LITTLE FUN UNDER THE SUN
Disclaimer: For the seventh time, we do not own Bones, but if the cast decided to play our story, we certainly wouldn't complain!
Author's notes Addictt: Hi, you have reached my answering machine. I'm not at home at the moment, but feel free to leave a message after the chapter. Thanks!
Author's notes niah1988: Well guys, this is it; the last chapter of A Little Fun Under The Sun. I had loads of fun writing this with Addictt. For those of you who are interested, we're already planning our next writing adventure. It will probably be up somewhere this fall on Addictt's account. Yes, this fall. We won't be able to produce anything faster due to busy schedules. Any-who... Enjoy this chapter!
For our reviewers: Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed our story. The feedback we got was massive and unexpected. We owe you all one.
Thanks EternalConfusion for the beta-job!
° Chapter 7 - Other Side Of The World °
My sheet slowly slides over my bare skin. In a few seconds it's gone. He sure does know how to wake someone up. I furrow my eyebrows in vexation.
"Sully, that's cold," I grumble, my voice still thick with sleep.
No response. The moment to open my eyes arrives. I let out a little grunt and bury my face in the pillow. My own pillow. I'm not a person who easily gets attached to material things, but I sure love my pillow. And my bed. My soft, comfortable - my own yawn interrupts my thoughts. Now it's really time to open my eyes.
White, bright sunbeams fall upon my retina. Another grunt escapes my lips while my eyes adjust to the sudden burst of light.
Sully's sitting on the side of the bed, the sheet wrapped around him, leaving me uncovered. Something about his position makes me feel uncomfortable. He's tensed.
No reply. I prop myself up to take a closer look. My eyebrows furrow again, this time in confusion. A blush appears on my cheeks and suddenly I'm not that cold anymore. He's looking at the vacation snapshots Booth took with his camera. I offered to let them develop at the Jeffersonian; I have my connections there. That way we would have them back sooner. I make a mental note to take my digital camera with me the next time. All this nonsense with developing rolls of films... In what century do we live? The 18th?
I scramble out of bed, put on a pair of panties and a shirt. I walk over to Sully and sit down next to him.
"Sully?" Again, no answer. "Sullivan," I repeat, now a little firm.
He continues staring straight ahead, but he hands the pictures to me nonetheless and stands up.
"We need to talk." And with that, he walks away to the bathroom, the sheet trailing his footsteps.
I let out a weak sigh. This is going to turn into one of these conversations we had before, during and right after I got back from vacation. I really feel like telling him off for being this annoying with me, but I told Booth I was going to give our relationship another try. However, I can't keep that strange, intrusive feeling out of my stomach, when I think this could turn out all wrong. Maybe it's fear, maybe it's hope. Or it could simply be adrenaline. Yes, that's probably it. It's a perfectly rational... – I smile at my own thoughts. I really need to find a new mantra.
I get up, I get dressed and I walk off to the kitchen, to pour myself a cup of coffee as I wonder how this is going to work out.
Ten minutes later I'm staring at the photos again.
"What's wrong with them, Sully?" I question him as he shows me picture by picture.
"It's proof." I know proof, or better, evidence when I come across it. This, however, is not proof.
"Of what?" I carefully probe.
"It's shows that Booth is the right guy for you. Not me... At least not anymore. I can't connect to you, Temperance. I wonder if I was ever able to, to be honest," he sighs.
"Sully," I say a little agitated. For the love of everything scientific, I've had it with the "I'm not the right guy for you" conversations I've had with these two!
"No, Tempe, you need to listen. Look at these!" He shoves a picture of me and Booth on the sailboat in my direction. It was the conversation after that morning. "You open up to this man so easily, Tempe, but when it comes to me... It's just so damn hard," he says and shakes his head disappointed.
I remain quiet and stare at the photos. I hate psychology, but he has a point. The pictures do tell a story, show emotions I don't know if I'm willing to share.
"I'm trying," I say more to myself than to him.
"Maybe you're trying not hard enough," he retorts, bitterness evident in his voice.
I could resist, make protests. I could fight for this relationship, but am I willing to do that? Am I willing to give up my heart, and serve up my soul to someone I don't entirely know? I've already shared more with him than I thought I'd ever do with a man in such a short period of time. I guess it wasn't enough. Sully's the kind of man who wants everything, absolutely everything. He won't settle for less. I'm on the other side of the spectrum. I've mostly preferred short passionate relationships over long term commitments, because I didn't want to create memories that I could lose. He is willing to give me his everything; he only expects my full participation. Too bad I'm not going to cooperate. Not all persons are worth crossing the line for.
