A/N: thanks to Wolfy and Siapom. Your confidence in my writing ability makes me blush. You too Jaed621. Please enjoy.
Angela watched the FBI agent stride purposefully across the lab, a manila envelope in his hand. As he approached Dr. Temperance Brennan, Angela leaned over to the resident bug man, Jack Hodgins.
"Hodgins, watch this, he's going to say the five magic words that will make Brennan drop everything."
"And what words would they be, I'm in love with you?"
"No, but I'm still holding out hope. Nope, he'll say five little words, 'Bones, we've got a case." She smiled at Hodgins as both turned to watch Special Agent Seeley Booth. The FBI agent plopped the file down onto an examination table, just within Temperance Brennan's line of sight.
"Bones, we've got a case." Temperance looked up from the body she was examining and picked up the file.
"What are the details?"
"Well, it seems that a group of climbers discovered some human remains on a small ledge. A climber went missing there a few months ago, Callie Stevenson, and we're pretty sure the remains belong to her, but I need an id."
"How long do you think it'll take to get there?"
"We can probably be there in three hours provided that traffic doesn't hold us up."
"Okay, but I have to be back this evening. I have a date with David." Bones said as she stripped off her lab coat and hurried to grab her kit from her office. Booth grimaced at the mention of David, but for once he didn't comment on the man. It was no secret he didn't like him, but in general he tried to keep his opinions to himself. It took only a moment for Temperance to reemerge, ready to go out into the field. Booth flashed his charm smile, placed his hand on her back and steered her from the building.
Angela watched the pair leave and shook her head in amusement. She turned back to Hodgins before she walked away. "If I didn't know better I would say that those two were definitely at stage one."
"Yeah, you know, the six stages…stage one; stay the night."
The ride to the National park in Virginia was spent in mostly companionable silence. Booth had on the radio while Brennan looked over the case file. She would occasionally look out the window at the passing scenery. Finally, though their lack of conversation was not a problem, Booth had to break the silence.
"How are things with you and Dick…I mean David going?" Temperance turned to look at Booth, one eyebrow delicately raised.
"Fine. Why are you so curious all of a sudden?"
"I'm just trying to engage in small talk Bones. Neither of us have really said a word since we got in the car if you haven't noticed."
"Actually I hadn't. What about you? How's your love life been? I haven't seen Tessa in a long time."
"That's because I haven't been with Tessa in months. Ever since we didn't go on vacation together, things had changed. We just decided to split. Well, that and she was seeing someone else."
"Oh, Booth, I'm sorry. I didn't know."
"Don't worry about it. Things seem to be getting serious with you and…David."
"I don't know. He's a nice guy, funny, smart. I like him."
"Doesn't sound like he's the one though."
"Booth, it's ridiculous to think that there is only one person out there in the world for you. Love is only a biological response to compatible genes in another person."
"Way to take the romance out of it Bones."
"What do you mean? There's no romance involved. It's a scientific fact."
"Bones, there is so much more to love than that. Besides that explanation does not explain the connection between a parent and a child. Love is changing your priorities to accommodate someone else. It's knowing that you would do anything to protect the other person. Love is unconditional."
"That's quite a statement there Booth. Does that mean you love me? You did after all put your career on the line by removing my mother's earring from Graham Leger's house." Tempe teased, but Booth's sudden silence sobered her. She looked at him and noticed a look flash across his face.
"Looks like we're here." He said as he pulled up to a line of police cars. He flashed a smile at Temperance, hoping to get out of the discussion for a little bit. At least it would give him time to think up a response that wouldn't scare her off. As predicted, she dropped the subject as the Officer in charge, Lt. A.L. Hughes approached the pair.
"I'm Special Agent Seeley Booth, and this is my partner, Dr. Temperance Brennan. We're here to recover the remains."
"Right. I'm afraid only one of you will be able to get down to them. The remains are on a real thin ledge. Any more than one person and the ledge could collapse."
"Well that's reassuring." Booth muttered. Tempe stepped over to the edge of the cliff and looked down at the ledge. She returned her attention back to Booth.
"This shouldn't be a problem Booth. I can get down there pretty easily. I'll just collect some samples, and then pack the remains. We can send them to the Jeffersonian where I can get a better look at them."
"Are you sure? I don't want you down there if you could get hurt."
"I'll be perfectly fine. I've been in tighter spots before. This is nothing."
"Fine, but just be careful." Temperance looked at her partner and saw the look flash across his face again. She wondered at it for a moment, and then proceeded to get secure in a safety harness. Booth watched her, his forehead wrinkled with concern. Lt. Hughes watched him, somewhat amused. As Brennan disappeared over the edge, Booth took a deep breath and crossed his arms tightly over his torso.
