Chapter 21: The Ring Way Up High
At home hours later, bone weary, both Brennan and Booth dragged themselves up the stairs to their bedroom. When all the excitement was over and Brennan was somewhat less than happily ensconced in a hospital room to await treatment, Booth had called Max to pick up Christine from daycare and take her for the night. This served a dual purpose: to secure Christine's care as well as to keep Max from descending on Brennan in the hospital.
They had both spent too much time getting patched up—or waiting for someone who was getting patched up—to enjoy this brief stay in any way. The dramatic events which led to their presence at the hospital on this particular night now seemed distant and unlikely. Getting stabbed with a scalpel in the arm twice? Like a television drama, too contrived to be real. But the aftermath was sordid enough to lend an air of authenticity to the proceedings. The long wait, the procession of pleasant nurses, the many releases and forms to sign. Brennan refused pain killers, except the local administered during the cleaning and stitching procedure, and was hurting and grouchy during the trip through the hospital to his truck. Her mood elevated to mute and uncommunicative once they were driving and Booth recognized it for the improvement that it was. Once they were home, he relaxed further when she made a small joke about his having gone to great lengths to get a night alone with her. He put a hand on the back of her head, smoothed the long hair down her back to her waist, soothed himself with the reassuring touch.
"Bones, let's go to bed. You ready?"
"Yes, Booth. I can say I am definitely ready to be home, to go to bed." He had turned on a light in the kitchen, but they stood now in the living room, shadowy and dim yet utterly familiar. The scent of fruit from the bowl on the kitchen counter, the ticking of the grandfather clock in the hallway...Brennan found herself leaning forward to rest and relax her full body weight against Booth. His body, as always, was rock solid, warm and steady, and his arms wrapped around her, holding her tight. She lay her cheek against his shoulder, sad from the pain and anxiety but glad, always so glad, to be with him.
She breathed. In. Out. In. Out. Until her body relaxed enough for her to think. The throbbing in her upper arm was truly distracting now and tomorrow she was supposed to take Christine to a baby shower for one of Booth's coworkers. She could say that she was too ill to go—she didn't really want to go, of course, such events having almost no redeeming value when stacked up against the kind of activities she usually preferred. She was unexpectedly gratified, however, that Booth's colleague had included her, even though Booth was barred from the event with the other men. Brennan couldn't help but be intrigued. The modern world did not hold on to many traditions that categorically banned members of the opposite sex. So while she could send her regrets, the shower was happening in the afternoon and she had purchased the sweetest onesie to go with a stack of books and she was really, truth be told, looking forward to it a little. Purely in the spirit of scientific inquiry of course.
Booth's hand rubbed warm circles on her back, through her shirt, all through her exhausted musings. She loved his smell, the feel of the broadcloth under her cheek, the end-of-the-day rough feel of the skin at his neck on her forehead and face. She nuzzled at his adam's apple a little and was gratified to feel him pull her closer, tighter.
"I don't suppose I could convince you to take the painkillers, Bones?" When she didn't answer, he jiggled her a little and sounded hopeful, "Bones? What do you think? You really should get some sleep tonight…"
"I don't know, Booth. I tend to be very sensitive to medication. It can make me quite nauseated—"
"How about just half the dose then, Bones. One pill?"
She thought a minute longer, feeling her chest press against his with every rise and fall. She thought of the shower, spending time with Christine tomorrow, of an efficient healing sleep… "Well, all right then. Just one."
Booth practically ran to the kitchen, bringing her back water and the pill. She took it and then held on to Booth's arm with her one good one, letting him help her upstairs. In the low light of their bedroom, Brennan let him take her clothes off and dress her in one of his tshirts. He smoothed the worn material, steeped in his scent, over her shoulders and down her back, his hand stroking and coming to rest on her behind. He squeezed a little, making her laugh and press into him again. He turned them, as if they were dancing and pulled away just enough to turn down the sheets. She was starting to feel the warm fuzziness of the painkillers. Her feet felt numb, and her nose. Huh. But something wasn't right.
"Booth," she complained, "that isn't my side of the bed."
"I know, Bones, but this way you can rest on your left side and I can hold you." He shifted so she was standing in front of him and one strong hand rested on her stomach, pulling her against him. With his free hand, he pulled her hair back so that he could kiss her neck and shoulder. "Mmmm...you always smell good. Like you." She was feeling quite numb in a variety of places, but not her neck, where his lips settled.
"Booth, did you remember to remove the bacon from the refrigerator? You know I don't like it in there with my vegetarian sausage. Can we have that in the morning for breakfast?" She just enjoyed the feeling of leaning back against him, the warm tide of peaceful disassociation rising up over her head. Booth was silent a long time.
"Bones, what did you say?"
"Did you say something about bacon?"
"I don't remember, Booth. Can we go to bed now?" She turned to stumble toward their bed. Booth caught her, helped her down, smoothed and tucked and almost tut tutted. She laughed, surprised herself by how throaty and abandoned her laugh was. She was tired, but she didn't feel so crabby any more. "Booth?"