A cold silence settles between us, and the only sounds that are heard, are our steady breathing and Sully shuffling through the pictures. My gaze shifts from the snapshots towards the door. What am I still doing here? This situation isn't making me or Sully happy. Am I wasting my time? A soft snort from Sully pulls me away from my thoughts. I look at him; his eyebrows are furrowed as he studies a picture of me.
"What?" I ask, trying to let my voice sound neutral and indifferent.
"It's not your best shot, that's all," he mumbles and puts the photos away.
Well, that was nice. Not. He stands up and clears his throat. I look at him; my gaze softens when I see his face. Sadness, frustration and again a little bitterness. And all of this is seen by a person with a lack of people skills. Ironic, isn't it?
"I better leave," he says. I stare off in the distance, slowly letting his words sink in. He grabs his car keys and walks towards the door. Halfway he stops, and without turning he snorts, "This is all the proof I needed."
I tilt my head. "What proof have I given you this time?"
"You aren't stopping me. You aren't keeping me from leaving, Tempe. If you believed we could work this out, you would have stopped me. Instead, you're just standing there, watching me go away." He shakes his head. "If I was him, you'd be hanging around my neck by now, threatening to break a bone or two if I dared to walk through that door."
I bow my head in guilt. He's right. If he had been Booth, he would have been sprawled out on the ground by now, because I didn't want him to go.
"Tempe?" His voice attracts my attention and I look at him again. "Just be happy, okay? This is for the best," he tells me before opening the door and walking away.
I turn my body and crash down on the couch. As I stare at the ceiling, memories, thoughts and images wash through my head. This is it. We're through. But is it really what I desire?
Seventy-six... Seventy-seven... Seventy-eight... Seventy-nine. Seventy-nine flagstones at the ceiling. It's the fourth time I've count them the last half hour, and every time I come across the same solution; seventy-nine. And it doesn't help me one bit with my inner conflicts. Did I make the right decision, leaving Elena behind? Is this what I really want?
A soft knock interrupts my thoughts.
The door opens and Hodgins walks in.
"Hey," he says, sitting down beside me. "Still moping about Elena?"
"I'm not moping," I reply a little harsh.
"Dude, it's okay. Haven't you heard something of her?"
"Yes, I have. But it seems like it's not enough. We call, send e-mails and text messages, but it's not the same. There's a lack of..." I quickly look him into the eye, assuring myself he's not laughing at me. "You know, the physical stuff."
He calmly nods and stands up.
"I really hope the best for you, Zach," he tells me and hands me an envelope. "Maybe this will help."
I grab the envelope before he quietly leaves the room. A logo on the envelope tells me it's from the Princess Margaret Hospital in Nassau. That's where Elena works! I ignore my manners and rip the envelope open.
Dear Mr. Addy,
The board of directors from the Princess Margaret Hospital in Nassau is asking for your help.
About a week ago, a 36-year old female came to our hospital with, and we quote, 'pain in her bones'. We are running test but still can't find anything. We subdued the patient with morphine, but we need to find the cause of her problems.
One of the patient's doctors, dr. E. Earhart, informed us about you. We understand you're trying to receive your doctorate in Forensic Anthropology and we'd appreciate it if you would accept our offer to work with us. We'd like you to come down here to help us find a cure for this patient.
We have already contacted the Jeffersonian Institute and Dr. Goodman is willing to give you a paid leave of absence with a maximum of three weeks. You'd also receive a generous recompense from us.
We hope to hear from you soon. You could start immediately.
Sincerely,The Princess Margaret Hospital
I resist the urge to run around the house, screaming like a little boy and jump into the air. Instead, I take out my cell and call the airport. After five beeps, a mechanically altered voice tells me to hold. I pace around the room, waiting with a huge smile plastered on my face. This isn't something I need to think about. This is logic. It's a great opportunity to learn something new, to make experiences and, of course, to be with Elena. Dr. Elena Earhart didn't forget me! She even recommended me to the boards! I clasp my cell between my head and my shoulder and haul my suitcase under the bed. Just when I hear someone answer my call, the phone drops onto the floor. I quickly pick it up and mumble my name.
"This is Zach Addy. I'd like to leave with the first flight to Miami. Half an hour? That's great. Thank you."
