Title: Catching Fire
Disclaimer: Not Mine! Wish They Were! Please Don't Sue!
Rating: M, to be safe... it's not explicit at all, but does have 'adult(ish) situations'
Pairing: Bones & Booth
Spoilers: Up to Season 2, ep 18, I guess... though in my imagination, this story takes place about a year or so from now.
Summary: After saying some things he shouldn't have, in the heat of the moment, Booth pays a visit to Bones to try and put things right. A one-shot about the thin line between love and hate, and the moment the sparks finally catch fire.
Remember, reviews equal love!
She was angry. He had known, when he made the decision to drive to her apartment at two in the morning, that he was not going to get a particularly welcome reception. But lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, sweltering in the unseasonable heat and humidity, he had thought that whatever reaction he got, it would have to be infinitely preferable to going through an action replay of the mornings events for the eighty-sixth time. With the brutal clarity that he only ever found in those pre-dawn, sleepless hours, he knew that if he did nothing, if he didn't try to put it right, he would lose her. That thought scared him, almost more than he was willing to admit. It was that thought that brought him to her door at two in the morning, nervous as a teenage boy.
"What do you want, Booth?" she asked coldly, the light from the open doorway making her hair glow. She looked like a statue, Booth thought, like a medieval painting come to life, all graceful lines and milk coloured skin. Her face was impassive, one brow raised, her arms crossed across her chest. She was dressed for bed, in a tank top and pyjama pants, but he didn't think she'd been sleeping. She looked distinctly unruffled, unlike him, he thought ruefully, glancing down at his well-worn faded jeans, and the old grey tee shirt he had picked up off the floor of his apartment. The half full glass of red wine he spied through the open doorway confirmed his suspicion that she'd been awake.
He opened his mouth, then paused, not really knowing what to say. None of the speeches he'd rehearsed in his head seemed right, now that he was here. She didn't look away from him, and he could see she was waiting for him to say something.
"Bones… I wanted to…" he started, then took a deep breath, rubbed a hand through his hair. Her face remained unchanged. He sighed.
"Look, Bones… I came to say… I'm sorry, okay?" he said.
The words felt small, once they left his mouth. Kind of how he felt, himself, really, standing there before her. His words hung in the air between them, met by stony silence. Then she cocked her head slightly and stared at him, blue-green eyes searching his face. Her own face was unreadable, he thought, and that had always been one of the more infuriating things about her, one of her mysteries. When he was angry, people knew about it. His voice raised, his jaw clenched, he might punch a wall or throw something. Not her. She never lost control like that. When Bones got angry, really angry, she detached. If you watched her closely, you could almost see the moment the curtain came down. He'd seen it that morning, and it was that moment that had been replaying over and over in his head. It was that moment had kept him awake into the small hours, sweating and staring at the ceiling.
"Thank you. Did you want anything else?" she asked coolly, one hand on the doorframe, ready to close the door.
He paused then, tried to stop the hurt from showing on his face, the shock of her coldness rendering him momentarily speechless. He opened his mouth, and then closed it, not knowing what to say in the face of her impassivity. She laughed, shortly, bitterly, then stepped back and began to shut the door.
"Bones! Hey! Wait a second…" he said quickly, catching the door easily in one hand.
"What?" she asked. "Did you have something else to say?"
"I wanted to apologise…" he said quietly, trying to catch her eye. She wouldn't look at him.
"Which you have done. So I guess there's really nothing more to say." He thought he saw the briefest flicker, then. The tiniest crack in her façade.
He touched her face, lightly, turned her face towards his. After a beat, she moved away from his touch, angling her head away from him abruptly. Taking a deep breath, he waited for the hurt to subside. He knew he deserved it, and more.
"Bones. There is definitely more to say. I was out of line…. And I want to explain," he said quietly.
He thought, for a moment, that she might slam the door in his face. That, or kick him in the balls. But then she sighed, and shook her head. Opening the door a fraction wider, she stood back, and with a tilt of her chin, gestured for him to come inside.