"It must be tough working with your girlfriend." Lt. Hughes commented. Booth looked at the man briefly, and returned his gaze to the rope supporting Brennan along the face of the cliff.
"We're just partners." He answered. At this point, he had grown used to people misinterpreting his relationship with Temperance, but deep in the back of his mind, the part of his psyche where he compartmentalized his emotions, told him that he desperately wished it was more than assumption.
"Just partners my foot. I've had the same gal for a partner for ten years now, and I've never looked at her the way you do that pretty lady." The officer smiled knowingly at Booth, then walked away. Booth sighed and turned back to watch the rope. In the distance storm clouds began to gather.
It took several hours for the remains to be examined and packed for transport. The clouds had built up quickly and the sky was darkened with the almost black storm. A breeze kicked up, and with it, the first few drops of rain. Booth stepped over to the edge of the cliff and glanced down at the ledge. A basket of bones slowly ascended the side of the cliff as Brennan prepared herself.
"Bones, be careful. It's starting to rain."
"Booth, don't worry about me. I'm fine."
"You won't be once the cliff gets slick from the rain."
"Then I guess I'd better get up there before that happens, huh." A tug on the rope securing her indicated it was time for her to ascend the cliff face. Seeley moved back to allow her space as the rope inched higher up the cliff. The rain went from a light drizzle to a downpour. Booth made no move to grab an umbrella. He wanted to remain where he was to ensure that Brennan got back up safely. As her head and arms crested the lip, the rope broke.
Tempe clawed at the wet ground, but couldn't get a grip on anything. Seeley leapt at the edge of the cliff, sliding across the muddy ground and grabbed her hand. He watched, his heart in his throat, as she swung precariously.
"Just hang on Bones!" Seeley yelled down to her as he began to pull. Tempe's feet kicked at the edge of the cliff, trying to find a toehold.
"Can't go anywhere Booth." She threw back up at him, trying to stave off her rising panic. Booth let out a loud groan as he strained to pull her from his prone position. Finally, her feet caught hold of something, and she pushed up. Seeley pulled her up as he moved into a crouched position. As she crested the lip of the cliff a second time, Booth pulled her into an embrace, burying his head in her hair. She returned the comforting gesture, holding onto him tightly.
"Oh, God Temperance, I thought I lost you."
"I thought you did too Booth." She clung to him a little longer, before she felt that her legs would once again support her weight. Seeley helped her to her feet, and then looked her over to make sure she wasn't injured. She took in his appearance as well and frowned.
"Seeley, you got your suit dirty."
"It's just a suit Bones." His heart pounded a little at the sound of his name. He tried to calm his rapidly beating heart and the emotions that he knew were flittering across his face. "The suit I can replace."
Brennan blushed a little at the implication, then came back to reality when a medic approached to check her over. She looked over at Seeley as she followed the medic. He was staring at her with an intensity she wasn't familiar with. She shook her head a bit to clear the uncertainty that was there and turned her attention to the medic.
"I'm okay, really. Nothing's broken."
"Just let me do my job ma'am." The medic chastised, then began to look her over. She sighed, but submitted to the examination. Her gaze wandered back over to Booth, who continued to watch her deeply. There was something comforting and yet uneasy about the look at the same time. Brennan could feel the butterflies in her stomach as it turned. She felt her cheeks begin to burn, and watched as a slight smile crept over Booth's lips. The gesture did not reach his eyes, which remained intense with worry and relief.
"Alright ma'am, you're free to go. Looks like no harm came to you."
"Just like I said." Tempe huffed, and then strode over to Booth.
"The remains will be sent down to the Jeffersonian in the morning. We can't get anything else done here, so what do you say we head back. I'm sure you'll want to shower before meeting…your date." Booth let his gaze wander over her once more to confirm in his mind that she was okay.
"That's probably a good idea. I don't think La Vie En Rose would appreciate me coming in like this." She smiled at Booth and indicated her muddy form. He smiled and said it before he could stop himself.
"You mean they don't have mud wrestling there? And they call themselves a classy restaurant. Beautiful woman like you…they won't care. Mud just enhances it."
"I don't know what that means."
"It's a common phrase used when expressing an opinion about someone's appearance." Seeley joked as he opened the door for Brennan. She gave him a withering look before climbing into the SUV. Booth shut the door, jogged around to the driver's side, and got in.
"So denoting someone a mud wrestler is expressing the opinion that they look terrible."
"Bones, Bones, Bones…" Seeley muttered, shaking his head.
"Don't you Bones me!"
"You look like you've been wrestling in mud, hence the comment, however, the common expression I was speaking of was that you're beautiful." He said, exasperated. Tempe looked at him, stunned. Seeley mentally kicked himself. Although it was true, he wasn't supposed to be saying it out loud. They were partners, and she had a boyfriend.