(Let's switch back to Brennan's POV for "the grand finale")
Sid's giving me that look of his. He knows what has happened two hours ago, even without asking. I give him a small smile when he places another cup of hot chocolate in front of me. It's in the middle of summer, but there is nothing as soothing as hot chocolate after a break-up. I should be devastated about Sully walking away. He's, after all, another one in a row of men who have left me. But I'm not devastated; it hurts a bit, of course, but I'm far from devastated. I'm actually somewhat pleased. No more Sully means no more harsh conversations about whether or not there is something going on between Booth and me.
A smile fights its way to my lips as I sip my hot chocolate. There is definitely something between the two of us, and I'm about to push it up a notch.
I did as Booth asked. I've explored my relationship with Sully some more, before coming to the conclusion that it was going nowhere. Sully is a good guy, but not the right one for me. I chuckle at my own thoughts. Unintentionally, Booth and Sully have rubbed off on me. If you hear nothing but "right guy this" and "right guy that" you easily begin to think along the same lines. Booth was wrong about my relation with Sully, so now he has no choice but to, and I quote, see where our spark takes us.
The sound of the door opening and closing paints an impossibly large smile on my face. Who wouldn't be happy at the prospect of rubbing an "I told you so" in someone's face? To my disappointment it isn't Booth who walks into Wong Foo's; it's Angela and Hodgins. I quickly turn back to my cup. Maybe if I don't make eye-contact, Angela will leave me alone. The last thing I need is a deep conversation with her.
Suppressing a deep sigh, I stir my hot chocolate when Angela sits down next to me. Behind me I hear Hodgins yell, "Sid, my man, is today the day that seven organ soup will go down the right way?" I guess there is no escaping Angela. On the other hand, maybe it's for the best that I have a conversation with her before I talk to Booth. Call it "a practice round".
"Hey Bren," Angela softly begins.
"Angela," I acknowledge her presence. I refrain from saying anything else. It's up to her to get this conversation started.
"When are you coming back to work?" she asks before she smiles at Sid when he places a Mojito on the bar.
I take another sip of my hot chocolate. "Monday. Dr. Goodman insisted I'd take two weeks off. Today's my last day off."
Curious to no end, Angela points at my drink. "Hot chocolate? You only drink that when you've broken up with someone." Then realization dawns on her. "Sully's gone?"
I nod. "Yeah, he's out of the picture." I even manage to produce a small smile, instead of the large face-splitting grin I feel like giving. Really, I'm a bit bummed that it didn't work out with Sully, but I'm now moving on to greener pastures. If those greener pastures want me of course. I'm surprised to feel Angela's hand patting my shoulder.
"Maybe it's for the best that you two broke up," she says to me, her eyes full of understanding.
"Maybe so, yes," I shrug one shoulder. "He just wasn't..."
"Booth," Angela finishes.
The corners of my mouth curl upwards as I slowly turn my cup around on the bar. Angela truly is my best friend. She knows what I'm about to say, even before I find the right words. It's sometimes freaky how well she can read me. Although I guess right now I didn't make it that difficult for her. She has always been on my case about getting together with Booth. All her subtle hints became annoying at some point, but now they just amuse me. I'm curious to see what arguments she's going to throw up this time.
"Can't say I didn't see this coming, Bren," the artist sighs.
Raising my eyebrows to unknown heights, I tilt my head to look at her. "Excuse me? Don't tell me you deliberately pushed me towards Sully, even though you knew things weren't going to work out?"
Angela quietly laughs. "Of course not, Bren. You make me sound like this horrible plot master who enjoys drawing up schemes." She lifts her Mojito to her mouth to take a sip, before continuing her explanation. "Sully was a nice change, Bren. He was different from everyone you had dated before. He made you smile and laugh; he even made you loosen up a bit more, but in the end..." She shakes her head a bit.
"I know what you're trying to say here, Angela, and I appreciate it," I help her out. "I have no regrets about my relationship with him. Sully has made me understand a couple of things."
He did, he really did. It's amazing, and very complicated, to comprehend how clearly things get after you've been in a different kind of relationship. I'm ready to move on though. I don't think I've ever been this thrilled about beginning something entirely new, a serious commitment. Come to think of it, all my previous relationships were more like spur-of-the-moment kind of things. I have done a lot of thinking about this one; I'm just not sure if that's a good sign.