She felt his lips on her forehead. "Bones, I am going to go turn off the lights. I'll be right back."
"Yes, Bones?" He was only a step away from her side.
"What is it, babe?" His voice was patient but he sounded like he was laughing at her.
"I know you are laughing at me, Booth. Don't think you can distract me with kisses…" As she had anticipated, he came back to the bed, leaned down close and bracketed her with his strong arms. Her eyelids were too heavy to open so she just leaned up carefully until she estimated her lips were just about in the right place and then tried to kiss him, giggling a little, rubbing her tingling lips, not really numb, against his cheek until she could find all the right parts of his lips. He let her kiss him, and when she wouldn't let him pull away, he sat down heavily on the edge of the bed.
"Bones. I've got to go turn the lights out. I'll be right back." That's what he said, but he didn't make any move to leave, but stroked her hair and pressed down on the blankets until she felt warm all over. She subsided and released his mouth.
He leaned back down for one more kiss and she asked, against his mouth, "Booth?" She felt his lips curve up again.
"Aren't you mad at me? For getting hurt?"
He tenderly slipped strands of hair behind her ears with his rough, warm fingers, and she could, against all logic, feel him looking at her, almost studying her.
"Yeah, Bones," he almost whispered, voice low and harsh. "Yeah. I'm mad at you."
Her eyes flew open and she felt the sting of tears. "You are, Booth? Really?" She felt a few tears dribbled down her temples and start to pool in her ears. Pressing her lips together against a sob, she closed her eyes tight again.
Now Booth laughed gently and kissed her wet eyes. Very unhygenic. But sweet. "Just a little, babe. I'll get over it. I'll yell at you tomorrow, okay?"
"You want us to go bankrupt because our electric bill is too high, don't you? You aren't ever going to let me turn out the lights, are you Bones?"
"Booth, be serious." She felt his body shake a little with laughter against her hip and frowned. "Booth, I don't think it is funny."
"Again, just a little, Bones. What can I do for you?"
"What do you mean?"
"You said my name, like you wanted something. What do you want, Bones?"
"I know you didn't buy the ring at that auction, while I was gone."
"You got me, Bones. How did you know?"
"I asked Angela. She said you and she never saw them setting up for an auction." She didn't feel quite so sleepy now that she was lying down and she blinked to clear her vision. Looked at his beautiful face. She reached out and traced his nose and lips with her finger. "You're pretty, Booth."
"Bones!" He laughed. "You are funny when you are high. I didn't know you reacted to painkillers like this."
"Not all of them, Booth, but some of them. I should have paid better attention. But stop changing the subject, Booth." She gave him a stern look that was undermined by the giggle that rose up.
"What subject, Bones. How pretty I am?" He pursed his lips and batted his eyelashes. Brennan smiled, satisfied.
"Yes. But also you have to tell me another ring story. One that is more plausible."
"Bones, that one was plausible. I did go back, there was an auction, it just wasn't with Angela. And I saw a ring, liked it, but honestly, I already had this one—"
"A-ha, what, Bones?"
"Now I know that you bought it before I went on the lam."
"Bones, I really wish you would stop calling it that. This isn't 1940."
He answered, wearily. "Yes, Bones?"
"Go turn out the lights would you?" And dissolved into a fit of giggles. Booth shook his head, kissed her head quickly and took his chance where it came, ducking downstairs to flick off the lights and check that all the doors and windows were locked. When he came back, Brennan seemed asleep on her side; he quickly brushed his teeth, stripped down to boxers and a tshirt, and slipped into bed next to her. She hummed happily, sleepily, and shifted to press close as his body curved around hers.
"Well, Booth? Tell me another lie about when you bought the ring."
"You are very bossy tonight, Bones, did you know that?"
"Mmmm." She agreed.
"Why don't you tell me when I bought the ring."
Her answer came immediately. "You bought it after I told you I was pregnant."
"What? Wait, why do you think that?"
"Well, you are very traditional and even though you know that I am not, you would have felt better if you were ready to marry me, the mother of your unborn child."
"You're wrong, Bones."
"It's not the first time, Booth." He snorted and kissed her neck.
"Bones, can I tell you something?" She twisted and craned her neck around so she could meet his eyes.
"Of course, Booth. You can tell me anything. Although, I might have already observed what you are about to tell me. I am very perspicacious."
"Oh, I suspect you know this. At least, I hope you have figured it out."
"What is it, Booth? Tell me and then I'll tell you if I knew."
"I love you, Bones." His voice was quiet and earnest. She had that serious look on her face, as if she was considering every syllable, every stress, every word. He waited for her acknowledgement.
"Booth, did you…" she pressed her face deep into the pillow suddenly, clearly on the verge of passing out for the night, "did you take the bacon out? I don't like the way it looks at the sausage."
Booth couldn't help but smile. She was so funny like this, he didn't get to see her loopy often. He leaned back and turned out the last of the lights. The room filled with darkness. He snuggled up to her again and pulled her close. He was just drifting off himself when he heard her mumbling. "I love you too, Booth." One last kiss, the soft skin of her cheek, the warm puff of her breath, and he followed her down.
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