Title: Into The Wild - The Keys
Disclaimer: These characters to not belong to me. Alas, they belong to Fox.
Rating: I would imagine this will eventually be an M.
Author's Note: Well, it's been awhile since I posted a story on here and I have been working on some of my own stuff for awhile. But a lovely reader commented that a sequel to this would be good and I thought 'why not?' so let me know what you think!
He found her in her office, pouring over a pile of haphazard reports. She kept her head bent, her eyes narrowed just a little in silent contemplation. As he watched, she did not appear to notice his presence, and her pen did not move from it hovered, as if she had wanted to write something but could not, for the life of her, remember what.
Finally she sighed, dropping the pen to her desk and pushing her chair back. Her fingers curled into tight knuckles and when she exhaled, her lips became a tight, grim line.
"Hey you," he said, alerting her to his presence. Her eyes brightened at the prospect of the lunch he had promised her earlier. "How has your day been?" Temperance Brennan dropped her chin into the palm of her hand, her mouth lopsided with frustration. "You look like you need a vacation," he added before she could respond. Brennan threw him a glimmer of a smile.
"I do," she agreed. "This week has been a week from hell."
Sitting opposite her, Seeley Booth was sometimes struck by how easily they shifted from lovers to colleagues. Today, he was tittering on the edge of both. While their conversation might have seemed platonic, there was a hint of tender intimacy laced with their words and a sense of comfort surrounding them as they slid easily into their usual routine. He might have been there on business, but it felt as though they were sharing more than just small talk.
They had been lovers for about a year and three months, and he felt a sense of achievement in knowing that they had successfully juggled their professional partnership with their intimate one.
"Good thing I read your mind then," he told her, smirking manically. Brennan eyed him with quiet suspicion, pushing her chair back and reclining, her fingers folded over her stomach. "We're going away." Booth shrugged inside his jacket, his eyebrows lifting.
"Away?" she echoed stupidly.
"Oh yes! It's that time of the year again." Admittedly, it was slightly later in the year as Deputy Director Cullen had experienced some delays in the organizational side of things.
"What time of year?" Brennan asked, her brow furrowed.
"FBI expedition time of course!" He held his hands out, palms up, fingers spread, as though he were stating the most obvious thing in the world to her. Realisation dawned on her features and she immediately shook her head.
"Oh no, Booth. No way," her arms sliced through the air. "I fell for that once and I am not falling for it again. My idea of a relaxing vacation is not trekking through the forest trying to compete with your colleagues." Booth dropped his hands to her shoulders, willing her to be calm. Her muscles felt tight and his revelation had done nothing to ease tensions in her office.
"It's not a forestry trip this time-" he began but her protests came forth.
"It's not any kind of trip, Booth because I'm not going." She shook him off, dropping back into her chair. He reached out, touching the russet strands of her silken hair. Her lashes fluttered momentarily but her determination did not waver. "People can see you," she growled, her fingers knotted tightly over her forgotten work.
"Hmm…" he murmured, barely paying attention. "The expedition is in the Florida Keys…" his tone was slow and seductive. "A week, a desert island playing castaway… surely that appeals to your adventurous nature…?" She tossed her hair, looking down on her hands. Her knuckles were white, the bone pressed against the papery skin. "Want to hear the good part?" he asked and she pulled her lip between her teeth. "This time, it's not just pairs. It's a team of those we, the FBI agents, work most closely with." Even without looking at him, Temperance caught the smugness in his tone. "That's the anthropology team at the Jeffersonian for me. Angela and Hodgins are totally up for it. Zach is complaining about his complexion, but he's been persuaded. If you don't go, you'll be the only one…"
Brennan swung to face him, her cheeks red with annoyance. "I won't be manipulated. This is not logical. Who will look after things here?" Booth took a few steps back, slipping his hands into his pockets.
"There's a pile of old bones in the storage room that can surely wait another week. Angela's so bored she's drawing daises in her office, Hodgins is unnecessarily poking through cow dung and Zach is questioning why he even became a doctor in the first place," his tone changed and his eyes darkened, "Temperance," he said, and her lover was back again, "your team are bored. They need to recharge their batteries, to delve into a challenge…"
Brennan threw her hands into the air. Since Booth had acquainted himself with her colleagues, he had used them against her, swaying them in directions she would rather they did not go. "I have work to do now, Booth," she told him, her expression signalling that she wanted him to leave. He chuckled.
"Promise you'll think about it?" he asked, his eyes wide and hopeful. Brennan turned her back on him, but he could tell by her posture that she was almost defeated. He resisted the urge to punch the air triumphantly. "Catch you later." Booth dropped a chaste kiss to the top of her head, satisfied when her sigh signalled pleasure and not frustration.
Outside in the laboratory, Angela was leaning over Jack, their noses inches apart. Their smiles were wide and he felt privately elated that the somewhat nerdy Hodgins had persisted and finally won the affections of the free-spirited artist. And as Angela tilted her head, her lips brushing his cheek, it certainly seemed as though she, too, were happy with the outcome of his pursuit.