He walked slowly into the apartment, uncomfortable, feeling the tension that stretched between them. Used to feeling at home here, used to sprawling on her soft orange sofa with his feet up and shoes off, eating Thai food and laughing, he now stood awkwardly at the breakfast bar, watching as she foraged in the refrigerator. Wordlessly, she handed him a beer, then refilled her own glass with wine. It was more than he had hoped for, and unexpected.
"It's Moroccan. I know how much you like it," she said, with a slight edge to her voice. Appreciating the effort it took to make the joke, however small, he smiled slightly.
"Right now all I care about is whether it's got alcohol in it."
She didn't laugh, but he thought he saw a smile briefly lift the corners of her mouth. It was gone before he could be certain that he'd seen it.
Turning on a lamp, she sat down at the kitchen table, toying with her wineglass, the silence broken by the low hum of traffic outside. A lone fan, sitting by the sofa, circulated the humid night air with a soft whir, not lowering the temperature at all. He didn't know where to start, didn't want to break the fragile truce the beer had established. And so he said nothing, waiting for inspiration to hit.
Then she looked at him, right at him, and the hurt and anger in her eyes hit him like a sucker punch to the stomach.
"Booth… what happened today?" she asked simply, not breaking her gaze.
He took a deep breath, then moved over to the table. Pulling out the chair beside her, he sat down, elbows bent out in front of him, beer clutched firmly in his hands.
"I lost my cool," he admitted.
"I don't know what that means."
He almost laughed, then, but caught himself.
"It means I lost my temper and was completely out of line," he said.
She took a sip of wine, and swallowed it slowly. The wine had coloured her lips a little, dark pink.
"Yeah. You were. Why?" she asked.
It was so like her to be this blunt. No beating around the bush for Bones. He stretched his shoulders a bit; feeling the air from the fan hit his neck, as he pondered how to answer her question. A wave of prickly shame washed over him as he remembered the scene.
He had to deliver the COD report for her to sign, and he'd forgotten that it had to be in by five PM to the court clerk. Bounding up the stairs to her office, he pushed open the door without knocking, as he always did, already speaking as he entered the room.
"Bones, I need your autogra- …" The words died in his throat as his mind processed what he was seeing.
The guy had her up against the wall. One arm was braced against the glass of the display case; the other had a firm grip on her upper arm. A very firm grip. White knuckles. He couldn't see her face, but he could see one of her hands, pushing hard on the guy's chest. Pushing him away. Though her voice was muffled, he could still make out what she was saying.
"Greg! Get off… get off me! Greg, you're hurting me. No!"
He didn't even think about it, didn't even know what he was about to do until he was in the middle of it. All he knew was that his heart was beating hard, the adrenalin was pumping, and that this guy was scaring Bones. Hurting her. He could hear it in her voice.
Crossing the room in two quick strides, he felt his hand close tight around the guy's throat. Somewhere, in the recesses of his mind, he remembered where he had seen him before. Greg. Bones' recent ex-boyfriend. The one who had told her that she was too into her work, too smart, too weird, and that he was going back to his ex-wife.
Booth tightened his grip, and with a surge of anger that shocked even him, he threw Greg to the ground with all his strength, noting with some satisfaction the dull smack of skin on the hard wood of the floor. In a daze, the blonde man picked himself up off the ground and turned to him, face tightening with anger. His nose was bleeding, and he wiped it briefly. Then he rushed at Booth, one hand coming up, telegraphing the punch. Without thinking about it, Booth drew back his fist, jabbing the guy in the face, before delivering a right hook and following it up with vicious upper-cut into the muscular man's solar plexus, all of his weight behind it.
Greg staggered, then fell, still conscious, dropping back onto the couch. All was silent in the room, bar Booth's heavy breathing. Then Greg hauled himself up, coughing and wheezing. Heading for the door, he looked over his shoulder.
"Temperance, I'll, uh … I'll call you."
Booth shook his head in disbelief, turning towards Greg.
"I don't think so, buddy. You ever call her again and I'll mess you up so badly that not even Bones will be able to identify you." His voice was low, dangerous. There was no doubt to anyone in the room, not even himself, that he absolutely meant it. Greg nodded then, swallowing hard, and made a hasty retreat through the open door.
Booth turned to Bones then, standing frozen in the corner, feeling his heart begin to resume a slower beat.