They sat in awkward silence on the drive back. Temperance glanced a few times at Seeley, but neither knew what to say. Near the bottom of the hill, was a line of flashing red and blue. Seeley pulled up to the police vehicles and rolled down his window. Rain whipped into the vehicle, soaking the interior.
"What's going on?" Seeley asked the police officer who had approached the SUV. The officer shone a flashlight into the car.
"Road's washed out 'bout two miles down. You'll need to pull into the rest stop for the night, or head back the other way."
"Damn. Okay, thanks." Seeley turned to look at Brennan. "Well Bones, looks like we're stuck."
"Wonderful." She muttered and pulled out her cell phone. Booth drove off in the direction indicated by the officer to reach the rest stop. After dialing a number, Tempe sighed with each ring until finally, David answered his phone.
"David, hi, it's me…uh, huh, I miss you too. Listen, about tonight…yeah, I've heard the food's excellent. Too bad they don't have mud wrestling though. It's a joke David, something Booth said earlier…No, I don't think he actually likes…Look, I'm stuck in the middle of a storm in Virginia, and won't be able to make it…Yes, the road's washed out, and no one's being allowed…yes of course Booth's with me…" Temperance held the phone away from her ear, and glanced at Booth. He was grinning from ear to ear, and though he couldn't make out what David was saying, he knew that Brennan's boyfriend wasn't happy with the situation. Tempe glared at Booth for a second, making him lose the grin, before she returned the phone to her ear. "No, I do not willingly spend more time with Booth than you…it's part of my job! Look, you're obviously upset about this…oh, stop being such a baby…Yes, you are. Now how about rescheduling tomorrow. Okay, that's better…uh-huh, me too. Bye." Tempe rolled her eyes as she hung up the phone.
"Sorry about that, you know causing problems…" Booth finished lamely. As much as he didn't like David, he wasn't about to push his own luck with Temperance.
"It's not your fault. You didn't cause the rain." Temperance said. She wouldn't look at Booth, still too embarrassed that he heard her arguing with David. He'd been acting this way a lot lately, and it was starting to bother her. She turned her attention back to the scenery, and watched as rain whipped around the SUV. Lightning lit up the sky in the distance, and a gust of wind almost knocked the large vehicle over.
"Doesn't seem to be getting any better, does it?" Booth commented as he pulled off the main road and into the rest stop. While other cars were parked there, it was virtually empty. Booth steered into a parking spot and cut the engine. He laid his head back onto the headrest, and then turned towards Brennan. "So, what now?"
"I don't know about you Booth, but I want to get out of these wet clothes." Brennan looked down at her appearance, and upon looking back up at her partner, she placed a hand over her mouth, her eyes widening. "I only meant that I want to wear something dry, not, you know."
Seeley laughed, then reached back and grabbed her bag. He handed it to her, but didn't let go right away.
"We can do this one of two ways. I can shut my eyes while you change in the car, or you can run as fast as possible to the restroom and change there. It's up to you." His lips curled up into a half smile, and Temperance felt her heart pound a little harder. Her fingers tightened reflexively on the handle.
"I think I'll chance the rain." She gulped, and opened the door. He watched, amused, as she raced across the grounds to the restroom. With a sigh, Booth got out of the driver's seat and moved around the vehicle so he could lower the seats and make a passable bed. Once the seats were situated, he pulled two blankets from a storage compartment. Brennan had not yet emerged from the bathroom, so he hopped into the back of the SUV to quickly change. He peeled the wet suit off his frame until he wore only his boxers. Booth reached behind the passenger side seat and grabbed his overnight bag. When he pulled out a pair of track pants, he heard the door creak open.
"Booth I…" Temperance cut off as she stared at Booth. Her gaze roamed over his frame unabashedly before returning to his face. He sat there, slightly shocked that she was checking him out. When he was able to return to his normal senses, he quickly pulled on the athletic pants and turned away from Brennan.
"Bones, you'd better get back in here. You'll get soaked." He rummaged around his bag, not wanting to look at Temperance. Once he found what he was looking for, he pulled on the shirt. He heard Temperance climb in, and to his surprise, he found her in the back next to him.
"It's a little hard to hold a conversation from the front seat." She offered him a smile. He couldn't help but notice her cheeks were a little pink. For a moment, the only sound he heard was the rain pounding on the roof of the SUV. Finally he cleared his throat and looked at Temperance.
"If I'm not mistaken, I think Parker's left a couple of his games in here." He felt inside a pouch on the back of the driver's seat and smiled triumphantly as he extracted a couple of games, Memory, and Old Maid. Brennan noticed he looked like a kid in a candy store as she sorted through the pieces.
"Let's start with Memory. I was always good at that game." She said with a laugh and laid the cards face down between them.
"That doesn't surprise me." He grinned, watching as she made the first move.
