Disclaimer: I don't own Bones. Oh, but if I did…
Author's Note: I'm very new at writing fanfic. Actually, I haven't written much in a long time, so forgive me if I'm a bit rusty. I also don't have a beta.. if anyone is interested, lemme know.
We took a trip to D.C. recently, and I was inspired. The descriptions of the zoo are fairly accurate. It's free, and the grounds open at 6am, long before the buildings open to the public.
Placing her foot on the bench, she bent forward, running her fingers down her bare calf and grasping her ankle. After a moment, she felt the muscles in her leg stretching, and she switched sides to warm up her other leg. She stood and bounced several times in place, shaking her hands as she did so. She flicked a button on the iPod that was attached to her shorts and set off in an easy jog.
She loped up a hill, past a restaurant and gift shop, then turned and headed towards the lion and tiger enclosures. She circled around the moat that served as a fence, glancing at the beasts inside as she passed. The orangutans were next, having already crossed from inside the ape house to the cages outside the Think Tank exhibit. With it being early in the morning and still quite cool, they were active—one orangutan swung from branch to branch while two others wrestled playfully in the grass.
Temperance Brennan wasn't really a runner, at least not like the other people she saw here. They were serious about their sport, but she had only started running within the past few months. Most of the time she jogged near the Mall—the cherry trees were beautiful, even if they had technically passed their peak. But on days when she really needed to get out of her head, she came to the zoo. The hilly terrain challenged her in a way that her normal route hadn't, and she found that this was the best way to ease her over-worked mind.
Increasing her speed, she jogged past the Reptile House with the crocodiles lounging in the sun—she couldn't pass this spot without thinking of the first time she met Sully. Around the corner was the still empty yard for the gorillas. The modest incline here warmed her muscles, and in response she ran faster. The Small Mammal House was still closed, of course—the only people in the zoo at this hour were zookeepers and her fellow joggers.
Temperance knew that if she were to ask Booth's psychologist, he would probably say she began running in response to the feeling that her life was spiraling out of control. That as she became closer friends with her partner, she found the line between her social life and her work life blurring. That the agent brought a sense of excitement and vitality to her job, which induced her to move away from her role as a pure scientist towards that of a strange blend of squint and crime fighter. That since she had started having strangely inappropriate thoughts about Seeley Booth, she was afraid she might accidentally let on that she was attracted to him.
But Temperance Brennan did not believe in psychology. It wasn't that she liked jogging because it was a barely metaphorical way of running away from her life. She just liked the exercise. That was her story, and she was sticking to it.
She wanted to run fast, to sprint, to really let loose, but the path alongside the hippo enclosure and elephant house was too steep for that. She barely noticed the hippo wallowing in his shallow pond, or the juvenile elephant let out to play with the oversized tires and balls in his yard. Instead, Temperance focused on maintaining her pace as she crested the hill in front of the Panda Pavilion. Now that the ground was a bit more level, she began to run in earnest. With her sudden burst of speed, she found herself sprinting past the zebras, who were grazing lazily in the shade. She pushed herself down the long path past the red pandas and the sloth bears. Her lungs burned and her legs ached as she tried to maintain her mad flight. She wasn't a doctor for nothing, though, and wisely forced herself to slow her pace as she rounded the bend and reached the fairly straight path towards the famous pandas. She came to a stop just at the railing that looked over the pandas' domain. The baby panda was down there, nestled between some rocks and chewing on some leaves. Later in the morning, there wouldn't be any room left at the railing, such was the pandas' popularity. But for now, Temperance was alone.
She breathed heavily, savoring the few minutes she allowed herself to rest. For a fleeting moment, her mind was blissfully blank, the rush of her breath the only sound. But then, despite her best efforts, her thoughts turned towards Booth. The frequency with which images of him popped into her mind distressed her, but she found it hard to control. She wasn't entirely sure what it was about him that affected her so. She had dated plenty of good-looking men, so surely his looks couldn't be the cause. He wasn't really even her type—while she had seen a few non-academics, the majority of her relationships had been with highly educated men. Of course, Booth was obviously intelligent: he was amazing at his job, and he even picked things up fairly quickly around the lab. So what was it about Seeley Booth, that she couldn't get him out of her head?