"Are you okay, Bones? What did he do?" He reached for her, and she stepped away, a look of shock on her face.
"What the hell are you playing at, Booth?" She asked angrily, pulling her lab coat tighter around herself.
"What am I playing at? Bones, he … The guy was all… I was helping," he pointed out, confused. His knuckles were beginning to throb.
She was shaken, and obviously furious.
"You were helping? By doing what, assaulting my ex?"
"Assaulting him? Bones, he had you up against the wall!"
"That's not the point! How dare you come into my office and punch anyone? What the hell were you thinking?" Her voice was raised, and he could see the flush of anger staining her cheeks. He could feel the same anger beginning to boil in his stomach, confusion at her reaction making way for fury.
"I was thinking that I walked in on some asshole taking advantage of my partner, and I thought it might be a good idea to stop him. Silly me. If it happens again, I'll let him have his way with you!" He said, loudly, sarcastically.
"You'll let him… Booth, it was Greg… he wasn't… it's not like he was…he never would have…" she said, a touch of defensiveness creeping into her voice.
He was dumbfounded. For a genius, she wasn't sounding that smart right now. Given what he'd just witnessed, he was shocked that she was still defending that asshole. He took a deep breath, trying to calm himself down. It didn't work.
"Not like what? Not like he was hurting you? Bones, you were telling him to get off you! You told him he was hurting you and he still didn't move. Or was that the way he always treated you? Considering your track record with losers like him, it wouldn't surprise me!"
She took a step towards him, seeming to swell with anger.
"My track record? My track record?! Like you can talk! At least I didn't sleep with my partner's boss!"
He felt his mouth open in shock. Two could play at that game.
"At least I didn't sleep with my professor, a murderer, a Scientologist and another friggin' agent, Bones! I think you'll find your romantic history is a touch more active than mine. And at least I have standards. Where are your standards, Bones? You might want to think about raising them, because that guy?" he said, one hand gesturing pointedly at the open door. "That asshole? He's an idiot, and if you are happy to put up with him treating you like that, then you're an idiot, too!" The minute the words were said, he regretted them.
He didn't see the slap coming, but he felt the sting on his cheek, hard enough to turn his head, hard enough to bring reflexive tears to his eyes.
Shame prickled his skin as he turned back to face her. He opened his mouth to speak …to… what? Apologise? But she stopped him with a look, the anger and disappointment and hurt in her eyes turning cold, turning her face expressionless.
"Get out. Now," she said, softly, evenly.
There was nothing he could say. As he watched, she turned away from him, moved to her desk, tidying the papers that had been knocked off of it. He nodded once, mostly to himself, licked his lips and turned to the door. It was only then that he noticed the audience. A dozen faces stared as he wordlessly made his way down the stairs. Someone – Angela maybe – made a move towards him, but he ignored her, and kept walking. Trying hard not to think about the look on her face as she kicked him out.
Placing the beer down on the table in front of him, he watched a bead of condensation trace a path down the green glass. How honest could he be? He turned to Bones, regarding her in the low light. She eyed him, waiting. The truth. He would give her the truth, no excuses. He pushed his beer away and took a deep breath.
"Because he's an asshole. And he deserved it. But you didn't. And I shouldn't have said those things to you. It was uncalled for," he said honestly, feeling the shame of what he'd done hit him again, but not shying away from it.
"Maybe he did deserve it, Booth. But you didn't need to hit him. I could have… I was handling it," she said quietly.
"Handling it? Bones, when I came in, he had you up against the wall. And unless I'm mistaken, you were telling him to get off." Even talking about it, even just thinking about it… he took a deep breath, unclenched his fists.
She closed her eyes briefly.
"He was trying to get back together with me, Booth, not attack me. And I did date him for quite a while."
"He left you for his ex-wife!"
"He said he still loves me," she said quietly.
"That's bullshit, Bones, and you know it," he said heatedly, and she glanced up at him, hurt in her eyes.
"Thanks, Booth. That's really nice of you." She got up from the table abruptly, and went to the breakfast bar, refilling her wine glass.
Booth exhaled, and leaned back in his chair.
