heading 1; heading 2;
heading 3; heading 4;
heading 5; heading 6;Quotations;Endnote
Symbol;Footnote Symbol;Internet link;Title:
Writing The Final Chapter
Pairing: Brennan/Zack, Brennan/Booth, Angela/Hodgins
Summary: Zack comes back to DC to meet with his former boss and gets a look into her personal life.
Notes: Ooooh, unconventional pairing. Takes place somewhere in the near future. General spoilers for second season. Thanks to miss1nformation for the beta.
"Sorry I'm late." Temperance Brennan was out of breath as she pulled out the chair and took a seat. "Court ran longer than I would have liked it to."
"Dr. Brennan!" Zack stumbled to his feet, perched somewhere between sitting and standing, unsure about how to greet his former boss. It hadn't been very long since they had parted ways, but already it was as if he were meeting her for the first time. It was all quite similar to the way he had behaved when he had first started as her assistant. He eventually sat back down in his chair and offered his hand. It seemed like the appropriate and neutral option. "It's nice to see you again."
She shook his hand with a genuinely pleased smile and Zack was amazed at how the sensation of her hand in his brought back a rush of memories. How many times had her hands brushed over his as she pointed out tools marks and hairline fractures? He could envision the Jeffersonian just as he had left it; the steel balconies, the sleek workspaces, the way it smelled like... science; and truth.
"It's good to see you too, Zack. How's my favourite former assistant doing these days? How's everything in Chicago?"
"Good and good. I just got confirmation that my dissertation is ready to be published next month." He couldn't help but grin proudly. "Thanks for all your help, Dr. Brennan."
"You're very welcome, Zack. Anything for a friend." She sipped on her water before continuing. "The research available in academic circles on comparative facial re-construction between genetic relations is sparse at best. You picked a great subject."
"I wouldn't have got this far without your help though."
"I really didn't do that much, just gave you some pointers and advice. It wouldn't be fair for me to write your thesis for you."
"I can't believe that people will soon be calling me Dr. Addy." He murmured in disbelief. It still hadn't sunk in that he would soon be completing his doctorate, well on his way to truly become Dr. Brennan's colleague and equal. It made him feel dreamy and stunned. Everything about his life at present made him feel that way. He had only been putting the final touches on his thesis when he had heard about the position available in Chicago. With Hodgins' and Goodman's words running through his head, in addition to the fact that it was so much closer to home, he had decided to make a gametime decision and made a move in his career direction.
"So, how is everything proceeding at the Jeffersonian? I heard Dr. Saroyan transferred back to New York City."
Brennan nodded, perusing the menu. "Not soon after you left. I know the two of you got along well, so it didn't surprise anyone." She looked up from the menu and smiled pleasantly.
"Hodgins pretends like he doesn't miss you, but he does. And Angela is always reminiscing about the times when you were unintentionally hilarious. In fact, I think there's an ongoing joke between Angela and Hodgins, wherein she talks about you in a highly admirable manner."
Zack frowned in confusion. "And what purpose does that serve?"
"It makes Hodgins jealous." They both laughed at that, imagining the man needlessly fuming while Angela laughed merrily. The were still laughing when the waitress came to take their orders.
"I take it they're still dating then?" Zack asked as the waitress walked away, already knowing the answer.
"They are. And it hasn't really changed any of the dynamics at work either."
Zack paused, wondering if this was a good opportunity to ask her. The odds seemed to be in his favour, considering how easily they were conversing. "How's Agent Booth doing?"
"He's fine." The answer was brief, and there was a microsecond of hesitation in her reply that made him wonder if her answer was as straight-forward as he assumed it to be. Usually he ignored subtle nuances in speech and body language in favour of the more contextual statements. He took what people said at face value because it was easier that way. So he didn't push and he didn't ask for clarification, no matter how much he really wanted to know what she was thinking.
"That's good. Tell him I said hello."
"I will." Zack watched as she stared off into the distance, tapping her finger against her glass. Her forehead was creased in thought, as if she were performing some very quick mental calculations.
She looked up at him seriously. "I haven't told anyone this, not even Angela. But I'm going to tell you. You don't work at the Jeffersonian anymore, so the possibility of what I'm telling you to cause complications at work is negligible."
Zack nodded in understanding, absolutely clueless as to what Dr. Brennan would tell him. He knew what he wished she would tell him, and struggled to crush the optimist within him with his more realist tendencies.
