Timeframe: A few weeks after Santa in the Slush.
Story Note: Part of me is tempted to continue this one.
Author's Note: I've been asked about updates on some of my other stories. There are some family issues that came to a head around the holidays. For a while after that, I didn't really have much writing time. Now I have a bit more, but since then, I've had a mental block around my older stories. Because of the life stuff that's happening, I think I needed the freedom to just write whatever I felt like writing for a little while. But I promise I'm not abandoning my older fics; I plan to be a bit more disciplined and dive back into them this coming week.
Also, I just wanted to reiterate that I always appreciate comments. I will NEVER hold my stories hostage until I get a certain number of reviews, but to be completely honest, I sometimes feel discouraged when I see how few people comment relative to how many hits there are for a given story. To any of you who have ever commented on one of my stories, thank you very much. To those of you who read but don't comment, just know that if you have a minute to spare, I would so appreciate hearing what you thought—even if you just post a smiley face. Please don't interpret this as a complaint; I just wanted to be honest with you. As always, thanks for reading.
"How many times do I have to tell you this? Jesus is not a zombie." Booth tossed a peanut into his mouth and waited for Brennan's sharp retort, but it never came. "Bones?" When she didn't respond, he swiveled to look at her.
She'd fallen asleep, head cradled in her folded arms. Always a surprise—his partner.
"Ok. No more Black and Coke for you," Booth whispered next to her ear, fighting the urge to smooth her hair off her forehead.
"Yes. I'll have one more," she replied, slowly lifting her head and sliding her arms off the scratched surface of the bar.
"I think it's time to get you home." He finished off his drink and felt it settle warmly in his stomach; he preferred his Johnnie neat. Seeing her reach for her glass, he shoved it away from her. "Nope, I'm cutting you off. 'Cause you, Dr. Brennan"—he leaned in so they were at eye-level—"are drunk."
"I am not inberiated." Her eyebrows came together in a frown. "Inrebiated." She blinked owlishly and shook her head, and Booth coughed to cover the laugh that bubbled up in his throat.
"Inebriated?" he added helpfully, raising an eyebrow.
"Yes, that," she replied, thumping her fist on the bar.
"Wait right here," he said, patting her shoulder.
"Don't order me around, Booth." She shrugged his hand away, scowling, and he waited a moment just to make sure she didn't slide off her barstool.
"Wouldn't dream of it, Bones," he said, tossing a grin over his shoulder as he stepped away to settle their tab.
He returned to find her trying to put on her coat—backwards. She bit her lip, deep in concentration, and Booth stood back, arms folded, and watched. It wasn't often that he had the chance to witness his partner demonstrating anything less than total competence. He had every intention of enjoying it while he could. "There's something wrong with these buttons, Booth," she finally muttered, looking up at him with confusion in her blue eyes.
Stifling a smirk at her predicament, he snagged the coat from her and helped her put it on the right way. After he'd made sure all the buttons were done up, he slipped on his own coat. Grasping Brennan's upper arm, he led her out into the cold January night in order to hail a cab. He wasn't drunk—just pleasantly buzzed—but there was no way he'd take that kind of chance.
After paying the driver, Booth slid out of the cab and came around the other side to help Brennan. They made their way up the sidewalk to her building without incident. When they stopped at the front door, she fumbled for the keys in her coat pocket and then promptly dropped them. "I have them, don't worry. I can find them." She bent to search the snow for the keys.
Given Brennan's current state, Booth had a feeling his balls would turn into ice cubes before she found her keys, so he leaned down to help.
Unfortunately, she chose that exact moment to straighten, smashing her head into his jaw and sending him sprawling in the snow at her feet. "Ow. Jesus, Bones. Be careful."
"I told you I had them." With a triumphant smile, she jangled the keys in front of him. When it finally seemed to penetrate her freakishly-large brain that he was on the ground, the smile faded. "I am extremely sorry, Booth," she said, enunciating very carefully. "I didn't intend to injure you." She rubbed her head.
"Don't worry about it." Slowly, he stood, brushing off his coat and feeling the wetness the snow had left behind on his pants. "I'll live." Since he couldn't decide if his jaw or his ass hurt worse, he settled for rubbing the latter. Then he sighed and wiggled his jaw to make sure everything was still intact.
