Title: Collide

Disclaimer: Not mine.

Rating: Eventually M. Not yet, though.

A/N: Please, please review!

-o-o-o-

She released a cry, slamming the bottom of her foot into the punch-bag. It flew back, until it was almost horizontal, then careened back towards her, whooshing through the air. She was ready for it though, her fingers curled into hard fists, colliding where she imagined a persons abdomen would be.

A trickle of sweat slid along her temple, along her cheek. Too distracted to wipe it away, Brennan continued her violent, unforgiving assault on the punch-bag. With each punch and accompanying kick, she felt a piece of her annoyance disappear.

"Whoa. Easy there, Dr Brennan." She ignored the voice in the doorway, ducking to avoid the heavy swing of the bag, before laying another kick into the smooth red leather. "Bad day?" She saw the figure in her line of sight, tall and broad, and felt her gaze flicker towards him for a nanosecond. Unfortunately it was too long, and the punch-bag slammed into her, catching her off guard. Brennan fell back, landing on the navy blue mats with a thud.

Leaning over her she saw liquid aluminium eyes and a cheeky smile. "What do you want, Ryan?" she asked, pulling a breath into her lungs. The fitness instructor offered her his outstretched palm.

"Friendly concern, Temperance," he said, his fingers curling around hers. She allowed him to help her, finding her feet quickly.

"So it's Temperance now, is it?" she asked breezily, taking the punch-bag into her hands, bringing the still swinging target to a stop. Ryan chuckled, folding his arms across his chest.

"Do you prefer Dr Brennan?" he asked. "Kinky." She shot him a sideways glare, tapping the punch-bag with her knuckles.

"You should be a politician," she said. "You're an expert at avoiding the question." Ryan sighed, pressing his palm against the wall, bringing himself into her line of sight, so close it was impossible to avoid his presence.

"You've been coming here for months, Temperance," he said. "Can't you even find it in yourself to be a little bit friendly? I've been trying for awhile to break through the walls…" Brennan dropped her arms by her side, smirking a little.

"Wouldn't that suggest I'm not interested?" she asked, lifting a tapered eyebrow. He shrugged.

"I find it difficult to take a hint," he said.

"Apparently," she replied, pulling a towel from her gym bag, drying the moisture on her neck. "I'm sorry if I seem a little hostile." Ryan offered her a toothy grin.

"Really?" he asked and Brennan sighed.

"Really. Sorry for being hostile. But that still doesn't mean I am interested." She shoved her towel into her bag, slinging it across her shoulder. As she made her way to the showers, Ryan followed, their footfalls almost silent as they padded across the mats.

"And as hostile as ever," he joked. "Alright. Look, I hold my hands up," he did, palms to her, "and admit that I find you intriguing. Not only because I feel sorry for any person who his dealt a kick from you, but also because you're… different… and I'd like to take you for a coffee." Brennan paused at the entrance to the showers, her head down.

"I've been offered hot chocolate and coffee today," she said, as if to herself. "And it's no substitute for hard liquor." Ryan laughed.

"A whisky then. A brandy?" Brennan sighed.

"No thanks. I don't have time for dating." It felt like the truth, but a weight of guilt pressed heavily on her heart as she undressed in the showers, stepping beneath the fine, hot spray. What was she holding out for? For Booth? Brennan scoffed at the thought. She felt a large amount of animosity towards Booth these days. Too much to actually believe their relationship would go anywhere.

Smoothing coconut crème over her skin, she questioned her reasons for turning Ryan down. He was a classic example of raw masculinity, with chiselled features, firm muscles and a charming smile. If she wanted to throw caution to the wind she could easily have accepted a quick date with him, even if it was only for coffee. But she was too honest. To herself, at least. Accepting a date from the fitness instructor would be a vile, childish way of proving to Booth that she was more than capable of stepping beyond the parameters of celibacy. Perhaps her horny partner thought she was frigid. That she didn't need sex.

She wasn't childish enough to want to disprove his theories.

Rinsing her hair, Brennan thought of Camille, the woman who she tried not to hate. Brennan didn't understand jealousy. There was no redeeming value in the emotion. It was wasted energy. And she wasn't jealous that Camille Saroyan was promoted over her head. But she was jealous when she imagined her naked body riding Seeley Booth, screaming out his name. Especially when she'd spent too many – far too many – nights imagining herself in that same, euphoric situation. However in Booth's words, they were partners. Nothing more.

In her gym bag she heard her cell-phone shrill, and with soapy hands, she located it at the bottom, the little device vibrating against her fingers. "Brennan," she said, dabbing her eyes with her towel, which had fallen from her bag in her haste and was soaked in foamy water.

"Brennan," she said, wrapping the saturated towel around herself.

"Are you busy?" She felt herself sigh, a pressing weight crushing down on her ribs.

"Yes, I am." Her tone pitched, sharp and precise. She didn't want to hang up her phone, or play into his curiosity. He might suspect that she really was feeling jealous. She was too strong and determined to let such foolish emotions become a factor. "Do you need me for something or can it wait?"

And then there was Rebecca, she thought, almost as if her mind were working by itself. She frowned, her eyes narrowed as she tried to focus on his voice, tinny and echoing through the telephone line. Hadn't he portrayed his son's mother to be a manipulative bitch? Apparently a good, satisfying ride erased the years of hurt she had inflicted upon him. Classic mind games to which he played to easily into. He was a fool. With each passing second, she lost another piece of her respect. Suddenly she saw Booth not as the heroic, brave sniper and brilliant detective but instead as a vulgar sexual time bomb, waiting to explode. A man ruled by his penis. A stereotype.

She shuddered.

"Are you listening to me?" Booth snapped, apparently bored and no longer tolerant of her frosty behaviour.

"No," she admitted. "Do you need me at the lab?" Booth sighed now, an impatient growl, almost.

"Let me paraphrase for you, Bones. We have a dead girl. Raped. Murdered. We need you. Have you got a pen?" She looked around the stark walls, moist with steam and blinked.

"I'm at the gym. In the shower." A long silence followed and her mind worked overtime. Was he imagining her naked? Was his insatiable libido jumping to attention, now? She felt her skin prickle. "Don't," she warned, still hostile. "Call me back in fifteen minutes and I will take the address." Without waiting on a goodbye, however polite and civilised that might have been, Brennan snapped her phone shut and dug her fingers into her dripping hair, pressing against her scalp.

There was a reason why she didn't want to be in a relationship. They were just too damn difficult.

.-o-o-o-

Been busy this week folks. Work calls. However I am off for two days, so hopefully there'll be two more chapters within the next few days!

Here's hoping there's no little obstacles thrown in my way!

Please review!