She folded her hands in front of her and looked at them intently. "On our last case, Booth and I were investigating a set of skeletal remains found in a nickel mine in near Syracuse. We were down there, examining the bones and discussing how they could have got there, and it was just like every other case we've ever worked on; except it wasn't. I don't know how to explain it..." She glanced up to Zack's face. "He just sort of... looked at me, the way he sometimes does. But it was different. Or I was seeing it differently. I can't explain what happened because it doesn't make any logical sense. Why could a simple look that he's given me a hundred times be so..." She trailed off, staring at her hands again. "Angela was right all along: Booth does like me."
"Everyone likes you. I like you." Zack countered. More than like, technically speaking.
She smiled at him thinly. "I mean to say that he's attracted to me."
"Oh." Zack wasn't sure how to respond, but his curiosity got the best of him and he blurted out the first question that came to his mind. "Are you attracted to him?"
Brennan sighed but didn't reply to his question immediately. But at that very moment, the waitress appeared with their food, and their focus turned to their meals instead. It wasn't until the food was gone that Brennan revisited the topic.
"I'm not sure what course of action to take. I've always been adept at compartmentalizing my life, but I don't know if this is one aspect I even want to compartmentalize."
Zack blinked. "Compartmentalize?"
"Separating my work life and my personal life so that they don't interfere with each other." She explained.
"So that means you've been contemplating the potential for some future... interference. With Booth."
To his surprise, she blushed at his assessment. Zack had never seen her blush before, ever. She was supposed to be unflappable to the extreme, cool and collected, the epitome of calm intelligence. It was just unheard of; Dr. Temperance Brennan did not blush.
However, she was very pretty when she did.
"I'm undecided as of yet. Booth and I are very different people; a relationship between us would be volatile at worst."
"And at best?"
"There's potential, I suppose." She said with a hesitancy borne not out of uncertainty, but of a gradual realization. "He respects me professionally and personally. He's patient, generous, entertaining. And even though his macho attitude can be bothersome, I know he would go to any length to make sure I was safe." There was a faraway look in her eyes. "And... I like the way he looks at me."
Zack appraised her and came to a decision. "I'm not the best judge of romantic interaction, but that sounds like more than just potential to me."
"Are you saying I should get involved with him?"
"It just makes logical sense that an alpha male such as agent Booth would gravitate towards a strong alpha female such as yourself." He explained.
Brennan smiled slightly as they paid for their meals and rose from the table. "Is that how you see me? As the alpha female of the pack?"
He nodded. "Most definitely. You have the respect and command of your team, and they would never do anything to displease you. Except Booth. But he was always an exception to the rule."
"I'm still not sure about this."
Zack decided to try a different approach. "Dr. Brennan, do you realize that your face just went red when you thought about him?"
"It did?" Her eyes widened and she began to blush again from the very thought of it, and Zack was struck by how ridiculously endearing it was, her cheeks faintly pink as she attempted to maintain some semblance of gravity and decorum.
"Yes, it did. And it's happening again. I worked with you for three years and never saw you blush once. Statistically speaking, it's a significant response. You owe it to yourself to take decisive action."
They paused in front of the restaurant and she looked at him carefully. "Angela has always been on my case about Booth. And once Hodgins started dating her, he began to emulate Angela. But you never broached the subject with me. I assumed you had no opinion. But you do have an opinion, as you've just demonstrated. Thank you."
He frowned. "For what?"
"For not foisting your opinion on me until I brought it up myself. It was considerate of you."
"You're a strong-minded person, Dr. Brennan. What I tell you or what Angela or anyone tells you won't matter unless you let it matter. You come to your own conclusions independent of outside concerns."
Her smile was warm and she briefly put her hand on his shoulder. The cold wind whipped past them, blowing her hair back like a curtain. Her eyes were kind and her cheeks were pink from the chill and the blushing and with a million thoughts whizzing through his mind he leaned in and dropped a quick kiss on her lips.
She jerked backwards, a stunned look on her face. "Zack!"
He felt his face heat up with embarrassment and panic. "I'm sorry, Dr. Brennan! You just looked really pretty right then. And I've wanted to kiss you for a long time. A careful weighing of the potential positive and negative outcomes made the decision quantitatively worth it." He had a sinking feeling that even the logical explanation wouldn't save him. But his response seemed to satisfy her somehow.
"You've wanted to kiss me for a long time, and yet you've spent the afternoon convincing me that I should date Booth?" A smile quirked at the corner of her mouth. "That's not very rational, in my opinion."
Zack took a deep breath. "I like you, Dr. Brennan, but I'd put your happiness ahead of mine. And Booth makes you happy." He shrugged. "That's all that matters."
She patted him on the arm. "That's very unselfish of you. Just..., -don't do that again. Engaging in intimate actions with a woman when she's expressing her vulnerabilities is impolite..." She smirked. "...no matter how cute you are."
He knew she had said it to purposely poke fun at him, but it didn't stop him from blushing beet red.