"Yes, of that I'm certain. At most you have a contusion." She stretched her arm toward him, and her hand grazed his hip. "I could massage it for you," she said, her expression earnest.
"Whoa." He grabbed her hand before it could wander anywhere dangerous. "Hands to yourself, Bones."
"Ah, yes. I forgot—the line." She nodded sagely, eyes wide.
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"The line that separates partnership from sexual intercourse, of course."
"Ok, let's get you inside." He'd temporarily forgotten there was something even more dangerous than her hands—her mouth.
"I suppose partners don't massage one another's buttocks."
Booth closed his eyes and tipped his head back, taking a deep breath of the wintry air. God definitely wasn't on his side tonight. That, or He was having a good laugh at Booth's expense. "No, that they don't." Unfortunately.
"Pity. I've been told by several people that I have good hands."
"Are you certain you wouldn't like a demonstration?" If he didn't know better, he'd say she sounded almost hopeful.
"Yeah. Thanks, but"—he sighed regretfully—"no thanks."
Once he helped her into her bedroom and out of her coat, she sat down on her bed and immediately started yanking at her clothes. A sweater flew at his head and he stepped back, covering his eyes. He wouldn't peek. That wouldn't be gentlemanly, and he prided himself on being a gentleman. Well, most of the time. "What are you doing?"
"Getting undressed. I'm hot."
Yes she was, he thought, picturing her flushed cheeks and bright eyes. "I'm uh, assuming you can manage that on your own, so I'm going to leave now." He turned away.
"But what if I need assistance?"
"Do you?" he asked, feeling a bead of sweat trickle down his neck.
"I think I do. I'm having difficulty with this button."
That which does not kill us makes us stronger, he reminded himself. "All right." He sighed and squared his shoulders, preparing to meet his fate.
Keeping his gaze glued to her face, he undid the button on her pants, careful to keep his hands away from everything else. Then he turned around again.
Fabric rustled as Brennan presumably pulled the pants down over her hips and... More rustling. "You can turn around now. I'm under the blanket."
When he turned around, he found her sitting up in her bed with the blanket pulled up over her shoulders.
"Did that make you uncomfortable?"
"No." He swallowed.
"Because you behaved as if you'd never seen a woman's body before."
"I've seen plenty of women, Bones. That's not the point—"
"Yes, I suppose you have," she said with a thoughtful nod. "Rebecca, Dr. Saroyan—"
"Ok. I'm going to leave now so you can go to sleep. Good night, Bones." Eager to escape, he didn't wait for an answer; he just turned and walked away.
But her voice stopped him in mid-step. "Angela says I have you wrapped around my toe."
Even though he should have been used to the whiplash changes in topic that often occurred during their conversations, this one threw him off. Just his luck that booze had removed the paper-thin filter she had between her brain and her mouth. He cleared his throat. "I think she probably meant finger, Bones," he said, turning and bracing his hand against the doorframe. "But please—do me a favor and don't listen to anything Angela says about you and me."
"So you're saying she's wrong?" He glanced up from studying the carpet to see something that looked suspiciously like disappointment cross her face; he'd always hated being the cause of that particular look.
"I'm saying"—he sighed and wiped his mouth—"that you're my partner and a good friend."
"Don't think I'm not aware that you didn't answer my question, Booth." Of course she'd noticed that. Even drunk, she saw things he'd rather she didn't.
"Bones, you're drunk, tired, and there's no point in having this conversation when you're not even going to remember it tomorrow." There. Maybe that would satisfy her.
"How do you know I won't remember it?"
"Well, I don't know for sure. But you did drink a lot. I'll tell you what"—he scratched the back of his neck and wondered if he'd live to regret what he was about to say—"if you wake up tomorrow and still have...questions, ask me then."
"Are you sure you mean that?" she asked, watching him with a frown.
With her looking at him like that, Booth knew he had no choice but to tell the truth. So he paused and repeated her question silently. When he was confident he knew the answer, he spoke. "Yeah, I'm sure."
The frown smoothed out, and Booth released the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. "All right. Good night, Booth. You can go now."
Her dismissal pulled a smile from him. "Night, Bones."
"About what?" he said, frowning.
"Kissing you, well, it wasn't like kissing Russ."
Funny how she almost always got the last word. "Oh."