I shake my head. Of course it's a good sign. Everything I've succeeded at was first thoroughly thought through.
I'm briefly distracted when Angela slides a picture across the bar. A quiet frustrated groan vibrates in my throat. Not another one! Haven't pictures of our vacation got me into enough trouble already? I quickly glance at it. It's one of Booth and me sitting under a parasol on the beach. It looks like we're having a rather intimate conversation, judging by how close we're sitting.
I smile as I remember that moment. If I'm not mistaken, Angela and Hodgins were walking along the shoreline, while I gave Booth instructions as to how to treat his sunburn. Nothing intimate there, but it sure seems that way if you take a closer look at this photograph.
"Good memories, Bren?" Angela asks me with an ear to ear grin. "Were you recalling how you called him "Boothy"?"
"You heard that?" I groan. "In my defense, I was drunk. Everything I say in that state is irrelevant in the following conversations."
"Relax," she sooths me. "I wasn't planning on rubbing it in your face. I just wanted to point out that something has changed while we were in the Bahamas. Before our joined vacation, you would have never called him by that name, not even under the influence of seven Mojitos."
The best thing to do in this kind of situation is to simply keep your mouth shut. Angela's on a roll. She's determined to show me the right path, one that leads straight to Booth. You're wasting your time here, Angela. I've already mapped out a route myself.
"This picture is proof of how at ease you were around each other, of how you still are. Have you seen Booth since we got back?"
I shake my head. "No, I haven't."
"Well, when you do, you have to show him this."
One eyebrow lifted, I stare at her. "Why? It's a shot of us sitting under a parasol. What's so special about it?" Besides, I've got a bunch of pictures myself to show him, but Angela doesn't need to know about them.
"Just show him. Promise me, okay?"
The door opening and closing keeps me from answering. My mouth curves into a smile, as well as Angela's, when we both see who walks in. Booth stops dead in his tracks, his tie and top buttons of his shirt undone, his jacket draped over one of his arms, when he lays eyes on us.
Angela's smile grows in force. "I guess that's my cue to leave." Then she quickly turns to me and whispers, "Forget the friends, go straight for the benefits." She taps the picture lying on the bar to emphasize her words. Leaving me with that piece of advice, she stands up and heads over to Hodgins who's slurping away on his seven organ soup.
Friends? Benefits? Oh right, that conversation... Some time ago Angela suggested that I'd become "friends with benefits" with Booth. I swiftly dismissed that idea back then. I would still do now. I don't want to be friends with benefits. I want, as Angela put it so nicely, to have just the benefits with him. Of course I still want to preserve part of our friendship, but I mostly want to take it to another level. A level where there is a bit of friendship, tons of benefits and maybe something more. I'm looking for long term benefits, so to speak.
Booth throws his jacket over an empty barstool and slides onto the seat that Angela previously occupied. "Hey Bones," he greets me before he pulls a small bowl of salty nuts closer. His forearms resting on the edge of the bar, he fiddles with a peanut for a few seconds and then pops it into his mouth.
"Hey Booth," I mumble as I reach for my bag. Moments later I drop a folder filled with pictures onto the counter. "Had them developed yesterday. There are a couple of interesting shots amongst them."
He immediately opens the folder and begins to sort through the pile. In no time he has all the photographs spread out on the bar. "Our surroundings were absolutely breathtaking," he says as he gazes at a couple of shots of the beach, the sea and the sunset. I nod in agreement. A grin spreads on his face when his gaze lands on a picture of us sitting in our go-cart. "We had fun there, hadn't we Bones?"
"Yeah, even though you didn't let me drive. As usual," I retort, crossing my arms on top of the bar.
"Some things will never change, Bones." And some things will, Booth. We are about to change, you just don't know it yet.
"It looks like you enjoyed my "grandma bikini" more than you lead on," I say, gesturing at a photo of me in my bikini, lying on the beach.
Booth slightly reddens. "Well, you know, just wanted to show you how big your fashion faux pas was."
I laugh. "You sounded just like Angela there. I'll take you with me on my next shopping trip, instead of her."
He grins at me before pointing at the next picture. "You really look cute there, do you know that?" Did he just call me cute? I lean a bit over to study the photograph he's talking about. Oh right, it's the one where I've got stracciatella smeared all over my nose.
"Not as cute as you," I reply, sliding a snapshot of the both of us with ice cream on our faces in his direction.
