof. The rest of the house was painted in shades of white and green that contrasted with the warmer brown tones of the wood. It looked warm and inviting, if a little dull. Temperance loved it. Russ turned concernedly at his sister's lack of response. 'I know it's not much, but-'
Tempe beamed. 'It's perfect, Russ!'
'Yes.' There was nothing fake about her smile now.
Russ smiled back. 'Well, I guess we should go in and meet Booth, then.'
She nodded at her brother. As they started across the road together, the evening chill surrounding them, Temperance felt the faintest stirring of hope for what felt like the first time in a long time.
They approached the house and climbed the front steps to the large oak door. There had been no snow that winter, so there was no danger of slipping on the steep wooden stairs. Temperance's wrapped her slim arms around herself again, as much in defense against the cold as in preparation to meet this new person they would be staying with. Booth was one of Russ' closest friends in the army and her brother talked of him often, but Temperance and he had never met before. From what she knew, Booth was a good deal younger than Russ, although he had been in the army for two years now, having enlisted straight out of school. He had only recently moved to Chicago, looking for a 'change of scenery' from his home in Philly. Temperance wasn't sure what that meant, but she hadn't thought to question Russ about it any further. The house they were going to be staying in belonged to his grandfather, who no longer lived on the property, instead choosing to divide his time between Canada and the Hamptons.
When the third knock went unanswered, Russ whipped out his new cell phone and was about to call Booth when the garage door to their left ground open a bit, and a tall figure stepped out, silhouetted in the light filtering through the open door. 'Russ!' A kind, manly voice called out. 'What took you so long to get here, man? Still no good at following simple directions?'
Russ rushed forward to greet his friend, and the two shared a warm handshake.
'I'd hug you but, uh, I'm covered in car grease.'
'I know how much you like feeling me up, Seel, but I think I'll survive.'
As her brother moved aside and turned towards the house with his friend, Temperance caught her first glimpse of Booth-and also her breath. Wow. He was the most gorgeous (man? boy? specimen of the male form?) thing she had ever laid eyes on. Wearing nothing but a smile and the low slung blue jeans casually draped over his lean hips, he was the embodiment of raw masculinity and…perfection. He laughed at something Russ was saying and she reminded herself to breathe. Both boys bounded up the steps and approached her. They were still laughing and chatting about something, and she forced herself to pay attention to their words as they came to stand in front of her, and not the light sheen of perspiration on Booth's chest or the way his jeans molded to him snugly as he moved. She had pulled up her hood to shield herself from the cold-how the hell was he wearing only a pair of jeans?-and she stared determinedly at the ground as the two of them got closer, blinking rapidly to compose herself. Booth turned to her first, holding out his hand and looking down at her kindly as his voice washed over her in a smooth caress. 'So this must be your little sister, Russ.' She looked up into a pair of warm, brown eyes. And she was lost.
Booth greeted his old friend enthusiastically and steered him towards the main house. Still ribbing him about his poor map-reading skills, Booth looked up and noticed the small figure standing shyly by the front door, and he and Russ made their way towards it. 'So this must be your little sister, Russ', he extended his hand and leaned down in an attempt to meet her eyes. Russ answered in the affirmative and announced that he was going to start bringing in boxes from the car. Just as Booth opened his mouth to say something, the young girl looked up. Her hood fell back, revealing soft auburn locks and delicate features. Then their eyes met. For a moment, he stopped breathing. She had the most beautiful eyes he had ever seen.
There were no words to describe the moment when their eyes first met. If Temperance had been asked, years from then, she might have answered that she knew of only one word that came remotely close. Mamihlapinatapai. A look shared by two people, each wishing that the other would offer something that they both desire, but are unwilling to offer or suggest themselves.
Booth was still drowning in the pools of electric blue when she reached out and placed her hand in his. Whoa.
'Hello'. She sounded surprisingly husky and soft at the same time.
'Hi'. His own voice came out deep and gruff, so he cleared his throat and tried again. 'I'm Booth.'
'Yes, I know.' She cocked her head to the side and regarded him curiously. 'Aren't you cold?'
Booth smiled. He didn't know what he had expected her to say, but it certainly wasn't that. 'I, uh...there's a heater in the garage, and I was fixing up a car in there, so…'
He trailed off as he looked into her cerulean depths.
'Oh. Ofcourse.' She was still looking at him strangely, like she wasn't quite sure what to make of him.
Suddenly, Russ' voice boomed from behind them, breaking the spell. Booth realised he still held Temperance's hand in his and dropped it like he had been burned. 'Hey, you two! Now we've got the introductions out of the way, you mind giving me a hand with these boxes?'
Sharing one last look, Booth hurried inside to put on a shirt and Brennan headed out towards the car.
A/N: I'm not going to beg for reviews, but they would be appreciated.