Chapter 27. Another Flag at Half Mast
Across town from the group gathered on the mall of the Jeffersonian, Brennan was becoming aware of her surroundings as the morning light filtered through the shades hanging in the East window of Booth’s bedroom.
She had slept solidly, noticing this morning that her limbs felt heavy and relaxed. How long had it been since she slept so deeply? Sighing, and drawing in her first deep breath, she was overcome by a feeling of intense wellbeing. It was as if her real life had been a dream, and this life, the one that started each day in bed with Special Agent Seeley Joseph Booth, was the real one, the right one. She lay there, eyes open, staring at the glowing window shades.
For a brief moment, she was happy, content. Like sand through an hour glass, images of the previous day crept slowly into her peaceful morning, pushing aside her calm. The near capture of Broadsky, the squintern death and his final words which haunted her still, the blood covering Booth’s hands and suit coat. With some temporal distance, she was able to begin compartmentalizing the events and her own reactions. The scientist in her was ready to go back to work to nail this Son of a bitch, that bastard Broadsky.
Despite her brain having been jump-started with the unsettling recollection of the previous day, and the gravity of what lay before them today, Brennan was acutely aware that she was in Booth’s bed and so was Booth, just inches away. She listened to him breathe for a moment and prayed he wouldn’t awaken, wouldn’t return to today’s harsh reality, until the last possible moment.
In their sleep they had moved apart, but were still lying in the same orientation. He was behind her, seemingly dead to the world. As quietly as she could, she rolled over to face him, leaving very little space between them. She notice he was shirtless. She could feel the heat of his warm body and feel his breath on the hairs of her forehead.
For several moments she just stared up at his beautiful face. Masculine, yet boyish in repose, she couldn’t help but admire his bone structure. His prominent cheekbones, his jaw line, the strong brow dropping off toward his eye sockets and nasal ridge. The lids concealing the eyes that she could live lifetimes gazing into and it would still never be long enough.
“I’m losing my edge,” she thought to herself. “Getting mushy in my old age.” She knew that what she and Sweets had been so diligently working toward for the last several months had made this softening inside her possible. Surprising herself, she conceded she approved of this change – it brought with it a pleasing sense of … what? … what would you call this? … Contentment? Having spent many years living in the opposite, she was ready for this change.
Gently and quietly, she pulled her left arm from under the sheets and placed her middle finger along his hairline, tracing it from his left temple to his right, noticing the horizontal crevices that age and life had etched across his forehead. Over the last six years, the nearly invisible lines had become deeper. She knew she was responsible for the deepening and the addition of some of those lines.
Booth’s facial structure exhibited many of the markings of a good warrior, provider, and breeder. It also missed the mark in several small ways that gave him character, made him “Boothy,” and endeared him to her.
As she smoothed his right eyebrow, fascinated by the growth pattern and the softness, Booth’s eyes fluttered and slowly opened. Brennan paused in her tracks, but didn’t pull away. He exhaled, saying nothing, a hint of a smile on his lips. He didn’t move, so she continued exploring.
“These,” she began almost inaudibly, retracing his eyebrow, “are the Superciliary Arches.” She returned to the space between his eyebrows and paused as she said “Glabella.”
Traveling down the bridge of his nose, “the Nasal Ridge,” she watched as he slowly closed his eyes. She stopped just short of his lips. That was dangerous territory. “Maxilla,” she said in a throaty whisper.
To the left of his nose, she gently outlined his right eye socket and traversed his cheekbone all the way to his ear, identifying as she went along, “The Zygomatic Process, the Sphenoid, and the Temporal bones.”
Noticing Booth had reopened his eyes, she continued, outlining his jaw. “The Mandible, or the mental tuberosity,” she whispered as she traced an invisible path across his chin and up the right side of his face. “The Zygomatic Arch, the Temporal bone once again, and the Occipital,” she said, continuing behind his ear and into his hair at the back of his head, this time using two more of her fingers as well as the middle one. “The cervical vertebra,” she said.
As her fingers trailed down, pushing gently on each of the four top vertebrae, Booth shuddered involuntarily and smiled a dreamy smile. Moving slowly along his trapezius muscle, she reached his shoulder bone. “The clavicle,” she said, following it toward the center of his chest. When her finger came to rest in the dip of his collarbone, and before she could say, “Manubrium,” Booth reached up and grabbed her hand like a snake springing upon its prey. He held her hand pressed against his chest, rising and falling with each of his breaths. His eyes traveled from her neck, to her lips, and eventually to her eyes where they rested. She glanced up at him, moving only her eyes.
Being so close to his bare chest, touching his hot smooth skin, inhaling and exhaling the same warm air he was, had an intoxicating affect on her. She felt dizzy and on the verge of passing out. Her breathing slowed and her eyelids felt heavy. The thrum and rush of her heartbeat filled her ears. At the same time, every cell of her body was alert and standing at attention for whatever might happen next.
“Is this what it’s like for you, Bones?” He whispered. How could he sound so calm, she wondered, and what happened to his shirt? “When you look at a live person, do you see only bones?” he whispered.
“When I look at these bones,” she said, barely above a whisper, “I see a miracle.” They lay there and time stopped. A million memories of the two of them flashed by for each of them … each instrumental in bringing them to this moment – and suddenly it was clear that they were all worth it.
Any moment, she was going to close the gap between their lips, throw her leg over his, and everything would become a blur of arms and thighs and lips and sighs. Perhaps even some screaming.
Before she could move a single cell toward that end, she became aware of a siren blaring. Or was it a fire alarm? Or an ambulance wail? “Oh my God, that’s the phone!” she choked out, snapped back to reality.
They reached this realization at the same time and both lunged for their cell phones on the bedside table behind booth. He leaned back to reach over his head as she landed on his chest. They lay in that position having their rushed and separate conversations, then hung up at the same time.
Still laying on Booth’s chest, Brennan looked at him. They were both thinking the same thing. She broke the silence. “I need to take a shower,” she said.
“I’ll get the coffee brewing,” he said, as they both sprang into action. Regarding the shower he said, “There’s a trick about the hot water …”
“Oh, I don’t plan on using any hot water – quite the opposite!” she said with a combination laugh and snort.
“Well, save some of that cold water for me,” he replied with equal snarkiness, though confident there wasn’t enough cold water in D.C. to put out the fire burning beneath his calm exterior. He kept that thought to himself, however, at least for now.