TITLE: Better Days
PART ONE: Lost


"How long has he been gone now?"

"A month."

"When is he expected back?"

"No one knows. Profiling is a very extensive, intense process. Sometimes it takes years."

"How's she holding up?"

"Not well."

"She told you that?"

"No. Look at her, though. She barely eats, only talks to anybody when it pertains to work, and she's got dark circles under her eyes because she's kept awake constantly worrying about him."

"When was the last time he called?"

"Couple weeks ago."

"Wow."

"Yeah. For any other guy, that'd be nothing out of the ordinary. But... the way he feels about her... this whole time he hasn't gone more than two days without contacting her. That's why she's stopped sleeping now. It's not like him to just not call."

"Look at her. She's walking around like she's a widow. Totally lost."

Two pairs of eyes, one dark brown and one clear blue turned away from the scientist on the other side of the room and focused on each other. The owner of the dark brown eyes blinked slowly and brushed jet-black locks out of her face. "She doesn't think he's coming back."

The owner of the clear blue eyes shook his head, shaking the tight curls atop it in the process. "I can't believe what this is doing to her."

"Well, they're in love with each other," Angela Montenegro shrugged, watching her best friend from across the room examining a pile of bones with vacant, unseeing eyes.

"Yeah," Jack Hodgins chuffed. "That much was evident when they were clinging to each other in that warehouse a month ago. I mean, he even had broken ribs and yet he had her in a vice grip. The paramedics had to literally pry them off each other."

Angela chuckled in spite of herself. "I would've loved to have seen that. I cannot imagine Brennan clinging to anybody."

"Well, she was wrapped around Booth pretty tight. Like a python."

She shook her head at her companion's wording. "Lovely analogy. Highly romantic of you, Hodgins."

"Thanks."

The pair fell into silence as they watched the lovely-yet-worn-down anthropologist make her way over to them. "I think I'm ready now," she sighed, devoid of any enthusiasm. "Remind me why I have to go to this thing again?"

"Because Goodman said so."

"Oh, right." Temperance Brennan looked up at her resident entomology expert, enquiring, "So, then why are you going? It's not like you to listen to anything Goodman tells you to do."

Hodgins shrugged. "I guess my reasoning is two-fold. One, I don't have to rub elbows with a bunch of the higher ups. And two is obvious: free booze."

Brennan shook her head and unbuttoned her lab coat, draping it over the back of her chair while she leaned over her desk, maneuvering her wireless mouse to turn her computer off. Once completed, she looked back up at her associates, again with those vacant eyes. "Let's go. At least we don't have to dress up."


Upstairs, employees of the Jeffersonian Institute were already mingling, Dr. Daniel Goodman and Zack Addy included. When the other trio of 'squints' arrived, Zack greeted them promptly. "Where have you been?"

Hodgins and Angela glanced in unison toward Brennan, who was already making her way to the bar. "Dr. Brennan still had to finish up her analysis of that australopithecine man."

Zack's eyes widened. "She was still doing that?"

Angela immediately tilted her head at the young man. "Cut her a break, Zack. You know she hasn't been herself lately."

"Yeah, I know. Why is that? Is it just because Booth's off profiling and she hasn't seen him in, like, a month?"

Hodgins and Angela shared a look, and a smile. Zack was almost childlike in his naivete concerning most things, especially interpersonal relations. "Yeah, Zack," Hodgins chuckled. "I think you hit the nail right on the head."

Zack frowned. "I don't understand."

"What are you talking about?" Brennan's voice broke into the conversation as she returned with a glass of Merlot.

Angela briefly struggled for speech, until Hodgins cut in. "Just another one of Zack's many misunderstandings where pop culture is concerned."

"Oh."

Angela watched her friend slowly consume her wine, eyes far-off and slightly glazed over. "Sweetie, you okay?"

"Yeah," came the expected answer between drinks.

"Maybe you should go dance," Hodgins suggested, nodding his head toward where the makeshift dance floor and DJ stand was set up. "I mean, it's a party after all."

Brennan merely shook her head and raised her wine glass to her lips again, muttering, "I'm not in a very festive mood."

The song that had been playing faded into the background as a new one began, which Angela recognized as a Goo Goo Dolls song from the piano intro. She grabbed Hodgins' arm. "You're going to come dance with me."

Hodgins immediately shook his head. "No. No way. You know how I feel about dancing."

She rolled her eyes. "Yeah, that it's a way for the music industry to control the masses and turn everyone into mindless drones that sway to whatever beat is played for them. So come be a drone with me. You're not getting out of it." While she dragged him toward the dance floor behind her, she called over her shoulder, "I'll buy you a drink for your trouble!"

"The drinks are free."

Angela spun into her conspiracy-loving friend's arms and threw him a smirk. "So they are. Oh look, we're dancing." Her left hand went around his shoulders while her right forced its way into his left, manipulating him into the standard dancing pose.

He narrowed his eyes at her contemplatively. "You dragged me out here just so we could talk about Booth and Brennan again, didn't you?"

She leaned back from him slightly. "You're extremely intuitive for a guy."

He shrugged. "I'm told it's one of my gifts..." he then leered as he added slyly, "among other things."

Angela rolled her eyes disgustedly. "Ugh, I should've known what I was getting myself into."

"Yes you should have. So it serves you right."

She glanced over his shoulder and sighed. "Look at her."

Hodgins maneuvered them so both could watch Brennan. She stood alone near the bar, consuming what both could only assume was her second glass of Merlot, just staring blankly into the distance. Angela tsked and shook her head. "Makes me so sad to watch her."

"Well, maybe this little separation period will bring her to her senses."

"Oh my God..."

"What?" His head swiveled to look at Angela, his brows furrowed in confusion.

She nodded toward the doorway, and at the figure that had just appeared there as a rather poignant line from the song floated through the speakers...

'Cause tonight's the night the world begins again

They then watched as, seemingly in slow motion, Brennan looked up from her Merlot and locked eyes with a haggard-looking Seeley Booth. Her eyes widened, then lit up for the first time in a month as the wine glass slipped from her hand and spilled on the bar. The exclamation from the bartender went unheard as the partners just stood staring at each other from several yards away, until Booth took a step forward. Brennan took one in response, and soon they were moving quickly to one another as the music flooding from the speakers swelled.

The duffel bag that had been slung over the Booth's shoulder hit the floor as he strode toward Brennan, a wide smile brightening his otherwise-grim countenance. They were just feet from each other now, and Hodgins turned to his dancing partner with a smile. "I think you're about to get a first-hand account of what I witnessed at the warehouse."

Angela chuckled. "I may pass out then, because I've already got butterflies just watching this."

They swayed half-heartedly and listened to the chorus of the song while they watched the pair stride quickly to one another. Angela barked a surprised laugh when she saw Brennan practically throw herself into her partner's arms, and Hodgins raised his eyebrows when he saw Booth turn his face into Brennan's hair with eyes closed.

Hodgins, with a grin, spoke aloud his interpretation of the look on Booth's face. "He's home."

And tonight's the night the world begins again


CONTINUED IN PART TWO

AUTHOR'S NOTES: In case anyone is a huge Geek like I am (that's right -- with a capital G!) and likes to listen to the song with the fic, this was, in fact, "Better Days" by the Goo Goo Dolls, and Booth appears in the doorway at about 2:10 into the song. Also, everything that is left unanswered in this part will be answered in the next one. Thanks for reading this fic, as it was just another random idea springing from a song. Hope it was enjoyable.