Hours had passed, with both of them being overly competitive in the realm of children's games. After Seeley won the tenth round of Old Maid, Brennan threw her cards at him, only making him laugh harder.
"See, you are a sore loser. Face it Bones, when it comes to card games, I'm always going to win!"
"Ugh, Booth, it's Old Maid, not poker!" Brennan spat then gasped, her eyes going large at the hurt look on Booth's face. "Oh, god, Booth, I'm sorry. I didn't…"
"No, Bones, don't." Seeley sighed and lay down, facing the roof of the SUV. He raised one hand to his forehead and rubbed his hand slowly down his face. "Don't apologize."
"Booth…" she sighed, then lay down next to him, also facing the ceiling. Booth looked at her when she sighed heavily a second time. "You're right about me, you know? I don't know how to deal with people. I say the wrong things, I push them away…I deserve to be a recluse."
"Oh, you do not Bones. Look, I know you didn't mean anything by what you said. You've come a long way since we started working together. You're not the only person who suffers from foot-in-mouth disease. It happens to me all the time."
"I don't know what that means."
"I once went out with my cousins and got drunk. Anyway, while out with them I went on and on about how beautiful my cousin Daniel's fiancé was, and how she was just glowing. So after gushing for about ten minutes, I finally asked her when the baby was due. Yeah, she wasn't pregnant." Booth offered her a sheepish smile as she laughed.
"When I was seventeen, there was this boy, Brandon Reilly that liked me. So, at a Christmas dance, he kissed me. It was my first kiss, and I was really nervous. When he pulled away from me, I looked at him and said, 'Wasn't I supposed to feel something?'"
"Oh the poor guy. I've been slapped for kissing a girl before."
"You Booth? I never would have thought."
"Yes, well the Booth charm takes a while to refine. It was just before I left to join the army. There was this girl I liked, Susie Meyers. I overheard her tell her friend that she would give anything for me to kiss her senseless, so I took the opportunity to do so."
"And she slapped you?"
"Yep. Apparently, she was being sarcastic because she was trying to get her friend off her back. It seems her friend thought that she had some deep seated attraction to me."
"Boy, that sounds familiar."
"Gee thanks. Way to play my ego."
"Oh, your ego's just fine, and I certainly don't need to stroke it. I'm sure there are plenty of women willing to do just that." Temperance looked confused as Seeley began to laugh, hard.
"Bones, if you were ever willing to stroke my ego, I'd die from the shock."
"I didn't mean it like that!" She swatted at him playfully, and he hit back. Both laughed as a mock battle ensued. Temperance's competitive nature began to get the better of her, and soon Booth had to pin her arms down. Temperance lay on her back, her hands held over her head by Booth and looked into his eyes. There was an intensity to them that she didn't understand, but it made her stomach clench. She felt herself growing warm under his gaze. At that moment, there was only one thing she could think of, and that was how it would feel to be kissed by Seeley Booth. She closed her eyes and parted her lips slightly, anticipating his next move. What he did next surprised her. He let go of her arms.
"Bones, it's late, and I think it's time we went to sleep." Booth let out a breath, and then moved as far from Bones as he could. Temperance rolled over a little until she was looking at his back. Why didn't he kiss me? I thought he would for sure. David suddenly sprang to mind and realization dawned. Seeley Booth had never cheated on anyone in his life, and he wasn't about to let her fall onto that path. A small smile graced her lips as she returned to her side of the SUV.
"You're welcome Temperance. Now go to sleep."
The morning dawned bright and cloudless. Seeley slowly woke up with the heat of the sun burning across his face. He tried to sit up, but found his movement hindered by something. Turning his head, he found Temperance wound around him, sleeping peacefully. He smiled sadly as he watched the gentle rise and fall of her chest. This was something that he'd been wanting for a while now, but under much different circumstances.
Temperance stirred in her sleep as wakefulness began its slow progression through her body. She felt well rested and infinitely comfortable. With a happy sigh, Brennan opened her eyes. She looked into the warm brown eyes of Seeley Booth, then noticed the way she was curled around him.
"Oh, Booth, I'm sorry. I usually sleep like a boulder."
"That's sleep like a stone. Don't worry about it Bones. What say we get up and see if we can't find something to eat on our way back to DC." At the mention of food, Tempe's stomach growled loudly. "I'll take that as a yes. Now come on sleepyhead, let's get going."
They both avoided each other's gaze as they moved to the front seats of the SUV. Booth started up the vehicle and began driving. He replayed the night over in his mind and smiled. It had been an interesting evening.
"Thank you. There isn't anyone I would rather have spent the night with than you."
"Well, I'm glad I could be so accommodating then." She smiled at him and turned back to the scenery. It had been an interesting night, and she could only imagine what her best friend would say when she got back to work.