Arabian Nights

Chapter 6: A Soldier's Tale: Part 1

The great hope he felt that night, though, took a hit during the next two days as his partner processed. He supposed it was a good thing that he had given her so much to think about but two nights more she slept downstairs in her office.

Wednesday night, Bones called in the afternoon to say she was going out with Angela. He and Christine had Daddy/Daughter night and when he went to bed at midnight, she still wasn't home. She was up in the morning before him, however, and everything seemed pretty normal. That night, Thursday night, though, Bones retreated to her office again. When he went down to cover her up, he could tell she had been doing work on the computer and only curled up on the couch when she was too tired to keep her eyes open.

By Friday, he was thinking he needed to push again. Plus, and he didn't want to be crass about it, but it had been over a week since they'd gotten physical and he missed her. He hadn't had so many sexy dreams about her in years. He'd get Angela to take Christine Friday night—if she would take his call—and see if he could talk Bones into an evening out, followed by an evening most definitely in.

"Booth, I am really busy."

"Bones, we need to talk—" He knew immediately that he had said the wrong thing.

"—Booth, I have to go. I'll speak with you later."

Sighing heavily, he tossed his cell phone onto his desk and looked down at the start of his day: a notepad full of names and numbers he needed to call to try to run down a witness.

Hours later he strode into the lab, projecting a confidence he didn't feel, banking on bravado, the fact that he knew she hadn't eaten breakfast, and...his ace in the hole...a new falafel place that she didn't know about.

"Bones! Hey Bones, I'm coming to take you to lunch!" He raised his voice as he got closer to set a casual tone, and to warn her that he was coming. As usual, she was deeply involved in a project, this time bent over table set up at the back of her office with model bones all over it. She, Mr. Viziri, and Mr. Bray were all intent on what they saw before them. Brennan straightened and met Booth's eye briefly and he knew this wasn't going to be easy.

A quick glance at Wendell and Aristoo revealed that they, at least, were ready for a break. Brennan was single-minded and devoted all the time, but when upset, she immersed herself in work.

"Bones, I am taking you to lunch and you are not allowed to say no."

"Booth, I really cannot come right now." Her face was composed, but she lied with her body, not looking at him, shifting things on the table that were not important—pretending busy-ness.

He didn't say anything, just waited. The other two men didn't seem uncomfortable yet but they did risk a quick glance at each other. Wendell's eyes even flicked briefly to the clock on the wall. Finally, Brennan looked up. Raised her eyebrows. Are you still here?

"Bones, I am playing my partner card. You have to come to lunch with me today. It's a partner thing."

"What? Booth, you cannot just make up new rules for partnership anytime you feel like it."

"No, really, Bones. It's a partner thing. I'm playing my card now. You can choose when you play yours." He smiled at her with his eyes, but otherwise didn't elaborate. He realized in that minute that he was not leaving without her. He was willing to make a scene, and he hoped that she was more reluctant to have that happen than she was stubborn. With Bones, it could go either way.

"Booth, this is ridiculous." But she kept talking, her body relaxing a little from its rigid pose, "I know your rule is contrived." She looked at him, evaluating, and it took all his self-control to not push, not try to bully her into going. Finally, after staring at each other for a good minute—and now, Wendell and Arastoo actually were uncomfortable—she gave in.

"I am hungry, so I will go to lunch with you. But when I play *my* partner card, I will be expecting a good deal more than the opportunity to take you to lunch. Perhaps a gun..." Decided, she moved swiftly to her desk to close her computer and grab her bag. She didn't bother to give final instructions to her interns. Both of them hardly interns anymore, close to being doctors of science in their own right. She paused to smile a little at them. "I'll see you both after lunch?"

As she moved past him to the door, Booth fell in step behind her, his hand twitching a little at his side, but giving her space.

Twenty minutes later on the sidewalk just a block away from the new falafel shop, near their bank, the diner, the independently-owned appliance store where she insisted they buy their washer and dryer, just two blocks away from consignment shop that used to be a high-end toy store where he bought Jasper for her all those years ago, Booth and his not-going-to-be-wife because that is all he can fucking think of lately, stood almost nose to nose.

Fighting.

He didn't even know how it started, or even what it was about really, but he knew if Pelant was watching, it was with deep satisfaction, because in less than two weeks, he and Bones were coming apart. A small part of him knew that this was good, that people were safe, that probably Bones was safer if Pelant thought they were angry at each other. But Bones was arguing with him, picking at him and it was with another burst of satisfaction and panic that he realized that she was starting to think about the fact that he had broken the engagement, rather than just feeling hurt.