Her few minutes of rest were up, and so she set off again, this time with a much easier jog. She crossed the bridge heading towards the Bird House, but instead of going past the ponds, she veered right down a steep path that lead towards the otters, Mexican wolves, and seals. She resisted the insistent pull of gravity and kept her stride in check—she had no desire to break a leg. She could see the otters swimming in their pool, pushing off from the window, gliding to the rocky edge, and flipping over just like professional swimmers. The beaver next door was nowhere to be seen, but now that she was at the bottom of the hill, she ran too fast to be able to look for him properly among all the rocks and trees.
With her mind relatively cleared from her earlier almost-frantic sprint, she had no trouble focusing her thoughts. What was it about Booth? He used to drive her crazy, although she had lately been finding him less and less annoying. Now they were able to spend whole evenings together without a serious fight. Their stimulating banter was the same as always, but without the unpredictable shouting matches, she now really enjoyed their time together. He provided her with the support and sound advice of a best friend, without the constant sexual innuendo that Angela engaged in, which sometimes left Temperance a little uneasy. Of course, with Booth she had to contend with the sometimes overpowering sexual tension between them. She had felt that tension since they first started working together, but back then, he was so infuriating that it was easy to ignore. It was crazy to want him so badly, wasn't it?
The Mexican wolves moved about their hillside enclosure, foraging for food the zookeepers had left them. Their fur looked luxuriously full, as they hadn't yet blown their winter coats. She maintained a steady pace as she approached the seals and sea lions. There was a sort of stone amphitheater here for when the trainers put on shows for the tourists. Occasionally Temperance would jog up and down them a few times, but not today. Instead she turned left towards the stairs that lead back up to the main thoroughfare.
The weather was glorious—scattered clouds and temperatures still in the low 60s this early in the morning, but even with the cool breeze, Temperance was hot. Her face was flushed and her hair was sweaty, as evidenced by the drop of sweat that slowly trickled down her back, under her tank top. Unbidden, an image popped into her head: an image of Booth leaning in towards her and capturing the drop with his mouth, tracing the line of her spine with his tongue, down towards the shallow at the small of her back. Temperance gasped at the picture and nearly tripped on one of the steps.
She scolded herself for letting her imagination get the better of her. This was getting ridiculous. Yes, Seeley Booth was a good man. Yes, he was always there for her, and she could trust him with her life. He made her laugh more than anyone had since she was a child. He knew more about her than anyone in the lab, perhaps more than anyone else, period. And he still apparently wanted to be around her. He valued her intelligence, but also pushed her out of her comfort zone. He was good-looking, and the physical attraction was definitely there. But to risk both their careers on something that wasn't even guaranteed to last? The vast majority of relationships failed, and there was no reason to assume theirs wouldn't. And even more, what of their friendship, should they find themselves not romantically compatible?
She had grown used to the small ways that Booth took care of her. The little things he did, that he didn't really have to do. He didn't have to stop by her office when he knew she was working late, and make her go home. He didn't have to show up on her doorstop with an armful of takeout when he knew she'd had a rough day. He certainly didn't have to come to the marina to cheer her up when Sully left. She never asked him to spend time with her outside of work, but more often than not, he was the company she entertained on lonely Saturday nights. Her brow creased as she frowned, trying to puzzle out her feelings.
Having reached the top of the steps, she slowly approached Lemur Island. She stopped at the railing, eyes fastened on the rushing water that cascaded over the tall heap of rocks that made up the island. She only vaguely noticed the dozens of tiny turtles perched on the rocks lining the moat. Above, a black and white lemur scampered from an outcropping near the top, deftly moving down towards the grass.
