Just Say the Word

Chapter One

Angela didn't have to be in Brennan's office to know that something was horribly wrong. She was trying desperately to concentrate on the skull in front of her and give it a face, but she was wrenched from her work by raised voices. It was mostly Brennan yelling, with Booth cutting in with harsh statements every now and then.

The noise stopped a few minutes later and Angela rested her pencil on the desk. The drawing was only half done, but she had some investigating to do. She got up and left her office, making way to Brennan's. She made it halfway and ran into Hodgins, who was staring at the anthropologist's door and drinking a steaming cup of coffee.

He held out his arm when she tried to walk past. "They're not done yet," he said, a trace of a smile on his lips.

"You're kidding?" she said incredulously. They've been going at it for at least half an hour. What'd he do to piss her off?"

"I think they are equally pissed. Apparently he compromised some evidence and she compromised the investigation and almost got herself killed. She thinks he's overreacting and being too protective, and he wants to tie her to her desk and make her stay there."

"They need a distraction," Angela said determinedly and waltzed past him to the door. She had her hand posed to knock when Booth spoke inside.

"Look," he said with a sort of finality that made Angela take a step back, "we're never going to agree on this."

"That's obvious," Brennan replied and scoffed. She crossed her arms over her chest and continued glaring at her partner.

"You need to start thinking about your own neck when you're out in the field."

"My job is to help other people, not myself." Her arms moved and she rested her hands on her hips.

"That's true, but if you can't think a little bit about your own safety, maybe you shouldn't be going in the field anymore."

"Well, I think—," she stopped short. Clearly this wasn't what she had expected him to say. Her eyes squinted in slight confusion. "You don't want to be partners anymore?"

"Of course I still want to be your partner," he said softly and Angela, still outside, was glad they were no longer shouting, "but I don't want you to get killed. We've had this discussion so many times, Bones, but it's never been this big of a deal. I was distracted out there watching you, and I don't think you were completely clear-headed either. We've got too much going on in our heads for us to work together outside of the lab."

Angela knew this was the wrong thing to say. Brennan was likely to put her wall up, Booth would try to negotiate some type of "middle-ground," and Brennan would lash out, claiming they either worked completely together or not at all. She turned around and went back to her own office as Brennan suggested Booth leave.

"I'm not saying we never work together," he tried, "I'd still bring in cases; you'd just stay in the lab and let me do all of the interrogating and stuff."

"I don't think so," Brennan replied and pulled the door open, signaling his departure once more. "I told you in the beginning how this partnership was going to work. If you can back out of it, so can I. You're welcome to come to the lab, I can't stop you, but Zach can be your forensic anthropologist. He's certified now."

Booth now sounded thoroughly defeated. "I know that, Bones."

"Don't call me Bones!" she snapped for the first time in months.

He was all professionalism, hurt by her remark. "Dr. Brennan, I'm going to go now, but I just want you to remember that the way this is ending isn't my fault. I'm trying to make it better, but you're too stubborn to see that. I suppose I'll see you around."

He left then, not bothering to say anything to the others on his way out. Hodgins had long since finished his coffee and was trying to busy himself as Brennan exited her office.

She walked straight over to Zach, who looked as though he had been dreading this moment entirely. "Zach, you are now the forensic anthropologist that will be helping the FBI. You've helped me on enough cases that I don't think this will be a problem. I'm available if you have any questions." She turned and left, not actually leaving time for him to ask questions.

Hodgins took her place next to him, chuckling slightly. "Man, I do not envy you."

Zach scrunched up his face. "Why not?"

"Don't you get it, Zach-o? You are now the middle man in this fight between Booth and Dr. Brennan. And until they somehow manage to get their act together, they are both going to depend on you for information." He patted the younger man on the back.

"But I don't know anything about that kind of stuff. Cranial fractures, yeah, ask me anything. How Dr. Brennan feels about Agent Booth or vice versa, no way, I've got nothing."

Hodgins laughed again. "Nope, I do not envy you at all." He headed back to his workstation and picked up the latest sample he needed to run.

The next couple of weeks were definitely going to be interesting.

As far as I know, this is just going to be a two-parter, but that all depends on if the characters cooperate. Please let me know what you thought and stay tuned for more!