Title: Open Wounds (1/1)
Characters: Booth, Brennan
Rating: K+ or PG
Spoilers: Through all of Season 4. Takes place sometime in Season 5.
Notes: Written for a prompt by tempertemper at the bitesize_bones comment fic meme
Prompt: Booth/Brennan - Booth asks if Brennan still thinks about wanting a baby Disclaimer: Bones and its characters belong to FOX, not me. This story is purely meant to entertain. No copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: To lurkers and commenters alike, thank you.
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Friday afternoon unfurled in all its lazy glory, and Booth had convinced Brennan to join him for a late, park-side lunch. A breeze swirled around them, carrying with it the damp-earth smell of early spring. Booth inhaled deeply and let the corners of his mouth kick up in a little smile as strands of Brennan's hair blew away from her face and toward his.
The roast beef and cheddar sandwich he'd just finished had really hit the spot. With a contented sigh, he crumpled up the foil wrapper and tossed it into the paper bag sitting at his feet, before leaning back against the wooden bench, arms loosely crossed over his very happy stomach. He turned his head to watch Brennan put her half-eaten vegetable panini neatly back in its wrapper and set it down next to her. "You're not gonna finish that?"
"No." She shook her head but didn't turn, gazing straight ahead instead. "I suppose I'm just not very hungry today."
"You sure?" He raised an eyebrow. "'Cause we could pick up something else on our way back--"
"Booth," she said, voice knife-sharp, though her face was still turned away, "I believe I already stated that I'm not hungry. I don't need you to..." Her voice trailed off abruptly as she glanced down at her lap, eyebrows drawn together, fingers plucking at a loose button on her jacket.
Surprised by her sudden show of aggression, Booth resisted the knee-jerk impulse to fire back with something equally snippy. That might have been how they were with each other when they started out as partners, but time had definitely mellowed them both.
Waiting, he watched Brennan straighten in her seat and stare back across the park. What was it she found so interesting?
A small child with dark, curly hair took one halting step forward, and then another, toward a tall woman, whose delighted laughter drifted toward them as she swept the child up into her arms. Those days with Parker were long gone, Booth thought with more than a touch of sadness, his baby having grown into a boy seemingly overnight. Happy memories, but memories all the same. Brennan sat still and silent beside him.
"Do you... Do you still want a baby?" he asked, all desire to engage in a battle of words now gone. A sparrow in the short grass ahead of them hopped toward a forgotten crumb of bread.
Her mouth trembled then firmed. "No."
Hearing her lie -- to him, of all people, hurt. But he'd lied to her, too, when he told her he loved her in a professional way. What the hell did that even mean? "It's OK if you do, Bones. You know, we can talk about it if--"
"What don't you understand, Booth?" Her furious gaze snapped to his. "I am not hungry. I do not want another sandwich. And I do not want to have a child. In fact," she said, raising her hands in front of her, fingers splayed wide, "let me remind you, since you seem to have forgotten, that the last time I wanted to be a parent, I badgered you for your sperm, and all that time it turned out that you were ill." She folded her hands in her lap and looked away again, breathing hard.
"Hey, stop--" The sandwich that had tasted so good a few minutes ago had tripled in weight, sitting heavily in his stomach as he digested the reason for her outburst.
"You had a brain tumor," she added, continuing as if she hadn't heard him. "I should have known something was wrong. I should have seen it. But I was too caught up in my own selfish desire to have a child."
Booth had heard enough. He had no idea how long she'd made herself responsible for not catching his tumor; now that he knew, it wasn't going to continue for a second longer. There was no way he was going to let her feel guilty about this. "Stop." Angling his body toward her, he grasped her shoulders. "None of that was your fault. None of it. You hear me?"
"You're wrong, Booth." She sniffed, eyes shimmering, and he wanted to kick himself for not having realized sooner what she was doing to herself. His partner had things covered in the bone-reading department; he was supposed to be able to read people.
Tightening his hands, he gave her a slight shake. "No, I'm not. Listen to me, Bones. Being a genius does not give you superpowers; you can't see into my head." Sighing, he released her shoulders and brushed the backs of his fingers over her cheek, and wished that he could do more. That she would let him do more. That he would let himself do more. "If anyone could, it'd be you."
This coaxed a glimmer of a smile from her. Their eyes met, and she tilted her head, leaning her face into his hand. Or maybe he just imagined it; because he wanted it to be true. So badly. Something small. Too small to even call a "moment." He'd take what he could get when it came to this woman.
Like every other moment they'd ever shared, it passed. Booth slowly withdrew his hand, eyes still on Brennan's face, even though she stared off into the distance, expression unreadable.
When Brennan spoke again, he had to strain to catch the quietly-spoken words. "It was selfish to ask you to father my child without being a father in the way I know is important to you." She paused. "And I... I apologize for that," she added.
"You're allowed to want things, Bones. It makes you human," he replied, keeping his voice gentle. "And I meant what I said before: you'd make a great mom."
When Brennan didn't respond except to shift her gaze back across the park, Booth curved his arm around her shoulders and tucked her into his side. Together, they watched the tall woman settle the dark-haired child into a stroller.