There was, of course, another reason not to act on her attraction to her partner. The thought of him not reciprocating her feelings, of him rejecting her, made her feel sick to her stomach. She found that in itself confusing, as she had never worried that much either way whether a man accepted or rejected her advances. But somehow, Booth was different. His opinion mattered.
Temperance tried so hard to present herself as a tough, independent, no-nonsense sort of woman. She liked to think that she was okay with being alone, that she didn't really need a family or a man to share her life with. She pretended that she didn't mind just having just a very small circle of friends. But when she was alone, in her bed late at night, when she was forced to be honest with herself, she knew that she was none of that. Well, maybe she was pretty tough, for a forensic anthropologist. But she did want to be part of a family, she did want someone to come home to at night. She wanted a big life.
And as she stood there, watching the waterfall and the turtles but not really seeing them, she thought of all the ways Booth had been there for her. And slowly, as if in a dream, Temperance realized something. Booth was there for her, in so many ways, because he wanted to be. A smile slowly crept across her lips as she thought that possibly, just possibly, he did have feelings for her.
With a new spring in her step, Temperance turned to head back out of the zoo. Maybe she would let Booth know how she felt. But how? She supposed she should probably ask Angela. Flicking her iPod off, she removed the earbuds from her ears and pocketed them. As she walked down the hill past the gift shop and restaurant, her gait turned into a half-jog. Turning the last corner to reach the parking lot where her car was, she found Booth leaning against the hood of his SUV, his thumbs hooked through his belt. Strangely, she wasn't surprised to find him here, although she had never mentioned that she came to the zoo to run. He worked for the FBI, after all.
"Heya, Bones," Booth said, flashing her a grin and a wink.
Temperance smiled at him in greeting and strode boldly up to him, invading his personal space in a way that she only felt comfortable doing with him.
"Have we got a case?" she asked.
Booth shook his head. "Nope. Just thought I'd come pick you up for breakfast. You look hungry." She noticed his eyes shift down as he took in her somewhat skimpy running clothes, his gaze on her body almost tangible.
Temperance could not help the grin that spread from her lips to her eyes. He had come to see her, not because he needed to, but because he wanted to. She could have laughed at the pleasure that brought her.
"What're you grinning like that for? Do I have something on me?" Booth frowned, looking down at his shirt.
Giving into a sudden impulse, Temperance placed her hands on Booth's upper arms, stilling him. In some distant part of her mind, she named the firm muscles she felt under her fingers. Booth looked up slowly, his eyes meeting hers, their faces just inches a part. In his eyes, Temperance could see surprise, but also something that almost looked like relief. She watched the corners of his eyes crinkle and knew he was smiling. She could feel the fast thump of her heart in her chest and here, seconds away from kissing the man she had spent so much time fantasizing about, a wave of shyness broke over her. A flush crept up her cheeks, and she felt an irresistible urge to step back and turn away. She closed her eyes briefly, the frustration at herself welling up inside.
And in that second when she wasn't looking, Seeley Booth kissed her. His lips were warm and his tongue, when he passed it lightly over her mouth, tasted vaguely of coffee. Temperance felt his strong hands on her waist as he pulled her up against his body, and she slid her hands up his broad shoulders and behind his neck. She opened her mouth to him, flicking her tongue across his. He sucked gently on her lower lip, and when she opened her eyes, she found him looking at her.
Temperance pulled back slightly, breaking the kiss, yet remaining in his arms. Booth tilted his head to the side, a smile playing across his mouth—across the lips she had just kissed.
"What took you so long, Bones?" he asked, the chuckle that followed rumbling from deep in his chest.
She tilted her head to match his, feeling improbably light and free. "I had a long way to come," she said.
I'm toying with the idea of writing another chapter, probably a fun M one. I don't get inspired all that often, so I hate to miss the chance. What do you think?