"Booth, I don't have any personal investment in the way you eat your food, but as your partner, I find it interesting when you act out of character."

"Bones, will just lay off? I was hungry. I don't really care what I eat right now. That's not out of character—"

"Well, I just think that when you behave erratically, it undermines the trust I have in you as a partner."

Booth moved closer and his voice got involuntarily lower and louder. "Now you don't trust me? You don't trust me?"

"What does that mean, Booth? That I'm the untrustworthy one?"

"I didn't say that!"

"I have learned to distinguish tone and inflection, Booth!"

"I just meant that I am the last person in the world you should doubt! I did not mean to say that I don't trust you. I do trust you. I have always trusted you." He could feel the strain and roughness in his voice, the cracks. He felt like he was fighting for his life. He waited for her to say she trusted him too.

Her lack of response in what had been a non-stop exchange of verbal blows was shattering.

"You don't trust me?" Booth became momentarily aware of his body, the flow of people around him. He shifted automatically to protect her from people who were hurrying by, the jangle of a bike messenger coming down the block. And that is why his body shielded both his own face and hands and her body from the debris that flew out of a nearby building as it exploded outward in a fiery cascade.

Booth's face was pressed painfully into the asphalt and he lay half on Brennan. He pushed up to his knees and ran his hands over her. "Bones. Bones!" He pushed the hair off her face and stroked her face. "Bones, babe, you okay?"

Relief washed through him as she opened her eyes. She was faster than even him, as usual, to understand the evidence of her senses. "Go, Booth."

He ran his hands quickly one last time over her head to make sure she wasn't bleeding and then jogged quickly back to the building, trusting that Bones would help any injured bystanders. It felt like hours but probably only 10 minutes passed or so while Booth and another man ventured in and out of the gaping hole in the building looking for people injured or dead. Booth carried three unconscious people—two men and a woman—out of the building on his back. The first two, he and the other guy carried between them, but the last victim he found on his own, on the second floor, where the blast clearly originated. When his partner of the moment didn't answer his shout, Booth hefted the injured man onto his back.

When he staggered through the blast opening an eon later, Booth could see a red fire engine had pulled up to the curb. He felt something wet on his face and everyone was moving slow. Didn't they know that there had been an explosion? They needed to move faster. He could see Bones helping a man to stand, watched her head swivel again, so slow, Bones wasn't ever slow and felt her eyes lock on his as if she had known he was there. A yellow blur blocked her from his sight and he realized a firefighter was waving a hand in his face, his mouth moving comically, opening and closing like he was chewing in slow motion.

Booth couldn't understand why the man wasn't talking, but then realized he couldn't hear anything. No sirens, no hydrant, no talking, no crying or yelling or anything. Just then the weight on his back was lifted and Booth walked forward, free of the weight of whatever he had been carrying. He looked toward Bones and saw someone familiar behind her. Booth staggered toward Brennan, but felt…strange. He shook his head, almost falling to his right from dizziness.

The next thing he knew, Bones was bending over him. He grabbed her hand and arm like a lifeline and she, with the help of…Sweets, what was Sweets doing here?...helped him stand.

With her touch, sound came back. Too much sound and Booth flinched at the cacophony. He could certainly hear the sirens and engine sounds now, the wailing and yelling of voices, the bell of a bike still ringing, but also, running and the sound of gunfire and more explosions. He jerked upward, standing straight all of a sudden and pulling Bones into his body, certain they were going to be thrown to the ground again.

"Booth, what—" He pressed her to him and spun so he could see where the new blasts were landing, so he'd know what direction to go.

But there was nothing there. Or rather, nothing new. Wet pavement and broken glass and firefighters and policemen running.

Still the sound of bombs and gunfire. He spun Brennan again and when she struggled against him, he let her loose a little. She reached up and held his face in her hands, forcing him to look at her.

"Booth. Listen to me. Listen. It's not real. There was just one blast. Look at me. No. Don't look over there. Don't look away. Look at me." Her voice, clear and calm and authoritative. He had to listen to her. He wanted to listen to her. His eyes focused on her pale blue ones. Her face was dirty. He wanted to wipe the dirt away but when he raised his hand which suddenly appeared in his peripheral vision to startle him he saw a dirty, blood streaked appendage and jerked in reaction. Phalanges, he thought giddily, and then felt vaguely guilty as he looked at his fingers. There was something he was supposed to be doing.

