Disclaimer: The plot and characters are not mine.
A/N: You know... they always manage to insult her. A lot. So this is my fixing of the first episode of the season. Oh, and in the books she's a recovering alcoholic, so that's where this came from. We'll pretend we've never seen her drink alcohol on the show, ok? Bear with me here. Review, please.
"You know, I think we were kind of hard on Brennan." Angela propped her chin on a hand and stared blankly through the glass wall.
Zach frowned at her. "What do you mean?"
"Well, think about it. She never even wanted that job. She didn't care, and we just kept telling her why she didn't get it. We shouldn't be taking every excuse to point out her flaws. She's nothing but supportive of us."
"Hey, I told her why she SHOULD have gotten the job!" Hodgins looked offended.
"No, you told her that someone who'd been promoted over her was a horrible person for the job. And we all kept bringing it up, even after she showed no interest." Angela's face was worried. "It can't have been easy to know that she wasn't chosen for that job. We don't do her any favors by going on about how many good reasons there were for it. You know what she would have done in our places; she'd have told us how qualified we were for it, or suggested areas of improvement. We were just mean."
"She doesn't care." Booth had been listening at the door. "She knows why, even if she doesn't think about it. She's fine."
Angela turned a glare on him. "You! You keep pushing her to do what you consider 'normal.' She's not normal. She grieves different ways. She reacts differently. She loves and lives differently than most of us. The harder you push, the more inadequate she feels."
Booth frowned. "How do you know all that?"
"I can see it, sweetie. The harder we all push her to be different from what she is, the harder she works at being the scientist, because she feels like that's all she's good at." Angela gave a small smile. "She likes being challenged but not insulted. Think about the last time you saw her do something really uncharacteristic. Did you tell her what to do? Or did you just let it happen?"
Booth thought of her crazy dancing the night he'd been at her apartment, when the fridge had exploded. The realization that she'd done something spontaeous and "normal" without prompting made him smile, an expression that faded when he realized that Angela was right.
Angela, for her part, was watching his face. "Just think about it, alright?"
Booth was still thinking about it when he got home. It took him by total surprise, therefore, that the object of his thoughts was sitting on his stairs.
"Bones? What do you want?" He winced at the tone of his voice. "Sorry. Can I help you?"
"I just... I had something I wanted to say."
"Come in, then." He unlocked the door and held it for her. She stood just inside the doorway, and he was suddenly reminded of the time when she'd shown up during his... date with Tessa.
"I wanted to explain my comment earlier, about gambling." She twisted her hands together.
He frowned. "No need, Bones."
"Yes, there is. I'm sure you thought I was just being my normal tactless, socially inept, 'no real grasp on the big picture' self." Her voice was laced heavily with bitterness.
"Well, yes." He figured that blunt was the best course to take. Truth be told, he couldn't understand why she'd said it, because it was insensitive even for her.
"I'm a recovering alcoholic."
If she'd said she was pregnant with Dr. Goodman's child, he couldn't have been more floored. Hell, if she'd said she was pregnant with HIS child, he couldn't have been more floored. "What?"
"It was when my marriage was on the rocks, when I felt like I'd failed in some way. I started drinking, a lot, and I was drinking to get drunk. It was pointed out to me that I had a problem, and my trip to Guatemala served to dry me out, so to speak." She'd begun pacing his entryway, back and forth.
"I had no idea."
"I knew I was addicted," she continued, as though she hadn't heard him, "When I felt part of me reaching for the oblivion I found in being drunk. The only way I can be sure I'll never relapse is to have that part of me under control, and sometimes part of that is giving in, and finding something else that satisfies it. Something like throwing myself into work or a book until I forget about my life. I suppose I didn't realize that you might be different, that you might lock that part of yourself up completely." She stopped and stared up at him, hands wrapped around her own waist, eyes vulnerable. "I'd like to apologize for my obvious ignorance of your feelings."
"Oh, hey, Bones, it's fine. Really."
"But it's not. I offended you." She swallowed hard at the memory of the retort he'd snapped back at her. "I know I offend a lot of people on accident, but you're my friend. I should know you well enough not to say stupid things like that."
"Bones..." He rubbed his temples. "It wasn't stupid. You were trying to help. I'm sorry I didn't understand you well enough to know that, and I'm sorry that I was rude to you."
"You weren't rude, you were right." She shrugged. "I don't have any of the skills that would qualify me for that job."
"Yes you do."
"No, I really don't, Booth. Angela has pointed out that I don't remember things about people, don't notice details. You showed me that I don't think about how other people will react before I say things. She's doing better than I ever could."
"Goodman should have told you, consulted you."
"It's his decision, Booth. He doesn't need to tell me anything."
He was getting offended on her behalf. "It's not fair to you to have you just show up at a scene and suddenly be taking orders."
"No, but I suppose he had his reasons." She glanced around her. "Do you mind if I get some water?"
"Sure." He pointed the way to the kitchen and followed her as she headed in that direction. "You should be annoyed about this."
"Why? It's not something I can change." She hesitated briefly as she glanced at the fridge, then opened the cupboard he indicated and pulled down a glass.
"Look, Bones, I know we've all been pointing out your issues and the reasons why you didn't get the job... but the truth is, none of us think that she can do any better of a job in that position than you do."
"Thanks, Booth, but I know what I can and can't do. I'm not a people person. I don't understand them. I don't even do things that everyone else takes for granted."
"I understand I'm not what they were looking for. Why does everyone just keep bringing it up?" She was starting to get angry. They just wouldn't leave it alone. She'd never said anything to indicate that she wanted the job to begin with.
"Alright, alright." He raised his hands in a placating gesture. "I'm sorry."
"That's fine." There was silence as she sipped at her water. Then, "So, did you sleep with her?"
Booth choked, and started to reply that she was totally out of line, but then thought about it. She'd shared something of herself, expecting nothing in return, and it was time for him to reciprocate. "Yes, we dated for a while. It's over, though."
Brennan smiled. "I don't know if she thinks so."
"Trust me, she does. And if she doesn't, she'll just have to get used to it."
"You know, you can actually date her. She works for the lab, not the FBI, so there aren't any sort of regulations against it."
Acting on split second impulse and praying she wouldn't deck him for it, he leaned forward and murmered, "You mean I'm allowed to do this?" and kissed her. His lips were gentle, just barely moving across hers, then pulling back to allow him to judge her reaction.
Her eyes had slid shut, and she was standing with her head tilted backwards and her arms limp at her sides. Very slowly, she lowered her chin and lifted her lashes to meet his anxious gaze. A smile began at the corner of her mouth and spread slowly across her face. "Yes, I think you're definitely allowed to do that."