"Bones, I'm not trying to hurt you. But any guy who can treat you the way that Greg treated you when you were dating, and then act the way he did today, does not love you. And I'm pretty sure you don't love him either."
She set the wine bottle down with a thump. "So, you're not actually sorry for what happened today. Why the hell did you even bother coming over, Booth? Did you just want to rub the salt into the wound a little bit more?"
He stood up and walked to the bench, standing opposite her. Placing his hands on the bar in front of him, he leaned towards her and tried to temper what he was about to say.
"No. No, I'm don't want… Bones… I'm not trying to hurt you. And I am sorry, sorry that I hurt you by saying the things that I said. I'm sorry that I hurt you by hitting him in your office. I'm sorry that the people we work with saw it. But I'm not sorry that I hit that son-of-a-bitch. He deserved that, and more," he said. His voice had gotten louder than he had meant them to.
She leaned over the bench towards him, anger flushing her pale skin.
"Who the hell do you think you are, Booth? This is my life! You don't get to come in, and be the big military man, the alpha male, and save me. I'm not a damsel in distress. I'm a grown woman. And you do not get to tell me what men deserve me, and what men don't. You don't get to tell me what men are good enough for me," she yelled, eyes flashing angrily. With a shake of her head, she turned and headed for the lounge.
He followed her; angry now, wishing she would get what he was saying.
"That's where you're wrong, Bones. Maybe you don't want me doing it, but I'm the one who's there when it ends. I'm the one who is there when they make you doubt who you are. I'm the one who has to see you hurt, see you crying. And as someone who knows you, someone who … as your friend, your partner …" He trailed off, breathing hard, as she stopped, suddenly, and turned to him. He could see the unshed tears glistening in her eyes.
"Stop it, Booth."
He could have stopped. He could have left it at that. If he said what he really wanted to… he wouldn't be able to go back. But the way she was looking at him, the pain and vulnerability in her eyes – it sparked something inside him. Something that had been there for too long, waiting for the right moment to alight. It was time to be honest with himself, and with her. It was time to put his cards on the table. He swallowed hard, feeling his pulse beat hard in his chest, and continued.
"No, Bones, you need to hear this. You deserve more. You deserve a guy who will treat you like the amazing, strong, brilliant, crazy, beautiful, independent, feisty woman that you are. You deserve a guy who will love you with his whole being, who will not try to change you, who will not make you feel like you should ever try to be anything other that what you already are. Because you…" he took a deep breath, then spoke again before he lost his courage. He could feel his heart hammering in his chest like a drum, the words on his lips, teetering on the precipice.
"You, Bones…. You are one of a kind. And you deserve a guy who knows that."
Her tears were falling freely now, her mouth twisting as it so often did when she was upset, and she looked away, brushing furiously at her face. Dropping the façade, he reached out and touched her chin, raising it to him so her eyes met his.
"I don't think that guy exists, Booth," she said simply. The anger was gone. Was there hope there? He couldn't tell.
He looked at her, all cinnamon hair and creamy skin, tear streaked face and sparkling eyes, and he swallowed hard, more scared than he'd ever been in his life. Trying not to let his voice shake, he took the leap, and spoke.
"I can tell you with one hundred per cent certainty, Bones, that he does."
His words hung in the air between them, crackling like electricity, and she looked up at him, the question in her eyes. And before she could speak, before she could ask, before she could argue, he did the only thing he could. The only thing he'd ever wanted to do since meeting her, the thing he'd almost done so many times in the past. Moving in front of her, he placed his hands on either side of her face. Her skin felt smooth and hot beneath his hands. Gently, he used a thumb to wipe her tears away, then he bent his head and captured her mouth in his. He meant it to be soft. But as he stood in front of her, feeling the heat of her body before him, he couldn't help it. He deepened the kiss, pulling her body hard against his, enveloping her small frame in his. As he tightened his arms around her, one hand tangling in her hair, he felt her respond, her breath catching in her chest. And then the dam broke.
Almost three years of wanting, of waiting, of 'look but don't touch', of near misses and anger and tears and hugs had brought them there, pressed into the wall, all hands and skin and mouth, desperately clinging to each other, trying to stem the tide. Coming to the edge, and falling. Catching fire.