"Booth." Her voice was softer now, a little bit anxious, but no less authoritative. "It is time to look at me. Look at me now. Now. Look at me, baby." He felt her hand stroke his face. When she called him that, he had to look at her. She only ever called him that at night, in the dark. Never in the daytime, never in the light. It was so…not…Bones. Not daytime Bones.

She smiled grimly. "Well, that got your attention anyway." She gripped his hands and squeezed. "Let's get home, Booth. Can you show me the way? Do you remember where you parked the truck?"

With a concrete task before him, Booth started thinking again, although the sound of bombs was still really distracting, and Sweets was now talking, although not to him. Brennan answered him and Sweets walked with them. That was good because Booth kept walking to the right, despite his best efforts to walk straight. Sweets caught him several times and finally just held on to Booth's arm, helping Brennan lead him away from the scene. Booth shook his head, trying to shake the sounds of guns and the smell of smoke. His left ear could hear the explosions and boots running so clearly. He shook his head again, hoping the sounds would go away.

He had parked several blocks over toward the park, and when they got to the truck, Brennan kept walking, like they were going to the park. She passed Sweets the keys she had fished from Booth's pocket and then Sweets wasn't there. But then Sweets was there what was wrong with that kid? having caught up with them as Brennan was settling him on some clear ground in the park. He rested his back against a tree and felt his body center itself successfully for the first time since the blast. Nothing had ever felt so good as the solid, grass-covered ground of D.C., the rough bark of the tree behind him. No sand.

Sweets was there and Booth wanted to ask him why he was there but he was wrapping the blanket around Booth and Booth had never felt anything so soft, or felt so warm all of a sudden. Tears pricked his eyes.

And then Bones crawled forward onto his lap and wrapped her arms around him, and he knew that in fact he had been wrong before, that this she was the softest, sweetest, best thing he had ever felt. His arms came up and he held on. He pressed his nose into her neck and breathed, counting. He counted up from one, starting over if anything other than his breath, the number of his breath, intruded. When he finally made it to five, he started down again. He did this over and over, starting over when he got distracted, until all he heard and felt was his breath. Except for her, for Bones. She counted as his breath, as essential. He smelled her, became momentarily aware of the strength in her arms, her small hands, the silk of her skin under his cheek

When he came back to himself, he felt a hundred years old. Tired to the soles of his weary feet. But Bones was with him and the flashback had receded. He hadn't had one that bad in years. Slowly, he raised his head from where it rested against her.

She looked at him sternly, fingers stroking the side of his face automatically, convulsively. "Are you all right, Booth?"

"Yeah, Bones. I'm all right." His voice was more like a croak than anything human. He looked around and didn't see Sweets.

"He went to get the car." Bones offered. "Let's go home."

God, he felt awful. "Okay, Bones." He felt the loss of her weight on him and levered himself up, ignoring her hand. When they got to the car, Sweets got out and climbed in the back. Booth was grateful that he didn't try to open the door for him, or offer to drive. Bad enough that Bones took the driver's seat.

They dropped Sweets at the Hoover and went home. Booth showered, hot water pounding into him, until he felt half-way human again and changed into jeans and a t-shirt. It had been one o'clock or so when he had picked Bones up at the lab and it was now past three. No way he was going back to work today and god knows what Sweets told them at the Hoover.

"Booth?" Bones stuck her head into the bedroom. "Are you dressed?"

"Yeah, Bones. I'm dressed." He looked down and rubbed the back of his neck wearily. I'm…sorry—"

"Booth." She moved across the room to him and he couldn't help it, couldn't think about space or stories or Pelant or anything, he just needed her. All resistance on her part was gone for now. She wrapped her arms around his waist and he crushed her to him, loving the feel of her body against him, slipping his hands under her shirt so he could feel her bare skin against the palms of his hands, finally pulling back only to kiss her desperately. Her mouth was hot under his and he pulled at her clothes and his and pushed her backwards to the bed and then there was only the soul deep satisfaction of being with her. He had always felt it. Only with her. They moved together frantically, kissing and holding on so hard that there would be bruises tomorrow. They moved together almost violently, as if they truly could climb inside one another. Booth groaned and moved faster against her, driving them both to a place where they almost almost became one. And in the end, it was Bones who whispered "Look at me" in a passionate echo of her earlier demand and when he dragged eyes helplessly eager to obey her up to hers, it was Bones who said the words that pushed him over the edge.

I love you.

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