defiance, n.: You draw me the road map of all your failed relationships, and instead of trying to navigate it, I set a match to its edge.
They're lying in his bed, in the dark, and the air is thick with their thoughts. He's stroking her hair absently as he ponders this new development in their relationship when she speaks.
"I'm not very good at this."
It's been less than a week since they first slept together, and though Booth could have never imagined, a week ago, that he could ever come to think of this as commonplace, he has already lost count of how many times they have slept together since.
However, it is comforting to him to think that, if he really wanted to know, she could probably provide the answer.
"Neither am I," he says back.
And it's the truth. For all his talk, it has never been clearer to Brennan than this year that this is the truth.
He can see them this same way a year from now. Two years from now. Five years from now, with maybe a young kid to run in unannounced and force them apart.
(Because he's thought about having kids with her. He's thought about it more than once. Ever since she first put the idea out there in the middle of a therapy session. It sneaks up on him but how could he not?)
"So what does that mean?"
She's shaken him out of his reverie and he can't even pretend to remember where the conversation had trailed off.
As a mild form of punishment, she nips gently at his chest. "If we are acknowledging that neither one of us is good at this, what makes this a good idea?"
He growls and pins her beneath him. "Don't even put that out there. I've waited too damn long for this to happen."
She laughs and he feels warmth where her breath hits his bare skin. And it seems worth it to risk not being good at this this one last time.
Years pass and their endless knowledge on the inner workings of the other only grows. Brennan, on this particular Saturday, knows that Booth is so good at being silent with very little effort, and this is perhaps why she finds it so annoying when he creates enough noise moving around their bedroom to wake her. Because, obviously, he is not making any such effort today.
"What are you doing?" She slurs without opening her eyes.
He pauses and then resumes rifling through one of his drawers. And to add to her annoyance, he does so at a more suitable volume she wishes he had bothered to maintain five minutes ago.
"Meeting someone about a case. I'll be back in a few hours."
"We have a case?" She's just as drowsy but her eyelids part and she sluggishly begins to get up.
"No," Booth clarifies quickly, stepping over to her side of the bed and stopping her from rising. "Not one of ours. Just an old file I'm tying up."
She goes back to feeling annoyed and blindly pushes away his face when he kisses her temple.
"Be back in a few hours," he repeats.
"Bye, Booth. Be careful, Booth. I love you, Booth." Booth quips.
Brennan shrugs unapologetically. "I'm not very good at this."
Booth presses another quick kiss into her hair, and he's nearly out the door before she has a chance to push him away again. Though her hand still carries out the motion.
"Neither am I, baby," he shoots back.
Brennan deftly smoothes the dirt her daughter is arbitrarily heaping over the small plants that had been carefully selected from the nursery an hour earlier.
"Which one goes next?"
"It's your garden, Christine. You may choose."
"But I'm asking. I want to know which one will look best."
"They're all very beautiful."
Christine sighs the weary sigh of children the age of four, but Brennan remains firm. A garden of her own allows Christine the opportunity to assert independence, and she has no intention of taking away from the pride she knows her daughter will feel when they are finished.
"The blue ones."
"Daisies," Brennan corrects gently.
"Daisies," Christine repeats.
"A very wise choice."
Christine beams under the praise, but when her mother's phone begins to ring in the grass beside them, her attention immediately shifts.
While Brennan is still brushing her hands off on her pants, the little girl snatches up the phone.
"Brennan." Christine answers coolly.
(Booth would have laughed. So Brennan is very careful to not)
"Christine, you know you're not allowed to answer my phone without permission. And it's traditional to begin with 'hello'."
"That's not what you say."
Brennan holds out her hand and Christine dutifully returns it, and though Brennan makes a point of saying 'hello,' her focus is quick to stray from the lesson at hand.
She learns that he has been shot. Again. And it's serious. Again. She can't get a hold of her father so she leaves Christine with Angela and storms the ER, and she is already thinking about so many things – his medication sensitivities, charts, x-rays, rehab – that it does not once occur to her that someone would try and stop her, until someone does.
It's hours before he's out of surgery. Before a doctor comes to speak with her. Before she can see him – unconscious but stable – for herself and sit quietly in a chair beside the bed.
Not a single part of their morning had seemed unusual to her, and this is one detail (of dozens) that makes her uneasy later on. It has been many years since something this big has blindsided her completely. She has learned to accept that she will worry when he is in the field without her, but she will never be able to accept that the worst things sometimes happen when she has no obvious cause to be worried at all. A karaoke bar and an appropriate atmosphere of frivolity. A Saturday morning home alone with her brother just before Christmas.
She is not the same person, but old traumas die hard.
On day two he has a severe reaction to a new medication. And though it feels like part of her is collapsing, she stands at his door and watches the doctors and does not interfere while his body seizes.