Five minutes could have passed. Or five hours. It felt like forever, or no time at all. Without consciously meaning to, he had moved them into the middle of the room, and he tripped backwards, landing heavily on his back with her on top of him, on that same orange sofa where they had eaten take-out and drank too much, shared their stories and their fears, so many times before. He groaned and they broke apart, both laughing, as she leaned up on her forearms, resting her weight against him. Her lips were swollen, the colour of raspberries, and there were questions in her eyes.
He smiled up at her, her pale face framed by her wild hair, the ends tickling the skin of his face.
"Bones…" he said softly, tracing the line of her jaw with a fingertip, "Do you know how long I've wanted to do that for? Do you know how hard it's been, working with you, watching you waste your time with idiot guys, wishing I could just… God… You are a hard woman to read, you know that?"
"The only reason I wasted my time on those 'idiot guys', as you so charmingly put it, was because you told me there was a line we couldn't cross. Even I picked up on the subtext there, Booth," she pointed out, half smiling.
He groaned again, closing his eyes, remembering the conversation.
"Oh God. I'd forgotten about that. Maybe it's me who's the idiot, huh?"
She smiled at him mischievously.
"No arguments, here. So, who's the guy you were talking about, anyway? The one who is right for me? Can you set me up with him? What's he like?" she said innocently, trying to suppress a giggle. He could feel her laughter, vibrating against his body.
He wrapped his arms around her in response and turned, so she was underneath him on the couch. Then he leaned in and kissed her softly, marvelling at the softness of her lips. She smelt like vanilla, and something spicy that he couldn't place.
"Very funny, Bones. Hmmm, what can I tell you about him? He's tall; he's got a son, works for the FBI. He has an unfortunate tendency towards alpha male behaviour, shoots ice-cream vans, wears inappropriate belt buckles, and he has a great ass…"
She was all out laughing now, belly laughing as he kissed her neck. He could feel her it dancing through her body, fizzing in his blood.
"Oh yeah - and he's completely, head-over-heels, Romeo-and-Juliet, crazy in love with you," he whispered slowly into her ear, loving how she shivered when his breath hit the dampness of her skin.
She was silent for a moment, and then her hands left his back and moved to his face, lightly touching the scar on his forehead. Blue eyes regarded brown in the quiet darkness, and then she said softly, "And this guy… he doesn't mind that I'm too scientific, that I'm too logical, too rational? He doesn't mind that I use my mind and not my gut? That I'm not too good at letting people in?"
He shook his head slightly.
"Nope. In fact, I'm pretty sure that all your quirks are why he loves you. And hey, if you can put up with his issues and his messed up past, he'll be more than willing to put up with yours."
"I think I can handle that." Her fingers traced the line of his eyebrow, and then she said quietly, hesitantly, "Maybe you should tell your friend that I think I might feel the same way about him?"
He kissed her then, urgently, exploring her mouth with his, groaning softly as her mouth traced his throat. An idea struck him, and he smiled to himself, leaning back slightly.
"Okay, so I guess I better give the guy a call, huh? His names Jack …he'll probably be kinda cranky that I'm moving in on his blind date." He started to push himself up into a sitting position, a slight smirk playing around the corner of his mouth. The blow to his arm made him look down with a laugh. She was still smiling, shaking her head at him.
"That's just mean."
He opened his mouth to respond, but before he could say the words, her hand had twisted into his shirt and she was pulling him down to meet her. And then her mouth was on his, silencing him. Her body was flush against his, his arms braced on either side of her, with hers caught between them, small and warm, pressed against his chest.
And for a moment, just a moment, the crazy whirring of his mind stopped, was quiet. Everything fell away, until there was nothing and nobody else in the world, just Booth, with his Bones in his arms.
She whispered something against his mouth, and he pulled away a little, a questioning look in his eyes.
"What was that?"
She stayed silent, the words unspoken hanging in the darkness between them, waiting. And then she smiled, her trademark, enigmatic, sphinx smile. It was all the answer he needed.
Please Review! I have no shame, I will actually beg... Please, please, please review!