"What will we be doing on this expedition?" Zach Addy asked, his hands deep in the pockets of his blue lab coat. "Dr Brennan got hurt last year," he reminded Booth.
"I know she did," he replied. "But this expedition is more orientated towards survival skills than physical capabilities, which is why you're invited, Zach." If the anthropologist was offended by Booth, he did not show it. "Do you think you can survive for a week without all this equipment?" he asked. The question seemed to strike Zach, for his eyes widened as he swept his gaze across what would be the closest thing he would ever get to children.
"Yeah…" he replied hesitantly. He cleared his throat. "Yeah," he repeated, more confident this time. Booth shook his head slowly, turning away from the man who, until recently, had been Brennan's kooky assistant. Since he'd gotten his doctorate, Zach had been putting even more time into the Jeffersonian – if that were possible. "What kind of stuff will we be doing?" he asked, coming to stand by Booth's side. "Fishing and stuff? Will we be all Robinson Crusoe?"
Booth cast a sideward glance towards Zach. If he had his way, the week would be spent making love to Brennan and winning a competition. It would be seven days of R and R. "I don't think it'll be quite so hardcore," he replied and beside him, the anthropologist seemed to exhale in relief. "Hey kiddo, if you don't want to go-"
"No!" Zach hurried to say, "I do!"
"Okay then... well… go pack." Booth was struck often by how uncomfortable he was around Zach yet how fond of him he truly was. Although his goofy intelligence was sometimes patronizing and intimidating, he felt a bizarre father-like obligation to him. Granted, Zach was by no means young enough to be his son, but he had a naivety that required a guardian to look over him. He was not a fighter and he had no instinct to defend himself.
Glancing over his shoulder, Booth saw Brennan, watching him through the glass, her eyes dark with a gentle adoration that he had come to rely on. She was lovely in her intelligence and independence – but in the past year or so, Temperance had let him into her life and permitted him to take care of her; to a degree, anyway.
A lot has transpired between them in the forest during the last expedition and when he sent his flare up, Brennan understood that he would have sacrificed anything before he sacrificed her. Unintentionally winning that competition was the best thing he had ever done, but not professionally; it was the personal gain that had made it all worthwhile.
She gave him a small smile and he grinned back, his heart beating faster inside his chest. Maybe, ideally, he wouldn't have wanted the squints to come to the island with them, but it didn't really matter – everyone in the lab knew about their relationship and although Brennan never wanted to exhibit their feelings for one and other, she did not hide it either.
"Hey G-Man?" Jack Hodgins slapped his back, propelling him forward a metre. Booth straightened himself, reigning his wayward thoughts back. "Nice one about the vacation! Angela just mentioned packing baby oil for a finer tan – however can I repay you?" his blue eyes twinkled suggestively and Booth was sure he had never seen such a streak of sexuality in the entomologist before. He frowned.
"It's not really a vacation," Booth explained slowly. "There won't be much time for sunning." He felt like a hypocrite for, just moments earlier, he had been contemplating the rest. "We have some stiff competition. Last year, Sandrell took the coroner he works most frequently with. This year, he's taking five people from the coroner's office! Agent Owens and Patterson have four guys from Behavioural Sciences and you know how good those guys are at using their heads…" he turned to Hodgins now, a prickle of anxiety rippling along his spine. "I need everyone to be on the top of their game on this island." Jack dropped his hands to his hips.
"Don't sweat it, dude," he insisted, "we are the best. Just one little thing, though, there's five on our team and six on the others. Don't they have something of an unfair advantage?" Booth waved his hand dismissively.
"I've asked some girl, Alexa from the lab at the Bureau to join us. She's young and a bit gung-ho, but hey, she's clever." For a moment, Jack looked as though he was going to object but eventually he shrugged.
"More the merrier, I suppose. She pretty?" He almost did not pause between sentences. Booth frowned.
"Don't imagine Angela would appreciate that," he said.
"Appreciate what?" Angela asked, slipping two coloured pencils into her hair. She was chirpy and free-spirited. Booth liked her personality.
"Jack wants to check out other women…" he told her and Angela shrugged her slender shoulders.
"There's nothing wrong with looking," she insisted. "Just so long as he keeps his hands to himself. Besides," she swept her eyes over the length of him, touching the tip of her tongue to the corner of her mouth, as if studiously appraising him, "it doesn't stop me looking…"
Her chuckle was audible as he strode away, shaking his head. There were few things in life that seemed to bother the forensic artist – those things were death, murder and child-killers. Otherwise, Angela Montenegro wonderfully easy-going.
The forensics team at the Jeffersonian truly were a bizarre mix of personalities, but Booth knew that, in the name of a competition, there was no one he'd rather have on his side.
I apologise for any mistakes in this chapter. I haven't reread it and I know I should, but I am just so sick today and I can barely keep my eyes open – but when the muse bites, I can't make it go away. Thanks! Please review!