They toss the phrase 'routine procedure' at her over and over as if it means something. As if the gravity of the situation is somehow lessened because people who are not her husband have received this drug without slipping into a coma. She forcefully sits down in one of the hard plastic chairs in the hall and the doctor assumes that she is feeling faint when in reality, sitting on her hands is quite literally the one thing keeping her from striking him.
She had sat in the waiting room, away from the OR, like the average family member who trusts modern medicine is supposed to, and now Booth may survive bullet wounds only to die because of an allergic reaction; she does not want to hear about routine procedures.
Angela takes Michael-Vincent and Christine to the aquarium and Brennan ducks through a nearby exit door to briefly speak to her daughter on the phone before they go. Christine is excited enough to appear unaffected by the fact that she hasn't seen her parents in two days, and Brennan is, for the umpteenth time, glad that she has Angela for a best friend.
Her daughter loses interest in the phone two minutes into the conversation and Brennan experiences simultaneous gratitude and guilt in response. When Angela comes back on the line, Brennan delivers a very swift, very technical update on Booth's condition and then hangs up before Angela can get a word in edgewise.
Because while she is, for the umpteenth time, glad that she has Angela for a best friend, talking to Christine has exhausted her and she has neither the energy left to pretend that she is okay nor the desire to cry over the phone.
But Angela calls back.
"I'm going to assume we got disconnected."
In the background, Brennan can hear the two children chatter and laugh between themselves.
"I hung up on you."
"I know, Bren."
There's dead air, and Brennan finally stops pacing around the narrow stairwell platform. The emotional exhaustion becomes a physical one, and she sinks to the cold concrete floor and presses her face into the tops of her knees, eyes closed.
"I'm not very good at this," she says.
In a parking lot across the city, Angela clenches the hand of her best friend's daughter and cannot even begin to entertain the possibility of Booth not surviving. Because people she loves, people Brennan loves, are not allowed to die. They just aren't.
"Everything's going to be fine, Sweetie."
The line goes dead a second time, and Angela does not call back.
"Come on, Booth. A little further."
The role of cheerleader doesn't come naturally to Brennan, except when it pertains to him. Watching Booth struggle is much more difficult than struggling herself.
"I know, Bones," he snaps through gritted teeth as he progresses slowly between the bars. "This isn't the first time I've had to relearn walking."
Her own jaw clenches and she swallows back her irritation. "Then move."
Booth glares at her and she glares back. The therapist, who has in the last few weeks come to know both parties as well as any outsider can, continues to attentively spot his patient but does not otherwise get involved.
Half an hour later the physio session comes to an end, and once they are left alone in the room, both Brennan and Booth relax ever so slightly. It's taxing enough to keep emotions in check on a bad day, but in the presence of strangers it requires a damn near herculean effort.
Booth sits on the mat with his legs spread out in front of him, already staring resentfully at the wheelchair he will need to make it to the car. Brennan gently massages the exerted muscles of his thighs and calves.
"It's temporary, Booth," she reminds him softly.
He shakes his head. "Let's get it over with."
He moves himself to the chair, which he hadn't been able to do a week ago, but Brennan makes no comment. She remembers what it's like to feel helpless mid-recovery. To pick fights with Booth just to give herself something to think about besides the fact that she wasn't physically strong enough to hold her own baby.
As has become their pattern, the ride home is mostly silent. Brennan tries to engage him in conversation a few times and Booth bites her head off every single one of them, so she stops trying. He's bordering on hostile and she's bordering on calling him a petulant child, and in two days, they will do this all over again.
They will both stay. Because there are no expectations of perfection. Just a reassuring knowledge that, always, in spite of early experiences that tried to teach them they would always be alone, these two flawed individuals make sense together.
Five minutes from the house, Booth shifts in his seat and his hand stretches across the space between them to tuck her hair behind her ear.
It's an apology of sorts. An admission that his anger is for the situation and not for her. Brennan takes a hand off the wheel and squeezes his knee, chancing a thin smile in his direction when traffic allows it.
"I'm not very good at this," he says tiredly.
"Neither am I, Booth. Neither am I."
A/N 1: I was supposed to be on vacation this week, but I had a big roller derby tournament in Montreal in the spring and blew my vacay funds there. Though I've been rather scarce in the Bones community for some time now, fandom friend vacation time (or what should have been, anyway) has brought all things fandom to the forefront of my mind, and this happened. To anyone who reads this, I'm sorry I'm rusty. Maybe one day I'll find my groove again.
A/N 2: Certain bitches currently gallivanting about Minnesota (you know who you are); don't think that I'm condoning your exclusionary actions with this update. BUT, as I was sitting in the breakroom today at lunch, sulking because you guys had cool FB status updates while I was stuck on the wrong side of the border AT WORK, Girls Chase Boys came on the radio. And it is so hard to pout when Ingrid is serenading. Please kiss Jemburglar for me.