Booth shakes his head, chuckling. "I think we need another vacation. We're calling each other cute." He intensely studies the picture for a minute. "I think I'm going to put this one on my desk."
I shove my elbow in his side. "And make me the laughing stock of the entire FBI? No way, Booth! You do that and I'm showing them this," I hold up a photo of my partner huddling down in the sand, his behind sticking up in the air and his hands covering his head. "You ran away from a kite, remember?"
"Bones," Booth groans. "You wouldn't dare! I've got a reputation to think about." He averts his eyes again to the pile spread out on the bar as he mumbles, "You love blackmailing me way too much."
When I throw a glance over Booth's bent head, I see Angela and Hodgins making their way towards the door. Good, they're leaving. Perfect. I roll my eyes when Angela mouths "Show him!" at me. Why on earth does she want Booth to see that picture? Shaking my head, I turn back to the man slowly working his way through the stack of photographs.
"I like this one," he mumbles, nudging another shot towards me.
I recognize it as the one he took during one of our last days, right before we made sand angels. It's a close-up of me, sitting in the sand, with the wind playing through my hair and the light of the setting sun on my face. It's actually the picture that Sully disliked. I watch him pick it up to stare at it, smiling softly. It reminds me of how he gazed at the picture of a fifteen year old me.
This is the opening I have been waiting for. Booth, you better prepare. It's time to draw some new lines; lines that will mark our new relationship!
My eyes land on the picture Angela handed me. I suddenly understand the meaning behind it. Good old Angela, I can always depend on you to give me a push in the right direction. I carefully slide the snapshot over to Booth. He frowns as he picks it up.
"Angela wanted me to show you this," I explain.
"Why? It's a shot of us sitting under a parasol."
Shrugging one shoulder, I say, "She thought we were having an intimate conversation."
"You were giving me advice about my sunburn..." he slowly replies.
"I know, but Angela seemed convinced otherwise. Goes to show what kind of a wrong impression a picture can give." I cross my arms on the bar and lean a bit forward while I tilt my head to look at him. "Maybe we weren't having a deep conversation back then, but we had one on our last day. Do you remember your promise?"
He rapidly drops the photographs he has been holding for the last minute and sits up straight. "Do you remember your promise?"
"Of course I do," I tell him, all the while gathering my photos. When they're safely tucked away again in their folder, I lift my head to meet his stare. "And I can assure you that I have lived by it ever since we got back. To be honest, not a day has gone by without recalling our campfire conversation." Tucking away the folder in my bag, I take a deep breath. Then I go back to my last stance, leaning on the counter with crossed arms. "You are wrong, Booth."
He blinks a couple of times. Next he slowly rubs the palms of his hands over his thighs, as his gaze drifts through the room. Eventually he faces me again. "I am?"
"Yes, you are," I nod.
"Well, in that case..." He gets up, grabs his jacket and heads off to the door.
I stare at his back. Why the hell is he leaving? And why did he seem lost a minute ago? I thought he felt the same attraction? That he wanted to take things further as well? Instead, he's walking away, just like that. Is there any logic behind his decision to run away?
Then he turns around, his hands stuffed in his pockets and his jacket hanging from his arm. I stare at him, at the twinkle darting around in his eyes and at the charm smile playing around his lips.
"So umm... I'll pick you up at eight this Saturday?"
Laughing softly, I nod at him. "Works for me."
"Great." His smile brightens even more. "I guess it's a date then," Booth throws at me, walking backwards.
"I guess it is," I reply, tilting my head and giving him a broad smile.
"I'll see you then, Bones," he grins right before he turns around the corner.
Sid comes over to me with a large Martini. I take a sip after I've eaten the olive swimming around in the liquid. Yeah Booth, it's a date, I think satisfied.
niah1988: I wonder how many people want to strangle us right now for ending it here...
Addictt: °throws a glance over her shoulder° Umm, sweetie?
niah1988: I mean, we're just ending it HERE. Brennan and Booth haven't even kissed!
Addictt: °taps Niah's shoulder° Sweetie, I think you need to know something...
niah1988: Do you think they'll strangle us slowly or do you think they're just going to kick our butts?
Addictt: °points at something behind them° I think they're sending a mob after us.
niah1988: °glances over her shoulder° Oh dear Lord, they've got pitch-forks... And torches... And... For the love of Booth's abs, they've even got rotten eggs and tomatoes!
Addictt: Less talking, more running!! (And reviewing!)